Here There Be Monsters

literary monsters 241x300 Here There Be MonstersOur thanks to author and media relations expert Christina Hamlett for this guest post and to for the scary monster… Talk about character development…

Like a lot of kids, I grew up thinking that monsters lived in my closet. I had no particular reason for believing this, nor did I ever ponder why they could be kept so easily at bay by a Tinkerbelle nightlight, an open bedroom door and a cadre of vigilant stuffed animals. Perhaps, though, I now credit my childhood angst for the adult rationale of keeping my walk-in closet stuffed with enough apparel that any monster dumb enough to get trapped inside would likely suffocate before he could inflict much harm.

Bogeyphobia (yes, that’s a real word) is a fearful state of mind that has probably been around since the dawn of mankind. They can arise from internal predispositions, exaggerated reactions to traumatic external events or just weary parents trying to keep their children in line with scary stories.

Fabricated “monsters” of any ilk share a common denominator of giving their intended victims a racing heart, rapid breathing, excessive sweating and uncontrollable shaking. Not only, you see, is it just the thought of impending death that causes them to quake with such dread but – thanks to Hollywood – the thought of meeting one’s demise in a particularly weird, painful and icky way.

By definition, a monster is a fictional creature that has sprung forth as a freak of nature or an experiment by man gone terribly wrong. Whether through hideous appearance, destructive actions or an amoral mindset, monsters serve just as much purpose in holding a mirror up to our own dark sides as they do in filling a proxy role for real-life sociopolitical threats.

In the 1950’s, for instance, movie themes involving invasions by outer space creatures were subliminal propaganda to remind us that Communists were malevolent bullies wanting to crush us. This was the same decade – fueled by post-atomic jitters – that begot plots in which unleashed radiation spawned giant ants, monster blobs and mutant crabs.

By the time we moved into the 80’s and 90’s, the public’s respective criticism of the American space program and the tweaking of DNA to produce clones like Dolly the sheep inspired fare such as the Alien and Jurassic Park film franchises as a graphic warning that persistent scientific curiosity could kill much more than just cats.

If you want to write horror stories that grip your readers’ imaginations, terrify their souls, and escalate pulse rates, there are some immutable laws of monster mashups they’ll expect you to observe. Specifically:

  • The monster is either in circumstances beyond its control or intellect (and, thus, courts empathy) or purposely threatens our existence because (1) we’re in its way, (2) we’ve awakened a curse, (3) we represent a plentiful food source or (4) we destroyed something it loved.
  • Monsters have a keen sense of smell, vision and/or hearing which always becomes more sharply honed as the story progresses and the pursued start to employ more cleverness in seeking out hiding places.
  • The one person who figures out something is dangerously amiss and tries to warn others that precautions must be taken is (1) always laughed at and thought to be a kook, (2) often tries to befriend the monster or at least see its point of view, (3) sometimes dies by misjudging the monster’s motives, or (4) has a love interest that needs to be rescued from the monster’s clutches.
  • To vanquish a rampaging monster, you must either employ the most high-tech gadgetry (that has presumably never been tested until now) or resort to something incredibly simple such as fire, water, mirrors, trip-wires, chasing it onto a glacier or throwing salt in its mouth. A reference to the method of destruction must be foreshadowed early in the plot (and probably by the same guy that everyone laughed at).
  • Sometimes the monster wins. (We just don’t always know it.)

Here’s to bringing your own monsters to life! And remember to leave that light on….


Christina 262x300 Here There Be MonstersChristina Hamlett is a media relations expert and award-winning author whose credits to date include 30 books, 156 stage plays, 5 optioned feature films, and hundreds of articles and interviews that appear online and in national/international trade publications. In addition, she is a script consultant for the film industry (which means she stops lots of really bad movies from coming to theaters near you) and a professional ghostwriter (which does not mean she talks to dead people). Learn more  at

Karma and Cooperation: Secrets to Author Success

Giving is getting author success 300x300 Karma and Cooperation: Secrets to Author SuccessOur thanks to book coach Nancy Baumann for this guest post.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of everything in life being so competitive. Whether you’re seeking a job opportunity or trying to find a parking spot, it can feel like a battle zone out there!

I’m so glad authors don’t have to be that way. Our profession is unique. Authors, we’re not in competition with each other! People are always going to buy books. It’s not like readers will only buy one or two books a year and have to decide between yours and mine. Books are relatively inexpensive, so when readers find something that interests them, they’re going to snatch it up.

We all want to be successful, and in terms of our books, for most of us author success means that people are reading what we wrote. We write to be read, and if nobody ever reads our work, then we can hardly feel successful. It’s wonderful to hold our book in hand, but it’s even more wonderful when it’s in the hands of others. [Read more...]

Five Expert Tips to Tighten Your Writing

Horrorstor 252x300 Five Expert Tips to Tighten Your WritingOur thanks to author Grady Hendrix for this guest post loaded with writer wisdom to tighten your writing…

Before I wrote Horrorstör, I wrote everything. I wrote seven-word descriptions of reruns of Matlock for TV channel guides, I wrote garbage-sorting manuals for Hong Kong hotels, I wrote pamphlets hawking fake jewelry, I wrote English-language patter for Chinese television presentations that no one ever watched, and I wrote hundreds of articles for a now-extinct field we called “newspapers.” 

For years, I churned out thousands of words, week in and week out, always with tight word counts and always on tight deadlines, and while I often wanted to blow my brains out, I realized that not everything I learned as a keyboard-clacking hack was totally useless when it came time to write a novel. Here’s what stuck: [Read more...]

Will Bookstores Sell Your Indie Books? A Self-Publishing Series Case Study

FaulknerHouseLg XL 300x252 Will Bookstores Sell Your Indie Books? A Self Publishing Series Case Study Thanks to book publicist Claire McKinney for this guest post! Pictured here, a favorite indie book store, Faulkner House Books in New Orleans, LA.

The short answer is yes, it is possible to get brick and mortar bookstores to take your self-published books, but it isn’t an easy option. The simplest course is to hire someone to get your e-book set up on every available platform including Nook, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, etc., and then market like crazy online.

But today I am highlighting an author and how his perseverance with booksellers continues to pay-off, over a year later. [Read more...]

Announcing WWW’s New Partner Page!

18 300x253 Announcing WWWs New Partner Page!From soup to nuts… That’s always been the goal of Where Writers Win — to provide a “home base” from where any writer or author, no matter WHERE they are on their journey, can find their “next step” resources.

And though we provide a number of those resources ourselves, there’s always more… and plenty of great companies doing it right.

So, beyond our WWW team offerings and our amazing Winner Circle of vetted access to influencers, we’re always seeking the best and brightest in the publishing industry to whom we feel confident referring our tribe.

Because many offer special pricing, discounts and promo codes to our Winner Circle members, our tribe of free blog subscribers and followers doesn’t always get to see just how many great folks we recommend to emerging authors. So we’ve rectified that with a special page called WWW’s Approved (and Stellar!) Partners.

We hope this will make your own strategy as an author easier to plan and execute. Our partners page divides author needs into one of three categories:

Stage 1. Coaching/Editing/Ghostwriting

Whether you’ve just begun your book planning and need a ghostwriter or coach to get the job done, or you need quality editing services, these partners are ready to help (and offer competitive pricing to WWW readers as well as special discounts to Winner Circle members).

Stage 2. Perfect Prep / Dutiful Distribution!

Cover design, website launches… social media coaching and media training? Our team has you covered. And we have relationships with several fabulous hybrid publishers we can refer you to as well. But if you’re self publishing and/or creating your own imprint, we heartily recommend some very fine companies to help you put your best foot forward.

Stage 3. All the World’s YOUR Stage!

The book is out; the website has launched — You’re blogging and sharing fabulous content with your social media outlets… Like those late night infomercials shout, “But wait, there’s more!” And again, we’ve got you covered with our Winner Circle and video book trailers… But that’s not the end of your journey to create more buzz for your book, not by a long shot. Here are folks that will offer you some more bang for your marketing buck.

There are more stellar partners to come, but this will give you a healthy start!

Not sure where you’re at on the road to successful publishing? You can always schedule a free chat with us to answer any questions you may have! Just email

A Clever Twist on Video and Book Club Promo from Author Neil Gaiman

author neil gaiman on book club promo 248x300 A Clever Twist on Video and Book Club Promo from Author Neil GaimanA+ for clever goes to author Neil Gaiman! Combining the best of two book influencer worlds, Neil shot a video praising book clubs. Uploaded September 2, 2014, it’s had nearly 10,000 views on YouTube in just 10 days.

In the video (you can check it out below), Gaiman begins by praising the value of live book clubs. And not just for influencing book sales, but for what they’ve meant to him as an author being able to try his work out on a club. 

He then offers up his own answers for what he feels would be “top book club questions” for The Ocean at The End of The Lane.

Smart, Smart, SMART!

Why do we love this? Because in one video, Neil has achieved:

  • Using video to promote his work, with a chance of it reaching a widespread audience (and so it has, and will continue to do so…)
  • Creating book club questions (something we recommend all authors do for the back matter in their books as well as on their author websites)
  • Bringing those questions to life by answering them on a video…
  • Sharing that video across social media channels from Tumblr to Facebook
  • And thus inviting himself into the living rooms of live book clubs everywhere, who can read his book, and then discuss the questions, and the author’s own answers to them!

Lest you think video is JUST for video book trailers and author interviews, here’s a fresh new take to include in your author marketing mix!

Other cool video promo ideas? Please share with your comments below….

Five Keys to Working with Book Stores, Before You’re Published and After

novel0marketing Five Keys to Working with Book Stores, Before You’re Published and AfterLoving this podcast about working with bookstores from — Seriously worth 17 minutes of your time to give it a listen! Our thanks to book publicist Lynda Bouchard for bringing it to our attention.

Some say bookstores are only interested in promoting the best-selling authors. While that’s not true, getting their focus will take some tricks and techniques. In this episode, Novel Marketing covers five keys to getting the attention of physical, walk-in bookstores.

Looking for a vetted list of indie bookstores from around the country (as well as access to vetted book reviewers in your genre, live book clubs and more)? Join Where Writers Win’s Winner Circle today, and be sure to tell us what you think!


d73954c777d8e7cf43bb6527bcba6794bc9589b6 Bookarma%20Writerswin%20Banner%20Ad Five Keys to Working with Book Stores, Before You’re Published and After

10 Twitter Tips for Authors (Infographic)

Twitter for authors 10 Twitter Tips for Authors (Infographic)From, here are some easy and useful Twitter tips that will help you build better relationships with existing fans (which ultimately leads to more book sales), reach more potential readers, and avoid annoying your followers in the process.

If you’re new to Twitter, it may feel uncomfortable at first. Search out other popular authors to see what they’re tweeting and/or retweeting, and to learn what sort of content gets the most retweets.

By the way, retweeting is a wonderful way to get started. You’re sharing content that matters to you and that you think will/should matter to your fans, and you’re widening the audience of the person who originally tweeted, which is a grand way to begin forging Twitter relationships… [Read more...]

Tell Us Authors: What Went Wrong?!

authors what went wrong 231x300 Tell Us Authors: What Went Wrong?!We write plenty about what to do right as an aspiring or emerging author. But what about when it goes all wrong?

As we well know, it’s sometimes easier (albeit painful) learning from our mistakes or, as author Steve Piacente put it so eloquently in a comment the other day, from those things that have fallen flat.

My favorite “bad pitch” story actually came from more than one female literary agent who’s shared that aspiring authors slid their manuscripts under stall doors in the women’s restroom. For the record, we’ve yet to hear a happy ending to this urban pitch legend…

Famed author Sandra Brown told a fun one at a writer’s conference about her first book signing. She sat outside a mall all day without selling a single book, despite alluring folks to the table with brownies. At the end of the day, before she was going to pack it in, a woman came running across the mall to her table and Sandra thought she’d finally land a sale. But no, the woman was simply after the last, lone brownie… (See, it can happen to the best-selling of us, too!)

I think my own worst experience was at a bookstore event where I was asked to do a demo and speech. I started talking, a bit nervous, and paused to take a sip of water… that went down the wrong pipe! Spitting, sputtering and coughing, I tried to continue but (as it always does in such a predicament) it just got worse. Red-faced and watery-eyed, I must’ve looked a mess, anything but the perfect image I was hoping to project! (Note to self: Breathe deep, speak slower, and if all else fails, have a good joke at the ready.)

Now, here’s your chance to share, vent and otherwise exorcise the demons of your own pitches or promos that fell flat. Forgot your bookmarks? Lost your voice in a reading? Tell us your funniest, most embarassing or awful story with your comment below… AND what you learned from the experience.

Don’t be shy; we’ve all got ‘em!

There’s (Probably Going To Be) An App For That

theres app for that 300x210 There’s (Probably Going To Be) An App For ThatOur thanks to media relations expert and award-winning author Christina Hamlett for this fun AND useful list of nine unusual free apps! Does one inspire you?

When my writing career began, it was an App-less world. If you wanted to know something, you went to a library, read books, asked friends and composed copious lists in case you ever wanted to look up this stuff again. Today, there are iPhone Apps for almost everything.

Whether you need to calculate the amount of oxygen in a room, figure out your age in gator years, or check out the “Haircaster” forecast to see if it’s going to be a bad hair day, technology has literally put all the answers at our fingertips. Just recently at a dinner with some of my husband’s associates, one of them casually mused aloud where the nearest public restroom might be. Within a nanosecond, the man next to him pulled out his iPhone, punched up the App for Charmin’s toilet-finding GPS and found the answer. (sigh) News you can use.

Imagine the convenience we’d all enjoy if there was a special edition of must-have Apps just for writers. Until that happens, here’s a tour of wacky, weird and even surprisingly useful resources you may not have known existed. Who knows? They might inspire your next plot. [Read more...]