Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

7 Ways to Make a Blog Host Happy

If an author or other creative has the opportunity to be featured on someone else’s blog, here are some tips to make the blog host’s experience as pleasant as possible—and get the guest invited back!

Whether for a book review, interview, guest post, showcase of a creation, or any other feature that recognizes a creative person or his work, there are ways to submit items to the blog owner that make his or her preparation of the post easier.

1. Create Word documents that are clearly labeled as bio, summary or description, excerpt, interview Q&A, etc. Email them and any requested images as attachments to your host. The email message should state what you are attaching, or simply say that you have attached the requested materials.

When I receive such materials for an upcoming feature, I set up a folder on my desktop labeled with the author or artist’s name. I place all necessary documents and images there within easy reach. The desktop folder serves as a constant reminder that the host must prepare the blog post for publication.

Don’t copy and paste any of your information into the body of an email because …

a. Emails get lost in the muck and mire of hundreds or thousands of other emails and require the host to search later on.

b. A host like me will copy and paste information into Word documents anyway to organize and save it in a folder. That means extra work for your host, which is not a good thing.

2. If a guest thinks of an additional small piece of information after sending the original email containing attachments, I don’t mind copying a sentence or two (if clearly marked as new copy) from an email and adding it to an existing, appropriate Word document. But, for example, if a guest must revise a lengthy article or summary, please send a new Word document of the same name as the original one. That way, the host only has to replace the document by the same name in the folder.

3. When emailing images, don’t send high-resolution files large enough for printing a poster! They take longer to load and use unnecessary storage space. A book cover image file around 300 KB is plenty big enough for digital use, although around 700 is still manageable. I often open larger image files in Photoshop and save them to a smaller size, but it would be better for the guest to do that before sending to the host.

4. Provide all materials to the blog host at least one week in advance of publication date or by the date requested by the host. In your email, ask the host to let you know when he or she receives the email. A response benefits both of you as a reminder that everything is received and okay for publication.

5. Remember to sign up for email notifications of the blog’s posts. That way, you’ll receive an email when your feature has been published, and the host won’t have to notify you personally or email you a link. Either the host or the guest might forget the date when it draws near. The guest can unfollow the blog later.

6. Forward the post email to friends and share the post on all your social media.

7. Encourage friends to comment on the post. Check a few times over the first week for comments and respond to them.

Of course, if a blog host requires you do something different from what I advise, do what he or she prefers. Just as when you submit to an agent, editor, or publisher, it never hurts to ask in advance for guidelines if they are not provided initially.


Seeking My Niche

This post was first published on The Scriblerians blog, October 6, 2015.


Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

I have one of those in my house—a niche. It’s carved out of the wall at the end of a short hallway. Not much fits there, but I placed a tall pottery vase that is flattened from front to back so it nestles in the space just right.

And boy, is it showcased.

Isn’t that what we authors are supposed to do? Find a niche for our work? An audience where it’s showcased rather than one of many similar, cluttered objects where none stand out.

I suppose those are extreme examples, but books can’t yell for attention like humans can. How do I find the audience(s) where my novels might catch fire, so to speak?

I’m thinking out loud now. Thanks for sticking with me.

My YA novels in the Bird Face series use humor and hope to address serious issues facing teens today. Each novel addresses at least a few. It’s the way I like to write stories, with my protagonist facing multiple issues and crises that are intertwined.

So, how do I find a niche for those books?

Right now, I’m looking for teens with particular challenges or areas in teens’ lives where certain types of stories or characters are lacking. Stories featuring a teen that is hearing-impaired are hard to find, for example. So are those with Catholic teen characters.

I wrote my first book because I care about kids who are shy or bullied. It’s fiction that contains elements of Christian faith, and the half-Cajun Wendy naturally became Catholic because all the Cajuns I knew were Catholic.

I wrote my deaf teen character Sam in my second book because I care about hearing-impaired teens. A good friend in my twenties taught at a school for the deaf, and she shared her experiences.  I grew up not understanding much about the hearing-impaired children I met, but I later worked around hearing-impaired adults, who referred to themselves as deaf and who became my friends.

Like an ethnic group, both hearing-impaired and Catholic teens like to see characters similar to themselves occasionally depicted in the fiction they read.

I’ve decided to try target-marketing to both Catholic teens and hearing-impaired teens (as I continue to market to all teens, Christian and non-Christian). I know, I’ve selected two niches, but I’m still figuring this out.

Anyway, that’s my plan for today.

Are you an author struggling to find your niche? As a reader, are you attracted to specific religious aspects of story or social issues in story lines?

Leave a comment »

Marks of a Good Small Publisher

redhighheels  More often these days, authors are turning to small traditional publishers rather than waiting and hoping a large one will take notice of them. Both varieties can and do produce quality books. And as long as you don’t take for granted that size is the only difference, you can benefit in many ways by selecting a good small publisher.

But how can you recognize one that will meet your needs? Are red shoes a clue? Maybe.

Look for signs that demonstrate a desire to get her small press and its authors noticed. Some of these indicators are the very actions that agents, editors, and publishers stress for their authors to perform–all the time.

Does the publisher regularly tweet and retweet her authors’ book news? Does she share information about her authors’ accomplishments, events, and blog posts on Facebook? This is basic stuff important to the success of everyone involved, and something you can check out before querying.

Organized team-building by the publisher and friendly cooperation among its authors are other features to seek. With a small publisher, you will likely have a close relationship with the owner or executive editor because the staff will be small (perhaps one person). Does the publisher maintain and participate in a special Facebook group in which its authors communicate easily as a team? Does the publisher encourage authors to promote one another or ask team members to select from specific marketing duties? Do you see cross-promotion by its authors on Twitter?

Small publishers usually have little to no budget for marketing, but many owners attend writers conferences and do public speaking to promote their presses. You should ask if copies of your book would accompany her to such events.

Each time I read a book, I look for the name of the publisher. If you’re a writer, I’d bet you do too. If the publisher is small, research it online to see if it might be right for you. I hope you find that gem of a small publisher like I did in Write Integrity Press.

What do you write? What is on your particular wish list for a small publisher?



The Next Big Thing (and I don’t mean wedge sneakers) BLOG HOP

Hopefully the next big thing will be the newly published YA novel written by an author like you or me!

A young adult novel is no longer “only a teen book.”  Besides being as difficult to write as an adult novel, YA  is just as likely (or more likely) to win literary awards and become a classic. It has the potential to be widely read by all ages. But first, readers need to know it exists.

This blog hop is a great way for both published and unpublished YA authors to get our names and the titles of our works out there. We post some information about our books and then tag, or list, other authors and their blogs for our followers to visit. Those authors do the same, and so it continues.

After I responded to an email calling for participants, Janet K. Brown, author of Victoria and the Ghost, tagged me on December 12. Check out the blog and books of Janet K. Brown at  She didn’t even know me at the time! But this is one way you can get to know your fellow YA authors. And to share their blogs with readers who might enjoy their books, either now or when they are published in the near future.

As demonstrated on Janet’s blog and this one, ten questions (give or take) will be answered about each participant’s novel. If you are a writer but don’t have your own blog yet, following this blog hop may inspire you to create one.

After you’ve read the following questions and answers about my project, please take a look at the blogs of the talented authors I’ve listed below.


What is the title of your novel?

Bird Face

Where did the idea for the book originate?

I had been thinking about the problems that shyness causes, even well into adulthood.

Which genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult Contemporary

Which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?

That’s a difficult one because I don’t keep up with actors’ names, although I remember faces and acting ability. The main character, Wendy, should be played by someone who can come across as both sensitive and strong, like the lead actress in the movie Flipped.

What is a one-sentence summary of your book?

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.

And here’s a longer blurb:

Almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her classmates Tookie and the Sticks. That is, until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend is hiding something. While juggling divorced parents, caring for abandoned puppies, and trying to make the high school track team, who has time to play detective?

Is your book self-published, published by an independent or other publisher, or represented by an agency?

Bird Face will be published by a notable award-winning independent publisher in Iowa, Port Yonder Press. It will be released in the spring of 2013. I do not have an agent.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

I worked on it in spurts for over a decade while pursuing my original career in design, advertising, and marketing. I changed jobs and either moved or commuted for a while, which interfered with writing a novel.

What other books compare to yours within its genre?

None exactly that I have been able to find. However, novels by Betsy Byars and Sarah Dessen inspired the tone and style.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love preteens and young teens—especially awkward kids who speak without thinking first and are full of love but don’t always know where to direct it. Memories of my childhood and my daughter’s made me want to write a novel that would show kids from ages 10 to 14 how wonderful and powerful they are.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It delicately addresses serious issues of eating disorders and teen suicide. But it contains humor and is uplifting. I wanted it to appeal to kids in grades 5 through 8, as well as adults who care about them.

What’s on the horizon?

I am about halfway finished the first draft of a YA historical titled The Other Side of Freedom. It is about a boy and his Italian immigrant father who become involved against their will in a crime in the 1920s.


Laura Anderson Kurk

Leigh DeLozier

Stefne Miller

Leave a comment »

The Little Things (Make a Big Difference)

You sign a publishing contract. Your manuscript goes behind a curtain, the publisher waves a magic wand, and BAM! A finished book, right?

Let me start by saying I knew better than that. But I’d like to share a few things authors might be asked to address after the structural editing is completed. Even if you’ve spent a great deal of time on them already, a little more won’t hurt.

!. Characters’ names: Are they different enough from one another so as not to confuse the reader? (My main character’s surname has changed from Thibodeaux to Robichaud, because Thibodeaux was similar to Chanceaux, the dog’s name.) Are they interesting without being too weird or difficult to remember? Are they rare enough or common enough or at least not the names of well-known public figures or celebrities?

2. Word Choice in Dialogue, Internal Monologue, and Narrative: Does every word and phrase spoken or thought by each character sound appropriate for that character? Are the vocabulary and sentence structure in the narrative appropriate for your target audience? Are you willing to “kill your darlings”?

3. Setting and Scene Details: If your novel’s setting is one with which you are familiar, are you careful about details? Do any need to include further clarification because the average reader will not be familiar with the setting? Do your scenes contain enough sensory detail to make them both believable and appropriate to your setting?

3. Blurbs, Back Cover Copy, and Bio: Can the book be summed up in three short sentences–or two–or one? There will be a need for descriptive copy of various lengths, for the cover and for marketing purposes. In your bio, can you portray yourself succinctly and make it sound interesting enough for readers to care about you? (Do you have a good photo of yourself?)

This by no means is meant to be a comprehensive list, but I hope it gets you thinking about the little things before that big break comes your way. Then you will enjoy it even more.

1 Comment »

Getting Used to Answering THE Question

What is your book about? 

Providing an answer to that question has rendered me tongue-tied on a number of occasions. It’s not that I don’t know what my own book is about. The problem is how to convey the essence of the book without sounding like I am spouting marketing copy. 

In a nutshell, here’s what it’s about: 

Stuck between a scheming bully and an anonymous notewriter, thirteen-year-old Wendy Thibodeaux just wants to survive to see high school.

That’s a lot better than saying, “Um, it’s about a girl.” Seriously, I said that once–to a stranger, not an agent or editor. Fortunately. 

The following blurb covers the main points of the story. I used it in a number of query letters. 

Not-quite-fourteen-year-old Wendy Thibodeaux doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her classmates Tookie and the Sticks. That is, until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend is hiding something. While juggling divorced parents, caring for abandoned puppies, and trying to make the high school track team, who has time to play detective? 

Still sounds like marketing copy, doesn’t it. 


%d bloggers like this: