Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Janice Curran of Featured Friends

Janice Curran, a published short story author, freelance copywriter, and host of the popular "Featured Friends" blog on Facebook joins us today to discuss her writing process, how writers can use social networking sites to market their work, and the differences between writing short versus long fiction. Make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway drawing. Details at the end.

Q: Welcome Janice! Please tell us what you write and where you've been published so far.

A: Hi, Kelly. Thanks for inviting me to spend time with you and your readers. I’m a big fan of Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind. (Read my Amazon review here: )

I’ve written professionally since my first job as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper. I’ve worked as a staff writer for a resort and leisure company and senior writer/editor for a children’s mental health organization. As a freelancer, I’ve written articles as well as marketing and ad copy. In recent years, I’ve pointed my pen toward my lifelong love: fiction. My short stories, mostly sweet to sweetly sensual light romances, have been published in True Love, True Romance, True Confessions and New Love Stories magazines. I’ve not been published in novel-length—yet.

Q: What is your writing process and schedule?

A: I write or undertake other writing-related projects most every day starting first thing in the morning. I usually get up between 4-5 a.m. when the world around me is relatively quiet. Although I do go back to writing later in the day, I find the early morning to be my most productive time.

As for my process, I just sit down at the computer and write, usually after I review the previous session’s writing. In the pre-writing stage, I get to know my characters a little by writing in longhand what I know about them and come to know as I’m scribbling. I also use a combination of plotting techniques to construct a very basic map of where I think the story should go, from inciting incident through the act and story climaxes and resolution. (Thank you, Christopher Vogler, Dwight Swain, Donald Maass, Syd Field, Billy Mernit, John Vorhaus, Jennifer Crusie, Robin L. Perini and Alexandra Sokoloff!) Outlining drains me, so I don’t get too detailed.

Q: What are similarities and differences in writing short story fiction versus book length fiction?

A: With a short story, I’m done sooner! Seriously, I see a short story as a microcosm of a novel. The basic rules remain the same. I still need to develop characters with goals, motivations and conflicts. I still need structure to give the stories shape. The revisions are much easier for a short story, of course, because I’m working with somewhere between 700 and 8,000 words, which is the range my target markets accept. The shorter word count does limit how in-depth I can go with a character’s story and how many characters and complications I can include. On the positive side, I don’t have to do as much pre-planning. It’s easier to carry the structure in my head.

Q:You host a mini-blog on Facebook called “Featured Friends.” Tell us about that.

A: “Featured Friends” is a free service for writers that’s posted on my Facebook wall. I feature a tip on writing or writing life from one of my Facebook friends—hence, the name. I try to make my community of friends a welcome place for serious networkers. The range of writers and others in, or associated with, the publishing industry who’ve posted tips on my wall is impressive, as is their advice. I schedule the presenters, then sit back and learn along with everyone else. Anyone who writes, edits, represents writers, etc. is invited to friend me:

Q: What are some effective ways that writers can use Facebook and other online social networks to promote their work?

A: Although I'm not an expert on social networking, I do have personal success with it. I went from 0 to 700+ Facebook “friends” in only a few months just by posting tips from the pros. Name recognition building, networking … they’re definitely a couple of the big benefits. You never know where new friendships might lead—maybe even to a guest appearance on an author’s blog! Beyond that I’ve met some really great people, a few of whom I’ve gotten to know better since. Personally, I think that’s the best part of being on Facebook.

Q: What guests do you have lined up on your Featured Friends blog?

A: On Monday, October 26, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time, Dana Lynn Smith will be posting and taking questions on “The Most Common Mistakes Authors Make on Twitter.” Dana is a book marketing coach and author of several books, including Twitter Guide for Authors, Facebook Guide for Authors and The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing. (Check out her Web site: For free book marketing tips visit )

Sometime in November, in honor of National Novel Writing Month, new Silhouette Special Edition author Amanda S. Berry ( will be posting on taking a book-in-a-month manuscript from first draft to publication.

The posts will remain on my wall, so even if people can’t experience the live presentation, they can read and benefit from the tips later. While they’re there, they can scroll down the wall to read tips from past presenters Jacquie D’Alessandro, Angie Fox, CJ Lyons, Lori Avocato, Holly Jacobs, Jenny Gardiner, Janet Gover, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Sandra Sookoo, Brooke London, Rebecca Royce, Bethany Morgan, Kathye Quick, Cathy Stucker, Donna Collins, Shirley McCann, Tina Gallagher, Kathleen Coddington, Rosemary Goodwin, Denise Vitola, Jon F. Merz, Autumn Jordon, Tess Quinn/Nisha Sharma, Cathy Neumueller, Pattie Giordani and, of course, Kelly L. Stone. Everyone is welcome to stop by:

Thank you again, Kelly, for the opportunity to share in the Thinking Write discussion. And thanks to everyone who took the time to visit!

From Kelly~

Thank you for joining us, Janice.

Please make sure you drop by Janice's Featured Friends blog on Facebook!

Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will be entered into a drawing to win a free TIME TO WRITE online class lecture packet from yours truly. Leave a comment by midnight on Sunday, October 24th to be in the drawing-- winner announced Monday morning.


  1. Thanks for a great post Janice, and for sharing your insights on social marketing. I'm amazed that you were able to get 700 contacts through FB alone! That is amazing. FB and other social sites have brought marketing to an entirely new level.


  2. Thanks for inviting me, Kelly. Pairing the Featured Friends events with invitations to participate, which I posted in my online writers groups, helped increase my friend count as well. We're all looking for writers more experienced than ourselves to point the way. :-)


  3. Between events, I also post links to helpful Web sites and blogs I find along the way. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from them. I think they've also generated interest for joining my community of friends.

  4. One more thing--and I was negligent not to mention this at the start . . . I totally credit Jonathan Maberry with encouraging me to join Facebook in the first place. When he spoke at my RWA chapter's last conference, he said social networking is an absolute MUST in today's publishing climate.

  5. Excellent post, Janice and Kelly. As Janice's first guest, I'm so thrilled Featured Friends has grown so much. I love stopping and chatting with her guests. Always something to learn. Keep up the great networking.
    2009 Golden Heart Finalist
    Evil's Witness coming soon

  6. Good morning, Autumn! Nice to see you here. I'll never forget your words of wisdom as my very first Featured Friend: "Never give up." I've made that my policy. I know you wouldn't be a Golden Heart finalist if you didn't believe. :-)

  7. Janice - I love your featured friends talks on Face Book. I think it's a great way of learning new things and meeting wonderful people at the same time. Thank you so much for having them!

  8. Janice, the talks on Face Book are a great service and really helpful to writers--I love the collaboration between writers, as it helps everyone to improve!

  9. Thank you so much for this interview, and for letting me know it is here. Great marketing. And that's what marketing is, a caring attitude that is shared.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Tweeting writing tips and resources @frugalbookpromo

  10. This is the true joy of social networking: meeting people like Bethany, Jenny and Carolyn. :-) Thanks for stopping by, ladies! I provided the space, but I assure you, you provided the lessons and inspiration.

    For those of you curious about the kind of tips you might find at a Featured Friend event, a look at Bethany's, Jenny's and Carolyn's contributions will give you an idea.

    Bethany taught in straightforward terms the difference between writing and editing--a tip that has made me a billion times more productive in my own writing. As a Samhain editor and author in her own right, she knows her stuff.

    Jenny (, in her inimitable and fun way, discussed the perils of memoir-writing. When the star of your memoir is a homicidal parrot, as is Jenny's Graycie in the upcoming WINGING IT, can you do anything BUT laugh?

    Carolyn (, author of the "How to Do It Frugally" series for writers, offered an easy-to-follow outline for tracking blog and Web site visitors.

    In between the business, we had lots of fun. And I made three great new friends. :-)

  11. I hope this works as I have never been here before.

    I enjoyed this and always enjoy your posts to Facebook, even though I seldom comment there.

  12. Thanks for stopping by, Mary Ann!

  13. Wow! How great to find so many comments here today! Thanks everyone for stopping by. Don't forget to check back in on Monday to see who wins the lecture packet.

    My guest blogger on November 2nd is bestselling author CJ Lyons, who will be discussing how to overcome writer's block!!


  14. CJ's wonderful--very engaging as well as knowledgable as a presenter. Her Featured Friend tip was on high concept, and it generated a lot of interest. She also taught an online workshop for my RWA chapter. Great stuff.

  15. I did not realize there were guidelines specifically for authors who market via twitter/facebook! I've heard that many of the most prolific writers are up before dawn. I agree, it's a great time to write. Lynn

  16. Thanks from me, too!

  17. Great interview. Thanks for the shoutout :-) I love your Featured Friends gig. :-)

  18. Thanks for your kind words, Sandra! And thanks for taking the time to comment.

    For the curious, Sandra ( posted a Featured Friend tip on being true to yourself in your writing. It was a great reminder that truth doesn't follow trends.

  19. For anyone who's interested in seeing "Featured Friends" in action, Dana Lynn Smith is posting and taking questions till 2 p.m. ET today on the topic of "The Most Common Mistakes Authors Make on Twitter." Writers and other industry professionals are invited to participate:

    Please include "Dana" in your friend request message.