Currently Browsing: Writing

Making Sense of Our Senses – Touch, Smell and Taste

To fully immerse our audience in the worlds and settings we craft for them in our self-published novels, it’s important to let readers engage all their senses. A while ago we talked about sight and sound, today we’ll discuss touch, smell, and taste.


Our heroes often find themselves in unusual situations. After all, the whole point of us creating these adventures is to help our readers escape reality. This often means they are touching or coming into physical contact with unusual or repellent objects, things that our readers have probably always tried to avoid touching.

A great way to enhance your description of touch is to focus on the physical reaction it evokes. Your hero’s skin might crawl or become covered in goose bumps; they might faint or feel ill.

The use of adjectives will also help you with your descriptions of touch.


Smell and taste (below) are probably the hardest senses to represent in our writing. The first thing to do is to decide what feeling you want to create in your readers.

Smell links us to our past. Use its associations to help describe the conditions under which a scene is taking place. A bad smell in a horror story usually forebodes a gruesome occurrence. The smell of smoke is an indicator of danger.

BlindfoldHere are a few smell words you can use to tap into your readers’ emotional triggers:

• Acrid
• Fetid
• Aromatic
• Fragrant
• Pungent


Try and associate taste with textures. Think about various flavors and see if you can come up with a texture to represent it. This will help our readers appreciate exotic, alien, or repulsive flavors they have never experienced before.

Here are the classifications of taste along with a few words and textures they might be paired with:

• Bitter: tart / vinegary
• Salty: briny / brackish
• Sour: tart / acerbic
• Sweet: saccharine / syrupy
• Savory: aromatic / wholesome
• Metallic: bloody / rusty

Bringing all Five Together (and Adding More!)

Skilled writers will be able to combine all five of these senses to really bring their story to life. The rule of thumb is: the longer your description, the more senses you should engage. You can even try to incorporate other sensations, such as our kinesthetic sense and our balance (our kinesthetic sense is the awareness of our body and the position of our body parts, and our balance relates to our physical stability). These are good senses to tap during fight scenes.

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length. 

Creative Exercises to Keep You Going

Whitney Eklof is currently an offline marketing specialist for Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She has a master’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University, focusing specifically on storytelling across a range of mediums and story world creation.  While at IU, she also served as an associate instructor, educating students about writing, storytelling, and other telecommunications-related subjects, and worked as a writer for Indiana University’s Media Team.

Creativity can be hard to come by. Some days we’re just worn out, or we feel we’ve exhausted our creative juices. Writing, an inherently creative process, is no different. There are days we’re just dog-gone out of the dose of creativity we need to keep pushing our story forward. However, we don’t have to languish in our creative void – there are a whole host of creative exercises we can try to get our writing juices flowing again. Below are just a few suggestions, from the obvious to the obscure.

The obvious

Free write: You are probably familiar with this technique. Simply set aside what you’re working on and write. Write whatever comes to mind; write in full on stream-of-consciousness. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar mistakes or that the paragraphs don’t flow together. Just write. Free what’s in your heart and mind and put it on a page – you never know where it’ll take you.

writing-1209121_960_720Read: We are often inspired by others. In fact, that may be the reason you started writing in the first place. Maybe you read a story that sucked you in completely and charged you up to write something of your own. Take some time to go back to those roots. Read something you really enjoy; even better if it’s in the same genre you’re writing in. See how someone else spins a sentence or brings a character to life. Let someone else inspire you instead of trying to will creativity into existence.

Utilize writing prompts: There are hundreds of books and websites full of writing prompts. Whether or not they relate to your book’s subject-matter, taking on a prompt can let your mind roam free. Don’t be afraid to embrace a genre you don’t normally write in either! Writing prompts give you just enough direction to send you down the path to creativity.

The not so obvious

Exercise: When we think about trying to jog our writing creativity, we often focus on writing-related exercises (the obvious ones mentioned above), but exercises unrelated to writing can also help us find the creativity we need to finish that next chapter. In comes the most straightforward exercise of all: exercise. It gets your heart pumping, gets you out of that hunched-over-your-laptop position, and just flat-out increases creativity. Scientific study even supports it!

Meditate: Mindfulness meditation has exploded in popularity over recent years. Mindfulness is about slowing down, taking in your surroundings (and your body), and simply being. It’s a practice about being present, and not letting the distractions of life in. The process of mindfulness can boost creativity as it helps us focus and frees us from worry or tangential rabbit holes.

The obscure

Play: That’s right, play. Sit down with your children, nieces, nephews, pets, or even by yourself and play. Free your mind from stress and worries and just imagine yourself as a princess, a powerful wizard, or simply be your dog’s favorite ball thrower. Play not only incorporates exercise; it helps expand our thinking in new directions. Instead of thinking linearly all the time, we open ourselves to more lateral thinking and associations. You might be surprised at how creative kids can be, they may end up providing the inspiration you needed. Beyond that, play is simply important, whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Restrict yourself: This one probably seems counter-intuitive. You probably imagine creativity is a product of freedom, and sometimes that’s true. However, there is power in restricting yourself, as the story behind the creation of Dr. Seuss’ classic, “Green Eggs and Ham,” demonstrates. By reigning in your boundaries, you’re forcing your brain to work within confines it may not be used to – giving it a new challenge and forcing you outside of your comfort zone.

Creativity is something we can find in the most unexpected of places, and it’s something essential to writing – no matter if we’re writing a sci-fi saga or a how-to helper. When our creativity wanes, it can bring our writing to a halt, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of our story. There are thousands of creative exercises out there and the ones listed here are but a few. So, please, take some of the ideas listed above and give them a whirl, or share some of your own creative exercises to help a fellow writer out of their creative void.

Write on, fellow writers!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length. 

Making Sense of Our Senses – Sight and Sound

The majority of people connect most strongly with visual stimuli. As a self-publishing writer, it is our job to make sure we cater to all our readers’ senses to fully immerse them in the world we are creating for them on the page. But how to best do that?

It’s All in the Details

During your pre-writing phase, consider your five main senses and then decide which ones will best help you set each scene. Try and think of at least one detail for each of the five senses—sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste—that will best place your reader in the story. Then write the scene, including as many specific details as possible. You may decide you don’t need all those details when you edit your work later on, but it’s always better to have too much than too little to start with.

Here are some of the ways you can use each sense to enhance your writing:


As we’ve already said, most people tend to be visual learners; thus, the majority of your story will be told using visual descriptions. We then use our other senses to add further details, fleshing out the environment. Think of your words as your readers’ eyes that allow them to look through the page and into the world you have created.

Simon de Vos – Allegory of the Five Senses

Here are a few sight words you might find helpful for creating the right atmosphere (but the list is near endless, of course):

• Craggy
• Billowy
• Crystalline
• Globular
• Obtuse
• Translucent

Remember, the use of color also creates atmosphere through emotional triggers and associations.


Sometimes we are deprived of visual cues. This is probably the scariest situation we can find ourselves in: alone in the dark. So what do you rely on? Your other senses, particularly any sound you can hear to help you piece together some sort of mental image about your surroundings. What am I hearing? Where is it coming from? How far away is it? Is there someone else in here with me? All the elements of a horror story are coming together.

Remember, you can always invent new words to create sounds on paper. Words like whizzing, hoot, and BOO! are called onomatopoeia.

Try to use action words to help convey the intensity or volume of the sound. Are the waves crashing against the rocks or gently lapping at the shore?

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

Five Tips to Help You Get Your Manuscript Finished

You were inspired. You started out strong, but you’re starting to run out of gas before the finish line. Not to worry! Here are five surefire tips to help you complete your manuscript and self-publish it. Put them into practice and you’ll holding your first book signing before you know it.

Calendar1. Set a target date when you want to hold a finished copy

Imagine what it will feel like to hold the first copy of your book. Having that goal in mind can be a key motivator to keep you writing. It might be a specific day like your birthday, wedding anniversary, or a date that coincides with an upcoming event (a speaking engagement, conference or convention).

2. Pay attention to your best time/place for writing productively

Most people are more productive at certain times of day than others. When you write, keep track of the time and location when you’re most effective, and try to set aside that time each day for writing. You might be at your most creative in the morning, for example, or at night after the kids have gone to bed.

3. Set a schedule that will allow you to hit your target date

Now that you have a target date for completion, work backwards to establish a schedule to reach your goal. Let’s say you want to have a book signing in six months, but it will likely take you two months to get your book designed, printed and distributed. You need to submit your manuscript for production four months from now. Do you intend to have it copy edited? If so, you’ll probably need to allow another 60 days, leaving you only two months to get your manuscript ready to go.

4. Make yourself accountable to someone for finishing your book

Designate someone who will hold you accountable for sticking to your schedule. It can be a friend, family member, or someone familiar with the process. For example, publishing consultants at AuthorHouse have served in this role for thousands of authors. A firm but gentle hand can be all the encouragement you need to stay on track.

5. Plan an event to celebrate the book’s completion

For many authors, writing and publishing a book is one of the greatest accomplishments of their lives. Celebrate this feat! Throw a launch party at your home for friends and family. Give out copies of your book to those who’ve inspired you. This is more than a book, it’s part of your legacy. Take a few moments to pat yourself on the back and enjoy your achievement.

Millions of people have an idea for a book, but only the disciplined few earn the title of published author. You can be one of them!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

Using Research to Craft a Better Book

Research is a must for self-published authors because it shows that you are informed and knowledgeable on a topic, and it gives you instant credibility with potential readers. Don’t think that research is only necessary for nonfiction authors; fiction writers can benefit from doing their homework, too!

The good news is that when you are writing about a subject that you’re passionate about, researching can be fun and rewarding. Today we present WestBow’s six-step guide to getting that research done!

1. Read

Magnifying glassIt’s a cliché that good readers make good writers, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Immersing yourself in your topic (or genre) will inspire you to write your own book. Plus, surveying what books are out there can help you write a book that fills (not falls into) the gaps in the marketplace.

2. Let the Research Lead You

As you’re delving into your topic, the information you find might surprise you. Don’t ignore this; take advantage of the opportunity, and follow the research to its natural conclusion. Keeping your mind open will help you produce a more well-rounded book, even if it’s not the book you originally envisioned writing.

3. Make Notes

Write down anything and everything (including the source and location) that you may want to include in your book. This will save you time as you write, and help you cite the information accurately. Remember to always credit the original source when using another author’s ideas or information, whether a statistic, theory, song lyric or quote.

4. Walk a Mile…

…in someone else’s shoes. Arrange to spend time with people who fit the profile of your characters so that you have a better idea of how they talk and work, their mannerisms, what their environment is like, and so on. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and use all of your senses to record information. This will help you create believable characters and establish authentic settings in your book.

5. Ask the Experts

Don’t merely rely on books and journals for your research. Journalists talk directly with experts to get the information they need for news articles, and an author’s approach should be no different. Not sure where to find an expert on your topic? Start with a library or university. Whatever you do, don’t rely solely on unverified Internet research.

6. Know Your Audience

Decide for whom you are writing your book and find out as much as you can about this group of people. Immerse yourself in the communities and activities of your potential readers, either in person and on the web (online forums, for example), in order to get a clear picture of the people you are writing for.

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

The Fulfillment of a Dream

In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Jennifer Elig; author of “Cincy the Flying Pig.” To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

For years I have dreamed of writing books for children. As a previous educator, I would work into my lesson plans time for my students and I to write classroom books about a topic we were discussing in class. Instilling a love of reading and writing in each and every child was a major goal of mine. I truly enjoy every step of the writing process and love seeing the joy on children’s faces when they pick up one of my books to read for the first time. Seeing books I have written fly off of library shelves and needing to donate more of them, simply to fill the demand for the rate they are being checked out, is also a dream come true.

SKU-001045558When the Lord first planted this dream in me, I was a young adult. I received a mailing inviting me to take a children’s writing aptitude test. After writing a short story and being reviewed by an instructor, they were very complementary of my writing skills and invited me to work one on one with an instructor to get me on a path as a professional published author. At that point in time, I had an infant and couldn’t afford that option, so I just put the idea on the back burner. Over the years I revisited the idea several times, but there were always more pressing items that needed to be taken care of first.

As my child grew and began to start his toddler years, I began looking for Bible-based counting books to assist me in teaching my son how to count, but with a Christ-centered base. As I scoured the books stores and internet, I found there were none of those resources that existed, so I decided to write my own. After completing the counting book, I naively began submitting my rough copy to big name publishing companies, not aware of the actual process and difficulty involved in getting a publisher to accept a manuscript. Time and time again, my manuscript was rejected for various reasons. With my bubble burst and feeling dejected about the whole process, I put my manuscript in a dresser drawer and left it there for several years. It was not until four years ago that a flicker of hope would re-emerge.

A6300149My husband, who has always been very supportive of my pursuits, came to me one day four years ago and said, “It’s time.”  Time for what, I thought. He then explained to me that he felt it was time for me to try to get my book published again. He encouraged me to look into publishers and pricing information and told me he would support me in whatever decision I made. It was in that same time period that a friend of mine picked up a coffee side table picture book I had created with the title “A Cat’s Life,” that included photos of my cat with a story line from the cat’s perspective.  She told me it was really cute and that I should look into getting it published. At this point, I really started to take the publishing process idea to heart. Enter Westbow.

After a couple of weeks of research, it soon became apparent to me that there was a vast difference in publishers. From pricing to support, to the way each business was run, I ultimately chose Westbow because of the Christian-based guideline they operate under. As a self-publish company, Westbow Press is also tied to Thomas Nelson Publishers, which opens another world of opportunities to me as an author.  When I began the publishing process with Westbow, it was very clear to me that I had made the right choice. Each person I worked with was encouraging and helpful every step of the way. With payment plans that are available, I was able to not only publish “A Cat’s Life,” but also now had the ability to publish my counting book “One Lord, Two People.”  When it came time to put my third book, (”Cincy the Flying Pig”) into production, I knew exactly where to go. Thanks to Westbow Press, what was once only a dream, is now the fulfillment of a dream!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. 

Alice Anderson: Author of more than 60 books shares why she chose WestBow Press

From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Alice Anderson; who’s authored more than 60 books — this summer penning eight simultaneously. As a ghostwriter, she’s never credited with many of her literary creations.  Alice did put her name on one of her latest works though, “Through the Bible in High Heels,” recently self-published with WestBow Press.

Anderson coverThe bottom line on why I chose WestBow Press?  It was the marketing and distribution services that lured me in.  If I’m going to continue to support myself by authoring books, I need to concentrate on the actual writing process and on marketing my services as an author-for-hire or ghostwriter. Obviously I do as much marketing of my own books as I can: speaking at women’s groups, writers’ groups, and hosting book signings I’ve arranged across New England. I also knew I could not get as wide a distribution by myself as a royalty publisher could provide. That was especially relevant for my latest book, Through the Bible in High Heels, published by WestBow Press.

Nothing in the literary world is as difficult for me as catching my own typos and bloopers.  Even though I always read a finished manuscript aloud to catch things the eyes miss, “oopsies” still fly under my radar.  My eyes look at my manuscript and see it as a mother sees her only child: perfect—except it almost never is.  The editorial services at WestBow caught things I would have never noticed, because I’m too close to my own work.  And they did it nicely, without making me feel like a neophyte.

Writing a book during your lifetime is quite an accomplishment, Alice Anderson’s written more than 60.

The WestBow staff is wonderful to work with!  (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Horrors!  This is one author who’s been around the printing press a few dozen times, but please remember, I’m writing to you as a friend, not a grammar guru.)  Every person I interfaced with at WestBow was pleasant, efficient, professional, and excited about my book.  That meant a great deal to someone working at home alone.  I really didn’t feel alone on this project, because WestBow staff were a phone call away, cheering me on and answering my concerns as they arose.

By the time the complimentary copies of High Heels arrived, I actually felt sadness at not being able to work with them anymore!  Maybe I should write another book and have WestBow publish it? Actually, Through the Bible in Work Boots is already written and waiting in the wings. Too many husbands wanted to know when I was going to write one for them. Can the teenagers be far behind?

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@  We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

6 Reasons to Publish a Spanish Version of Your Book

6 Reasons to Publish a Spanish Version of Your BookAre you really reaching out to your largest reading audience as possible? Our country is filled with a diverse group of readers, so you may be limiting your reach if you only published your book in English. Most authors have never even thought about translating their book into a foreign language; however, it’s a smart decision if you want to effectively spread your book’s message.  Communicating in another language breaks a barrier and allows you to connect with a previously untouched audience.

Six reasons why you should consider translating your book into Spanish:

1.)    Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world, after English and Chinese, with more than 48 million Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. alone.

2.)    More than half of the growth in the total population of the U.S. between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.*

3.)    The Hispanic population has surpassed 50 million and accounts for more than 50 percent of the U.S. population growth since 2000.*

4.)    Become familiar with the unfamiliar: “Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.” – Edith Grossman, translator of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Living to Tell the Tale

5.)    There are roughly 338,000 Christian congregations** in the U.S., with 16 percent*** of U.S. Christians a part of churches that had services in either only Spanish or both Spanish and English.

6.)    The potential reach from a market made of 500 million Spanish speakers in the world should not be overlooked.

WestBow Press makes it easy to publish in both English and Spanish through our translation service. Have you ever considered publishing your book in a foreign language?


*According to U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Briefs

**According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research

*** Calculated by Duke University sociology professor Mark Chaves in the National Congregations Study (page 31).

5 Tips for Keeping an Author Blog

Robin Densmore FusonWhen I published my first book, one of the things that most frightened me was doing my own marketing. I discovered the best way to market my book was through social media, and that included a blog. There are many kinds of blogs, from how-to’s to devotionals. Whatever your interest is, there is a blog for you.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Alive and Generating Hits

1.)    Post often. For you it may be daily, biweekly, weekly or monthly. It is best to post at least once every week. This will bring your audience to your blog regularly, which will keep your name alive and may even cause you to come up in conversation. Sometimes, just writing a sentence or two, or posing a question for readers to comment on will help you to post more often. Don’t forget to reply to any commenting, even if they are not flattering or are negative. (more…)

3 Reasons to Write Every Day

3 Reasons to Write Every Day “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
— Aristotle

Writers often talk about the importance of creating (and sticking to) a writing schedule. There are writers who insist that writing every day is the best way to success; then there are those who swear that to simply write when inspiration comes will do the trick. Some build their writing schedules around word counts, some by page numbers, others by hours at the keyboard. Some set their deadlines by the week — others by the month.

Of course, different systems work for different people, but there’s a strong argument to be made for writing every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot. In fact, a single sentence commitment will do. Hopefully, once you get that first sentence down, more will follow. Some days that one sentence might turn into four or five pages. Other days that single sentence might be all you can muster. But that’s okay. Instead of striving toward ambitious goals, you’ll be creating a habit.  

Here’s how daily writing can help your productivity:

  1. Relieve the Pressure: When writing days are few and far between, each individual writing session can come with a lot of pressure. It’s easy to feel like you have to make up for lost time — to produce a high volume of high quality material right away. However, if you’re writing daily, you can approach each session with smaller, friendlier goals in mind. You might feel freer to try new things and explore new ideas. Simply by writing more frequently, you give yourself plenty of time for experiments, mistakes and corrections.
  2. Stay in Rhythm: Writing daily will help you keep your work fresh in your mind. You’ll be far less likely to forget what your characters were doing, to lose your train of thought, or to have to revisit your research. With ideas, plotlines and arguments still lingering, it should always be easy to pick up where you left off.
  3. Fall into Habit: As with any other craft, practice makes perfect. The more you write, the easier it will be and the more you’ll get done. By making time to work every day, writing can become second nature — as instinctual as brushing your teeth. You won’t struggle to fit it in to your life anymore; you’ll just do it. Thinking and creating will become part of who you are in your daily life.

Stop making goals and start creating a habit. Write — at least one sentence — every day. And see where that one sentence leads you. Remember, it’s only through writing that you can become a writer.

How do you make writing a part of your lifestyle?

Tick Tock, How Do You Fit Writing and Marketing on the Clock?

J.V. CarrWestBow Press author, J.V. Carr, knows a thing or two about a busy schedule. She juggles raising children and maintaining a household on top of sharing her book’s message. Learn more about how she finds time for her time-consuming responsibilities.


Do you have busy days? A crazy work schedule? A busy house that steals your time? If so, how do you find the time to write, promote your book and keep up with your online presence on social media?

It may seem like a daunting and overwhelming task to juggle your life and writing, too. And believe me, I haven’t perfected this yet, but I am peacefully striving toward the writing and marketing goals I have set for myself. I say peacefully because at first I felt panicked to promote my newly published novel, Username: Bladen. I stayed up too late reading, writing, setting up and maintaining my social media accounts. Eventually I ended up too tired to continue. (more…)

« Previous Entries Next Entries »

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes