IWSG Book Club: September 23rd, 2021 Reads!

IWSG Book Club Upgrade!
The IWSG is getting an overhaul. We’re so excited about the changes, so let me just stop here and turn the explaining over to the fabulous Toi! (Toi’s msg taken from club newsletter.)

How to join IWSG and participate in the book club and the blog hop, and the many things for author’s sponsored and hosted through Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Find out here!


Hi there, I’m Toi.

Perhaps you’ve seen me around the IWSG community. I’m number 36 on the blogging list, and I’m kind of a ghost in the Facebook group, but I do pop in and out from time to time. I’ve been very active in the IWSG Book Club on Goodreads and have recently been asked to take it over. Fortunately, my wonderful co-mods (Juneta Key and Ronel Janse van Vurren) will be there for support the whole way.

We are so excited to announce the new direction the book club will be taking and hope that you will join us. Before we kick off our new traditions, we’ll have our final discussions about the craft of writing, featuring the titles: Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei and Justin Eisinger. These final discussions, on August 25, 2021, are simply fun poll questions you can answer and then, if you so choose, share your thoughts and or review of the last books we read. Click here and here to join in.  

Starting in September, the book club will now serve as a spotlight of member talent. That’s right. We will be reading, sharing, and supporting the works of IWSG members and hope you will join in the fun. While spotlighting writers, we hope to take the book club in a direction that appeals to readers as well. Even if you don’t have time to read the books we choose to spotlight, you can still participate and spread the love. And just remember, your turn will eventually come around.

We have decided to honor the IWSG and its members in the month of September by featuring two of the group’s anthologies: Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime and Parallels: Felix Was Here. These anthologies are themselves a showcase of the talent present within the IWSG community. Since many members of the community are only published in the anthologies, this gives those members a chance to be featured.

Each month, we will feature two books from IWSG members, and whether a long-time veteran or a newcomer, your time to shine will come. The co-mods and I will be picking titles from members based on the blogging list. We’ve divided the list into three parts: 1-50, 51-100, and 100+. We will alternate each month which part we choose from, that way we’re not just showing attention to members in one portion of the list.

As the new admin of the book club, each month I will share tips on ways for members to help their books become more searchable, increasing their odds of being featured. The co-mods and I have also come up with some fun ways for the IWSG community to get involved, even if they are not ready to join the Goodreads book club. After the spotlighted books are announced in the IWSG newsletter, we encourage interested members to share which of the books they are excited to try out, the first Wednesday of the month, in their IWSG day post.

The second Thursday of the month will be when we post our group polls. We are even taking suggestions from members about poll topics to feature. The third Thursday of the month will be our #iwsgbookclub check-in, where we head to social media to share which book(s) we are reading and our thoughts at the moment. Finally, the fourth Thursday of the month will be our discussion day. We’ve decided to help connect readers with the IWSG authors by hosting micro discussions- 3 questions dedicated to each book featured; plus, I’ll be sharing additional questions on social media to indulge the avid readers. Even if you don’t have a chance to read the books, we encourage you to join the discussions. We all know how much writers thrive on feedback.

Wow. There are so many new and exciting things coming your way from the book club and I hope you’ll join the current book club members on this new journey. Personally, I am excited to be part of a community that provides so much support and so many opportunities. I can’t wait to see the IWSG Book Club on Goodreads thrive even more as we continue in the spirit of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

See you on post day.
Here on September 23, 2021!!

Thanks, Toi Thomas
Author at #thetoiboxofwords etoithomas.com
Founder of Lit Carnivale. For more info, click here.

Grumpy Old Fairytales Call For Submissions

**Cover Change & Update for Fairytales

Submission Call
Grumpy Old Fairy Tales
Volume 1:

We’re branching out of mythology and heading into the realm of Fairy! 

There have been a lot of retellings of classic Fairytales, but we noticed that there were very few GRUMPY retellings.   We’re looking for fun new twists on classic Grimm fairytales and well-known folklore.  Is your tale of little Red Riding Hood told from Granny’s perspective?  Maybe she’s a werewolf? Then you might be writing a story for Grumpy Old Fairy Tales. 

In the grand tradition of fairytales, we have a distinct preference for clever characters that manage to get themselves into and out of deep trouble.  Subvert our expectations and make beloved tales new again by changing the setting, theme, or POV. 

If you give us sparkling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and (most of all) a real ending with a twist, it will make our little editing hearts skip a beat.

We are seeking twisted tales, grumpy retellings from the villain’s perspective, masterful switch-ups where the audience is tricked into seeing the tale they expect to see until the last minute (foreshadowing on this is key to keep readers engaged but not give the game away too soon).  

We much prefer a hopeful, humorous take on the subject and theme. Make the reader chortle, chuckle, or choke on their tea if they drink it at the wrong time.

Be creative with the stories. Show us something we haven’t seen before and most of all, make us laugh!


Required: Must have GRUMPY OLD FAIRYTALES VOLUME 1 in the Subject Line of your email. This helps us wade through the correspondence tsunami and spot the right anthology among the hundreds of emails.

So PLEASE be specific. Seriously. We’re begging you guys.  Insane editors edit no anthologies, so if we lose our minds, all the Grumpy fun will end.  

Must include a bio of the author (not that we’re going to judge anyone by their bio…it just makes putting the book together a lot easier if all the information is in the same place).

Social Media and promotion expectations.

No poetry. No plays/screenplays. No matter how amazing your poems are (and some of them have been) we simply don’t have a payment structure in place for something that short. As for screenplays/plays… we don’t have the marketing staff to branch out, and they obviously don’t work in an anthology.

Genre: Speculative Fiction.

Deadline: December 31st, 2021

Payment:  Royalty Split.  

What the heck IS Speculative Fiction?

Well, Wikipedia says… “It encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history, and magic realism.”

In our case, we want a fairytale element, but feel free to pick and choose where you set your story. We’re as likely to pick out fairytales in space as we are to enjoy a nice Viking battle set in a Steampunk Edwardian era that never was.

Most of all, for the love of little green gnomes, have fun with it! These stories are meant to be fun for the reader, but it’s our belief that they can’t be for the reader if they aren’t fun for the writer.

So, let that inner Muse out! Feed her pixie sticks, and see how much awesomeness she can cram into 4000 words.

(All Muses must be convinced to write in American English since the Editors of this anthology do not speak Ancient Greek, Latin, Gaelic, Phoenician, or Egyptian.  Also, if you are writing mythology, please submit it to Grumpy Old Gods rather than Grumpy Old Fairytales)

Words: 3000-4000

Rating: PG13-PG17

Submission Format:  Word Doc / RTF format

(No PDFs or Google docs please.  We’re willing to work with you if you need to submit in a different format, just contact us!) All info including BIOs should be submitted in a separate Word Doc RTF format, not in the body of the email.

What rights are we asking for?

We’re asking for the exclusive rights to publish the stories for one year in the anthology and non-exclusive rights thereafter. We prefer first-run rights, but judge each story on its own merit.


All authors who participate in the collection will receive an equal portion of the profit per a contract will be signed between the authors and Stormdance before publication. None of the startup costs for the book (book cover, formatting, etc…) will be deducted from the proceeds.


Vanessa Wells , Juneta Key, and Vanessa Finaughty.

Submit to: grumpyanthology@gmail.com

Who we are:

Vanessa Wells: Self-professed short story junkie, writer, and editor of anthologies. (Seventeen Stones series / Topeka Cozy Mysteries / Area 52). 

Juneta Key: Juneta is a speculative fiction writer. She writes about space opera, fantasy, paranormal fantasy while playing with the complexity of human nature with elements of mystery and romance. She wears a lot of hats as a story development coach, a Ninja Writers Team member, Insecure Writer’s Support Group admin, one of seven founders and host of the Storytime Quarterly Blog Hop, as well as published author. Editor of Grump Old Gods Volume 1-5. Learn more about Juneta here.

Vanessa Finaughty: A talented editor and fantasy author. She has written and edited for magazines, national newspapers in South Africa, Oxford University Press Southern Africa and the International Trade Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, among others.

Book Marketing Fundamentals Hank Quense

Book Marketing Fundamentals Hank Quense

Don’t try to market your book without finding a mentor!
So, what if you had an experienced author to guide your marketing plans?

Author Hank Quense has self-published and marketed over 30 books. He’s written and marketed both fiction and non-fiction. He also lectures and holds webinars on self-publishing and on book marketing.

Imagine developing a detailed marketing plan for your book and then implementing it.
In this book, you’ll learn:
– How to develop your author’s platform material
– How to write your marketing content
– How to engage in marketing activities
– How to get more book reviews
– What kind of events to hold
– How to get publicity
– How to use (or not use) advertising.
– What other authors say about book marketing
Available on Amazon

Book Marketing Fundamentals Hank Quense

Marketing content is a crucially important element in your book marketing plans.

Marketing content is all about developing material that can be used in marketing activities.  Much of the copy you generate can be used by itself in marketing, some of it will be incorporated with other marketing content to produce additional material.

Here is a partial list of topics that can be used as your marketing content.

    ◆      Book blurb

    ◆      Keywords

    ◆      Sig files

What follows are brief descriptions for each topic.

Book Blurb

The purpose of the book blurb is to grab the attention of a potential reader.  Once you have her attention by means of a great pitch line as the opening sentence, you need to follow that up with a few more sentences that tell her what’s different about your book and what’s in it for her. 

Many new authors consider a book blurb to be a short synopsis.  This is a mistake.  Book blurbs and a short synopsis are two different animals and they have different purposes.

Here are descriptions for each of the three elements involved in developing a book blurb.  Some of the material you developed in your strategic marketing plan will be helpful here.

Pitch Line: This is the first statement and it is the hook to grab the reader’s attention.  Its purpose is to persuade the reader to keep reading the other two statements.  It should be simple, one or two sentences at most, and it must make a clear statement about your book.

What’s in it for the buyer? This is a statement that explains what the reader (i.e. a book buyer) will get in exchange for money.  This must be explicit.  This statement is not the place to get cute. Tell the reader what benefit he’ll get from buying the book.  Think of this statement in this way; if your book is surrounded by hundreds of similar-sized books on a shelf in a bookstore, what would persuade the buyer to choose your book instead of one of the others?

What’s different about this book? With all the books published every month, what makes your book stand out from the others?

The secret to creating an effective blurb is to keep rewriting and condensing it until it expresses the ideas with a minimum of words.


Keywords are frequently referred to as tags.

Readers will often search for a book using the name of a best-selling author but readers can’t enter your title or name if you don’t have any name recognition and if your book has been recently self-published

Another way readers will search for a book is by using a short descriptive phrase such as ‘fantasy quest’ or ‘regency romance’.  This is the situation where you want your book to appear in the search results.  To accomplish this, it is vital that you develop a set of keywords that will ensure your book title will show up in the reader’s search results.

The keywords you want to use are ones that readers in your genre will use when browsing for a book.  These keywords are not necessarily what your book is about: they are the terms a reader will type into a search engine.  Let’s say your book is a fantasy novel filled with elves and dwarfs.  You may think ‘dwarfs’ and ‘elves’ would be great keywords.  They are not.  A reader looking for a fantasy novel won’t use them, but instead will search on keywords like ‘fantasy adventure’ or ‘fantasy quest.’  Consequently, it is important for your marketing efforts that you develop a relevant set of keywords. 

Google has a free keyword planner you can use to help generate your keywords.  You can access it using this link: https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/

Another free keyword tool can be found here:  https://keywordtool.io/

If you have a publisher, it will generate your keywords.  If you self-published your book, check if the keywords should be updated.

Signature Files

Email signatures (usually called sig files) are a free way to publicize your book every time you send out an email.  Think about how many times a day that happens!

Sig files are those links you see beneath the name of the person who sent you the email.  Here is what yours could look like:

Your name

Title of your book

Location of your website

The last two lines would be linked to a webpage, the first to a book buying page like Amazon, the second to your blog page.

Sig files are easy to implement and only take a few minutes.  For the Mac mail program, open mail, click on preferences and then on signatures.  This will open a new screen. On the left is a list of your email accounts (if you have more than one).  The middle column lists the signatures you have established.  Right now, it’s probably blank.  Click on the (+) button and type a file name, such as ‘sig 1’.  In the right column, you can add the sig files you want and they will be linked to the sig name.  To do this, type the name of your book in the right column, highlight the book name, right click on the mouse and click on ‘link’ and then type or paste the URL of your book page.  Close the screen and every time you send out a new email, the link to your book’s page will go with it.

With Gmail, go to the settings page and scroll down to Signature.  There you’ll see a text box to add whatever you want appended to your signature.  You can add links as you need them.  Other email programs will have a similar process to build a sig file.

If you use Outlook, this link will provide information about sig files in that program: https://www.mail-signatures.com/articles/outlook-email-signature-location-and-backup/

The material in this article is based on my new book, Book Marketing Fundamentals, available in ebook and print editions at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other book sellers

Visit my Writers & Authors Resource Center for much more content, most of it unique. http://hankquense.org/wp/writers-and-authors-resource-center/

Book Marketing Fundamentals Hank Quense

Book Marketing Fundamentals Hank Quense


Early in his writing career, he was strongly influenced by two authors: Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Happily, Hank has never quite recovered from those experiences.

He lives with his wife in northern New Jersey, a mere 20 miles from Manhattan, the center of the galaxy (according to those who live in Manhattan). They have two daughters and five grandchildren all of whom live close by.

For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.

Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced eBook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and setting. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.

He has a number of links where you can follow his work and his occasional rants:

Hank’s blog: http://hankquense.org

Strange Worlds website: http://hankquense.org

Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99

Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline

Book Marketing Fundamentals Hank Quense