Finding it hard to be CREATIVE?

Creativity, I lost mine. Can I have yours?

I haven’t posted anything yet this week, but to be honest, I have been so busy working on our new self-publishing services I just haven’t had the time. Not to mention I have lost 2 computers to catastrophic failures in the past 10 days. It was their time they both had far outlived their respective lifespans. At least both hard drives are still good and the desktop must have matched my other spare desktop close enough all I had to do was slap the hard drive in and to my astonishment Windows 10 booted right up. Albeit with no sound but that’s another story for another time and place! Enough with my bad luck back to what I was saying. Um… Right… Creativity that’s right.

Music, thank god for music. All I have to do is stick my headphones in and it seems like the ideas start flowing. At least with my more visual artistic side if you can say I have one. But writing is a different story, It seems like my thought processes are much deeper when it comes to writing. I can’t have any distractions or I lose my train of thought!  That is an impossible feat with a house full of teenagers. Unless of course, it’s 2 AM then I only have to yell at one to turn his Xbox down. Ah…the joys of parenting. I would love to hear from my fellow artists and writers out there. Do you have your sanctuary somewhere you run off to when you are putting that keyboard time in?  Or could the hurricane of today’s life just swirl around you and your screen, but you wouldn’t know any different?

Wish me luck! As I dive back into photoshop.

Self-Publishing Services Announcement

We quickly realized that there are way too many good manuscripts out there to offer publishing contracts for every one of them. It would be an injustice to let these works go unpublished. JourStarr would like to help the burgeoning self-publishing community by offering reliable, reasonably priced publishing services.

I have worked on this expansion of services now for almost 6 months. Since the idea was first proposed I have been circling the wagons so to speak….

I am very proud to announce JourStarr Quality Publications will be launching our new self-publishing services website Monday, June 11, 2018.

JourStarr will be offering a wide range of interior design, ebook formatting, cover design, typography, and publishing services.



10 Book Marketing Tips for Self Published Authors

10 Book Marketing Tips For Self Published Authors

  1. Don’t try to sell – Market your book. Headlines or ads with “check out my book” or ” my book is free today” often get confused with spam and passed over. Market yourself, selling is all about brand recognition. Join groups, offer to review others books, be an active member of your local reading community. By building your “brand” you will gain much more than just spamming ads.
  2. Social Media is a must. This goes back to #1. You need to market yourself, Network with readers and other authors. Join book groups and be an active member of those communities.
  3. You must have a blog. Marketing yourself and your books is like pushing a large rock up a hill. The minute you stop that rock is going to roll back down. You must keep yourself in front of your audience. Post engaging content that will hit a note with your readers.
  4. Give away free ebooks. Even if you only have one title under your belt. You will build are reader base for books 2,3 and so on. Giving away ebooks should never be seen as a loss but as an investment in marketing
  5. Budget appropriately for paid advertising. Pay for promos but within reason. Experiment a little and measure your ROI (return on investment). put money where it performs the best.
  6. Keep your cool. Arguing, criticising and being obnoxious are sure-fire routes to failure. Never ‘flare’ on the Internet as comments made in a temper will last forever and tarnish your reputation. Ignore bad reviews, nasty comments, and trolls. Rise above their level, always.
  7. Keep writing. Not every book is going to be a blockbuster or even sell 10 copies. Write more, your skills will grow and chances are you will actually see some good sales figures.
  8. Stay Positive. Don’t check your sales figures hourly, that can be depressing. Just keep plugging away at your marketing and networking then at the end of the month you might be pleasantly surprised.
  9. Build a website. In addition to your blog, build your online store with links to buy your book and follow your work.
  10. Collect emails for marking later. Through whatever platform your choose build a mailing list of your fans and potential fans this can become the directory to your reader base. It will help you contact your fans with marketing info on your new book.

Remember marketing is a long game. Keep plugging away with blog posts and using paid advertising wisely.


10 Secrets To Write A Better Story

I often find difficulty when constructing my stories. Most of the time is it problems with repeating facts or remembering the reader already knows this or does the reader need to know this now?  Giving readers the necessary facts to understand what is happening later is essential to building a great story. Here is a list of 10 secrets to writing better stories.

  1. Write in one sitting. if you are writing a novel this is impossible. Try to develop your first rough draft and outline within a couple days. It will help keep the facts straight while it’s fresh in your mind.
  2. Develop your protagonist. A protagonist is your main character. while this can be a process within its self it is crucial to develop his or her traits properly. Remeber to use other characters to help develop your protagonist.
  3. Show. Don’t tell. Whenever something happens in your story remember to show the readers what has happened. You have to paint the scene include every detail.
  4. Create suspense and drama. Leave your reader wanting more. It’s best to set up a dramatic question. “Will he be able to save her life?” or “Will they make it out alive?”  This is why it is critical to restrict the information given to the reader early on. Nothing can kill drama more than oversharing.
  5. Write good dialog. This is where you can get lost in rewrites, Writing good dialog can be very difficult for a new author. Although dialog can be a useful tool to get out information to the reader that would seem awkward to just say in a statement.  Be careful with speaker tags i.e.  “he said, she said”  “he exclaimed” they can become distracting and unnecessary.
  6. Write about death. How many of the last few good novels have you read that include death? I’ll bet almost all of them. Death is a useful, relatable theme. Everyone has experienced a loved one or close friend dying.
  7. Write at least 3 drafts. Most professional writers will write at least three drafts. The first draft is for exploration, don’t share it with anyone just figure out where it’s going. The second draft is for major structural changes and clarifying your characters and plot. Avoid trying to polish it much at this stage. The third draft is for polishing your story this is where it gets fun and exciting. everything will start to gel and come together.
  8. Know the rules, then break them. Most professional writers don’t just break the rules because of its fun. It’s because a good story needs its own set of rules. Respect the rules but remember you serve your story and your readers, not the rule makers.
  9. Break the block. Most writers experience writer’s block, the trick to overcoming writer’s block is to just write. I know that sounds stupid, but what I mean is don’t overthink it, just write and you will soon find out the ideas come streaming out.
  10. Share your work. I know this can be scary for a new author, but criticism is great for developing yourself as an author. Try entering a writing contest or starting a blog. Don’t be afraid of failure you will fail many times over before your craft an amazing story.

Write, Write, Write. As they say, practice makes perfect. Don’t get caught up in the do’s and don’ts on your first draft. Try something new and remember don’t be afraid of criticism.  For more writing help download our free Writer’s Guide.

Happy Writing!!!


Top 10 Writing Tips From Authors

Writing Tips From Authors

For new writers, these tips can be essential to growing and developing your writing. I have compiled a list of my top 10 writing tips from published authors.

  1. “Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.”  Zadie Smith
  2. “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.” – Will Self
  3. “The first draft of everything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
  4. “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”   George Orwell
  5.  “Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear).”  Diana Athill
  6.  “In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.”  Rose Tremain
  7. “Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!” – Joyce Carol Oates
  8. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King
  9. “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration”. – Ernest Hemingway
  10. “Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.” – Lev Grossman  

The biggest thing to remember you will try and fail many times before your first major hit. Even then those stories were not failures after all. You were just developing your inner writer. The greats all got rejection letters and harsh criticism in their careers just imagine if they would have stopped writing because a few people didn’t like a particular story. What great works would humanity of missed out on?

Remember we have a free New Authors Writing Guide available for download

Happy Writing!!!

Where Do You Find Your Inspiration To Write?

As a writer where do you find inspiration (or motivation) to actually sit down and write?

I sat down this morning intending on writing another slam dunk blog post but I’m having a hard time finding the inspiration. Maybe its, because my Pittsburgh Penguins lost (did we really believe a 3-peat was possible?), or that my lawnmower self-destructed halfway through the first grass cut of the season. (I really should post a picture of my lawn it’s actually kind of funny), or maybe because there are a million things that need to be done around here but I just can’t find the motivation to accomplish any of them.

As a writer where do you find inspiration (or motivation) to actually sit down and write? Whether it be from music, checking out some new art or just catching up on today’s news.

I want to hear from everyone let me know down in the comments section where you draw your inspiration from. I compiled a list of ways you can take a jackhammer to your writer’s block if you’re really stuck and somehow your story has lost its way!

Music. This is definitely my favorite way to gather inspiration. Listen to some new music something you wouldn’t normally you will be surprised how quickly the words start flowing.

Movies. Sometimes you’re just trying too hard. Shut your brain off for a while and dive into a new movie. It could be you just need to relax a while.

Magazines, News Articles. If you subscribe to some of your fav’s or you just pick up one while waiting at the dentist’s office find an article that interests you.

Art Galleries, Museums.  Do something different than your everyday routine. Take the time to check out a new exhibit at your local museum.

Exercise. This may be my least favorite but It has its uses (shhhh I know I have put on a couple pounds over the winter). Other than keeping healthy and our butts in our favorite pair of jeans, exercise can really clear the head and somehow wash away the worries of the day.

Freewriting. I have done this and it really does help. Don’t think just write. Wait! you say that’s my problem I can’t! I don’t mean write a story just write about anything, the grass outside your window, the neighbor’s dog that won’t SHUT THE HELL UP! Or maybe the bird that built a nest outside my kitchen window. (BTW all the eggs hatched we now have 4 baby birds) Don’t stop, don’t edit just let the pen flow.

The point is if you think you are stuck in a rut you’re probably right. Inspiration can strike anywhere anytime and sometimes you will realize you may just have to stop looking for it before it slaps you in the face!  Happy Writing!

Self Publishing Top Ten Tips!

Top 10 Self-Publishing and New Author Tips

As a new self-publisher I know you might have thought the bulk of your work was done when you finished writing your book, Right? I’m very sorry to tell you that your work has just begun! You must now switch gears and become the publisher and marketer. Having gone through the process myself and helping others get their work published I have gathered my top ten tips for new self-publishers and new authors.

  1. Examine your competition. It is very important to look at what else is out there in your genre. Put your self in the bookstore per se. When you are looking at your book, what else is on the shelf right by it? Why would you buy your book before you bought any of the other books on the same shelf? This can give you powerful insight into how to sell your book and make it stand out!
  2. A memorable title is key. Once again in the bookstore. Why would you as the reader grab your book first? Your title should command attention and stick with someone. This is your billboard ad to your readers.
  3. You are Your Own Editor. Mistakes happen its human to err but your work should not read as a 10-year-old wrote it. Most readers can forgive a grammar mistake or two but there does come a point when the readability of your work could be hindered by frequent mistakes. It will always be in your best interests to hire a professional editor. If you are unable to afford such an expense you should be willing to allow as many of your friends and family to read your final drafts to help catch mistakes.
  4. Marketing. Without a publisher or literary agent to market, your book for you the responsibility lies with you. Take advantage of social media and book promo websites. Those are your best bets when it comes to free d.i.y. marketing.
  5. Reviews. Free or paid a good review can make a book. Offer your book to some willing reviewer for free or pay a professional like Kirkus. Its always up to you if you want you to use a review or not in your marketing. One thing to keep in mind fake reviews are easy to spot and will hurt your book.
  6. A Literary Agent isn’t Necessary. Having a Literary Agent can often defeat the purpose of self-publishing. You will lose 100% control and end up paying a percentage of every sale and yearly fees.
  7. Still Eligible for Awards. Even though you are self-published there are many yearly awards you can enter or receive a nomination for. Having a strong readership will help your book receive the recognition it deserves.
  8. Know your Reader. Understanding your reader’s wants and needs can influence your marketing drastically. Do some demographic research on the readers of your particular genre.
  9. Price is Important. Bookstores will not carry books they cannot make any money from. You must price your books right an allow for a 55% wholesale discount.
  10. Sell Yourself. This may sound like you are prostituting yourself but in a way you are! You have to sell yourself and your work to your readers. Offer giveaways, free book signings anything you can to draw attention.

Remember don’t give up. Not every book is a bestseller. Good luck and Happy Writing!!


Top 10 Character Building Tips.

The greatest characters of all time will vary depending on who you ask but I can guarantee they all have one thing in common. They are distinguishable from most others in the given story. There is always a feature or impediment that makes them unique.

These top 10 tips will help you develop your characters. Good luck and happy writing

  1. Clear Motivations that help develop the story. Characters want and need certain things and are highly motivated to achieve these goals. Having clear motivations help the reader to infer as to what the character is trying to accomplish.
  2. Unique Features or Traits. Could you pick your character out of a police line up? Well, you should be able to very easily by his or her description. Your description of him or her should bring to life vivid images of what the reader thinks they look like.
  3. Love em or Hate em. Develop your character with values or have him be the scum of the earth it’s up to you. Your readers should grow to develop strong feelings for them or be able to relate in one way or another.
  4. Use Secondary Characters as “Foils”  foil is a character who contrasts with another character —usually the protagonist— to highlight particular qualities of the other character.
  5. Create interesting dynamics between characters and environment.  Where does your character live, work or play? Do they love their home and miss it while away on a journey.
  6. Characters shouldn’t know every detail. Most of the time as a writer you need to separate yourself from your characters vision or train of thought.  They don’t need to know every detail of the past present and future of the story and most of the time shouldn’t.
  7. Use Contradictions. This makes characters more complex. For example, most grandmothers are loving and doting, but what if they are also manipulative and self-serving.
  8. Use characters’ names to convey subtle implications. Research baby names for example. That can give you a good idea of the meanings behind names and help you form their traits.
  9. Avoid Lazy Stereotypes. Stereotypes are at best are usually false and at worst offensive. While sometimes a writer may find humor in some. Authors must remain aware how others may view it.
  10.  Build With Dialog. Most dialog happens in scenes involving the plot and it should be used to advance the plot. But dialog can also be used to build characterization  “You should use what your subjects say – and how they say it – to show penchants for jargon, poor grammar and mispronunciation. Or meticulous pronunciation, even eloquent diction. Or pretension, sarcasm, humor, anger, fright, sadness, joy, impatience, frustration.” –

Remember there are many tools a writer can use to help develop your characters. Some more difficult than others but all are very useful.



Writing Styles, What are they and Why are they Important

There are four main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. Each of these writing styles is used for a specific purpose. A single text may include more than one style.

Expository writing’s main purpose is to explain. It is a subject-oriented writing style, in which authors focus on telling you about a given topic or subject without voicing their personal opinions. This is most commonly used in essays, articles, and textbooks.

Descriptive writing’s main purpose is to describe. It is a style of writing that focuses on describing a character, an event, or a place in great detail.

Persuasive writing’s main purpose is to convince. Unlike expository writing, persuasive writing contains the opinions and biases of the author. To convince others to agree with the author’s point of view, persuasive writing contains justifications and reasons.

Narrative writing’s main purpose is to tell a story. The author will create different characters and tell you what happens to them (sometimes the author writes from the point of view of one of the characters—this is known as first-person narration).

Specific genres can dictate what style is being used in each text. But today in modern writing styles are very often blended to suit the authors’ needs while building his or her story. Every authors’ writing style will develop as the author does. Many authors will try to force style into their writing by being “extra extra” descriptive or artsy. This is where bad habits are formed. Your style should be allowed to develop naturally.

Your writing style is essentially how well you tell your story. Just remember when you are forming your stories keep it as it comes. Don’t force it. Write and re-write it.

Remember to check out JourStarr  FREE New Author’s Writing Guide.