"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Monday, June 19, 2017

3R's Series Brings More Sizzle With Great Resources!

Greetings, Readers!
My 3R's series returns just in time to provide you with hot reads and leads for a cool summer.
Whether you'll be spending time at a cottage, your local coffee shop, or in the confines of your corner office at home, there is something here for you to explore, enjoy and expand your creative horizons.

So let's get started.


7 Ways Writing is Good for You


5 Ways to Make Nice With Your Muse & Increase Productivity


Where to Find More Freelance Writing Jobs


Killer Content for Your Blog


The Accidental Entrepreneur: How my Blog Became a Business & Yours Can Too


Sell Your Short Stories





The 2017 Guide to Manuscript Publishers



Grants & Awards for Minority Writers


How to Use Emotional Intelligence in a Technological World! (My new Ebook)


Coffeehouse for Writers Provides Online Summer Writing Classes for all Levels 



Many of my readers have created and maintained Blogs through the Blogger.com platform for years. If you're one of them, you'll be excited about the news I'm about to share here.

Have you visited your settings and layout lately? Blogger has launched some customizable beautiful new themes and templates to update your site, that rival the popular ones offered through WordPress.

I discovered this recently while giving one of my other sites a "make-over" a few months ago.

To check them out, log into your dashboard and click on "theme."

Choose from Contempo, Soho, Emporio or Notable.

Remember, just as you would "remodel" and freshen your brick and mortar home, your "virtual spot" benefits from the same attention periodically, too.

That's it for this week, folks. Thanks for reading.

Please note: Pen and Prosper will be on a summer break starting June 28 through August 28th, as I work on some new projects, revisit some old ones, and rest in between.
I hope you'll join me upon return; I'll have a few surprises, more resources and more writers' reads to advance and enhance you!

See you next week.

Comments? Thoughts?

Will you be taking a summer break? Do tell.

Image Credits: https://Pixabay.com/

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Ask the Expert" With Author and Editor C.S. Lakin

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a recent interview conducted with novelist, copyeditor, author and coach, C.S. Lakin. Many of you may remember her from her inspiring guest post contribution some time ago, on the blessings of discouragement. For my new followers, you can read that popular post again here.
Please make her feel welcome with your questions or comments.

Q. Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your creative background?

I've been writing novels for more than thirty years, and after doing a lot of learning and practical application, I began editing and critiquing for authors. I was raised by a TV screenwriter/producer and had a director for a step-father, so my childhood was entrenched in Hollywood, which influenced my story structure. I have two grown daughters, a hardworking husband, a black lab, and three cats. I divide my time mostly between writing books and editing.

Q. Which do you consider more difficult to write--fiction or nonfiction? Why?

I can only speak for myself, personally. I find both are challenging, but neither is harder than the other. They both require thought, organization, creativity, imagination, and purpose.

Q. Describe your brand. What does it entail?

I don't have one. I write in numerous genres and have three pen names. It's difficult to brand each one and it takes time, but it must be done. With my nonfiction, of course, my brand is tied in with me being a blogger, writing instructor, editor, and novelist. I'm all about helping writers write great books.

Q. As an editor who reviews approx 200 manuscripts a year, what are some of the most common mistakes you observe writers making?

I'd say the biggest issues are lack of study (of craft and genre) and resultant skill and an impatience in becoming a proficient writer--meaning, most throw together a novel or nonfiction book without taking the time to learn how to write well and structure their book. It seems a waste of time, effort, and money to write a book without first taking the time to learn how to do it well. It's kind of like trying to bake a five-tier fancy wedding cake without ever having cooked a thing, without reading a cookbook, and just throwing ingredients into bowls and cooking the mess, hoping somehow it will come out of the oven a picture-perfect cake.


Q. I see that your blog accepts guest post submissions. How many do you receive monthly? How can writers increase the odds of getting their work published at Live, Write, Thrive?

I get a steady stream of guest post requests. Most I turn down--because the writer hasn't read my guidelines (which are clearly stated on my blog) and often want to post something completely off topic. The other problem I see a lot are queries from people who can hardly write a clear sentence. If their query shows that much of a lack of a firm grasp of the English language, I know the post will be a disaster. Read my blog, know who my audience is, then write a unique and fresh (and personal) post that will benefit my readers, in typical blog structure.

Q. Based on your publishing track record, you seem pretty prolific. What tips can you share with us on dealing with writer's block?

I don't believe in writer's block. There is only lack of preparation and procrastination. I give lots of great advice on how to be super productive in my latest release Crank It Out!

Q. What would it surprise others to know about you?

Not sure. I used to have a commercial pygmy goat farm, and once upon a time I played in a rock band. Most people seem very surprised that I'm both a devout follower of Jesus and a die-hard liberal who believes in helping the poor and oppressed. For some reason, a lot of people seem to think those two things are mutually exclusive, while I believe they are mutually inclusive. But we're not here to talk faith or politics, though those two issues are ones I'm very passionate about.

Q. What advice can you give us on how to use social media with greater savvy?
I'm slowly drawing away from social media (though I have a lot of tweets regularly running). I spend about two minutes a day on Facebook. I believe more in building a mailing list of fans and giving away free books. I see that authors who do that see the most success.

Q. You've garnered several blogging awards over the years. To what do you attribute your success?
I provide a lot of helpful free content and work my butt off to do so.

...Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're a novelist and need help with your writing, subscribe to my blog and join my Fast Track email group (no participation required). You'll get a lot of free books and PDFs and advice--all to help you fast track to success. Sign up here: https://cslakin.lpages.co/writing-the-heart-of-your-story-opt-in/


C. S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the seven-book fantasy series “The Gates of Heaven.” She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, including her Zondervan contest winner Someone to Blame. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach the craft of writing. Her websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life: www.LiveWriteThrive.com and www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com. Come join in! You can read more about her and her books at www.cslakin.com.
Follow @cslakin and @livewritethrive. Facebook: C. S. Lakin, Author, Editor.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June is National Audio Books Month

Did you know that June is designated as National Audio Books Month?
It's a great time to become more "widely read" and expand your literary horizons.
And here's a bonus: with Father's Day right around the corner, it makes a thoughtful gift, too.

According to Goodereader.com, "Over the course of the past three years, the highest growing segment of publishing are audiobooks."

Here are some other interesting stats that GoodeReader provides on audio books:

  • The global audiobook industry is currently said to be at 3.5 billion dollars. 
  • The U.S. is reported to be the largest singular market with 1.8 billion dollars in audio sales in 2016.
  • The most popular genres? Mystery, thriller, fantasy, science fiction and romance.
Read more stats and trends about audio books at Good reader.com :


Beyond the stats, here are 3 reasons that I have been a fan of this particular reading format for many years:

  • Audio books give a lot of bang for your buck. You can listen to them and multi-task with simple things...like driving to work, folding laundry, or washing dishes.
  • They are easy to transport; they're small and compact enough to fit into a purse or a pocket.
  • They are relatively inexpensive.

Here are a few titles I recommend from my own personal collection:

  3. CHOCOLATE FOR A WOMAN'S SOUL--KAY ALLENBAUGH (I am a contributor to this popular Simon & Schuster series).
If you'd like to start or expand your audio book collection this month, here are a few places to buy or checkout various titles:


I also recommend that you check out famous author Warren Adler's series of interviews on audio book narrators:


When it comes to "hot reads" for summer, don't overlook audio books!

Your turn.
Any audio book fans out there? Thoughts?

Image credit headphones: Https://Pixabay.com/

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

10 Tips to a Successful Book Signing for Authors

Michael Priebe,  Author

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of conducting my first signing event for The Lovely Grind, my new book of “spiritual inspiration for workdays” (it’s like a devotional book aimed at stress relief and spiritual growth). Leading up to my book’s online release (June 6th), I worked with some local retailers (local for me being WI) to get advance copies into their coffee, gift, and art shops. Some people said “No” or brushed me off by saying “E-mail me later,” but other shop owners were extremely receptive and said “Yes, sounds good. And by the way, how about doing a book signing at the store?”

When the prospect of conducting a book signing was first mentioned, I was flattered and excited, of course, but I was also a little nervous, especially since I really hadn’t anticipated that sort of thing until a little later in the book’s (or my career’s) trajectory. 

But if you think about it, it makes sense. A book signing isn’t just good for new (or any) authors, it’s also good for the stores. It gives the store owners an event to advertise that might bring in new customers, and it also helps them to sell some of those books of yours that they just bought.
So yes, I was a bit nervous at the prospect of doing that first book signing, but the event went really well, and here’s what I can report back to those of you who are about to conduct a book signing of your own or are even just imagining one (because it’s never too early to get yourself ready).
 1. Bring plenty of copies of your book.

The store owner for my first signing event had ordered twelve copies of The Lovely Grind for the “Paper Art & Soul” book section of her mercantile shop, but if I’d only brought those twelve copies, I would have quickly run out. Since this event was near my hometown, I’d invited friends and family, and the turnout was good. Also, the store’s owner wanted to set aside several extra for copies for a friend, and before the day was over, she added additional copies of my book to her initial order. Bottom line: err on the side of optimism when deciding how many copies of your book to bring. Having extra in the car or in a tote bag beside you will never hurt.

2. Bring plenty of bottled water (and some pain relievers).

As I said before, I was a bit nervous going into my first book signing, and sure enough, as soon as the first customer asked me “What’s your book about?” I felt a headache and dry throat coming on. Thankfully, I’d brought Advil Liquid Gels and a bunch of bottled water (and the store’s owner had water for me as well), so the next couple of hours weren’t spent in discomfort. You’ll have to do some talking and mingling during the event, so don’t let a headache or parched throat slow you down or damper your mood.

3. Practice your signature beforehand.

During the week leading up to my event, I formulated a more or less standard “autograph” signature so that every book I signed wouldn’t look as if a different person had scribbled something on it. I also practiced my cursive and I practiced writing deliberately, because I’m aware that my handwriting can be more erratic and illegible than that of a hungover doctor who’s writing while riding a unicycle over potholes in a hurricane. Bottom line: have some fun crafting your “Hollywood” signature.

4. Have a few catchphrases ready to put before your name.

Signatures for my book ended up looking something like this: “To Carla, Make Your Grind ‘Lovely,’ Michael Priebe” or “To Scott, Thanks for the Support, Michael Priebe.” First, decide which page of the book you will sign (I signed the half-title page at the front), and then have a few phrases ready to place before your signature. Have phrases ready for people you know and for those you don’t, and orient some of the phrases around your book’s title and/or content. Given my book’s title, some of my phrases revolved around the term “lovely.”

5. Be ready to summarize/talk about your book.

As people walk by your table, they will inevitably ask “What is your book about?” Have a couple of stock answers ready; they don’t have to be lengthy. Jot those answers down on notecards and look back to them every once in a while, or read the back cover of your book to get your mind in the mood to answer that “What is it about?” question. You’ve certainly summarized your project dozens of times already, just boil those summaries down to a couple of sentences or paragraphs for the event.

6. Have copies of your book sitting out on the table.

Sitting behind a stack (or stacks) of your own books lets the world know that you are The Author. Having an artistically arranged landscape of books on your signing table will not only help to “set the mood” for the event, but people will want to flip through your book while talking to you, so nearby copies are a necessity. By the way, you might want to designate one or two specific copies as “flip-through” copies (they could be proof copies), so that a bunch of books don’t get damaged from repeated handling.

7. Bring a couple of promotional items to set up on or around your table.

A few days before the book signing event, my wife and I went to Office Depot and had a few poster boards made up that advertised the cover of my book and also one of my websites. It really was amazing what the store could do for a reasonable price and an almost twenty-four-hour turnaround. All you need is a digital file of your book cover or whatever image you want to have made into a poster or poster board (the store even scanned a flyer-like card I gave them and it turned out very readable). They will take the image you give them and turn it into a custom-sized advertisement for you. Not only do these items look impressive on your table, but they also give customers who are waiting in line something to look at that introduces your book to them before you even say a word.

8. Bring a sheet of paper for mailing list sign-up.

Using Word or Excel or similar format, you can quickly draft a sign-up sheet to get more people onto your mailing list. Signing events are a perfect opportunity for this sort of e-mail gathering, and even if people don’t buy a copy of your book right away (and not everyone you talk to will), this is a way to keep them connected until they hopefully change their minds and buy a copy later on Amazon or through your website.

9. Take photos for your website and social media pages (and just for your own reminiscing).

During my event, I asked my wife to take pictures. I asked friends and relatives to take pictures. I even asked the store owner to take pictures. Trust me, you’ll want these remembrances when the dust clears on the day. You can look back on them when you are having a celebratory drink later that evening, and you’ll also want to put a few images onto your website and/or social media pages.      
And last, but not least...don't forget to enjoy it all! 

This is key. As stated before, I experienced a few jitters going into my first book signing, but I also knew that it was something to be “in-the-moment” about. I knew that it was something that would stand in my mind forever, because it was something that took a lot of hard work and determination on my part to achieve. As a writer, even if your future never ends up holding New York Times’ bestseller lists or stints on Oprah’s couch, you will always have some writing-related moments and accomplishments that you will be able to cherish in your heart forever. 

For me, that first book signing was one of those “forever” moments, and I’m glad that I remembered to enjoy it all as best as I could. I’m also glad that I got pictures; maybe I’ll look at them the next time I’m feeling stuck or unmotivated, or maybe I’ll just look at a few of them today, just for the fun of it, as I visualize future stardom.

Michael Priebe is an avid writer, reader, movie-watcher, and runner. His new book, The Lovely Grind: Spiritual Inspiration for Workdays, is on sale now at Amazon.com and other locations. In addition to working on book projects, he blogs at his websites, www.lovelygrind.com and www.michaelpriebewriter.com. He invites you to check out his book and sign-up for the mailing list at Lovelygrind.com to stay connected. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Let's Celebrate, Pen & Prosper Turns Eight!

Greetings, Readers!
It's a pleasure to have you join me for another session here at Pen and Prosper, as I celebrate my birthday month, and eight years in the blogosphere! Yay!

Back in June 2009, upon the recommendation of a New York book agent, I launched this blog to build my platform and share my love for the written word.

And it has in many ways surpassed my expectations.
Any "serious" blogger knows all the blood, sweat and tears that contribute to a successful blog.
But, without faithful readers and supporters, it really wouldn't mean a hill of beans.

As a popular commercial states: "We've come a long way, baby!"


  • There have been approx 700 posts published @  Pen and Prosper.
  • It has garnered a half million page views (528, 700) according to Google analytics. 
  • Pen & Prosper has been recognized with "Top Writing Blog" honors for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
  • It has been "remodeled" about 4 times.
  • It averages about 2 posts per week; sometimes less, sometimes more.
  • It is read in seven different countries.
  • Famous author and movie writer (War of the Roses) Warren Adler, made a "cameo" appearance here by way of a guest post. 
  • I have authored four blogging books based upon my experience @ Pen & Prosper.


  • Black is my favorite color.
  • Beethoven's 5th symphony brings me to tears.
  • My celebrity crushes? Keanu Reeves, Dean Cole, John Cusack, Michael Ealy, 50 Cent
  • If I were not a writer, my dream career would be to become a chef; I love to cook and entertain friends.
  • I collect cookbooks.
  • I have a fear of flying.
  • I start and end each day with prayer. 
  • I hate okra.
  • Though my passion is writing, my degrees are in business.
  • I dig karaoke.
  • My mom "guilted" me in to becoming a writer.
  • I'm a neat freak.
  • Before becoming a blogger, I was a relationship columnist for a national magazine for many years.
  • I rarely miss the game show Jeopardy and I'm an excellent player.
  • I love and listen to all types of music.
  • I'm a big fan of the TV show Law & Order.
  • Watching movies (and tea) relaxes me.

How about you? If you've been reading my blog for awhile (or just came on board), I'd love to know about you and what brings you here by way of the comments section.
What do you like most or least about Pen & Prosper?


To Wrap things up here..

 I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your readership, friendship, moral support, guest posts, social media shares and comments over the years. Words can not adequately express my gratitude. I'm so glad to have you join me on this journey.

A special "shout out" and thanks to my most loyal supporters and fan club:

Karen L., Linda O., Susan S., Noelle S.

Have a wonderful weekend, wonderful readers!

Until next time...



Image credit:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Deciding What Type of Blogger You'd Like to Be...

These days, many of us are on "information overload."
Let's face it. Blogging experts and how-to gurus bombard us with daily emails with things we must do and measures we must take to achieve success and optimize our online efforts.

Their guidance is purposed to help us:

  • Garner more traffic
  • Become more social media savvy
  • Master SEO
  • Build a more solid platform
  • Win friends and influence people
  • Make money
  • Establish authority

In the process, they advise us to:

  • Write long-form posts of 2000 words or more for greater social media shares.
  • Design our sites so that they are compatible with multiple mobile devices.
  • Use SEO to increase our visibility and Google ranking.
  • Sign up for Google+, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media channels.
  • Blog on self-hosted platforms as opposed to free sites.
  • Build a mailing list.

Maybe it's me, but it seems like every week there's some new technique, platform, gadget, or practice to master, incorporate, try, buy, choose.

Some of it is useful and applicable. Some of it ain't.
Who decides? Ultimately you.
It all boils down to who you want to be as a blogger and writer.

In a "blog fog"?

Here are some factors to consider to inform your decisions moving forward:

  • Your target audience
  • Your goals
  • Whether your blog is professional or recreational
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your value system
  • Your brand
  • Your time
  • Your strengths
Here's the reality.
You can't do it all, my friend. And you certainly can't do it all equally well.
Not to mention, you can't please everybody. It's the quickest route to burn-out.

A better approach?
Align your efforts to your goals, your vision, your values, your time and your brand.
Don't blog blindly, or on "auto-pilot."
Dare to be different. Chart your own course.

Uber-popular blogger Seth Godin did. For example, his short, savvy, thought-provoking posts pack a punch typically in less than 250 words.


Additionally, he blogs on the platform Type Pad (not Wordpress) .

Don't get me wrong. This is not to suggest that you should not incorporate the advice of experts in your blogging journey: most have built solid careers from having the right strategy and making smart decisions.
But be prudent in the path you choose to follow. Go with your gut. Go with what makes sense.
Assess and apply.

At a recent college graduation ceremony, Judge Judy shared some words of wisdom we all should consider: "You should listen to many. But only take advice from those whose track record you admire."

The verdict's in: that Judge Judy is a pretty smart cookie.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
Have you ever taken the "road less traveled " in your blogging journey?

Image: Https://Pixabay.com/

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Joys of Journaling!

I love how words give shape and permanence to our thoughts.
How they mirror our moods, capture our experiences, make us assess and reflect.

Particularly as it relates to journal writing. And there's a bonus here,
journals are our secret keepers; they guard and preserve our most intimate stories without judgment or disclosure. Better than a best friend, at times.

Which is why I have kept a journal since my teen years...in every size, color and theme.
And the good news is you're never too young or old to start one or maintain one.

As the years have evolved, here are some benefits I have observed from this age-old practice.
See if you agree.


  • Journaling can be cathartic. Potentially saving thousands of dollars in professional therapy. :-)
  • It can help enhance creativity.
  • It can bring closure to plaguing issues or painful relationships. Your words can help "close the chapter" to unresolved issues, or write your own "happy ending" as you see fit.
  • Journaling can assist us to chronicle, witness and understand our spectrum of emotions and our personal growth. Remember that guy or girl who broke your heart, that you thought you'd never get over? When you read your journal entries years later in retrospect, you'll get quite a laugh and even confirmation of your inner-strength.
  • Journals can be used for an array of projects and purposes.

  • A Blessings Journal
  • A Recipes/Food Journal
  • An Exercise/Diet Journal
  • A Shopping Journal
  • A Financial Journal
  • A Work life Journal
  • A Creative Journal
  • A Relationship Journal
  • A Bucket List Journal

If you're on board, here are a few places to score cute, inexpensive diaries and journals:

  • Online @ Amazon.com
  • At a local Dollar Store
  • At thrift shops
  • At Stationery stores

Get creative here.
Add photos, stickers, pressed flowers, post cards to places you've been or would like to visit, for a more personalized experience.

There's really no wrong way to pen your life story, for memories that live a life time. 

Curious here. Do you keep a journal? What kind? Do tell.

Image credits: https://Pixabay.com/