Recent Posts

Getting Out of an Editing Loop

Getting Out of an Editing Loop

How authors can avoid the endless revision/rewriting trap. Editing loop:How to identify it, how to get out, and when to let a project go

Bending the Timeline

Bending the Timeline

Too often writers unintentionally bend the reader’s sense of time. In deep POV, these mistakes create distance by jarring the reader’s connection with the character’s experience. Watch out for these micro-time trips.

The False Choice-authortoolbox

The False Choice-authortoolbox

Query letter hooks often end with a choice, some decision the main character must make, but when the relationship between the two isn’t clear, the reader is presented with a false choice.

What is a false choice?

A false choice happens when the two possible outcomes presented are not mutually exclusive.

Julie can either have ice cream, or she can wear the blue shoes.

The reader’s first reaction is to ask “why?” What do these two things have to do with each other?

In a recent query letter I shredded, the writer ended the letter with a false choice: The character had to choose between a boyfriend and helping her mom save her business empire.

While there are a million different scenarios how this might occur, the writer had failed to explain it. As a result, the relationship between the main character pursuing a relationship with her new beau and sacrificing of her mother’s business empire was not established.

This is the job of the query hook. It must explain the character’s dilemma in a way that someone who knows nothing about the story will understand. This may sound obvious, but it’s a common problem in query letters, Authors frequently don’t recognize that connection isn’t apparent because they know the story. This is why it’s important to have someone who isn’t familiar with your story read over your query.

Let’s take a look at the original example: Julie can either have ice cream or wear the blue shoes. Now, we have to fill in the missing details.

Julie’s blue shoes are the best-est shoes in the whole world. They are the same color as the sky, and they make a squeaky sound with every step.

One day, mommy gives her a super pretty dress and tells her she must wear the ouchie black shoes. Julie says, “No, no, no.”  But then mommy promises her that she can have ice cream for dinner.

Now, Julie must decide: she can either have ice cream, or she can wear the best shoes that were ever made.

Now, the link between the two choices is clear. Without these details, the reader would never see how these two items are connected. In this type of query letter, the purpose of the hook is to explain the main character’s dilemma. The dilemma is the hook. If it isn’t clear, then the query won’t work.

Examples of common false choice pitfalls

  • relationship vs. career (Why is having a social life interfering with the job?)
  • having a family vs. having a career (What is standing in the way of work/life balance?)
  • relationship vs. friends (Why does the character need to choose?)
  • personal growth vs. staying the same (What are the consequences of stasis?)

If, after revisions, you cannot explain the relationship, then there may not be one. This means you have a true false choice in your query letter. If this is the case, you must go back to your manuscript and figure out what your main character’s true dilemma is.

Answer these questions:

  1. What does your character want?
  2. What is standing in her way?
  3. What must she do to achieve her goal?

If you cannot find it, then your manuscript is flawed and may need revision.

Once you have these elements, present them in a way that will insure the reader will see how they connect.

Ending your query hook with a false choice will ruin it’s effectiveness. The agent needs to know what is really at stake. Don’t give your characters a false choice. Make sure the connection between the elements are clear.

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

This article is part of the author toolbox blog hop

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with other writers on social media. Thanks!

The false


Write with Fey: Review

Write with Fey: Review

The Manuscript Shredder Reviews: Write with Fey, by Chrys Fey, a collection of articles on various topics related to writing and the business of being an author

Character Names or Book Titles, which is more difficult?-IWSG

Character Names or Book Titles, which is more difficult?-IWSG

 It’s IWSG time again! This is my monthly post on the blog hop The Insecure Writers Support Group: a blog hop therapy group for writers. (If you’re here for my writing lessons and have no need for this warm-fuzzy-feeling stuff, I’ll see you Friday after […]

8 Effective Book Marketing Strategies

8 Effective Book Marketing Strategies

Learning About Marketing

guest post by Ronel Janse van Vuuren

The past couple of months have been a steep learning curve. I was shoved from my placid little pool of writing and submitting into being published.

How? I won a competition where the prize was the publication of the winning entry. Since the night a box full of “Eens…” paperbacks were handed to me, I’ve been scrambling to learn how to sell it.

I knew enough about publishing to know that eBooks sell better than paperbacks (at least, that’s what I got from all the different publishing blogs I’ve been reading for years), so I got that all set up for my book.

But how do you sell it?

marketing tips for writers-www.themanuscriptshredder.comYou can go around and do the hard-sell: corner someone, tell them about your book, and get them to buy. It does work… Think about those samples in stores with the salespeople who smile nicely and tell you all about the product. Who hasn’t bought something that way?

And friends and family will, of course, buy your book ‘cause they love you and don’t want you to end up like Van Gogh…

But what about long-term and global sales?

This strategy is much easier for writers who prefer not to have to sell face-to-face. Though, some might take the relative anonymity of the internet too far and ram books down people’s throats: don’t do that!

Step one: set up your author brand.

Luckily, I’ve been working on that for years. It includes your author platform (website/blog, social media networks, guest posts, Goodreads, etc.), author photo, and what people immediately think when they see your name.

I had a guest post in April by Rachel Thompson from BadRedHead Media explaining how to do this properly.

Step two: build an email list.

This is the best way to ensure that everyone who actually likes your writing will know about new releases. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with your readers.

An incentive like a free eBook can make people willing to part with their email address. Make sure they know when to expect updates from you – make it regular enough (say, once a month) so they won’t forget that they’ve signed up. Newsletters should be fun, informative and worth the time the reader takes to read it.

Remember to adhere to all guidelines regarding privacy, using an accredited service provider, etc. to stay on the legal side of things. (Don’t spam, don’t share your subscribers’ information, etc.)

Step three: publish the best book you can.

Don’t skimp on editing, proofreading or cover design. This is the product you wish to sell and what customers will remember. This book can sell the next one – or stop readers from returning for the next book.

Step four: set up a street team.

Ask your writing/blogging friends to help you spread the word about your book.

Book blasts (blurb, cover, buy links, excerpt, author bio) are popular. So are author interviews and guest posts (like this one) where information about the book is shared as part of the post. Reviews by your street team are important too. You can even ask your email subscribers if they want to receive ARCs (Advance Review Copies) to write reviews about your book on their blog/Goodreads/wherever else book reviews are posted. (I should’ve thought of doing this… Luckily a member of my street team thought of doing a review.)

Your street team doesn’t have to be restricted to hosting you on their blog. Some don’t have the time for that – or don’t blog. But your friends on other social media networks can be very helpful in spreading the word about your latest release.

Step five: what to do during launch week.

Visit and comment on the blogs hosting you. Share those posts on social media. Be social!

Step six: to keep momentum going.

Create more promotional stuff. Using Canva/Adobe Spark you can create visuals with quotes from your book to share on social media. You can also mix things up by creating book trailers on Adobe Spark to share.

Just don’t overwhelm your audience. One of each a week on each social media platform ought to be enough – you don’t want to be all BUY MY BOOK! all the time, either.

Step seven: social karma

This might be obvious, but do for your writing friends what you wish they would do for you. Share their stuff, buy their books, review their books, host them on your blog, etc.

And make more friends!

All of this is free.

Step eight: (because I like symmetry) it’s not just one book!

Use all of your rights. Your book can be a paperback, hardback, eBook, audiobook and other things too (maybe a movie?). And it can be translated into other languages. Making it another paperback, hardback, eBook and audiobook with endless possibilities.

I did that for the Afrikaans edition of “Once…”: it is available as an eBook, paperback and audiobook. I’m working on the audiobook for “Once…”.

See? Two languages, one book, several editions.

I’m learning about marketing every day. The point is to let people get to know you, have them like you, make them trust you, and hopefully sales will come from that. If not, at least you have great friends.

Thanks for having me, Michele.

About the Author

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon.

Her newest release is coming May 23

Explore the world of “Once” by Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.

Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.

A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.

Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…


Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.

Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.

Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.

An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…

Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are…  well… as otherworldly as the fae themselves.

Universal Book Links for Afrikaans and English versions of this book:



My Books Page

Universal Book Link (UBL)*
ISBN EPUB: 978-0-6399476-2-4
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-6399476-3-1
Publication date: 23 May 2018
Available on most online retailers.
Also available in Afrikaans as “Eens…”.

Connect with Ronel on:






Ronel the Mythmaker:

If you know a writer who would love this, please share on social media. Thanks

UBLs give you one link that leads to every online retailer selling your book.
And when your readers click on that link, they’re shown a list of everywhere your book appears online, so that they can choose the retailer or eReader that works best for them
One link. Every bookstore online.
(Info from Draft2Digital/Books2Read.)
Your Novel This Month needs ARC readers

Your Novel This Month needs ARC readers

I have an announcement It’s Friday and I usually have a writing-related post, but today I’m taking a break for a special announcement In just a few short months I will be releasing my first writing book. Based on my “Beginner’s Guide to NaNoWriMo” blog […]

Amnesia as a plot device-authortoolbox

Amnesia as a plot device-authortoolbox

Using amnesia in your story can lead to a contrived plot. Without proper preparation, readers will be left annoyed and confused. Don’t fall into this trap. Follow these simple tips

Spring Writing Goals-IWSG

Spring Writing Goals-IWSG

Spring is the time for:

This is my post for The Insecure Writers Support Group: a monthly blog hop therapy group for writers.

(If you’re here for my writing lessons and have no need for this warm-fuzzy-feeling stuff, I’ll see you on Friday.)

The awesome co-hosts for the May 2 posting of the IWSG are JQ Rose, C. Lee McKenzie, Raimey Gallant, & E.M.A Timar!

If you’d like to sign up, click here
OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring has finally sprung

And with it, the end of my creative life.

Since I work from home, the only opportunity I have to get anything accomplished is when my daughter is in school. Weekends? Forget it. I have a kid and a husband to entertain. So these last few days of school have me in a mad panic. Once school is out, I won’t get a pen to paper.

What has me scrambling to the finish?
My book:

Your Novel, This

Based on my “Beginner’s Guide to NaNoWriMo” blog posts, this book breaks down contemporary plot structure into daily writing goals in order to guide the novice writer through the entire month.

I’m currently looking for ARC reviewers, Bloggers, and/or Podcasters for the publicity campaign for the August release.

If you’d like to participate send me an email michelekellerauthor(at)gmail Thanks!

Now it’s just a race to the finish to see if I can get everything finished before the final bell. (literally)
(Maybe this is the year my daughter discovers “day camp.” I wonder if she can discover all of them?)

Last thing

If you are a querying author, don’t forget about #QuerySwap on June 1. It’s a Twitter party where you pitch your book, find a new critique partner and exchange feedback on query letters. All for free.


Wow, I feel like that was a lot of plugs. Thanks for sticking with me to the end.

Query Swap Returns

Query Swap Returns

Query Swap (#QuerySwap) Twitter event Coming June 1, 2018 It’s Query Swap time again To help you polish your query, I’m hosting Query Swap (#QuerySwap) from 8am-8pm EST on June 1, 2018 Your hook is your selling point. It has to be perfect. But getting […]