Behind Every Leader…


Hello everyone and happy Presidents’ Day!

“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

It is easy to look at a leader and attribute his/her success to his/her own drive and personality. Although the individual is the focal point, the credit for his/her accomplishments also partially belongs to the members of his/her support group. Every leader surrounds himself/herself with people who can offer advice, emotional/financial/political support, etc.

Your writing prompt for the next two weeks is to select a job title for a leader and then create a supporting cast for him/her. Your leader can be a political figure, the head of a corporation, the principal of a school, a pastor, the head of a household, etc.

  1. Create between three and five supporting characters.
  2. Define each character’s role/relationship with the leader.
  3. Give each secondary character a minimum of one strength and one flaw.
  4. Create a backstory for how each character met your leader character and how each character came to earn his/her trust enough to become one of his/her main support personnel.

For my history lovers, you could alter this writing challenge by choosing a leader from history and researching his/her three to five closest advisers, family members, friends, etc.

Happy writing!

Katie Merkel

Trademark Trolls

***Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  I recommend that you speak with a lawyer about any legal questions you have.

Hello everyone!troll-1

I recently found the following article about trademark trolls and thought you would also find it interesting.

“Has a Troll Falsely Accused You of Violating Their Trademark? Here’s What You Should Do” by Angela Hoy:

For those of you who would like to do some research on your own, I have included a few more links which I believe you will find helpful.

“Trademark vs. Copyright Protection”:

United States Copyright Office:

U.S. Trademark Law (January 14, 2017):

United States Patent and Trademark Office (Especially look under the “Trademarks” tab at the top of the page.):

Happy writing!


Celebrations, Legends, Superstitions, and Wives’ Tales

Hello everyone!

Six more weeks of winter…at least according to Punxsutawney Phil. This year, I became curious as to how Groundhog’s Day began. Looking it up online again made me realize how much the past affects modern culture.

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to create a culture. Come up with a history for a social group, town, country, etc. What outside influences and historical events have shaped its current practices and beliefs? Are the people from the culture immigrants or have their ancestors lived there since time began? Have there been any natural disasters; and, if so, how were those disasters viewed and what impact did they have on the society? How do outsiders view members of this population and vice versa?

Happy writing!


Publishing Tips for Indie Authors

Hello everyone!

On Tuesday, I went to an event called “Journey of an Author” where Dr. John Benedict spoke about his writing process and some of the ins and outs of self-publishing.  Below are four articles that restate and expound upon Dr. Benedict’s advice for indie authors.  I hope you find the information to be as helpful as I did.

“Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Distribution Plan? Part 1” by Jami Gold:

“Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Distribution Plan? Part 2” by Jami Gold:

“‘Going Wide’ – Gaining Traction on non-Amazon Vendors Part 1: The Upload Process” by Angela Quarles:

“Is KDP Select Right for You?” by Marcy Kennedy:

Happy writing!


Music: Lyrical Melodies or Melodious Lyrics?

Hello everyone!

Music is a powerful medium. I love the way words and instruments work together to elicit a heightened emotional response. Some might think I’m strange, because, I hear the lyrics better than the accompaniment. What I mean by that is I will sing a song to the wrong tune because I learned the words but still don’t have the melody down.

For me, the lyrics are what make or break a song. My favorite songs are from musicals because I love the way they move the story along and/or reveal something new about a character. Some of my favorite lyricists are Sir Tim Rice (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Evita, Aladdin, The Lion King), the late Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors, Oliver and Company, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin), and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton, Moana).

Since we are still at the start of 2017 and trying new things, the prompt for the next two weeks is to write a song. To help you get started, listen to your three to five favorite songs. Look up the lyrics. See if you can figure out what makes those songs appeal to you and then try to duplicate those elements when creating your own song.

Happy writing!


Query Letters

Hello everyone!

Once you have completed your novel (keyword being completed) it is time to write the query letter.  Basically, be professional and keep what you have to say short, to the point, and error free.  Below are some articles with more in-depth advice.

“How to Write a Query Letter” by

“The Complete Guide to Query Letters” by Jane Friedman:

“How to Write the Perfect Query Letter” by Mary Kole:

Happy writing!

Katie Merkel

New Dreams

Hello everyone! Happy 2017!

The beginning of a year is a time to start fresh. People set goals and make resolutions for how they will improve themselves. Many hope the new year will be better than the former year.

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to choose one of the five settings listed below. Then, create a character based off the quote at the end of the prompt. Use the quote and location to create an interesting conflict. When it comes to deciding what your character wants, be creative. After all, it’s a new year, don’t go with an obvious choice. (e.g. A high school student dreams of becoming an engineer. He has a beautiful singing voice and his mother forces him take voice lessons and audition for American Idol instead of letting him get involved with math and science clubs.)


  1. Thebes (Ancient Egypt)
  2. Virginia (The Civil War)
  3. Paris, France (World War II)
  4. A reality TV show (e.g. American Idol, Shark Tank, The Bachelor, etc.)
  5. Mars (3000 AD)


“Stay true to yourself, yet always be open to learn. Work hard, and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you. These are not clichés but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path.” – Phillip Sweet

Happy writing!

Katie Merkel