Saturday, December 27, 2008

Motivational Quote #16

"Long-range goals keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures."--James Cash Penney

Sometimes you get lucky and you stumble upon great quotes without really trying. Such was how I found this one. And with the coming of the new year and the thought of new goals, this quote is perfect.

Before sharing my thoughts on Penney's quote, however, I will have to admit my ignorance. I did not know that James Cash Penney--the son of a farmer and Baptist minister--founded J.C. Penney. Now, why that wasn't obvious to me, I don't know, but it showed me once again the amazing power of the Internet when I popped his name into Google and was led to a site about famous Missourians.

Now let's talk about Penney's quote. The topic of goals comes up often in my articles for Writer2Writer. Many of those articles discuss creating to-do lists and breaking down your goals into smaller, more manageable chunks.

But here Penny focuses on the reverse, praising the benefit of long-term goals. Just yesterday, I set my goals for the first quarter of 2009. I have a lot planned, even though I know I might need to make some changes if I have to return to working outside of my home.

Every week I write a to-do list based upon my long-term goals. This helps keep me focused on the big picture and allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment when I've checked off one of the items on my to-do list.

Do I beat myself up when I don't accomplish it all?

No, and this is exactly what Penney is getting at with his remarks. Having that long-term goal in sight allows us as aspiring authors not to get bogged down when by the end of the week we haven't accomplished everything we planned to. Unexpected things happen: our children get sick, we have to work an additional shift, the car breaks down, we're just too darn tired to handle one more thing; you name it, it can happen.

But by setting S.M.A.R.T. long-range goals, we don't need to worry about it when the unexpected happens.

To find out more about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, visit my article at the Writer2Writer website. You'll find it here.

Speaking of successful long-range goals, in 2002, the J.C. Penney Company celebrated one hundred years in business. The company is still one of America's largest retailers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Take Our New Poll

You can participate in our new poll in the sidebar. Tell us what keeps you from being committed to your writing career. If you choose "other", please feel free to elaborate in this thread.

Motivational Quote #15

"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The above quotation comes from Longfellow's poem titled The Ladder of St. Augustine. In St. Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, literally "On Christian Doctrine", he explains how to read and interpret Sacred Scripture, providing seven steps on approaching Scripture and seven rules on understanding Scripture.*

While I won't go into the details of St. Augustine's Ladder, in this poem, Longfellow seems to be echoing the moral sentiments of St. Augustine's work.

Sometimes we read or hear stories of breakout authors who wrote a novel, sent it off to an agent who pitched it to a major publishing house, had it accepted with a nice advance, won movie rights, and is now sitting in the Bahamas working on her next novel.

But that's not the norm and as aspiring authors we shouldn't set our hopes on goals like that. Unrealistic goals are a surefire way to ensure discontent.

The aspiring author can use Longfellow's words to encourage him to keep working. "But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night." As we read in our last motivational quote by Jefferson, who spoke of hard work, we also hear from Longfellow that it will take nights of toil in order to reach the great heights we are seeking to achieve.

Don't let that hard work scare you. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.

As we come closer to the end of 2008 and the exciting start of the New Year, take a moment to discover where those nuggets of time are hiding that you can spend toiling away at your writing career. You have the power to make your dreams come true!

* The information about St. Augustine and his work was taken from

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Motivational Quote #14

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."- Thomas Jefferson

I did not perform research to discover the origin of this Jefferson quote. Gasp! I know, but a motivational quote without research is better than no motivational quote at all.

Writing is hard work...unless you're not a writer and you have this dillusion that being a writer is easy. I believe Jefferson's quote is not only helpful to the aspiring author, but also to any writer who is having a difficult time moving forward.

It is easy to find all the excuses in the world not to write. It's easy to make to-do lists and not use them. It is also easy to blame everyone but yourself when your work isn't accepted.

But it's hard to stay committed to your writing. It's hard to make the time to write. It's hard to stay focused and not let distractions and interruptions invade your writing time. It's hard to accept rejection and still keep submitting your work.

But Jefferson says that it has been his experience that the harder he works, the more luck he seems to have. While I don't think luck has anything to with it, I do believe that the harder we work and the more committed we are to our writing careers, the better results we'll get.

Take out a peice of paper and write down what stopped you in 2008 from working hard toward becoming a published author, what you can change in 2009 that will make a difference, and how you can stay focused on your writing so that your "luck" will change.

You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Words to Write By Compiled by Robin Bayne--Book Review

An inspiring, motivational, faith-based read awaits novice and experienced writers in Words to Write By compiled by Robin Bayne.

Broken down into five chapters, Words to Write By provides writers with much needed advice along their writing journey. From words that encourage and motivate, to words that help you persist despite rejections, from advice on publishing and networking, to words on success and sustenance, the reader will find herself going back to this treasure trove of helpful reflections from a variety of well-known authors time and again. With a special final chapter all about writing for Him, Christian writers will surely want to have this book by their side as they stroll along the path of their writing ministry.

Well written, thought provoking, and inspirational, even the cover art begs you to open its pages and soak up its wisdom. While at times a bit preachy, Words to Write By is certainly a gift that many writers would enjoy and benefit from.

Title: Words to Write By
Compiled By: Robin Bayne
Publisher: Mountain View Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-932695-79-3
U.S. Price: $11.50

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Motivational Quote #13

I just finished reading Words to Write By - Author Devotionals. Within it's pages I found a quote from an anonymous source that I truly loved:

"Every successful writer starts out as a 'nobody.'"

Think about some of the great writers you know and love. For me the list includes: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Stephen King (how's that for a jump, prairie life and Prince Edward Island to horror), Jerry Jenkins, Michael Shaara, Jeff Shaara, and Karen White.

And yet as great as these authors are, they all started out at the same place every aspiring author does--unknown.

When you wonder if you have what it takes or if your work is good enough, think back to your list of great writers and consider what the publishing world would be like if even one of them never submitted a thing.

Now get to writing!

Aaron Paul Lazar on Rejection

A writing friend, whose latest release, The Devil Can Wait had me staying up way past my bedtime, directed me to this guest article on rejection by Aaron Paul Lazar found at the Murderby4 Blog.

Rejection. Oh, how it stings. Most of us have been through it - plenty. Seeking jobs, seeking love, seeking publication for our books. It hurts. Destroys our self image. For a while, anyway. And it tears at the thin fabric in which we cocoon with our fragile writer's ego, protecting the inner belief that our work is valid.

A new writer recently emailed me after receiving a flurry of rejections from big agents. With a crushed spirit, she wrote:

"It makes no sense to me. If someone has written a book that is a good read, then why in the world would it not be recognized, published and read? The only answer that makes any sense is that it's not a particularly good read after all."

Alas, if it were only that simple. Let's step back and take a look at the situation.

You can read more here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

You Can Fulfill Your Dream! by Pamela Samuels Young

Pamela Samuels Young is touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion in December with her legal thriller, Murder on the Down Low.

Here is an excerpt from her guest article I found at Lesa's Book Critiques today:

When I decided nearly a decade ago that I wanted to write a novel, my desire stemmed from what I saw missing in mainstream legal fiction. I loved reading legal thrillers by John Grisham, Scott Turow and other lawyer-writers. It bothered me, however, that the books I read never featured female lawyers or African-American lawyers as main characters. A desire to fill that void prompted me to sit down and take a stab at writing a legal thriller myself.

To read more visit Lesa's Book Critiques!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Marta Stephens Gives Tips to Writers

The following is an excerpt from another of Pump Up Your Book Promotion's December clients. Marta Stephens if the author of Silenced Cry and The Devil Can Wait--the latter of which I will review at The Book Connection on December 10th.

You can find Marta on the web at

"You’ve written an amazingly brilliant novel. Your tension is excellent, the suspense is fantastic, your subplots are beautifully woven together--every word, every phrase is sheer perfection.

In the begin, the reaction from your friends and family to your writing may range from curious amusement to mild enthusiasm. Months pass, your family begins referring to you in past tense. You friends call less frequently -- eventually they quit, your kids stop setting your place at the table, and dog you’ve raised as a pup begins to bark and growl every time you shuffle your feet from your desk into the kitchen for another cup of coffee. The only television you “watch” are the infomercials at two in the morning only because you’re so wound up from working out complex plots that you can’t go to sleep. But that’s okay, because this is your goal, right? You’ve raised the bar a notch higher and now you have to roll with the punches. You have no choice but to push yourself to the brink of exhaustion and push you will!"

To read the rest of this article, please visit The Writer's Life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Great Advice for the Aspiring Author

When I logged onto my Google homepage this morning I saw this quote:

"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"--John Wooden

Wooden is a retired American basketball coach and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Winning 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, Wooden has been honored in many ways. While I have to admit to not knowing much about basketball, Wooden words of wisdom should also be heeded by aspiring authors

I've had the opportunity to interview and network with several editors over the past few years. One complaint that comes up often when discussing manuscripts and whittling down the slush pile is that there are many writers who don't follow submission guidelines. Every time I hear that, I shake my head in disbelief.

Why would you go through all the trouble of submitting a manuscript that you spent numerous hours creating if you aren't going to take the time to review the guidelines?

You can save yourself the time and energy because that has given the editor his first reason to reject your manuscript. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your manuscript is so brilliant that an editor will overlook that you can't follow directions. If you can't even be bothered to comply with submission guidelines, then why would you be any more acceptable of suggested changes to your manuscript?

Wooden's words can also be applied to editing. As a book reviewer, I am amazed at what I've seen over the past couple of years. If a book is filled with typographical errors and sloppy grammar, it can take away from the enjoyment of the reader. Don't think that you'll find every error yourself. At bare minimum, have another writer read your work; but it is ideal to hire a professional editor to review your manuscript so that it is polished when it arrives on the editor's desk.

Remember, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure you do it right the first time!

J.L. Miles at Muse Interrupted

While checking out clients' stops during Day 2 of Pump Up Your Book Promotion's Authors on Tour, I stumbled upon this little gem from J.L. Miles that should provide all you aspiring authors with a healthy heap of inspiration.


My agent is shopping my latest manuscript and let me tell you the waiting is killing me. As a matter of fact, just this morning I noticed my hair is definitely grayer than it was last week.

When she first sent it out, we got an immediate response from a major publisher and boy was I excited. They raved about the author voice and the premise. They asked if the author had another book that could be packaged with it. Then they took it to committee, whatever that means, and the next thing you know they were saying things like, “It’s not for our list after all.”

Bummer. I felt like dumping my head in the washing machine while it was on the spin cycle. That got me thinking about all the authors out there that now have N.Y. Times bestsellers. Did they ever want to stick their head in the washer? I’d call them up, but I don’t have their numbers. Plus they’d think I was crazy so I’d probably just tell them how much I enjoyed their book and not mention their washing machine.

To read the rest of the article go here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lloyd Lofthouse and My Splendid Concubine

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the historical fiction novel My Splendid Concubine.

In the video below, Lloyd discusses the challenges of research for historical fiction writers. If you're considering writing an historical fiction novel, you'll want to listen to what Lloyd has to say.

About the book: No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart’s status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems, and schools.

But his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese.

He also finds himself thrust into the second bloodiest conflict in history, the Taiping Rebellion, where he ends up making enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.

During his first years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he is yet to become. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, My Splendid Concubine is the deeply intimate story of Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart.

You can visit Lloyd's website at

The MY SPLENDID CONCUBINE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Lloyd's blog stops at in December and January to find out where he is appearing!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. A winner will be announced at the end of every month!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Motivational Quote #12

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."--Albert Einstein

I found the above Einstein quote when I logged into Google today and thought it perfect for this week's motivational quote. But, the researcher in me always likes to find the origin of the quotes I use and today's research uncovered something interesting: this is not exactly what Einstein said. GASP! Can you believe someone changed the words around? LOL!

If I am correct, this quotation is taken from an interview titled What Life Means to Einstein by George Sylvester Viereck. This interview appeared in the October 26, 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. This is what the actual quote reads:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

And when I put this quote into context with other quotations attributed to Einstein this quote has tremendous meaning for the aspiring author. Here are just a few additional quotes I found:

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."

Ideas for great books start with the words "What if...". And because we are dealing in fantasy and not reality, that allows the aspiring author to explore avenues that he may not in real life. "What if..." encourages the aspiring author to push a character to her limits, past any limit he might be comfortable with from inside his four walls; and when written well, the reader comes along for the ride and gets the opportunity to witness just how far this character will go.

Imagination and curiosity are perhaps the aspiring author's greatest tools. And when coupled with knowledge of craft and grammar, a new world opens up for the aspiring author and his future readers.

Spend some time this week with the words "What if..." If Einstein approves of imagination, I'm sure not about to knock it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift Giving for Your Writer Friends

I recevied this note from Kristen O'Connell at the Penguin Group the other day:

Dear friends,

To mark the start of the holiday season, we asked some of our Penguin Group authors to tell us which books they are giving, and which books they'd most like to receive this year. Our inboxes were immediately flooded with emails about books they can't wait to share with their loved ones—books for all ages, new and old, from publishers large and small.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Khaled Hosseini, Geraldine Brooks, Nick Hornby, Jan Karon, Michael Pollan, Stuart Woods, Mike Lupica, Jan Brett, W.E.B. Griffin, Nathaniel Philbrick and many other New York Times bestselling, award-winning writers shared their suggestions (and wish lists) with us, and we wanted to share their contributions with you. The resulting messages, heartwarming, humorous and generous of spirit are posted on the Penguin website for your enjoyment.

And don’t miss our holiday gift guide! From classics to cookbooks, finding the perfect Penguin will be the easiest shopping experience you'll have this season.

Kristen O'Connell
Director of Online Marketing
Penguin Group (USA)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Motivational Quote #11

Every once in a while a run across a quotation that makes me say, "Wow!" I found one of those today and I wanted to share it with you.

"You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water." - Rabindranath Tagore.

Rabindranath Tagore became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. A poet, novelist, playwright, artist, and composer, Tagore played a large role in the artistic and cultural renaissance of India.

Drawing from his profound words today, the aspiring author realizes that talking about being a writer will not make you a writer. One must write. Do not stare at the water, dive in and cross the sea.

You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Motivational Quote #10

We've discussed fear of failure in the past and continue to revisit it because it can be so crippling to an aspiring author. This week's motivational quote comes from the late Robert Kennedy.

"...only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly."

Kennedy made this comment during his Day of Affirmation Address in 1966 during his visit to South Africa to champion the cause of the anti-Apartheid movement. He spoke to the young people at the University of Capetown and encouraged them in their work. And while what those young people faced was a much larger challenge than anything I have had to deal with, I find Kennedy's quote a great inspiration in the journey toward publication.

Daring to fail greatly might be the first time you submit a chapter for feedback to your critique group. Or it could mean the day you lovingly tuck your baby into an envelope and mail it to a publisher or agent for consideration. It might mean something larger or smaller depending upon where you are in your journey.

But what Kennedy's words tell the aspiring author is something she already knows, but tries to forget: unless you try, you can never succeed. Mickey Rooney once said, "You always pass failure on the way to success." How can we achieve one unless we are willing to accept the other?

Failure comes to all of us, but how we react to those moments when our dreams seem to slip out of our hands, is what makes the difference between a published author and an aspiring one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grit for the Oyster by Suzanne Woods Fisher et al.--Book Review

Filled with helpful advice and inspiration, Grit for the Oyster 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss is a must read for all aspiring writers.

Broken down into four sections, not a single page in this book is wasted. Readers can expect to find motivational quotes from successful writers, Biblical Scriptures, anecdotes from the authors, prayers tied into each pearl of wisdom, and questions to reflect upon.

More than just a book that will help you move your writing career forward, Grit for the Oyster will change not only how you pursue your writing career, but also your perception of that career. A powerful motivator that will increase your self-confidence and draw you closer to the One who has called you to write, this book should stay close by your computer and lift you up when you need it most.

Grit for the Oyster will help the aspiring writer to get started, to find her voice, to handle interruptions, to deal with rejections, fear of failure, moments when she feels like giving up, and so much more.

An excellent daily devotional for every writer who seeks to glorify God with the written word.

Title: Grit for the Oyster
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher et al.
Publisher: Vintage Spirit
ISBN: 978-0-9815592-2-3
U.S. Price: $15.99

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Motivational Quote #9

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."---Winston Churchill

I like to research the origin of the quotations I post here so that I can attempt to understand the meaning behind the author's words. This time, my research turned up something interesting. The above quote is attributed to Winston Churchill; however, The Churchill Centre states on their site that their research proves that Churchill never said this in his books, speeches, articles, or papers.

So, we are left to consider what the meaning of this quote from a potentially anonymous source might mean and how aspiring authors can apply it to themselves. Let's break it down.

"Success is not final" - When you achieve one of your goals do you just stop there? No, you keep going and begin working toward achieving your next goal. After your first published credit aren't you going to want to see more?

"failure is not fatal" - Failing is not the end of the world. It might seem so at the time, but if you look at failure as a learning experience, then you have the strength to brush yourself off and get back on that horse again.

"It is the courage to continue that counts." - Aha! This is really what the aspiring author needs to remember. Dig deep down inside yourself and work through the rejections (the failures) and bravely continue on. When that "Thanks, but no thanks" letter comes in, don't take it as a reflection on you as a person. Don't throw your computer out the window and swear you'll never write again.

Lick your wounds for all of five minutes, then continue on. You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Advice for Aspiring Authors from Robert Greer

Robert Greer is a doctor and author of the CJ Floyd Mystery series that I spotlighted on my blog, The Book Connection. Robert offered a short advice article for aspiring authors today at Scribe Vibe. Here is an excerpt:

The best advice I can give to anyone who thinks they want to be a writer, has always been the same. The key to writing excellence is, as my good friend and best selling mystery writer, Stephen White, always says is, “To glue your butt to the chair.”

You can read the entire article here.

Karen White's Article on the Writing and Publishing Process

Author Karen White is just full of wisdom to help motivate the aspiring author this week. Here is an excerpt from a guest article she provided for Savvy Verse & Wit:

I’ve done it! I’ve just completed not only my second novel in a single calendar year, but I’ve also worked through the agony of simultaneously promoting two novels published within the same time span. Am I Superwoman or Super-insane? Sitting here still in my pajamas at 11:47 am, I’m not sure I really know the answer.

I’d like to say that my decision to double my output was a calmly calculated one intended to increase sales and bring in more readers. But then I’d be lying. The fact is, I was happily writing a single southern women’s fiction novel for my publisher each year. I was relatively successful with growing sales and a solid reader base who would loyally buy each book I published. My royalty checks were respectable although certainly not big enough for my husband to chuck in his desk job and spend his life out on the golf course (which is what I might have promised him once upon a time when I stopped cooking so that I could devote more time to writing).

You can read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Karen White's Article on Promoting Wisely

Southern fiction author, Karen White, is on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to promote her latest release, The House on Tradd Street. She wrote an article that appears at The Writer's Life about promoting wisely. Here is an excerpt:

"Once upon a time, I was a voracious reader. I was never without a book in my purse, in my hand, on my bedside table or all of the above. And in all the times that I went to a library or bookstore and saw all of those books on the shelves, it never occurred to me that I could be one of those authors.

Fast forward twenty-some years. While staying at home with my babies, I sat down one day and just started typing. I wanted to write the kind of book I like to read—characters who are real and emotional stories that mix a woman’s journey with a little romance and mystery thrown in. I entered that first manuscript in a writing contest, and I ended up winning. The finalist judge was a literary agent in New York and she offered to represent me. I signed an agreement and she sold the book to the second publisher she sent it to. And then it was all clear sailing, right? Wrong!"

Read the rest of the article here.

Now, you might be asking yourself why an aspiring author needs this information when she doesn't have books she's promoting. It's elemtentary my dear Watson, if you follow great advice, write a good book, and actively work toward your dream of publication, you won't be an aspiring author forever. So, read Karen's words and tuck them away. Then when you're ready to begin promoting your first book, you'll remember Karen's advice and be able to approach promoting your book wisely.

On another note, I reviewed The House on Tradd Street at The Book Connection. It is one of the best books I've ever read. Read my review here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo starts today!

Just in case you forgot, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts today.

Now in its 10th year, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event held every November that lets participants craft a 50,000 word novel in a short time frame. With this limited window of opportunity, the focus is on output, not content.

Want to take the chance at writing a novel in a month's time with the support of thousands of other writers? Sign up here.

Good luck everyone!

Motivational Quote #8

During the Muse Online Writers Conference, I gave a workshop titled Organize Your Writing Life. Attendees and I talked about getting organized and removing clutter, setting SMART goals and breaking them down into smaller chunks. We prioritized to-do items and discussed ways to remove distractions and avoid interruptions.

In honor of everyone who partcipated in this workshop, I would like to offer the following quote:

"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."--Groucho Marx

Now, the irony of this quote exists in the fact that Marx was a film star, having made several films with his brothers, in addition to, having a successful solo career.

But when I think of this quotation in regards to aspiring authors, it reminds me of those times when writers complain of distractions taking them away from their writing. This week, I've allowed distractions to take a hold of me and my work week has been less productive than it has been in a long time. I am faced with a difficult decision and I know that I am doing my best to avoid making that decision by letting my mind and fingers wander out to surf the Internet and answer emails rather than sit down to work.

Why? Because my husband has put the pressure on and I'm not comfortable with it.

Our financial situation dictates that after the first of the year I will need to make significantly more money working from home or that I will need to secure a part-time position outside of the house. Ever since this discussion I have not been able to focus. There are still so many ideas running around in my head and I know that I can make money writing if, and only if, I stick to it.

So, I share this Marx quote with you for two reasons. The first is a reminder that distractions keep you from realizing your full potential, and therefore, when you find yourself surfing the Internet or watching TV instead of writing, you need to stop, figure out why you are avoiding writing and take steps to get back into your daily writing schedule.

The second reason that I feel this quote is so important for aspiring authors is that reading, especially in the genres you hope to be published in, will help you hone your craft. So, instead of vegetating in front of the boob tube, walk away and pick up a book from your favorite author. Dissect it in a way that you never have before. Ask yourself why he or she described things in a particular way. Spend time figuring out why you like or dislike each character. Give thought to the plot and the setting. This just might be the inspiration that helps you get going again.

And even when you don't feel like it, WRITE! This isn't elementary school anymore. No one is going to give you an "F" if you don't turn in your assignment. But, you won't become a published author by avoiding your writing schedule.

Remember, you have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Writers and Authors with Jo Linsdell--Blog Review

Writers and Authors is a great place for writers to network. Started by freelance writer and author, Jo Linsdell, this site recently made it onto the Preditors & Editors list of Sites of Distinction.

Their new format is as follows:

Mondays: Opportunities for writers
Tuesdays: Featured Author Interviews
Wednesdays: Publishers, Editors, etc.
Thursdays: Book reviews
Fridays: Upcoming events (chats, conferences, etc.)

In addition, you'll find an extensive blogroll with links to sites for writers, and various motivational items in the side bar: instant writing prompts, writing tip of the day, and quotation of the day.

Add Writers and Authors to your Favorites and put them on your blogroll because you'll want to keep an eye on this site.

Motivational Quote #7

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

This FDR quote comes from his undelivered Jefferson Day speech for April 13, 1945. By this time in American history, the Nazis were only a few weeks away from surrender, the Japanese were retreating, and the U.S. Forces had invaded Okinawa.

President Roosevelt died the day before this speech was to be given and Harry S. Truman became President.

One can only imagine some of what was going through Roosevelt's head as he read this speech over and again in preparation to deliver it on Jefferson Day. He was looking for peace now that the end of the war was near. He was asking Americans to have faith that they could together bring about lasting peace. And he was saying that the doubts they had today are what would limit tomorrow's potential.

Isn't that true for many of us aspiring authors? Our fear of failure, our fear of success, our self-doubt keeps us from realizing our full potential, from reaching for our dreams with both hands outstretched toward the stars.

Even I am guilty of it at times. My husband will suggest I tackle a new project and my automatic response is, "I can't do that." I don't give any thought to what he's asked me to do or what I would need to do to complete this project. It's just easier to say, "I can't."

Why do we do this? Why do we automatically doubt that we have what it takes to make our dreams come true?

Who knows your potential more than you? Who knows your dreams better than you do? No one.

So, who is going to get you there other than you? No one!

Mickey Rooney once said, "You always pass failure on the way to success." So look at failure as just part of the journey that gets you closer to obtaining your dreams. If something doesn't work then instead of letting self-doubt take over, do some self-analysis. What went right? What went wrong? What other possibilities are there?

You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

The Fine Print of Self--Publishing by Mark Levine--Book Review

Now in its third edition, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine will arm you with what you need to know before deciding on which company will help you self-publish your book.

Through years of research and experience, Levine motivates you to take control of your writing career, shares the qualities good self-publishers should have, and explains in layman terms the fine print of of publishing contracts. Chapters 6 through 9 are then dedicated to analyzing, ranking, and exposing 45 self-publishing companies--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Levine's conversational style and friendly tone throughout this book is a huge plus. It is obvious to this reader that he did not write the book to showoff how much more he knows about the subject matter than the average author. His advice truly comes from the heart; and while sometimes he just has to say it like it is, most of the book will leave the reader very encouraged about her options.

In my role as a virtual book tour coordinator, I am familiar with some of the self-publishing companies listed in the book. Most were placed exactly where I thought they would be in terms of ranking: Outstanding, Pretty Good, Just Okay, and Avoid. But there were a few surprizes in both positive and negative rankings.

Another huge plus is how much detail Levine provides into each company's contract--which will help an author decide on the company that best fits his needs. Levine also provides insight into why he ranked each company the way he did and a summary at the end of each analysis.

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing is not only a useful resource to the author considering self-publishing for the first time, but also to a self-published author who is wondering how his publisher stacks up against the competition. This would also make an excellent companion for Peter Bowerman's The Well-Fed Self-Publisher--which I reviewed here.

Do not take another step toward self-publication without reading The Fine Print of Self-Publishing first!

Title: The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, 3rd edition
Author: Mark Levine
Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing Group
ISBN-10: 0-9802455-7-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-9802455-7-8
U.S. Price: $17.95

Friday, October 17, 2008

Motivational Quote #6

I could not have picked this one any better if I tried. At the Muse Conference this week the members of the Organize Your Writing Life workshop have been talking about setting SMART goals, killing procrastination, ending distractions, organizing your writing space, setting priorities, using to-do lists, and streamlining.

One of the things I've continued to state this week is that each person has the power to achieve his or her dreams if he/she uses it. How fitting, then, that I would find this quote today:

"It's time to start living the life you've imagined." - Henry James

So, are you going to use the power you have to achieve your dreams?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Banish Stress with Three Easy Solutions @ Writer2Writer

My latest article now appears at Writer2Writer. Banish Stress with Three Easy Solutions will provide you with three easy ways to eliminate stress triggers that plague many writers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Motivational Quote #5

I'm a bit early this week, but we'll be away on Saturday and I am in the midst of preparing for the Muse Online Writers Conference that is kicking off on Monday, October 13th.

I found this quote today from one of America's most well known and best loved 19th century writers.

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thinking about this quote from Emerson, I wonder how self-doubt and past failures hamper what we feel we can accomplish today and how fear of the future and the unknown cripple aspiring authors from moving forward in their careers.

Now, keeping in mind that before Emerson became a writer and public speaker he was first a Unitarian minister, it is easy for us to discount this quote as religious gobbly-goop. Miraculous happenings fill the pages of the Bible and it would seem likely that Emerson reached into his religious background when he said this.

But does this quote apply to a secular world--a world filled with believers and non-believers?

I think it does. I believe Emerson is saying that what has happened in the past and what might occur in the future is nothing in comparsion to the power that is inside us. And if we allow that power to come forth, we have the ability to shape and change the world--whether it be our own little world or on a much larger scale.

Self-doubt, dwelling on past failures, and fear of the future do not allow us to move forward with our writing. They stop us from bringing forth the power that is inside us. They stifle creativity.

Don't let this happen to you! Allow self-doubt to keep you humble and able to accept new ideas. Put your fears in perspective, but don't be afraid to take the chance that stands right in front of you.

The power to shape your future is inside you. Bring it out into the world and watch the miracles happen.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Motivational Quote #4

I'm posting this a day early because it will be a busy weekend and I don't want to forget my writing friends.

"Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed."-Abraham Lincoln

Discouragement. We writers deal with that a lot in our business. We get discouraged when our work is rejected by editors; we feel discouraged when a critique indicates weaknesses in our story; we know discouragement with every passing day as we remember that our name isn't on a book that is strategically placed on a shelf in our nearest Barnes and Noble.

And yet, if we saw these moments as opportunities, our outlook may be very different. How about seeing that editor's rejection as acknowledgment that he's only saying it isn't right for him, not that it's wrong for the many other publishing houses out there too. Could it be possible that a critique filled with constructive criticism gives us a chance to make improvements to our manuscript prior to submitting it to a potential publisher? And maybe, just maybe, the reason our name isn't on a book yet has more to do with it not being the right time and the right book than that we don't deserve it.

Lincoln is not telling us that discouraging moments will never come our way. He is suggesting that we not let those moments take ahold and steal our dreams away.

You have the power to change how you view these moments. You can see failure or you can see opportunities for improvement. Your point of view can be part of what brings you from the realm of the aspiring author to that of the published author!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cody McFadyen on Self-doubt and Writing a Good Book

International best selling author Cody McFadyen is on a virtual book tour this month with Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I wandered out to the first blog on his tour, The Tome Traveller's Weblog and found an excellent article that provides a look into the daily routine of a best selling author and that will be a great source of inspiration to all aspiring authors.

Check out Cody McFadyen's article and follow along on his virtual book tour to promote his latest thriller, The Darker Side at

As a promotion for all our authors touring in October, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book to a published author with a recent release or a $50 gift certificate to to anyone without a recent release who comments at any of our author's blog stops all month long. Follow our authors on tour at One lucky winner will be announced at on October 30th.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Motivational Quote #3

Here's a quote that I found very interesting:

"Success doesn't come to go to it." - Marva Collins

Persistence and perseverance are important to success. Even Stephen King dealt with rejection time and again. But he never stopped trying because he knew, like Marva Collins did, that success wasn't going to just happen; he had to make it happen.

What are you doing to ensure your success? How have you worked this week toward becoming a published author?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani & Anne K. Edwards--Book Review

Informational and insightful, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is an excellent resource for aspiring, novice, and experienced book reviewers everywhere.

But it is so much more!

Broken down into three parts--The Art of Reviewing, The Influence of Book Reviews, and Resources--this book takes the reader through every aspect of book reviews. From how to write an objective review--positive or negative--to how to start your own book review site; from authors' opinions on how reviews impact sales to how reviews are utilized by libraries, bookstores, and book clubs; from where to get started posting reviews to lists of genre specific review sites, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing has it all.

Whether you are a reviewer, author or publicist, the information found within this book's 180 pages is destined to improve your knowledge of book reviews and book review sites, and improve your working relationship with other members of the publishing industry.

How? By giving you the tools and the insight into what book reviewing is all about and what reviews mean to the authors and publicists who seek them.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

The Five Keys to Being a Good Reviewer
Reading Critically
The Absolute Dont's (or Signs of an Amateur)
Is There Any Money in It?
How to Start Your Own Book Review Site
Dealing with Review Editors, Authors, Publishers and Publicists

Readers will discover the difference between a review, a book report, a critique, and a press release. They'll find out how facile praise or harsh negativity affects the reputation of a book reviewer and read all about the reviewers versus bloggers controversy.

Filled with sample reviews, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing can help you draft stronger, more objective reviews for genre fiction, literary works, and non-fiction, and explores the interesting animal known as the article-review.

The last section of this book includes links and information for sites where aspiring reviewers can begin posting reviews; top print review publications, small print publications, print publications that pay for reviews, and general and genre specific online review sites and publications. The Appendix also includes a sample press release.

As always, Calvani's attention to detail provides the reader with an easy understanding of the topic matter. While this is the first collaboration with Anne K. Edwards that I have read, I will certainly be seeking out more of Edwards's work as a result of the clarity and perfect structure of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. Calvani is a multi-genre author, reviewer, and editor and Edwards is a mystery author and editor of Voice in the Dark, a free monthly ezine featuring author interviews, columns, articles, short fiction, and resources for authors and readers.

I would highly recommend The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing to anyone with an interest in book reviews and their impact on the publishing industry.

Title: The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
Authors: Marya Calvani and Anne K. Edwards
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
ISBN-13: 978-1-933353-22-7
ISBN-10: 1-933353-22-8
U.S. Price $16.95

This review originally appeared at The Book Connection.

The Dog Walked Down the Street by Sal Glynn--Book Review

How many times have you been told that a book about the craft of writing is a must have? Possibly too many times to count. While I loathe to say this, I certainly must: The Dog Walked Down the Street: An Outspoken Guide for Writers Who Want to Publish should be read by every writer who dreams of seeing his name on a book cover.

Inspiring while keeping you down to earth and motivating while reminding you of the work ahead, The Dog Walked Down the Street is a small book that is big on practical advice. Based on real questions asked by writers, Glynn shares his wealth of experience with the reader in a no nonsense, straightforward, and often times, humorous way.

From proposals to contracts, from first drafts to completed manuscripts, from cover art to galleys, and beyond, Glynn holds nothing back in helping fiction and non-fiction writers create a sellable product.

Some of my favorite portions appear below:

If your inquiry is turned down, this means the novel is not right for that agent. Publishing is entirely subjective and many times predicated on whether the agent or editor had a good night's sleep. Go to the next one on your list. (Page 12)

Keep punctuation to commas and periods. The em dash is supposed to signal an abrupt change in thought. Why not start a new sentence or paragraph? Only Herman Melville is allowed to use the semicolon in fiction. He's dead, by the way. (Page 23)

Of the many dumb saws about writing, "Write what you know" ranks high. Write what you read. Have everything published by Richard Feynman? You're a science geek. Nuts about Patricia Highsmith? Go for mystery. Writers writing what they know leads to long, dull books about personal hygiene, and no one can make flossing interesting. (Page 23)

Focus on the chapter in front of you, not the one ahead or behind. (Page 57)

If you are a writer who is interested in getting published, run, don't walk, to your closest bookstore and buy a copy of The Dog Walked Down the Street by Sal Glynn. Your writing will be better for it.

Title: The Dog Walked Down the Street: An Outspoken Guide for Writers Who Want to Publish
Author: Sal Glynn
Publisher: Cypress House
ISBN-13: 978-1-879384-66-8
U.S. Price: $13.95

This review originally appeared at The Book Connection.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Motivational Quote #2

Well, it's Saturday once again. We attended a wedding for one of the cousin's daughters today. Gatherings like this are such great fodder for writers. We can just sit back and observe those around us and oftentimes something clicks and it becomes the basis for a story. Here's this week's motivational quote. It's a good one and it serves to remind the aspiring author that truly nothing is impossible.

"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." - Belva Davis

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Support--What Are You Looking For?

During our discussion on what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors the topic of lack of support came up. How important is support to your writing career? Do you have the support of your family and friends? Do you have the support of other writers?

Let's talk a bit about the need for support. Please share where and with whom you've found support for your writing career. Why do you feel support is important to you or any writer? And what can a writer who has limited or no support from family and friends do to feel encouraged and supported in her writing?

I look forward to your answers. I'll share some of the places I've found support soon too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back to Writing Event at StoryCrafters

Starting Wednesday the 17th StoryCrafters will be holding a "Back to Writing" challenge.

Prizes will be awarded for total word count from the 17th until Oct. 31st along with several "challenge" days that will be announced as we go along.

So sign up at the StoryCrafters forum and read the details in our Announcements section.

If you need some motivation, you can check out my article at the StoryCrafters blog to help you get back into your writing schedule.

StoryCrafters...weaving imaginations.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I'm in the process of reading Birthing the Elephant: The woman's go-for-it! guide to overcoming the big challenges of launching a business.

It's an excellent resource for aspiring woman entrepreneurs...and let's face it, if you're a woman who hopes to make a full-time career out of writing, then you qualify. As much as our creative side tries to deny it, writing for profit is a business. And while this book is focused on women, the advice authors Karen Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman share about procrastination is good for all aspiring authors.

"Beware of time wasters! Poor organization, misplaced perfectionism, unfocused networking, and unnecessary meetings can all fritter away your hours and days--and deflect your energy...Manage your time strategically, with an eye on both your mission and your bottom line."

Here are a couple of suggestions from the book that will help you stop procrastination in its tracks:

"Planning daily and weekly routines to ensure that you make the most of your time is key to survival..."

"Finding the work pattern that's best for one of the instant benefits of working on your own...Settling on the right framework may take time--and trial and error...Whatever approach you adopt, creating a work structure to anchor your day, and also your week, is essential."

For more tips on how to kill procrastination, read my article found at Writer2Writer.

Motivational Quote #1

Hello all,

I often stumble upon quotes that I feel will work well for aspiring authors and I am going to do my best to share one a week with you. So, keep an eye for it each Saturday.

Here's one that I found a while back that reminds us we have to keep moving toward our writing goals and never give up.

"Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit."

- Conrad Hilton

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Will You Participate in NaNoWriMO 2008?

Hard to believe but before you know it NaNoWriMo will be here. So, are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo this November? Why or why not? Have you participated in years past? Has this influenced whether you will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Feel free to share your NaNoWriMo writing experiences here!

StoryCrafters--An Online Community of Writers

Some people stated that lack of support contributed to their being an aspiring author. When I had a challenge finding a local writers group, an online chum told me about StoryCrafters. It was just in its infancy then, but this online community of writers offers great advice to aspiring authors and novice writers. Join us at the StoryCrafters forum where we talk about all things important to writers, hold workshops and contests, critique each other's works in progress, and have a grand old time hashing out plots and characters.

And don't forget to check out our blog.

StoryCrafters...weaving imaginations.

Latest Writer2Writer Article

You'll find my latest article at the Writer2Writer website. This one discusses how to use to-do lists effectively by setting priorities.


Time Management Articles on Writer2Writer

Here is a list of some of the articles I've written as a contributor to Writer2Writer:

Procrastination: Kill it Now!

Back to School and Back to Your Writing Schedule

Distractions: Don't Let Them Steal Your Writing Time

If You Over Commit, You Won't Submit: Learning to Say "No"

Falling in Love with SMART Goals: A Sure Way to Increase Productivity

These articles and many more from the talented staff at Writer2Writer can help you earn money from your writing. If you've ever dreamed of being a full-time writer, make sure you bookmark Writer2Writer and check back often. And don't forget to sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter.

You'll find more advice from Writer2Writer at our new blog.

Focus on You, Not Them

We've already discussed how negative self-talk can prevent the aspiring author from achieving success; but what about how others view you and your abilities?

In the Secrets of Spiritual Happiness, author Sharon Janis says, "Others can either help to raise us up into greater levels of awareness, or they can keep us limited to their small views of who and what they think we are or should be."

There will always be people who question your dream of being a published author. There will always be people who don't think you have what it takes to achieve your goals.

Don't listen to them!

Accept honest feedback, but don't allow another person to bring you down. You are in contol of your destiny. You hold the key to unlocking your potential. You lose that control when you allow what other people think to limit what you can accomplish.

Instead of focusing on what others think of you, focus on what you think of yourself. This is why getting rid of negative self-talk is so important. If you're focusing on you instead of others, but doubt your own abilities or put yourself down constantly, then you're back in the same river but in a different boat.

When I found this picture at that I used for this blog entry, I thought of so many people in my past who did exactly what the caption says, " to crush those dreams."

Do I care why they want to crush my dreams? Not really. All I know is that it's important for my life and my career to not allow their negativity to become my problem.

While browsing online I came across a discussion about whether you should avoid negative people or change them. Depending upon who they are and the significance they have in your life will determine your actions. I don't always believe you can change a person, so I usually go with the avoid them idea. I surround myself with positive people and I feel better about my outlook on life. If I meet someone new and she is more concerned with problems than solutions, I don't usually foster a relationship with her.

On the other hand, negative people can be your spouses, your parents or children. It's not like you can avoid those people. This is where focusing on you, and not them, comes most in handy.

It's hard to keep going when you don't have the support you're looking for, but you can find it in places like writing groups and social networks, where likeminded individuals can offer the positive reinforcement that you need.

Plato once wrote, "The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily."

Focus on you and don't let others crush your dreams.

This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 6/24/08.

Fear of Success and Negative Self-talk

Fear of success? Is that even possible?

The answer is yes!

We've actually touched upon one aspect of fear of success in our first discussion about what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors.

Part of fear of success is believing you're not good enough. Negative self-talk is damaging and limiting. It not only increases stress; it limits you by making you believe you can't do something.

So, how can you stop negative self-talk?

Here are some ideas:

Journaling: Every writer I know keeps a journal. Let the words flow, but go back afterwards and analyze your thoughts. Really get a feel for how you see yourself.

Stop that Thought: When you hear that negative self-talk, whether it be in your head or out loud, say, "stop". This will make you aware of your negative thoughts.

Replace Negative Statements with the Positive Questions: Instead of saying, "This is impossible!" say "How is this possible?" When you feel like saying, "How can I be so stupid!" say "How can avoid that mistake in the future?"

Negative self-talk is a bad habit, but it can be changed. Become more aware of when negativity takes a hold of you so that you can replace those moments with positive energy. Focus on all the things you do right, not the areas where you feel you're lacking.

We'll continue our discussion on fear of success soon. Get ready to write down what obstacles are standing in the way of your success and the changes you can put in motion to make it happen.

This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 6/10/08.

Putting Fear of Failure in Perspective

Along with the issues of self-doubt and anxiety, fear of failure can be a huge obstacle for an aspiring author to overcome. Last year I read Judi Moreo's book, You Are More Than Enough Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion & Power and I came across a section where Judi talks about fear of failure. This is what she had to say:

"What's wrong with failure anyway? Why do we let it stop us from doing, achieving, and having what we want? Failure just means you've discovered one more way that doesn't work. Thomas Edison worked for more than a year and a half to create a better, long-lasting light bulb that could be used in a mainstream application. During that time he found 9,999 ways that didn't work. If he hadn't persisted, you might be reading this book by candlelight! If you try and still don't get the result you want, it simply means you were willing to risk, it might take longer than you expected, your goal was unreasonable, you have to do something differently next time, or you have an opportunity to start something new which is more suited to you.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just overcome this fear? We know there's always a chance we will fail, so why worry about it? Everyone else has the same chance of failure as we do. We are not the exception to the rule, but we will never succeed unless we try."

Looking at fear of failure in this way makes writers heroic every time they send out a submission; even if it gets rejected.

I found a few quotes about mistakes which further help to put fear of failure in perspective.

“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” - Edward J. Phelps

"It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers - they help us to learn." - John Bradshaw

"The greatest mistake a man can ever make is to be afraid of making one." - Elbert Hubbard

"So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because that's where you will find success. On the far side of failure." - Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

Terry Bragg, the author of 31 Days to High Self-esteem put together an eight-step plan to overcome failure. I would like to share it with you here:

Step One: Take action

"Action gives you the power to change the circumstances or the situation," says Bragg. What could you achieve if you weren't afraid to fail? Nike has an ad campaign that says, "Just do it." Write this down on a sticky pad and attach it to you computer screen.

Anytime you feel paralyzed by fear of failure, read that quote and heed it's advice.

Step Two: Persist.

How many times have you heard published authors give advice that includes, don't give up? Why do you think that is? Because successful people don't give up! They try something, and if it doesn't work out, they try something else. They keep trying until they get the results they want.

Step Three: Don't take failure personally.

Here's a big one. When you don't get the results you want, it doesn't mean you're a failure. It simply means you tried and it didn't work out. See Step Two for what you need to do next.

Step Four: Do things differently.

This is a no-brainer, but there are so many people out there who keep approaching things the same way and not getting the results they're looking for. Well, stop it! Don't be afraid to try something new. It might make a world of difference.

Step Five: Don't be so hard on yourself.

Raise your hand if you're too hard on yourself. Yes, mine is raised to. I am my own worse critic. I give into negative self-talk. As Bragg says about failure, "If nothing else, you know what doesn't work."

Step Six: Treat the experience as an opportunity to learn.

I'm a strong non-fiction writer, but fiction offers me challenges like there's no tomorrow. The most difficult thing I struggle with is "show don't tell". Luckily, I have a good group of people who critique my work and offer suggestions.

In the writing world they say that practice makes perfect. So I am practicing a lot. And I'm learning a lot. Each time I write a short story, I am improving my craft. Each article I read about "show don't tell" brings me that much closer to mastering this aspect of fiction writing on my own.

Step Seven: Look for possible opportunities that result from the experience.

If you submit a short story to a market and receive a rejection letter, what opportunities or benefits does that provide?

Well, it could provide you with an opportunity to review your story with a fresh set of eyes and revise it to make the story stronger. Perhaps this also gives you the chance to perform additional market research and find a home that is even a better fit than the one you had originally chosen.

Always look for the benefit.

Step Eight: Fail forward fast. According to Bragg, this is a term used by management guru, Tom Peters. It means that the way to learn is to make mistakes. So if we want to learn faster, we must make mistakes faster too. The important thing to remember is to not repeat those mistakes.

With eight tiny steps you can move forward with your writing career, without the fear of failure.

I want to leave you with a powerful quote from Susan Jeffers, which came from her book, Feel the Fear...And Do It Anyway:

"I said to myself: 'You mean all those people out there that I’ve been envying because they’re not afraid to move ahead with their lives have really been afraid? Why didn’t somebody tell me!?' I guess I never asked."

This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 6/1/08.

Are You Honest about Your Work?

During our discussions about what keeps aspiring authors from achieving published author status, one person gave this as a reason: "They aren't willing to be honest about the quality of their work. Every one can be a writer, but not everyone is willing to learn how to write. Just because you can put together a correct sentence doesn't mean you can make an interesting statement or create drama."

So, how are you on the honesty scale?

Do you accept feedback well or do you start throwing things around the room when someone dare criticize your baby? Can you face an editor's rejection and consider your piece might need some work?

I've been told by my editor that I'm very open to feedback. I like to believe that is true. Who wins if I shut off any and all suggestions on how to improve my work? Certainly not me.

The key is not to take a critique personally. Sometimes harder said than done...especially if the person who provides the feedback isn't too diplomatic about it. But no matter how the feedback is delivered, does the person make valid points? Can he see something you can't because he has no emotional ties to the piece? Are there areas that more than one person points out as needing improvement? If so, then they're probably right.

I'll be the first to admit that I am a non-fiction writer. I'm comfortable with it--probably because I think the whole world is waiting to hear my opinion on things. LOL! But I struggle like crazy with fiction. I can't get the whole show don't tell thing down right for one thing. I'm not always sure what descriptions should be included and which ones aren't important. My taglines usually need some work.

But I refuse to give up. I keep reading, I keep writing, and I figure a writing class or two is in my future. Speaking of writing classes, this is the remainder of what this person wrote when she was talking about people not being honest about the quality of their work: "Taking writing classes not only teaches the craft, but help to make contacts as well."

Hmmm...learning how to write better and networking too. Sure sounds like a win-win situation to me.

This article orginally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 5/28/08.

Anxiety and Self-doubt Can Cripple an Aspiring Author

Here is a guest post that I provided to StoryCrafters last year. It flows nicely into some of the conversations we've been having about what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors.

In Heather Sellers' book Page after Page she says in order to learn how to write every day, "writers have to gently embrace ambivalence, anxiety, not-sure-ness."

Usually, I have my blog entry planned a week in advance; not the words, but the idea is formed in my head enough where I can type it up with ease, edit it a couple times, and then hit "publish post." But not this week. I drew a blank. What did I have to offer of value to anyone? There are many members on StoryCrafters whose experience in the field of writing surpasses mine. These peers--can I even call them that since I am so lame compared to them--post in the Bragging Rights section about their latest sales, while I have struggled along for the past three years squeaking out only one sale, a finished novel that might never go anywhere, and another whose progress seems destined to stay at the 15,200 words I wrote for NaNo. And yet, here is Sellers telling me I have to embrace these feelings. What kinds of drugs is this woman doing, and where in the heck can I get some?

"Anyone can start writing," claims Sellers. "To keep on creating and grow as a writer, you also believe you suck." Ok, now I'm sitting here screaming, "She understands me!" but she says it's a good thing I feel this way.

What? How can that possibly be? I must read more.

Then Sellers tells me, I have to start looking at self-doubt and anxiety in a whole new way. "Being unsure," she says, "is one of the things that helps you steer in revision." So, there is a good reason to feel this way. Hmmm...

What do you know, experiencing self-doubt and anxiety doesn't make me a worse writer, it actually helps me. Who would have thought? Now, I'll have to think of self-doubt and anxiety as my friends instead of my enemies. I'll have to be careful they don't move in and take over my house, but without them hanging by my side, I wouldn't be pushed into making every article, every paragraph, every sentence, each word, the best it can be.

I guess, I could hope to be one of those writers whose first drafts are close to their published works. Maybe I would feel better if my resume had a long string of impressive writing credits. But that doesn't make me a writer. The actual art of sitting down and putting pen to paper or typing out words on a keyboard is what makes me a writer. No one can tell my articles or stories the same way I can. And that is the value behind them.

This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 5/10/08.

What Makes You an Aspiring Author?

I often wonder what makes writers aspiring authors instead of published authors? For myself, I know a lot of it is lack of time. Yet, I also know, I waste time here and there that I could more wisely use to concentrate on some of my works in progress.

So, why don't I do it? Hmmm...that is a good question.

I promised that I would be bringing you some new stuff soon. And here I am delivering on that promise. I would like you to comment on why you feel you haven't become a published author yet? I'll start you off:

1) Time
2) Lack of support from family and friends
3) Haven't found the right market
4) The shoulder vultures named self-doubt and anxiety keep me from submitting my work
5) The editors I've submitted to don't recognize good talent when they see it

Okay, that last one is supposed to be funny. But seriously, I want to know what you think is holding you back. Then we can talk about some of these reasons you haven't been published yet and possible solutions in future blog entries.

So, let me hear ya!

This article originally appeared at my old Aspiring Author blog on 4/24/08.

Here are some of the responses we received at the old blog:

Rebecca said...

I think all of those are the reasons I haven't been published yet, although, I really think it is because I haven't found the right niche.

Dorothy Thompson said...

Can I answer even though I'm published? I think the #1 reason is the competition. For the aspiring author, he or she is having to compete against the established authors for publisher's slots and there aren't enough to go around. So, they either pay to be published or they self-publish. It's like a catch-22 situation. If you want it now, you pay for it. If you want to wait, there's too much competition. It's no wonder half the writers give up.

Theresa Chaze, Wiccan Writer said...

I think there are several reasons why authors aren't published.

1. They are insecure about their work so they don't put the hard work behind it that it takes to succeed. Nearly every writer ever created has a wall of rejections. The key is to look at them objectively, learn what you can from them and move on.

2. They are holding out for the big traditional houses to snap them up and make them millionaires over night; that only happens in the movies. Even JK Rowling had her share of rejections. It was always a crap shoot with the big houses. More often than not they will not put their money and time in to a new writer; usually they will let them prove themselves in another venue before considering them.

3. They aren't willing to be honest about the quality of their work. Every one can be a writer, but not everyone is willing to learn how to write. Just because you can put together a correct sentence doesn't mean you can make an interesting statement or create drama. Taking writing classes not only teaches the craft, but help to make contacts as well.

4. They don't have an honest understanding of the business end. It is a creative forum, but it still is a business. You have to know what the market is looking for whether it be fiction or non fiction. You wouldn't send a science fiction novel to a publisher who only publishs romances.

Dorothy Thompson said...

Agree, Theresa. I think more and more people are turning to their own publishing companies to publish their books. I know a lot of people who have chosen that route. I still say hold out for the big publishing houses but don't expect to become a millionaire if it happens, and then on the other hand, be very very prepared for rejection because 9 out of 10, it's going to be a rejection and after so many rejections, that's when the aspiring author turns to other means of publication. LOL, I think we're not helping Cheryl at all.

allison pittman said...

When I first became serious about writing, I had a great conversation with a well-established novelist, James Scott Bell. I remember just bawling and telling him I didn't want to be some cliche washed-up English teacher who never followed her own dream. We were in the dining hall at a writers conference. He took a napkin, drew a triangle on it, and he said the whole realm of publishing is found within that triangle. At the base are all the people who say they might want to write a book someday. At the very top is Max Lucado (author of hundreds of books!). Every step you take moves you higher, and puts you with a smaller group of individuals who have accomplished something. At the time, I'd written about 7 chapters of my novel, and he made a little mark a wee bit higher than the base and said, "See? Look how far you are already."

That little mark represented my first novel. Now I'm writing my fourth.

I still have the napkin.

Anonymous said...

I have something to add. Learning to write marketable fiction is very difficult. It can take years and then learning how to edit your own work can take more time. Many writers are not willing to put in all that work. They think they should sit down, write a book, get it published and become famous.

I think that's why some people self-publish, but I've read a lot of that work and it is sorely in need of editing and revision, for the most part. Yes, there are exceptions, but that's why they're called exceptions.

Marilyn said...

I wrote a Children's story for the little ones in my church years ago and read it during the morning worship service a few weeks before the holiday. I then shared it with family, friends, AND CHERYL, and many people said that I should look into having it published. I however know nothing about the process at all. I guess that is the reason why it hasn't happened for me yet. I wrote it to share a lesson with the children, one that they could remember throughout the year, not with publication in mind. It might happen yet, who knows.

Maureen Fisher said...

I was very lucky to find a small publishing house (via networking) to publish my first book -- Lachesis Publishing. I put my success down to a great plot and characters (I know, I know, that's immodest), luck, and PERSEVERANCE.

A lot of aspiring authors I know either get bored or discouraged. I spent three years writing, submitting, receiving rejections, re-writing, attending workshops, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing. Many people were surprised that I could persevere with the same manuscript, but believe me, persistence paid.

Maureen Fisher

Elizabeth said...

I want it bad enough but have recently discovered how important support is.
All just excuses aren't they?
~Elizabeth aspiring not for long

Anonymous said...

For me, I think it's that I have no confidence that anyone wants to read what I write.

If I could believe in myself more, I think I could solve some of my own problems.

Donna McDine ~ Children's Author said...

Cheryl...what a great idea! I am published with a couple of short stories and several non-fiction articles. And I feel myself getting pushed towards the niche of writing non-fiction. I especially like working off a theme list for a mag and I tend to gravitate to the non-fiction pieces. I have several queries out there and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get at least one interest.


Cheryl said...

This comment is from a friend of mine. It brings up, once again, the issue of support and also discusses money:

"I fall under reason 6: Lack of resources in my area and my own coffers. There is pretty much nothing at all to help aspiring writers out here in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs Area). All I have is what's online, and I haven't gotten the kind of help I need from those sources (only recently though). Instead of answering me directly, they refer me to books, blogs, and articles, most of which I have to pay to get, or don't make sense to me as I am still new at this.

I'd go to a conference, but I can barely pay the gas to go to and from school. The money it would take to go to a conference is WAY out budjet for me. So I'm stuck out here with little or no help but my own determination."

Rachel Newstead said...

I think in my case, it can be boiled down to lack of workable ideas and lack of life experience. I'm disabled and for much of my life I've led an extremely cloistered existence--there are probably ten- and eleven-year-old children who are more wise to the ways of the world than I am. So what do I write about?

The "write what you know" school of thought wouldn't work for me, obviously. I'm an animation geek and interested in old music. Not much to draw from.

I also could only write the sort of book I'd want to read, and I'm not interested in most genres of fiction--and don't feel qualified to write in the one genre that does interest me, science fiction. So you can see my problem.

Margay said...

There are some really great responses to this question - lots of brave ladies willing to put it out there for all to see! for me, I think part of it is fear of success - and the pressure to do it again. Right now, writing is still fun. Will it still be fun when I have to meet a deadline? What about criticism? How will I react if my book gets a bad review? Am I just a one-book wonder? All of these things add up to Fear of Success.

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

The difference between aspiring authors and published authors is passions, determination and perseverance. I keep stating this, over and over.

I find many authors concentrate too much while they write, going back into their work and editing while writing instead of allowing the story to move forward and then worry about the editing stage.

We need to wear the writer's hat first, finish our stories, then wear the editor's hat.

For me, what slows my work, is my involvement with many groups and reading emails. These two areas need to come under control so I can move my work faster.