Sticker Mule: “Merch” Made Easy


bronze finals - 01
Okay, it has no sticker, but it is a mule!  You’ll find Sticker Mule and much more info at the link provided.

Authors—or anyone marketing—are you looking for an awesome place to buy affordable printed “merch” for your books or products? You know… marketing merchandise, like stickers, buttons, labels, magnets, packaging, and such? Maybe something imprinted with the cover of your book?

Sticker Mule is your answer.

Haley’s upcoming book release.

One of my author friends, Haley Rose, uses them with relish to raise awareness for her darling, educational children’s picture books.

Direct from Sticker Mule’s website, here’s what they’re about: “We relentlessly focus on making it fast and easy to order custom products. Order in seconds and get your products in days. Free proofs, free artwork help, free shipping, and fast turnaround are why people love us.”

Write on! Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth


Build readership through Wattpad critiques – ALWAYS


I have just discovered Wattpad, thanks to our ALWAYS tribe’s “resident expert” on everything book-related, Karen Mueller Bryson.

The Toronto-based company offers a Web site “connecting a community of more than 45 million people around the world through serialized stories about the things they love.”  Basically, authors can upload books-in-progress, and receive feedback as they write. You can also read others’ books and provide feedback. The audience is young-ish, so young adult and new-adult works do especially well in Wattpad.

Here are the steps they recommend to get readers to notice your books on the site:

  1. Update your stories regularly, at least once a week.
  2. Make your stories stand out through use of keywords, visuals, and other media.
  3. Talk to your readers.
  4. Follow other writers.
  5. Share stories on social media.
  6. Challenge your writing by entering a Wattpad writing contest.
  7. Learn from other Wattpad writers.

And, here’s another helpful article “How to Get More Out of Wattpad: 6 Authors Share Their Best Practices,” which I found particularly informative.

I’m going to give Wattpad a shot, and will keep you apprised of my experience as I go along.

Have you used Wattpad? What did you like best? What would you change?

Five book events to rock your world

Sculpture in a public library in Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Your inner storyteller wants you to indulge in one or all of these upcoming events… for the sake of the book you’re writing.

Listen to that little voice, it will not steer you wrong!

Th., Oct. 13: Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS)

Meet in-person with other established authors to discuss writing “voice” with Susan Pohlman, at the next gathering of the ALWAYS writers’ tribe: in Phoenix, AZ, on Thurs., Oct. 13, 2016, at 11:30 a.m.

Sa. Oct. 8 and F., Oct. 14: Rock The Drop

Young adult writers, learn from YA authors at the 5th Annual Rock The Drop Kick-Off Event on Sa., Oct. 8.

Then, join the Readergirlz (and guyz!) as they “drop” YA books with identifying bookmarks all over town on Friday, October 14, for other teens to find.

Learn more.

Sa., Oct. 15 and W., Oct. 19: “Key Editing Tips to Wow A Publisher”
My presentation explaining how to avoid the key writing issues I consistently change in manuscripts I edit. 

  • 12 p.m.-2 p.m., Sat., Oct. 15, 2016, at the Phoenix Writers Club,
    Bluewater Grill, 1720 E. Camelback, Phoenix, AZ

What other event do you know of, coming up? Please comment.

Write on! Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth

P.S. Learn more about my novels on Google+.

Key editing secrets to write a compelling story: Tempe library workshop

Ann Videan
Here I am presenting last time at the Tempe Public Library… same topic, but I’ve added a few tips.

As an editor, I consistently fix a handful of writing issues as I read through manuscripts.

As a writer, if you knew about these issues, you could avoid them before your editor even reached for a red pen. You could create a much more vibrant manuscript to submit to a potential publisher… one that compels your reader deep into your story or message.

Allow me to give you the inside scoop at a free workshop, #2 in my series of four writing presentations: “Key Editing Secrets To Write A Compelling Story.”

Sat., Sept. 17, 2016
10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Tempe Public Library
Meeting Room A

Can’t wait to see you there!



Free writers’ workshops equal “magic elixir” to induce better writing

In one day, you can “magically” gain a wide spectrum of knowledge about writing more vibrantly in any genre.

Twelve local, multi-published authors will discuss everything from managing writer’s block and crafting romance to writing Native American characters and managing outrageous marketing. (That latter topic, I’m thrilled to say, will be covered by “yours truly.”) I will also contribute to the keynote panel discussion at the end of the day: “Communities, Conferences and Critique Groups.”

Where and when can you find all this “magic elixir?”

The Desert Rose Chapter of the Romance Writers of America sponsors its…

11th annual Free Writers’ Workshops
Scottsdale Civic Center Library
Sat. Nov. 5, 2016
10:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Learn a bunch, rub elbows with authors, buy books, and have fun with us!

Have questions? Contact Valen Cox at

2016 Scottsdale Workshops Brochure (1).jpg


Author secrets—from world-building to a writers’ residence exchange—ALWAYS

Our November 2014 tips from established writers attending the
Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering.
Read ’em and reap.

I was asked by one of the ALWAYS authors to share some world-building tips with our tribe, on the heels of publishing my new fantasy adventure Song of the Ocarina.

For a copy of my handout, visit the Files link on the ALWAYS Facebook page. Here are the high-level points from my wee presentation*:

1. Pick a unique idea or set of ideas to frame the world.
Mine centered around:

  • Noel Stone, newly Noble Fae, musician, and sometime sheep shearer. Image by John Taylor. ©2013 VUPublishing
    Noel Stone, newly Noble Fae, musician, and sometime sheep shearer. Image by John Taylor. ©2013 VUPublishing

    Noel, a 6-1/2′ tall character who came to me in a dream

  • A New Zealand-type realm influenced by the Maori culture
  • Fae names:
    • Noble Fae all natural (Lark, Glenn, B’rook)
    • Dark Fae based on burned-out rock stars (Mikk, Kert, Axyl)

2. Rules – establish logical rules for your world (especially putting limitations around magic, or developing cultural activities)

3. Rituals – structure a set of set activities in the world’s culture (greetings, birthdays, weddings/funerals, art/music, sports)

4. Power – develop a series of hierarchies (government, education, communities)

5. Place – more than setting, describe the place from a character’s perspective

* Malinda Lo’s blog provided world-building inspiration for my comments.

Additional tips from our authors:

  • Support indie authors by buying their books rather than sharing or free downloads. Your support means they can continue creating the stories you love.
  • Looking for a place to write? Check out Poets & Writerswriter’s residency exchange. I am SO excited about learning more about this!
  • The 3-Day Novel Contest. This writing challenge  has happened every Labor Day weekend since 1977. “Entrants pre-register, grit their teeth, lock their doors and try to produce a literary masterwork in 72 short hours. A panel of experienced judges reads the results and the winning novel is published.
  • To see what readers like about a genre, look at Amazon reviews about similar books.
  • Write a series rather than a one-off. Consider making the first book in the series Perma-free (permanently free ) on Amazon to allow readers to sample your writing and get hooked on the series.
  • Read Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose
  • Write more than you read about writing. Ah, the temptation!


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth

Eight top writing and vocabulary secrets from established authors – ALWAYS

At our Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering this week, five established writers shared their top writing secrets and vocabulary words for this month. Now you can benefit from them, too!

  1. Find font symbols
  2. Write every day
  3. Find speaking opportunities
  4. Create an em-dash
  5. Association for mystery writer
  6. Product placement in books
  7. Vocabulary suggestions
  8. A.Word.A.Day link
Visualize Your Vocabulary, Shayne Gardner
Visualize Your Vocabulary, Shayne Gardner

1. Shayne Gardner — who just published Visualize Your Vocabulary: Turn Any SAT Word into a Picture and Remember It Forever (Volume 1) with illustrations by Kris Hagen — provided a tip about finding special font symbols on a computer.

According to Microsoft Word’s help function, “You can use the Symbol dialog box to insert symbols, such as ¼ and ©, or special characters, such as an em dash (—) or ellipsis (…) that are not on your keyboard, as well as Unicode characters.” Here’s how.

Emma Dilemma series, Patricia Hermes
Emma Dilemma series, Patricia Hermes

2. Patricia Hemes, a multi-published author of the Emma Dilemma series among others, suggested simply that if you want to be a writer, you need to set time to write every day.

3. She also asked about speaking opportunities in the Phoenix area, and we suggested she contact the National Speakers Association headquartered in Tempe, Ariz.

4. Laurie Fagen, co-author in SoWest: Crime Time, a  Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Anthology (Volume 5), led us to a discussion about dashes. We differentiated these, and shared how to create them in Microsoft Word:

  • Hyphen (-), used to connect words
  •  En-dash (–), for connection ranges or dates
  • Em-dash (—), what most people call simply a “dash,” signifying a break in a thought or longer pause or interruption in dialogue
SoWest: Crime Time anthology, Laurie Fagen
SoWest: Crime Time anthology, Laurie Fagen

5. By the way, Laurie is the current president of the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths. This association for mystery writers meets the third Wednesday of the month at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in downtown Scottsdale, Ariz.

6. Ann Videan (that’s me), author of Rhythms & Music women’s novel and soundtrack, and The Delfaerune Rhapsody series, suggested authors look into product placement in your books to develop additional revenue streams. She explained that this simply involves mentioning brand names in your story and approaching the company about supporting the book for its publicity value to them. She recommended this HowStuffWorks article to learn more.

Song of the Ocarina, Ann Videan
Song of the Ocarina, Ann Videan (book 1 of the Delfaerune Rhapsody series)

7. Our topic, vocabulary, helped unveiled several new fun words or phrases we can can all incorporate into our writing.

  • brilliant: popular in the United Kingdom, meaning cool, great, or an outstanding performance, concept, or product
  • mind the gap: a  phrase to warn passengers to be careful while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.
  • go to the loo: an informal, more polite way of saying you’re headed to the bathroom, or going to the toilet

(From these first three, can you tell Laurie just returned from a trip to Europe?)

  • kerfuffle: disturbance or fuss
  • ostentatious: fancy, showing off wealth of knowledge to gain attention
  • ambitious: desiring to be successful, famous, or powerful; not easily done or achieved
  • grawlixes: typographical symbols standing for profanities, appearing in dialogue balloons in place of actual dialogue
  • ar·sy–var·sy: backside forward, head over heels, topsy-turvy
  • interrobang: a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection
  • histrionic: over-the-top melodramatic or theatrical
  • opprobrious: expressing scorn or criticism
  • disconcert: unsettle, disturb the composure of

(These last three are Shayne’s favorites from his new vocab book. Weren’t we lucky to have him attend today and share such cool words?)

8. For an introduction to a new word every day, complete with pronunciations, Laurie suggested subscribing to’s A.Word.A.Day.

Care to add your own tips or favorite words?


Three top options for easy book printing

#15 Writing Tip: Three top options for easy book printing

Now, you’ve written your book and want to make sure it’s produced beautifully in printed form. [A future post will cover the ins and outs of e-book creation.]

Rhythms & Muse books
My first novel, printed on demand by CreateSpace. Almost all the authors I know — even those traditionally published before — are now using this Amazon company to produce their printed books.

So, where do you start? First, ask yourself some questions to help you decide between the three main options:

Option 1

  • Do you want your book publisher/printer to lend credibility to your book?
  • Do you want others to worry about publishing your book?
  • Do you want your book to appear on book store shelves?
  • Are you willing to give up most of the control as to the book’s content and design?
  • Are you willing to wait at least a year to obtain printed copies of your book?

If you answered yes to any of these, you probably want to go through a traditional publishing house that will print your book for you. These are known as the “Big Six.”

  • Hachette Book Group
  • HarperCollins
  • Macmillan
  • Penguin Group
  • Random House
  • Simon & Schuster

[Learn more about the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing in my previous blog.]

Option 2

  • Do you want at least some help publishing your book?
  • Do you want a bit of control regarding the book’s content and design?
  • Are you willing to pay a few thousand dollars for publishing support?
  • Do you want a book within a few months?

If yes, you’ll want to consider an independent publisher, sometimes called small press, that will print your book for you. You might consider these publisher/printers as “self-publishing with support” I know authors who have successfully published books through:

  • AuthorHouse
  • Abbott Press (a division of Writer’s Digest)
  • CreateSpace (with a paid support package)
  • Lightning Source

My research into this area pointed me to Lightning Source, because other indie publishers outsource to them for printing, and they are affiliated with Ingram, a leading distribution house. But, I ended up going with Option 3 in the end.

Option 3

  • Are you willing to do most of the work to prepare your book for publishing/printing?
  • Do you want total control regarding the book’s content and design?
  • Do you not care if your book appears on book store shelves?
  • Do you want to publish as inexpensively as possible?
  • Do you want a book within a month or two?

Your option is a print-on-demand publisher that will print your book only when someone orders it. I went this way for my Rhythms & Muse novel, and enjoyed working with CreateSpace. This Amazon affiliate is also linked with Kindle. You can’t beat the cost [nothing until you order your book(s)], and they provide easy do-it-yourself (DIY) tools to help create books and other media. Upload, proof, print. Your book is on Amazon.

As a caveat,  I will add one additional option. You may want to find a printing house and work with them directly to create your book. I recommend this option if you fully understand the printing process, want to babysit your book as it goes through every step of the process, and have a very large bank account. [In other words, I don’t recommend this option.]

Tell us how you produced/printed your book and where we can find it!


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth

Authors, understand the legality behind your books, ALWAYS

Do you know the legal ins and outs regarding your book? Let’s get together with Megan D. Scott with The Kleinman Law Firm, to learn more about keeping our content legal and protecting our work.

Josh Groban, Phoenix 2013

In your book, can you use photos of celebrities like the one my daughter took at the Josh Groban concert?
Can you even use their names? Can you use music lyrics and quotes?
Should you officially copyright your writing?
Find out by attending the Dec. 12 ALWAYS writers gathering in Tempe, AZ.

[In case you’re wondering, Josh is the guy in the shadows just to the right of the violinist
and behind the guy with his knee up.]
Photo: 2013 CEVidean

Next gathering:
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of each month.)

(private board room)
Tempe Marketplace
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe , AZ – 85281

back-up location:
Tea Infusion
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy # 1064
Tempe, AZ 85281-4927
(480) 967-1141

A writing tip, and your own lunch.

PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
• Contacting Ann Videan,

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!


• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

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