Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: JoAnn Yolanda Hernandez and The Reset Button

It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which. If you decide to join us, know that whatever you share will receive the upmost respect and attention. 

Click here to join. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

Our awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG will be Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend! 

If you haven't already, don’t forget to sign up for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s newsletter! Our new admin, Chrys Fey, has spun her magic and invited some awesome guests for the first issue, due out February 24. Sign up HERE. 

In the still of the night, with your dreams fading, misery and doom weighing you down, do you see all hope as hopeless? Do you hear the banshee scream? During the darkest moment, is that when you choose death over life? You press the reset button, unconsciously aware that what you really want is to start over. 

The you in this case is  Jo Ann Yolanda Hernandezaward-winning author. Mother, sister, daughter, friend.

In life, JoAnn rose each day hesitantly and accomplished what many of us yearn for: a measure of success as an author. She dedicated her life to promoting authors of colour. Along the way, she hoped if she took her meds, some form of joy would kick in and allow her peace of mind. 

Five years ago, JoAnn, a talented writer, university professor, and often difficult friend, chose to press the reset button. It's taken me this long to realize she wasn't a coward, nor was she courageous. The meds were slowly killing her creativity, bleeding her dry; no amount of desperation, screams for help, or willing her sanity to remain intact, worked. She wasn't getting better. 

I didn't understand. I told her over and over again: "FIGHT! Be stubborn. Refuse to give up. Believe in yourself, in our friendship. Persevere--it'll get easier--I promise!" What I should have said was, "JoAnn, happiness is a decision you make every morning. If not today, then tomorrow."

Sometimes she'd call (I've lost track of how often) and mumble that she'd taken an overdose of meds. Then she'd pass out. I lived in British Columbia, Canada; she lived in Mesa, Arizona. Still, I'd always manage to contact the authorities and have someone show up at her door in time to get her to emergency where they could pump her stomach. One summer I even talked her into coming north to stay with us. I thought my sheer determination to save her -- would save her.

She stayed three months. On her way home, she detoured through Chicago on 9/11 to New York so she could help friends cope with the nightmare.  It was while she was in NYC that she convinced her agent, the infamous Marie Brown, to sign me. The relationship never went anywhere; but for a time, I could say, "I have the same agent as JoAnn Hernandez, Ed Bradley, and Michael Jackson."  

In 2010, JoAnn called from her studio in Mesa to say she'd taken an overdose of meds. I asked her not to call me again. I couldn't help her. If she wanted to die that badly, she should just do it. 

So, she did. 

Convinced of my ability to affect people, (have since learned otherwise) I believed it was my doing that caused her to take her own life. To compensate, I grieved and then moved on ... for five years. 

If you google JoAnn's name, it doesn't tell you she was born August 2, had two sons, one adopted from Vietnam. It says: Honourable Mention, 2009 The Eric Hoffer Book Award -- Young Adult: Winner, 2007 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. Americas Award, 1997....

It may tell you she wanted to put books by authors of colour in every bookstore in North America. She founded The BronzeWord for that purpose. Today it says she resides in Mesa, Arizona -- even though she's been dead five years. The exact day she died is unknown.

I don't know if there's enough words in the world to convince someone not to press the reset button. Nor if it's even the right  thing to do. Is JoAnn at peace now? I can only hope. I do know there's a hole where her life used to be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

FNN Report: 2016 Predictions

Listen up, everyone! Hank Quense is back with some horrendously momentous and insignificant predictions for 2016! 

A group of Faux News Network prognosticators have worked long and hard to come up a list of predictions for 2016. 
Locked into a conference room and fueled by six-packs, pizza deliveries and an occasional bong, the group put together the following list

* Trump, denied the Republican nomination, runs as an independent and gets less than three percent of the total vote.  In disgusted he emigrates to Russia, changes his last name to Trumpovitch and launches an investment service with his buddy, Putin.  Together, they scam Russian investors out of 37 gazillion rubles.

* Hillary Clinton wins the election.  Her first act as President is to order the Secret Service to make sure her husband Bill Clinton is never allowed into the White House.

* The National Football League acknowledges that its rules are too complex for the referees to handle.  It fires all the referees and replaces them with on-field lawyers who will monitor game activity and argue penalty rulings to a panel of three celebrity judges holding court at the mid-field sidelines.  Fans will be able to text their opinion to the judges.

* ISIS gets angry over the rejection of their float proposal for NYCs Thanksgiving Day parade.  According to ISIS, the float would have been tasteful done to show women peacefully living under the command of their husbands or masters.  It would also depict a painless beheading process. ISIS called the rejection blatant bias and poor judgement.

* Texas initiates a movement to succeed from the United States.  The Federal Government does nothing to stop the movement, but builds a wall along the entire Texas border to keep Texans from entering the other forty-nine states.

* The winning number for the years biggest lottery worldwide will be 127-45A-37B-987-^#*

Faux News Network is proud to announce that FNN now has its own Flipboard Magazine.  You can check it out at  Subscribe and keep up the latest FNN reports.

Hank Quense is the author of 50 published short stories along with four novels and three collections of stories. All of these are humorous and/or satiric scifi and fantasy. In the non-fiction area, he has over a dozen articles published on fiction writing and he's the author of the Fiction Writing Guides series and the Self-publishing Guides series. Both series consist of a number of ebooks. The Fiction Writing Guides and the Self-Publishing Guides are an outgrowth of his lectures on both subjects.

As you may have heard, we have a new member to the IWSG admins, Chrys Fey. Chrys will be putting together our newsletter each month. Here's some info on it:

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Newsletter will feature articles by industry experts, IWSG members, and administrators. There will also be a dozen links to helpful articles for writers in each edition, as well as a special Member Spotlight. Even if you're not a member of the blogging group, you'll greatly benefit from these FREE monthly newsletters. 

First issue goes out on February 24! 


Chrys Fey needs your articles for the IWSG Newsletter! If you’d like to submit an article for consideration, please follow the instructions below:

Who Can Submit: Insecure Writer's Support Group Members

Topic Ideas: your number one writing, publishing or marketing tip; a motivational pep talk or inspirational story; a snippet about something you used to be insecure about but overcame or an Aha moment you had about writing/publishing.

Length: 200 words or less

How to Submit: Send a DOC attachment to Chrys Fey at ChrysFey(at)yahoo(dot)com
Put “Member Article” in the Subject Line.

Deadline: March 2nd (Next IWSG Day)

NOTE: Chrys needs a member article for our first newsletter coming out February 24th. If you’d like to be considered for that issue, please send your article to her no later than February 17th.

Thank you for reading! We hope to feature you!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ask PZM - Jan 2016 - Pinterest, BookGrabbr, KDP Direct

I've decided to go out on a limb and have a new blog created out of this old one. The new one is still in the works, but as of now Ask PZM, hosted by my guest blogger, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, will air on the 10th day of each month. A new day but still the great content marketing guru Phyllis is famous for.

Ask PZM:

Q: Do you recommend any specific paid advertising options for book marketing?

I cannot recommend any specific paid advertising options because there are so many variables for a successful ad campaign.  I will, though, share where I have recently been spending limited-budget book marketing funds.

1. ads
I’m using this option for a pin of my nonfiction book HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE.  This pin had gotten some repins and I wanted to increase the repins in the hopes that some repinners would then click through and actually buy the ebook (or the paperback).

There are two Pinterest ad choices for Promoted Pins: engagement campaigns and traffic campaigns.  I am using traffic campaigns although for your books perhaps engagement campaigns may make more sense.  (The difference between the two campaigns is explained at and note that I have not yet experimented with Rich Pins – see ) 

To date I have been pleased by the number of repins and “likes” the book pin has gotten through the Promoted Pins campaigns.  On the other hand, the book has had no extra sales that I can discern.  Still, if this book pin is now on other people’s boards, there may be extra sales in the future.

To start advertising with Promoted Pins you must have a U.S.-based business account.  You can go to to join as a business account or to convert your current account to a business account.


This is an innovative site I discovered for book authors and book lovers.  Book authors pay a monthly fee for each book on the site, while book lovers can download books for free and promote these books/actions via social media.  The download is in either ePub or pdf format, and you can limit the number of free downloads.

I have been experimenting with this site in this way: I uploaded a pdf of a short story prequel – THE BLOOD GUILT PRICE – that I wrote for my fantasy adventure story ROAD TO ZANZICA, which is a Kindle ebook.  I’m hoping that people who download the prequel will then go to Amazon and either read ROAD TO ZANZICA for free via Kindle Unlimited or buy the ebook.

(You can help with this experiment by signing up for a free BookGrabbr account and then downloading THE BLOOD GUILT PRICE at – and you don’t even have to read the four pages of the story.  The important part is downloading the pdf so that this information is spread through social media.)

SIDE NOTE: Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited monthly subscriptions may be having a tremendous impact on ebook sales of unknown authors.  I just revisited all the book pages on my author website and added for each book that it is free via Kindle Unlimited.  This is true of my ebooks because they are all KDP Select, which automatically puts those books on Kindle Unlimited. 

3.    Amazon advertising for KDP Select
I tried this advertising option several months ago with two campaigns for my women’s friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and wasn’t that impressed with the results.  But I don’t remember at that time that the choice of one of two options included an opportunity to have a book advertised on Kindle.  As I have a Kindle with ads enabled, I’d love to have my books advertised that way.

As Amazon explains (the boldface is mine as this is the option I chose):

“You can choose to have your ad delivered to customers who previously browsed the Kindle Store for a particular genre (targeting by interest), or to customers interested in specific products on Amazon (targeting by product). When you target by interest, your ads will automatically be considered for placement on Kindle E-readers. When you target by product, your ads will not be eligible to appear on Kindle E-readers.”

Now I am trying one campaign each for two different books – spy thriller CIA FALL GUY and cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE.  It may be that different categories do better than others when using this advertising option.

You can learn more at

In conclusion, I wish there were a magic bullet I could recommend that would make all our books bestsellers.  But in the absence of such an option, all we can do is keep experimenting and sharing our information with each other.  So do share in the comments below if you have had success with specific paid advertising opportunities.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon.  She blogs on book-related topics at