Best Posts Of 2016 And Top Referrers For The Year

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your humble host

What were my most popular posts for 2016?

And what do I have planned for us in 2017?

As we head toward the new year, it’s pretty common to see TV shows and news channels doing the top story of the year or counting down the top stories or stuff like that. It’s like a YMCA soccer banquet with slightly fewer antsy kids.

I guess lists are popular. Just in case there’s a good reason to do it, like top ten lists get lots of views, I will give a few accolades out. Then we’ll talk about what’s coming up.


My Top Referrers for 2016

These are non-corporate, as in, individuals. Other bloggers out there who are slugging it out each day and each week and each month. The actual top referrers for 2016 are the WordPress reader, Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon. But as far as individuals, it goes like this:

Allison Maruska

Is that a surprise? My editor and writing partner and critique partner and good friend and often-commenter here gets the number one spot. Her blog referred more people to us than anyone else in 2016, and that’s because she is an amazing writer who has built a huge fan base with her books. (Her lame 2016 The Year In Review post came out yesterday and I DID NOT copy the idea fr0m her. I wrote this post weeks ago. Damn! Why didn’t I run it before Christmas like I wanted to???) Anyway…

I say this all the time: I am lucky to be working with her.


Some other very nice people were also top referrers, and I want to say thanks:

D. G. Kaye

Thanks, Debby! You are a great friend and a social media machine, lighting up Twitter each week.

Rachael Ritchey

We had a good time interviewing you on our YouTube show and look forward to seeing you again in 2017!

Annie How

Annie was a beta reader and wrote some really really nice blog post about The Navigators, her beta reader experience. Her subsequent review of Navs was all too flattering – true, but flattering – and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. I think I reread that post 15 or 20 times! She mentions how helpful this blog is to her, and so I want to let you know: that is why we do it. I’m glad I was able to help. Looking forward to impressing you again in 2017, Annie!

J. H. Winter

Month in and month out, there are certain people who are always there for us and this is one of them. Can’t tell you how many times I saw a “like” or a comment that made my day. It’s been an absolute joy having you with us in 2016 and I hope I’m able to deliver some good things for you in 2017, too.

And many, many more…


There are too many of you who are there for us every week to name each one – there are literally thousands and that makes for a boring post – but I want to mention a few supporters and special friends who refer people to us via various means (whether you meant to or not):

Anne R Allen

Jeans Writing

Annette Rochelle

Curtis Bausse

and some extra special mentions

Chris The Story Reading Ape

Chris’s site was kind enough to feature me and let me do a guest blog and stuff, and I get referrals from them all the time. In fact, probably a lot of people who have started following this blog found out about me over at Chris’ site so we definitely want to say thank you to Chris!


Happy Meerkat

Cat did some guest blog posts that ended up referring some people over here, but that also landed her on our top posts for 2016, so we will address her again in a minute. But thank you so much for being a loyal reader and follower of the blog! We have some surprises for you in 2017, so stay tuned.


Al Macy

Al did some guest posts for us. Since then his writing career has really taken off. Coincidence??? Sadly, yes, but Al’s a smart guy and his novels are fun.



J. A. Allen/ Scribbles On Cocktail Napkins

Jenny’s blog didn’t refer squat over to us in 2016, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. We love our Canadian Jam Tart! Not only did Jenny do a YouTube show with Allison and I just about every week in 2016, but she also came to the Florida Writers Association conference and is going to be a presenter at FWA in 2017! Her debut novel, Old Souls, will make its appearance in early 2017. We couldn’t be happier about that.


Hugh Howie

We also got a handful of people in 2016 from Hugh Howie’s blog. Not sure how that happened, but if I had to guess, it’s because occasionally I would make comments on his blog. I haven’t done it in forever, but it’s just more proof that some of those little guerrilla tactics actually work. (Those tactics were mentioned in my marketing book, which you can get free for subscribing to my newsletter.)


Angela Kay’s Books

Angela is just another one of those amazing people who make my day more often than I can mention. See you again in 2017, Angela!


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Porter Girl

Lucy was the first guest we ever had on our YouTube show, Writers Off Task With Friends, but she has been a loyal reader and great friend since way before that. I even got to do a guest shot in her video show, Who Shot Tony Blair, and her Porter Girl book series and blog are  doing amazingly well. We look forward to interacting with Lucy  a lot more in the new year. (Starting on New Year’s Eve if she wears that dress again!)


Some fellow bloggers who may not comment often but are always there liking the blog (we love you guys): ksbeth, D. Parker, thank you! There are many more but often these two are first (and they have lots of followers).



World Wide Reach – Literally!

This blog, like my books, is read all over the world. Mostly in the United States and Great Britain, but we have thousands of followers in Canada, Australia, India, Germany, France, South Africa, Brazil… Hundreds follow us from over 120 other countries, big and small, around the world. Kinda makes me think I should watch what I say. Hundreds of countries. I’ve never even heard of some of them. (I thought one was a spice. Pretty sure it was in an omelette I had in Tennessee.)

Okay, enough glad handing.


Here are the TOP 10 BLOG POSTS from 2016 as determined by you, my loyal readers.

Luckly, I wrote most of them:


The Flash Fiction Challenges.

Technically one of the flash fiction challenges along is in the top 10 of my blog posts for the year, but the one that got read the most didn’t get very many replies so I’m not going to name it! Instead, let’s just say that the flash fiction challenges as a group did very well. Some were pretty well received and some weren’t received at all. I will have to look into that. But they start us off at number ten. (See below to learn what we’ll be doing in 2017 for writing challenges. It’s way better. Honest.)


The Writing Tips You Should Have Learned Watching The World Series, Nonsports fans.

This blog post was the 9th most read post I did in 2016.

Some things are just more watchable – and readable – than others. This post tell you what some of them are,  and how to add them to your storytelling. A must-read for any aspiring author.


10 Tips For Doing Your (Aaaaaugh!) Author Interviews

Required reading, gang. Make a list, check it twice, and do what this post advises. You need this info. Interviews, whether written or done by video, are a huge way to market yourself. Also, once a written interview is out there, it’s out there forever, continuing to be found by people on the inter-webs. (This site has generously opened its doors to pretty much interview any writer who asks, so you author types: don’t be afraid to ask!)


10 Things That Make Your Story Unreadable

Yep, there are lots of things you should DO to make your story good. This is a list of things you need to AVOID. Things that make your story bad. Sorry. You needed to be told this.


Irony Or Sarcasm?

I don’t know why this one got read so much, but it did. I guess because it was short? Sometimes I wonder about the stats page on WordPress.

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#5: Lucy’s Secrets, PorterGirl Lucy Brazier Tells All In This Revealing Interview

This was one of the most fun interviews I have ever done, not because the interview itself is so great – it is – but because certain people, you just click with and Lucy has been an absolute ball to work with, interview, comment with, you name it. Some people are just fun. If this one hadn’t gone well, I probably would’ve been very insecure about doing more interviews in the future. Instead, it was a learning experience that was fun but that also taught me a lot that I needed to know going forward.

Lucy was also 2016’s top commenter, as in she replied and commented the most to posts. Those of you who follow the blog will find this as no surprise.


10 Winning Strategies For Your Author Event

A handful of tips that I have put together from doing author events, and a checklist you should create for yourself before you do one! You need to know this stuff, gang.


9 Things That Cost Your Book 5 Stars – Guest Blog Post By An Amazon Top Reviewer

Lots of things you need to know. Read this. Tape it to your computer screen! Author suicide rates around the world have gone down just because they follow the tips in this post.


Write Better Stories, Part Two: 6 Things To Avoid And To Be Sure To Incorporate (If You Can).

Part Two did really well, so… part one sucked? I don’t know. Maybe this has something to do with StumbleUpon picking it up and from there the WordPress reader picked it up and from there a lot of other people read it. But this tells you two things. First of all, if you write a series, and people like part 3 or part 6, many of them will go back to read the earlier parts. That pumps up the early segments. (That’s also true of book series, so think about a sequel!) Second, a lot of times the value to a reader falls where it falls, and that’s going to be different for everybody – not necessarily where you intend it. The first post in this series did a lot of teeing up what was coming, the second part delivered a lot of good information that readers needed and they showed that by liking, sharing, and reblogging it. (But the whole series was pretty good.)

and finally

the NUMBER ONE most popular blog post

as determined by you, my loyal readers, via the most views:


3 Ways To Show A Text Conversation In A Book – And One Right Way

Ta daaahhh! Once again, one of our longest and most helpful blog posts has been selected by you, the readers, as the best for the year.

(If you were paying attention, you’ll see some similarities in these blog posts – aside from me writing most of them. That’s another tip we talk about in the marketing books, and more proof that my tips work. Some, anyway.)

I am very proud of this #1 post, not only because I got to showcase stuff in my upcoming book Poggibonsi, but because several people contributed to it including my friend Allison. But mainly because I get pissed when the number one blog post for the year on my blog is written by somebody else. Which has happened. This time it’s by me. Mostly. And it was huge, far and away my most read post. That’s because people found value in it, and that’s what’s going to make your posts get read, too. Remember that.


That’s it! Thanks for a great 2016!

Re-read these 10 posts because they are the most helpful and beneficial to you as readers and writers.


And what’s coming up for 2017???


We spent most of this past year telling you how to write better.

We spent most of the prior year telling you how to build an author platform.

To learn more about either of those topics, use the search box and just type in a keyword that you want to learn about. Odds are I wrote a post about it, it’s in my free marketing book that you get by subscribing to my free newsletter, or it is a topic that I would be happy to address for you in a future post! So if you can’t find it here, send me an email using the “contact me” button and I’ll see about addressing it.


Yeah, yeah.

But what are you thinking for 2017???

Oh, that.

You’ll love it.

I’m NOT gonna post every day.


Nope. I’ll scale back to about once a week. (Eventually. January has a nice surprise coming.)


2017 is gonna be a time to finally show you how great writing evolves.

I’m going to post chapters, parts of my stories, etc., showing you how my writing goes from a rough draft to a finished product, and showing you the behind the scenes stuff and final things you need to see in your own writing by looking at mine.

It may not be the most exciting thing for some people to read but fans of my books are going to love seeing my stories as they take shape, and it’s going to help writers of all skill levels who want to become published authors putting out a quality product. You’re going to love it.

And you’ll play a big role in it!

Because as writers, you are readers, too. Smart readers. So your thoughts and inputs are going to be important in shaping my final product. Stay tuned.

We’re also going to have a twice-a-month writing challenge, with some concepts I am stealing from Carrot Ranch,  where they host a 99 word writing challenge and then post everybody’s contributions in one big blog post for everyone to share, getting everyone where exposure. Expect the first one in mid-January. Time to showcase my talented readers!

We’re probably going to have a big writing contest sometime during the year with a cash prize. (We talked about that.)

We’re going to ask a few of you to help me by contributing to one of my writing projects – that will be a published novel before the year is out.

So there’s a lot going on in 2017!

But again I want to thank all of you wonderful people for being such loyal readers and for being so good to me in 2016.

I don’t have enough words to thank you enough so I won’t try, except to say it again:



Book News And Other Happenings

More stuff you need to know…

Allison Maruska

Things are going on, and a lot of it involves free stuff! Here’s the list of what’s covered in this post. Scroll down for details.

  1. Be a beta reader for Project Ancora
  2. Paperback giveaway of Project Liberatio
  3. Project Liberatio review on Readers’ Favorite
  4. Facebook page drawing

Now for the nitty gritty.

1. Want to read Project Ancora early and for free? Volunteer to be a beta reader! 

p-ancora-ebook-72dpiI’ve been working hard to get the book in shape for publication, and it will be ready for beta readers by early next week. Being a beta is fun and easy (I’ve been one several times for other authors).

Step One: Send me a message via the Contact Me page to let me know you’d like to be a beta reader. I will send you the book file via email next week.

Step Two: Read the book early.

Step Three: Tell me what works and what…

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A Lesson In Tension: Deliverance 

The 1972 movie Deliverance is a terrific lesson in TENSION. 
Deliverance will be on the AMC channel January 4th at 2am eastern time (and probably other times). 
This movie has some great scenes that show how to really heighten tension, it has characters who have to make “what if” decisions like in Walking Dead, and it pits characters’ strengths and weaknesses against each other and themselves. 

Simple plot: Everything goes bad

Friends (two teachers, an insurance salesman friend of theirs, and Burt Reynolds as their other friend) go on an overnight canoe trip through the mountains and alllllll kinds of awful stuff happens. 
They accidentally spot a still run by moonshiners – and the moonshiners decide to rape and kill the canoers. 


Burt Reynolds kills a guy with a bow and arrow. John Voit is about to get raped by two moonshiners and he sees Burt getting ready to shoot and Voit starts hyperventilating. 

What would you do?

During all this, there are debates about what the right thing to do is. Reynolds killed a man who raped one of the canoe trip guys (Ned Beatty) and was about to rape his other friend rape – and then probably kill them both. It’s justifiable homicide, right? But they’re way up in the mountains and they worry about going in front of a jury of the mountain man’s friends and relatives. A big argument ensues. They decide to hide the body. 
NOW What would you do?
The dead mountain man’s partner escapes then shoots and kills one of the canoers later in the trip – the teacher who argued for going to the local sheriff and explaining what happened. 
See what standing up for law and order gets you?
Reynolds breaks his leg so Voit has to stalk and kill the other rapist – lest the mountain man murder them all one by one – up in the mountains and hyperventilates again when he has to kill the man – again with a bow and arrow – as the man sees him and turns to shoot Voit with a rifle. 

There are quite a few scenes that really draw out tension and show it from different angles. Plus the tough decisions add to the tension. These mountain guy rapists are reeeeally gross. Bad teeth. Yuck. 

The canoers inspect their friend’s body and can’t find any bullet hole. 
The sheriff finds big problems in their story and asks about a local man who went missing. 
You can feel their story falling apart. Talk about tension. 

You get foreshadowing and juxtaposition as early on in the film Reynolds kills a fish with a bow and arrow and later has to kill a man with it. 
Deliverance is a  free 109 minute lesson that is a great example of things we work on, like putting your characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them, and building tension, and making decisions with limited information – and nothing going easy as a result. 
Plus it’s a good story of deciding “What would you do if” which people say they like about The Walking Dead. 
What would you do?

Then what, when that doesn’t work? 

THEN what, when you were wrong???
I’ll probably watch it again just to learn more about the setting up of situations but you might see techniques to make characters more 3D (a brief conversation between Burt Reynolds and the insurance salesman about insurance helps show the different views the two men have of the world; two school teachers wanting to enjoy nature and end up fighting for their lives; the canoers fighting about what the right thing to do is when one of them kills a man). 
Tension drives stories. 
Conflict drives stories. 
Movies visually SHOW examples we can learn from. 
Watch the actors and learn to better describe emotions, suspense, fear and rage. Note how you’re feeling as you watch John Voit go against his principles and kills a man. Odds are, you are feeling how he is acting. Be sure to do stuff like that in your stories so your readers get that experience. 
What movies have YOU seen that are good examples of tension and conflict?

How to embrace your JEALOUSY of other writers (not that you have any)

Jealousy is idiotic. Writers can often be insecure types… So they’re often jealous of the success of other writers.


from Dan: I know I am occasionally jealous of other writers

Wanna know what I do about that jealousy, when I feel it?

I embrace them.

I try to become friends with the person I’m jealous of.

I hold their work up and say “SCORECARD: they sell more than me; they are a better writer!”

I read their stuff to learn from it. I try to emulate their work habits.

And I sit in the dark, red-faced at my jealousy, wishing I were a better person, a better writer – and working hard to be one.

Occasionally they’ll become friends with me and say I’m a good writer, sometimes stating that I’m a better writer than they are.

Scorecard says otherwise, but it still feels damned good to see my work is admired by those I admire, and that my moment is probably coming – if I keep working.