Friday, March 31, 2017

We are the World Blogfest #WATWB

Hosted by Belinda Witzenhausen, Lynn Hallbrooks, Simon Falk, Sylvia McGrath, and Damyanti Biswas.

The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there, the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope and the resilience of the human spirit. With your help, we hope to change the current landscape of social media, blogs, and news. Our first post goes live on the 31st of March and Tweets, Facebook shares, Pins, Instagram, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome.

Find WATWB also on Facebook and Pinterest.

Since I am an animal lover, I selected a story that involves a cat.

On September 12, 2016, a tiny kitten fell out of a SUV and onto a busy freeway in Kaliningrad, Russia.

For several minutes, cars swerved around the kitten and several trucks went right over him.

Then a car stopped and the driver got out to rescue the kitten, saving him from certain death. The man, Denis Degtyarev, checked him over and found the cat bruised and scared but otherwise unhurt. He took him to his kids’ school and friends found the kitten a good home.

How many people would do that? How many would show compassion for a small creature in danger and risk their own life to save it? True compassion shines on all levels and for all living things, and that man proved there are still caring people in the world. God bless his loving and generous spirit. May it be contagious.

A surveillance camera caught the whole ordeal:

Special Announcement

One of Dancing Lemur Press’s titles is now free - CassaDawn. 
Download the prequel to the Amazon best-selling Cassa trilogy at:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Getting the Most out of a Twitter Pitch Event

Recently the IWSG announced our first Twitter pitch event on July 27 - #IWSGPit. You can read all the details HERE.

Just what is a Twitter pitch party?

On a designated day, writers are to compose a story pitch in less than 140 characters and Tweet it with the appropriate hashtags. Publishers and agents scan the feed for pitches that catch their attention and pressing the “heart” button. That indicates they want a query from you.

Each Twitter pitch event has its own set of rules and hashtags:
  • How often a pitch may be posted
  • Hashtags for the event and for specific genres
  • How writers can show one another support

Often participating publishers and agents will Tweet instructions for submitting manuscripts that have received a “heart” from them. Sometimes they will simply direct people to their submission guidelines.

A recent Twitter pitch event garnered over 1000 Tweets an hour. That’s a lot of pitches! How does one stand out? What can writers do to make the best impression possible and follow all the proper steps?

Here are some tips for getting the most out of the experience:

  • Compose a solid pitch. It’s difficult to sum up an entire story in one line, but not impossible. Loglines have to be basic. (Think of the taglines from movies.) What’s the key plot element? Who is the main character? Aim for 120 characters to allow room for the hashtags.

  • Add some personality to your pitch. A little humor or quirkiness does stand out.

  • Test your pitch on other writers first.

  • Be sure your story fits the event. Some Twitter pitches are gear towards specific genres.

  • Use the proper hashtags. You’ll want to use the event’s hashtag AND a genre hashtag. It also helps to add the age hashtag. (Examples - #F = fantasy, #PR = Paranormal Romance, #A = adult, #YA = young adult.)

  • Consider your genre/age options. During most pitch events, #YA is the most popular age/genre. But we know that YA does not comprise half of the books published every year. Think outside the box and pitch a genre/age that will stand out rather than blend in.

  • Don’t pitch more often than allowed or you will get banned. In addition, only publishers and agents are to “heart” pitches.

  • If your pitch receives a “heart,” go to that publisher/agent’s site and review the submission guidelines. Be sure to mention the pitch event in your query. But just because you were invited to submit doesn’t mean you can ignore their submission requirements - send everything they request and ONLY what they request. No need to shoot yourself in the foot when you just got it in the door.

  • Be sure to research that publisher/agent BEFORE you send your query. Don’t waste that person’s time. The publisher/agent won’t remember that you didn’t send a “hearted” query, but he or she will remember that you sent one and then later withdrew it.

  • Once the event ends, analyze your results. If you received no “hearts” it might be time to adjust your pitch. Of course, with thousands of pitches filling the feed, it’s also possible it got lost in the shuffle. Adjust and try again at the next event.

Many authors have found homes for their books through Twitter pitches. It’s a great way to test the waters and get the attention of a publisher or agent. Don’t rely on them solely though - you still need to be querying with a proper query letter. Just give it a try and have fun.

Various Twitter pitch events:

Have you ever participated in a Twitter pitch event?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Barn Cats Are Loose! And the IWSG Goodreads Book Club

I’m excited to bring to the world a captivating tale about loss, healing, barn cats.

Follow her blog tour through MC Book Tours for your chance to win a free copy.


By Maria Santomasso-Hyde

Inspired by true events...

Losses send a woman’s soul into its darkest winter...

Maria has cared for her very ill mother for many years. Her burdens are heavy, causing a sadness bordering on darkness. When she discovers her historic barn is now home to a mother cat and kittens, she feels lighter than she has in years. As the kittens grow, they teach her as only animals can do.

Then tragedy strikes. As Maria loses her family, the darkness envelopes her like the heavy fog that blankets her Blue Ridge Mountain home each morning. She creates a scorecard: God: 9, Maria: 0. Her questions turn into anger at God. She searches to find answers as to why her loving God would take away so much in such a short time.

How will she learn to trust again? Can the kittens in her barn help her heal?

Christian Fiction / Christian Life-Death, Grief, Bereavement
$10.95 Print ISBN 978-1-939844-21-7,$3.99 eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-22-4
From Dancing Lemur Press

“...accessible, compelling and deeply infused with the heartbreaking and heart-lifting realities of life.” - Kurt Rheinheimer, Editor in Chief, Blue Ridge County magazine.

“A gracious, gentle tale of faith, told with refreshingly unexpected perspectives.” - Cathy Pickens, award-winning author of the Southern Fried mystery series

“Maria Santomasso-Hyde spins a yarn exquisitely told — a raw and truthful journey that travels from the depth of despair to the edge of salvation.” - Tom Mayer, executive editor, Mountain Times Publications

Formerly a newspaper reporter, Maria Santomasso-Hyde now owns Alta Vista Fine Art Gallery. She lives in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, with her husband, Lee, and The Queen of the Universe (Roma, their Black Cat)… and other Black Cats who decide to move in.
Website / Alta Vista Gallery

Purchase at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / iTunes / Kobo / Nook / Foyles / Indigo / Dancing Lemur Press / Everything Cats
Add on Goodreads

Not on Goodreads?
The IWSG book club is a good reason to join.
Don’t do much on Goodreads?
This is an excellent way to dip your toes in a little more.
Not enough time in your day?
We read one book every two months.
OUR GOAL: The Insecure Writer's Support Group (Book Club) is for writers to read/learn about the writing craft. In this book club, we will swap back and forth between non-fiction writing books and fiction books that demonstrate how to do certain aspects of storytelling. 

No promo. No review or beta reader requests. 

Just writers reading books and discussing those books with other writers.
**The first book will be announced on April 1st.**
**The discussion will start on May 17th.**
For more details and to join: Book Club

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Twitter Pitch Party and New Book Formatting Prices

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Optional question of the month - Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I’m actually working on an old story right now. I have two stories completed one half finished for my Four in Darkness book. I had two other ideas, but the ghost one just isn’t working. (Which is a shame as it had a great ending.) So for the 4th story, I’m rewriting a story I put together in my 20s called The Frozen Soul. This one will be The Alien. (The others are The Vampire, The Werewolf, and The Shark.)

Our big announcement today:

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Twitter Pitch Party!

July 27, 2017

8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time

All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch. Invite your writer friends and your publisher/agent.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every 1 hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit. (See site for list.)

Please join us on July 27!

We have some great new swag up at the site - now you can buy mugs and erasers, too. Visit the Swag page.

I’ve also reduced my prices for print and ebook formatting:

Print - $60
Ebook - $30
Combo - $75

I’ve formatting hundreds of books for Dancing Lemur Press LLC and clients. Custom work and fast turnaround. See Spunk On A Stick for full details.

Think you might join us on July 27?