What are groups of things called?

Joe’s Post #159 —

Ok, now I'm super freaked out about crows

Ok, now I’m super freaked out about crows

Ok, I’m still having nightmares about Paula’s picture on her last post so I needed to lighten it up a bit. So, in case you were ever wondering what a group of pedlars (or pedlars if you’re British) were called, or a group of finches, this post is for you. If not, well, then, ah, errr, I have a video at the end for you. Something funny.

Personally, I loved what to call a lot of wild cats.


Fun facts!

blush of boys

drunkship of cobblers

hastiness of cooks

stalk of foresters

an observance of hermits

bevy of ladies

faith of merchants

superfluity of nuns

malapertness (= impertinence) of pedlars

pity of prisoners

glozing (= fawning) of taverners


shrewdness of apes

herd or pace of asses

troop of baboons

cete of badgers

sloth of bears

swarm or drift or hive or erst of bees

flock or flight or pod of birds

herd or gang or obstinacy of buffalo

bellowing of bullfinches

drove of bullocks

an army of caterpillars

clowder or glaring of cats

herd or drove of cattle

brood or clutch or peep of chickens

chattering or clattering of choughs

rag or rake of colts

covert of coots

herd of cranes

bask of crocodiles

murder of crows

litter of cubs

herd of curlew

cowardice of curs

herd or mob of deer

pack or kennel of dogs

school of dolphins

trip of dotterel

flight or dole or piteousness of doves

raft or bunch or paddling of ducks on water

safe of ducks on land

fling of dunlins

herd or parade of elephants

gang or herd of elk

busyness of ferrets

charm or chirm of finches

shoal or run of fish

swarm or cloud of flies

skulk of foxes

gaggle of geese on land

skein or team or wedge of geese in flight

herd of giraffes

cloud of gnats

flock or herd or trip of goats

band of gorillas

pack or covey of grouse

down or mute or husk of hares

cast of hawks

siege of herons

bloat of hippopotami

drove or string or stud or team of horses

pack or cry or kennel of hounds

flight or swarm of insects

fluther or smack or jellyfish

mob or troop of kangaroos

kindle or litter of kittens

desert of lapwing

an exaltation or a bevy of larks

leap or lepe of leopards

pride or sawt of lions

tiding of magpies

sord or suit of mallard

stud of mares

richesse of martens

labour of moles

troop of monkeys

barren of mules

watch of nightingales

yoke of oxen

pandemonium of parrots

covey of partridges

muster of peacocks

muster or parcel or rookery of penguins

head or nye of pheasants

kit of pigeons flying together

litter or herd of pigs

stand or wing or congregation of plovers

rush or flight of pochards

pod or school or herd or turmoil of porpoises

covey of ptarmigan

litter of pups

bevy or drift of quail

string of racehorses

an unkindness of ravens

crash of rhinoceros

bevy of roes

parliament or building of rooks

hill of ruffs

pod or herd or rookery of seals

flock or herd or trip or mob of sheep

dopping of sheldrake

wisp or walk of snipe

host of sparrows

murmuration of starlings

flight of swallows

game of swans; a wedge of swans in the air

drift or herd or sounder of swine

spring of teal

knot of toads

hover of trout

rafter of turkeys

bale or turn of turtles

bunch or knob or raft of waterfowl

school or pod or herd or gam of whales

company or trip of wigeon

sounder of wild boar

destruction of wild cats

team of wild ducks in flight

bunch or trip or plump or knob (fewer than 30) of wildfowl

drift of wild pigs

pack or rout of wolves

fall of woodcock

descent of woodpeckers

herd of wrens

zeal of zebras


And this is how movies are made. Think of the head guy as George Lucas and you know I’m right.

Page count:  Not much over 100 pages now. I’m not proud of myself in a very big way. Non-writers have no idea of the anguish writers go through when we’re not writing.

Queries Sent:  2 back. All rejections.

Rejections:  See above. It sapped my morale.

Blogs Written Since Last Post:  2 (not a lot new at Just A Stepdad.)

Exercise:  None. When I have a failed week, I go all out and fail at everything.

Movies Seen: Rocky III and Rocky IV. We’re on a binge so we can see Creed, which is apparently a pretty good movie. Unlike Rocky IV to VI. See Monte Python Video to understand how this happened.

Targeting genre

Joe’s Post #158

cs lakinToday, I want to repost an article by one of our followers. C.S. Lakin.

Actually, I could probably repost about 10 of hers as she is one hell of a blogger. No. Seriously. She rocks.

Now, this is a bit ahead of where we 5/5/5 are at currently, but I love reading about what to do when we reach the publishing stage. It’s like chocolate for the soul. Keeps me thinking about the future and not the past.

If you want, please check out her other articles here on Linkedin. Or here on facebook.

cs lakin bookOr, check out her website. It’s amazingly well done. I am super envious of her abilities. She won the 2015 award for being one of the top 10 blogs for writers, and one look at her site or her posts and you’ll see why. She’s good. Very, very good.

She also has a newsletter that’s worth signing up for and a few pretty cool books, even, dare I say it, quite a few novels.

Anyway, here is the article.

Targeting Genre Using the KDSPY Chrome Tool

I always wondered just how much genre had to do with a novel’s success, and when I did my “experiment” a couple of years ago by writing in a genre that purportedly “sold itself,” I proved to myself (and perhaps to many others) that genre really matters. (If you didn’t read my blog post on The Book Designer that went viral in the writing world, take a look at it here. )

My aim was to write a novel that carefully fit a big-selling genre and see if it would sell with little effort on my part. I used a pen name, and although I did a little bit of marketing—similar to what a new author would do—I was astounded by the sales I saw. Way more than all the sales I got from my other half dozen self-published novels.

Whether You’re in It for the Money or Not

You might not care about making money off your books. But some of us have families to support and bills to pay. I felt guilty for years writing novel after novel that didn’t sell, “wasting precious time” (my assessment) when I could have been working at Wal-Mart for minimum wage and at least bringing some money in.

Before throwing in the towel and giving up what I loved most—writing novels—I decided to give this writing life one last-ditch desperate effort. I promised myself that if this new book I planned to write did not make me any money, I would never write another novel again (believe me, this wasn’t the first time I vowed this, but I really meant it this time!).

You may be in a situation to write whatever you want, regardless of market potential. You may not need the money. You may, like me, love experimenting and mixing genres and fleshing out those crazy ideas and structures you know probably won’t turn into best sellers.

For you, maybe it’s not about the money. Maybe you want the recognition. You want lots of super fans and for your peers to acknowledge what a great writer you are. Most of us want this, regardless of profession. We want to be recognized for our talents and abilities. We want to feel successful, that all our hard work shows. I don’t believe there is anything at all wrong with this. We need validation and to be encouraged by results. We don’t want to feel like failures.

So regardless of the reason, you might want to achieve some success with your book sales. And targeting genre is a great way to do it.

The Difficulty in Researching Hot Genres

In the aftermath of my viral post on targeting genre, a lot of writers contacted me and asked me how they could figure out which subgenres sold the best. I knew basically that some general genres sold well on Kindle: romance, mysteries, suspense, fantasy. But those are very general categories, and the niche I targeted was a very specific subgenre.

I asked experts in marketing what their thoughts were on this, and basically, after all my research, I came up with a blank. The bottom line is it would take a lot of participating in K-Boards and Goodreads discussions to find the threads that showed readers decrying a lack of novels in their subgenre.

This implies greater demand than supply. Which is a factor in big sales, to me. If there are a gazillion readers clamoring for books in a certain subgenre, and there aren’t all that many books being released, those few authors are cashing in. This is what I see in the sweet Western Historical Romance subgenre (although now the competition is growing—probably the result of my blog post!).

The Best Tool I’ve Seen for Authors

So imagine the thrill I felt when I learned about KDSPY. It was exactly the app I needed to uncover all the info—accurate data, not guesses—on which subgenres sold well and why.

Called “The Ultimate Kindle Spy Tool,” KDSPY is probably one of the most valuable tools an indie author can utilize. This unique software application essentially reverse engineers the Kindle marketplace and shows you which niches sell well, which have much or little competition, and how much revenue the top-selling books in that niche have made in the last thirty days.

There are so many features that I love with this app:

  • It’s easy (and inexpensive!) to load and use, and integrates into your browser for easy access.
  • It gives you gobs of pertinent info that will help you determine what niches are selling.
  • It allows you to look at any author’s page and see her actual book sales and rankings for every book she has on Kindle for the last thirty days.
  • It shows you the main keywords used by the author for a particular book (which is also broken down by use in title and in description).
  • In seconds, sometimes with just one click, you can see a wide landscape regarding genre and revenue, helping you make marketing decisions for your book. Or helping you decide what your next book will be.

And, once you’ve gathered data for the category you’re interested in, you can click on the keyword button that will give you a word cloud that shows all the words that the best-selling books use in their titles and descriptions.

Why is this great? Because this data can help you tailor what you write, or market what you’ve already written, by giving you proof (not claims) of what’s already working for other Kindle publishers. KDSPY shows you the best-selling niches to go after, and even shows you the words to use in your book titles.

One Way This App Helped Me

Here’s just one example of how this tool helped me make a decision. I write historical Western romances. I spent time researching using KDSPY checking the best-selling titles and their keywords, wondering just which keywords and categories would be best for my books.

Since my books could go in the inspirational romance category (because my characters do express their faith, attend church, and pray), I wondered if I should choose that as one of my two categories on Kindle. When I peeked at the best-selling titles and authors in my subgenre and compared the general market sales and competition to the inspirational market sales and competition, there was a huge difference. Overall, the inspirational market monthly sales revenue for a best-selling book was about one-tenth of the general market. I decided not to use that category, since it was clear the market I’d be targeting was smaller and afforded less opportunity for big sales.

Other Perks

Another thing I found very helpful with KDSPY were the short video tutorials on the site that showed me exactly how I could effectively use this tool. There are so many other ways you can benefit. For example, you can use the book-tracking feature to tag certain books and track their sales via a daily sales rank and revenue chart.

You can imagine how useful this is when looking at your competition. You can track your own books as well to examine the results of your marketing efforts, or to see if your sales go up and down when you change your keywords.

I am continually shocked to see how few sales many best-selling authors are currently experiencing, or how only one book in their arsenal is making a killing, whereas their other book sales are flat. In contrast, some first-time authors are making big five-figure sales per month per book. I wanted to know why and how. This app gives me insights into their success.

Of course this is only showing you Kindle sales and not print sales, or sales from any other online venues. But Kindle accounts for most authors’ sales these days, and for me, this is the data I need, that will most help me in my book sales.

KDSPY is a Chrome browser extension that is compatible with PC and Macs. Firefox supports this app as well, but at this time, these are the only two browsers you can use. All the data is exportable so you can put the results in a folder to refer to.

This app is great for both fiction and nonfiction books, and while it’s not useable in every country, KDSPY has now been opened up to allow results to be pulled from the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. The customer support is excellent, which means a lot to me.

The cost at the time of this post for this app is only $47 US. I feel it’s one of the best investments for authors, worth way more than this. I’ve never promoted a product on my website, so that should tell you something about how valuable I think this tool is. GET YOURS HERE! and start benefitting from this amazing tool. And I’d love to hear how it’s helping you sell more books!


Pretty cool stuff, right?

Here’s a quick bio for her.


Me and Coaltrane

I’m a novelist, a copyeditor, a writing coach, a mom, a backpacker, and a whole bunch of other things.

I write novels in various genres and help writers at my blog www.livewritethrive.com

I teach workshops on the writing craft at writers’ conferences and retreats. If your writers’ group would like to have me teach,drop me a line. I live in California, near San Francisco, just so you know how far away I am from you and your writer friends. I also enjoy guest blogging, so contact me if you’d like me to write a post on writing, editing, or Labrador retrievers (just threw that in there; I’m not an expert but I love them). I am, however, quite the expert on pygmy goats. I ran a commercial pygmy goat farm for ten years and delivered a lot of kids! So, if you need some goat advice, I’m your gal.


Do you know a writer?


Joe’s Post #48 — We’re not easy to spot. We’re hidden everywhere. In hair salons. In movie theaters. In gyms. In the office cubicle next to you. Some of us are odd looking. Some are gorgeous. But make no mistake, all of us, yes all, are a bit odd. We’re writers after-all.

Because to even do what we do, well, we have to be a little off. A little bit different. A little bit Coo coo for coco puffs.

Or as I like to say, “I live in my own little world”.

So let me give you an insight into spotting one of us.

1) Look for a laptop. We love laptops. We get all twitchy and nervous if we don’t have one in our hands, our laps, or on a table in front of us. We can be found with our laptops at the beach, in coffee shops (duh), sitting on steps, on airplanes, in cars (sometimes while driving), at weddings, at parties, in bed, or on a couch while watching TV.  Older school writers might be found still using a pen and paper, but these are rare sightings indeed and you should approach with caution.

2) We read. A lot. We’ll often be seen with a real book in our hands. Or a kindle-ie thing. But we love to read. It’s what makes us want to write. A few guarantees, if you see someone reading a 900 page fantasy novel, it’s a good bet they’ll have written a novel about an elven maiden and a handsome barbarian. If you see a book group, at least one of them will have a romance novel secretly under construction.

3) We have some very weird things on our computers. Links to autoerotic affixation. Biker Wars. The world’s fastest cars. How to Make a Bomb. Desert locations. Pictures of guns and Russian brides and female ninjas. Now only one of those will be for personal fun, but the rest are for research. I swear.

4) If you know someone who wants you to read something they wrote, it means, well, they wrote something. Hence, a writer. But that best illustrates the most obvious of all writer traits. We want to be read. We are needy that way. We want to be read by our friends and family. By the guy who inked a Hitler mustache on our yearbook photos. By the girl who makes us a tall iced mocha. Oh, we may be shy, but that need is there. By reading what we wrote, you justify our very existence. (Oh, and when asked, just say you love it, that’s it’s the most amazing thing you’re ever read and you’d buy the book. I don’t care if you lie.)

thCA5NKTHM5) We get lost in our heads a lot. Hey, that’s where all the action is. It’s where the woman is taken in the arms by the man she loves and kissed like it’s the last kiss before the world ends. It’s where all hope is lost. Where tears are shed. Where characters are born and die. It’s often a nicer place to be than the world we live in. So we live there a lot. But that means we may have a vacant look about us sometimes. A blank, three stooges stare. It means we are somewhere else for a moment. Some may say this makes us socially awkward. I say, well, yes, but in our head we’re social gods (and very funny.)

6) We mutter to ourselves. We mutter quite a bit, actually. It’s a part of #5. But don’t be alarmed if you hear things like, “oh, right, petechial hemorrhaging, right, that’s why he wouldn’t strangle her,” or, “No, no, she wouldn’t do that on the elevator,” or “Wait, hold on, that’s not his finger in the box.”

7) Lastly, we write. A lot. Sure, we talk about writing. We go to conferences and workshops and critique groups. But, at the end of the day, we write. We sit in a chair, laptop in front of us, and we try to create a world, populate it with interesting characters then make bad shit happen to them. It takes time. It takes concentration. And it takes time away from doing things we love (and doing them with people we love.) It’s work. It’s what we do. But it’s also what we love. It may not make sense sometimes. It may not even make sense most of the time, but we write anyway. I hope our loved ones will forgive us.

So, if you ever see someone pounding away on a laptop, muttering to themselves, paying no attention to the world around them, with a book on the table beside them and a browser window open to “A thousand ways to dismantle a body with a spoon,” don’t panic.

Now, true enough, it’s just as likely they’re a serial killer, or someone truly insane, but it could just be they’re a writer. Trying to write something you’d want to read.

Give them a hug.

They’ll need it.

Especially if they’re a serial killer.

Anyone have any other ways to spot a writer?

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