Published September 11, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Why is it important for a writer to have a comfortable space to write? As a writer, I have to say that if I’m uncomfortable physically, it makes it much harder to concentrate on being creative. If I am in the creative zone, I may spend 10 or 12 hours at my terminal with only short breaks for food or to use the restroom. Fatigue or even repetitive motion injuries from typing on a regular keyboard or sitting in a poorly designed chair decreases my abilities and concentration. However, these things can be avoided with a few inexpensive fixes.

Several years ago, I was introduced to ‘ergonomic furniture and computer accessories”. What is that you say? Ergonomic furniture and accessories are designed to reduce physical stress on the person using them, and help prevent repetitive strain (Carpal tunnel) or musculoskeletal disorders in those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer screen. Which is something I badly needed because I do spend a lot of time on a computer terminal: I write fiction, I’m a blogger, I run two online/print newsletters, and I am webmaster for several web sites. In between that, I am also my husband’s office manager in his business.

This brings up a comparison point: which system provides more comfort; a PC or an Apple product. I ask this because some time ago we made the decision to switch from PC products, which is supported by Microsoft to Apple products because of the increased security from online malware they offer.  The relative freedom from Malware attacks does have a drawback. Unfortunately, while Apple is way out in front in designing products for mobile use, they are far behind the PC industry when it comes to ergonomic accessories for its users. In fact, they do not actually offer any ergonomic keyboards or mice in the Apple Store (or is it mouses when talking tech?). While there are companies who do manufacture ergonomic accessories that are compatible with Apple products, they don’t integrate as smoothly with Apple as does Apples own products. Apples products are usually rechargeable; sadly, the substitute stuff sold by other manufactures is not.  Keyboards and mice are either plug in or if they are wireless, they require batteries.

Is it worth it? Well, that depends on how much your hands and wrists begin to hurt using a non-ergonomic keyboard for lengthy periods. The difference in appearance between a standard keyboard and an ergonomic one is obvious once you have seen or used one. The standard keyboard is flat and rectangular, whereas an ergonomic keyboard actually looks quite different. While it is still longer than it is wide, an ergonomic keyboard is slightly curved, allowing the user’s hands to rest at a more natural angle when typing. The keys are also slightly larger with a tiny bit more space between them. As you can see, Ergonomic keyboards also come with a wrist support.

I did a run on the internet and three Ergonomic keyboards that came most highly recommended on the reviews on Amazon are shown here. However, all the reviews did mention that not all of the keys were functional straight out of the box, but with the additional purchase of USB Overdrive (free program app) the keys worked fine. This was an overall view expressed on all of the keyboards I found.

This item Perixx PERIBOARD-512II W, Ergonomic Split Keyboard – White – Natural Ergonomic Design – Wired USB Interface – Recommended with Repetitive Stress Injuries RSI User. This one retails at about $50.00. 4 ½ stars on Amazon

Logitech Mk550 Wave Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo (It got 4 ½ stars on Amazon). This one retails out at about $50.00 on Logitech is one of the most trusted computer accessory brands worldwide.


Adesso Tru-Form Media Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard (PCK-208B) got 4 stars on Amazon. This was the least expensive one of the three ($30). It was specifically mentioned however that this keyboard was not good for gaming.




Published September 4, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

By the Practical Artist

This is the time of year when creatives like us get tapped to donate our work to worthy causes. The phone rings, and some well-meaning fundraiser on the other end wants you to donate a work of art to their charity auction. Usually this goodhearted fundraiser will promise you a tax deduction, great exposure, enhanced publicity, and public exposure if you agree; sadly, most volunteer fundraisers don’t know what they are talking about as far as the actual benefits to you as an artist. Should you do it? This really depends on several things; how much do you support the cause itself? Are the benefits going to out-weigh the costs?

Well lets deal with the tax deduction benefit first. It’s not great. Generally speaking, you as the artist are allowed to deduct only the cost of creation (materials, etc.) unless you have had an appraisal done by a qualified art expert. This is no problem if you are a big name artist whose art is going to bring in thousands of dollars to the charity because the charity will usually have the art appraised by their expert, which you can then attach to your taxes. However, if you are donating to your child’s school, your church, local hospital, etc. chances are the charity is not going to pay for this appraisal because they can’t afford it. Sometimes the charity is worthwhile (in fact most of the time), but unless they follow my rules for donation, what they are really doing is training whoever comes to their event to devalue my art and disrespect me as an artist. This may sound really harsh but it has been proven to be true.

The next two items typically promoted by fundraisers are “enhanced publicity and public exposure” which sounds really good, but what exactly are they actually talking about? A line in the auction catalog and announcing your name when they bring up your art? Please. Remember that most of the fundraisers who do telephone contacts are volunteers with no actual experience in the field. In other words they really have no idea what they are talking about. Enhanced publicity should mean your name in the newspaper, on the radio or on the charity’s Facebook page with a link to your website. Public exposure should mean that instead of just pointing to your art and asking for bids, the auctioneer talks about you, what awards you’ve won, how good the art is, etc. to encourage the audience to bid higher. He or she should also mention your web site, and the brochures advertising you as an artist, which should have been available when the bidders were doing the walk-through.

Predictably, at most of these charity events, they practically give away the art because the bidders are not art collectors, they are there to support the charity and are looking for two things—something they can afford to bid on to satisfy their tax deduction and to support the charity. A lot of them might be even comparing your fine art to canvas prints they can get at a department store! Auctioning your art for much less than you normally sell for undermines the art market in general, and makes it seem as if the artist (you!) didn’t deserve the real selling price. Another negative side effect is to encourage your regular collectors and potential buyers to wait for events like this to buy your art cheaper than they could if they purchased it directly from you.

The “public exposure” thing is problematical; unless the auctioneer makes a really big deal about your art business and how valuable your work is, everyone present is likely to still think you have a nice hobby. I was once asked by my church to design a poster/logo for a women’s retreat. When the event coordinators husband saw it he remarked to her that it looked like a “real” artist had done it. I find that no matter how good the art I donate to their event is, my circle of acquaintances in my church, my children’s school and my family almost all still believe that my art is a hobby, so I don’t donate unless the charity agrees to the following ground rules:


  • I set a minimum price for original art. If it doesn’t sell, I get it back. This is absolutely essential because unless you have an appraisal from a respectable appraiser attached to the art; all that you can take off on your taxes is the cost of material used to create the art.
  • I qualify the event by making sure there will be folks there who can actually afford to purchase the art (this means getting actual names of who will be attending or at least who has been invited), and that the event will be well publicized: this means actual ads on TV, Internet, and Radio, hopefully with a mention of the art you are donating.

Once charities learned I stuck to these rules, I found that the requests dropped off dramatically. This doesn’t mean that I am wholly against art donations; I do donate my art to worthwhile charities, but I find that it usually pays better tax deduction-wise to donate a good quality print than the original. If you donate a print, you can deduct the entire printing cost, framing and matting which is a much better deal for tax purposes. To sweeten the pot for prospective buyers, I do always sign prints that I donate, and make sure I tape information about myself, my website and the art to the back of the print.
Good Luck


World Building For All Genres – Guest Post by Diana Peach

Published September 3, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

As a fantasy/science-fiction writer, I’ve stacked up a bit of experience with world-building that I’ve wanted to share, and The Story-Reading Ape’s blog is the perfect venue. Now don’t run away if you don’t write speculative fiction. Clearly, world-building is a key part of bringing fantasy and science-fiction stories to life, but it plays a […]

via World-building: Settings for all Genres – Guest Post by, Diana Peach… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog


Published August 28, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist


By the Practical Artist

There is a lot of talk these days out there about using social networks to market your art. You can certainly reach many people with your message, but simply reaching them is not good enough; you need to make them want to buy your stuff. One of the key ingredients in successful social media marketing is creating “social authority”. When you establish yourself as an “expert” in your given field or area you can become an authority (someone others listen to). You can establish yourself by writing on-line about stuff you know about. Your field of expertise doesn’t necessarily have to be art because if you want to sell, you will need to reach outside the sphere of artists you know to your target audience. It is a funny thing, but having social authority in one sphere will give you authority elsewhere; just bear witness to all those celebrities who endorse presidential candidates and influence public thinking!

Because of social media – and the direct/indirect effect of social media marketers, the buying public is more likely to make decisions using what they read and see in social networks, but only if they hear about it from someone they trust. This is the reason a focused, carefully designed social media strategy needs to be a basic part of your marketing plan. At its best, network marketing is very similar to the multi-level marketing plans used by home based businesses such as Avon and Amway. The key to the success of these businesses is that everyone connected has some type of positive incentive to promote the products. The positive incentive can be a good feeling or something physical. The first step in using social media to market your work may be uncomfortable for you, but do it anyway: Ask friends and family to spread the news on their networks about your products and then DON’T FORGET TO THANK THEM IF THEY DO THIS!!!!!! You might consider offering a free product or discount (preferably something that can be sent on-line) as a reward for helping you. Perhaps if you are selling a painting, a small print (8×10 or smaller) of their choice, etc. If you are selling a book, offer to do a neighborhood reading, a book signing at a venue they choose with a percentage of sales of the book going to the charity of their choice. These are just ideas, I’m sure you can come up with more.

Social Networking sites are shaped to allow internet users to connect with each other. The primary types of social networking sites service groups, i.e. former school classmates, a means to connect with friends (like Facebook and Twitter), etc…; most of these sites also feature a recommendation system linked to trust. Most social network sites are web based and provide means for users to connect over the internet via e-mail or instant messaging. Because most networking services do run on “friend recommendations” it can be difficult to create a network of buyers if you are not already acquainted with them. If you want your message about your art to be picked up and sent “viral”, you must create a message that is both interesting and attention grabbing.

Viral Marketing, Viral Advertising, Or Marketing Buzz refers to promotion practices that use pre-existing social networks. The goal is to create viral messages that attract people with high social networking potential (SNP) so that these people will tell everyone about the message. It’s like a game of gossip.

As a rule, three basic conditions must be met for your communication to go viral. 1) A “go-between” or “transmitter” must pick up the promotion. There are three types of “transmitter” required to change an ordinary promotion into a viral one: market devotees, social hubs, and salespeople. Market devotees are among the first to be exposed to the promotion and transmit it to their immediate social network. Social hubs are people with a large number of connections; they often know hundreds of people and can serve as tie-ins between groups with different interests. Salespeople receive the promotion from the market fan, amplify it by making it more relevant and persuasive, and then send it on.

2) The promotion must be memorable and interesting. Only promotions that are both will be passed on to others and spur viral marketing. Making your promotion more memorable and interesting (or more infectious) can be a matter of minor adjustments.

3) The environment needs to be favorable: The timing and context of your promotion takeoff must be right too. If there is something much more interesting going on like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami a few years ago, your chances of getting a competing promotion out are poor.

Question: how do you find people who do these things? Chances are you may already be a member of a social hub. Is there any one person who seems to be very active with a large circle of friends? Ask them for help with your promotion. You have to put in some time developing on-line relationships. It will be necessary for you to express some type of interest in what they are doing so that they will reciprocate. I am not advocating spending hours on the net; in fact, just the opposite. However, you will need to be able to make a connection with them on some level. Keep your communications short and only respond to stuff that actually interests you because a phony interest can be easily spotted.

Want to know how effective you are? Here are a few free social media monitoring and measurement programs and tools. I haven’t used any of these so I don’t know how easy they are to use or how accurate.

How Sociable? A simple, free tool that measures the visibility of your brand across the web.

Addict-o-matic A nice search engine that aggregates rss feeds, allowing you to see where your brand is lacking presence.

Socialmention is a social media search engine, offering searches across blogs, and microblogs with a social rank score.



Published August 7, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The first question asked when a writer sends a manuscript to an agent, a publisher or a self publishing site, is “What genre is it?” Several Years ago, I wrote a blog defining the many Art Genres. This year, I decided to try the same with writing. I searched the internet and pulled up most of these definitions from Wikipedia, and various other internet sources who defined writing genre. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it might help my fellow writers when asked by a publisher to define the genre of the book they have just written. There is an enormous amount of information about book genres, so I will be presenting these blogs genre by genre over the next few weeks. I limited myself to fiction. I may do a similar chart for non-fiction later though. I got the idea for the chart from a Facebook post, but I made some changes and additions to what was there. Please feel free to share or add to it.


Youth Fiction (YA): I made this a separate category because the plots of these novels span all the genres. Young adult fiction or young adult literature (YA) is fiction for readers from 12 to 18. However, authors and readers of “young teen novels” often define it as works written for age 15 to the early 20s. The terms young adult novel, juvenile novel, teenage fiction, young adult book, etc., all refer to the works in this category.  The subject and story lines of young adult literature must be consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but these books span the spectrum of fiction genres. Stories that focus on the specific challenges of youth or teens are sometimes referred to as coming-of-age novels.

Children’s Fiction: is a genre all to itself. These are children’s books written especially for children from 0 to 12 years old. Like YA fiction, they include a broad spectrum of the genres, with certain differences from YA and Adult fiction.

Picture Books: Children’s books that provide a “visual experience” – tell a story with pictures. There may or may not be very simple text with the book. The content of the book can be explained with the illustrated pictures.

Picture Story Books are Children’s books that have pictures or illustrations to complement the story and usually are aimed for a trifle older audience (7-10) depending on their reading ability. These are often done on a collaborative basis with the author employing an illustrator, or vice versa. Both the text and the illustrations are important to the development of the story. The pictures are the “eye-candy” that get children’s attention, but the text is needed to complete the story.

Traditional Literature, includes stories passed down from generation to generation. In many ways, the fact that they do change over time is what makes them so fascinating because of the link they provide to the past. To remain meaningful in different eras, the stories while keeping much of their original flavor and content, must evolve in subtle ways to be acceptable to current mores and culture. These are folktales, fairy tales, fables, legends and myths.

Children’s Historical Fiction are stories that are written to illustrate or convey information about a specific time or historical event. Authors use historical fiction to create drama and interest based on real events in people’s lives.

Children’s Fantasy is probably easier to define by example or by what it isn’t. The stories are contemporary or set in nondescript  time periods. These are imaginative tales requiring readers to accept story lines that clearly cannot be true. They may be based on animals that talk, facets of science fiction, supernatural or horror, or combinations of these elements. “Charlottes Web,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Alice in Wonderland”, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and “The Wizard of Oz” are all examples of modern fantasy written for young readers up to 12 years old.

Children’s Realistic Fiction has main characters of roughly the age (or slightly older than) the book’s intended audience. The books offer a “real-world” problem or challenge and show how a young person solves that problem.


Published August 6, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist


It constantly amazes me how territorial writers and artists can be over others using similar settings or characters to ones they used in their books or a painting. While copyright infringement does exist, its been my experience, that any group of writers or artists can be given the exact same setting, charactors, etc, and in the end as soon as their creative muse kicks in, they will produce significantly different products!

This is not copyright infringement folks, its creative license! This happens because no two writers or artists have the same creative vision. As an example, two of my favorite witch series have several things in common (see the clues on the flow chart below). However, both of these authors have taken the basic premise and created two vastly different original series, and followed up by taking their characters and plots in completely different directions.

To prove my premise, I’m going to challenge you to identify the series and the authors I am refering to. The first 20 people who identify them both correctly, will get a free copy of my newest book (Warriors of St. Antoni). To enter, fill out the form below and return it with your answers. REMEMBER YOU MUST COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW AND CORRECTLY IDENTIFY BOTH SERIES & AUTHORS! CONTEST ENDS OCTOBER 1, 2017





SERIES 1     AUTHOR                                 SERIES TITLE

SERIES 2     AUTHOR                                 SERIES TITLE


YES! PLEASE ADD ME TO THE LIST TO RECEIVE ADVANCE NOTICE OF YOUR NEXT BOOKS! (name, email & address information will not be used for any other purpose than that stated.)


Send completed entries to



  • Financially struggling small town, semi isolated from large cities.
  • The town periodically has events to draw outsiders into it to increase it’s revenue base.
  • Area has a significant history of weird or mysterous happings that goes back hundreds of years.


  • A family of three generations of witches (or paranormally gifted individuals) lives on the edge of the town.
  • The family has lived in the the area for many generations.
    • One elderly member
    • Three middle-aged members
    • Three adult members of the next generation


Short story or first draft?

Published August 5, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I found this blog interesting, mostly because It expresses the complete opposite of my experiences; I find short stories incredibly difficult to write, much more so than a long story. I would love to know what magic is used to write a short story that is complete, with good plot and character development and ends up seeming finished instead of unfinished.

Amanda McCoy

inside pages of the book A curious incident of the dog in the night time

Recently I’ve been noticing a trend. More and more writers have been writing short stories and then blowing them up into full novels instead of writing first drafts.

I have to admit, I’ve done that before too. In my novel, It’s a stony road through Hell, it was originally written as a short story and then years later I re-wrote it as a short-ish novel. It made a surprisingly high quality final piece. Usually I have to re-write a piece over and over again just to get it to be kind of readable, but from the short story starting point it came together fairly easily.

its-a-stony-road-through-hell-coverThe writer I heard about most recently doing this is Isaac Marion, author of Warm Bodies. Evidently, the story was originally written as a seven page short story (practically a flash fiction) and it only really covered what an internal monologue might be for…

View original post 278 more words

%d bloggers like this: