Thursday, January 31, 2013

Check This Out - Courage

Over at Murder She Writes, best selling author Allison Brennan wrote an amazing post this morning about Courage.  Go read it.  I'll wait.


Allison's pretty awesome and her daughter is amazing.  What a truly talented young lady.  

Okay, so I'll ask you the same question here that Allison asked over there:

What are you doing to face your fears?

And if you need some extra encouragement, here are some quotes to help you on your way...

Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life. - E.M. Forster

Courage is a moral quality; it is not a chance gift of nature like an aptitude for games. It is a cold choice between two alternatives, the fixed resolve not to quit; an act of renunciation which must be made not once but many times by the power of the will. - Lord Moran

A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort. - Sydney Smith

Fortune favors the brave. - Virgil

Go forth and be courageous today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survival Tip #6 - Tie a Knot

There are days... weeks... months even when every writer feels like she's at the end of her rope.  Maybe you're just tired.  Maybe you're battling under the weight of rejection.  Maybe your muse has run away to Paris to have an affair with Self-Doubt.  Scat Happens.  Whatever the reason, whatever the cause... Whatever has brought you to the end of your rope...

Tie a knot and hang on.

This, too, shall pass.

And just so visitors here know they aren't alone, leave a comment talking about a time in your life when you had to tie a knot just to hang on.  Better yet, tell us all about gathering the courage to climb again once the knot survived its purpose.

Personally, there are so many knots in my rope, I never have to tie another.  I just slide down until I reach the one that will hold me until I get the strength to climb again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest Post: "Ergo I Write" by Karyn Good

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt  

Ergo, I write.

Huge thanks to B.E. for inviting me to share my thoughts here today.

That’s a quote I shared on my blog the other week. Like many I love quotes. But those words of Eleanor Roosevelt are especially dear to me. Probably because of the host of things I think I can’t do. Trust me, there’s a list around here somewhere. Doubt and I are old friends.

I love writing. Since elementary school I’ve harbored dreams of being a writer. But those dreams came with some serious doubts about my ability to actually pull it off. Not smart enough. Not educated enough. I tried it, what I wrote sucked. It certainly didn’t read like any book I wanted to read. I was never going to be a writer. Those doubts opened the door to all kinds of excuses. No time. Don’t know where to start. Yada, yada.

Then three things happened and it all started with a joke.

You know the one… about the man waiting on the roof of the house praying to be rescued from the flooding river? He gets off the roof or he drowns. Meanwhile, rescue does come in the form of a boat and a helicopter. Both of which the man refuses. He is waiting for the hand of God to reach down and save him.

The obvious happens, he drowns. In Heaven he asks God why he didn’t save him. God replies, “I sent you a boat and a helicopter, what more did you want?”

I heard that joke in church one day. I chuckled and thought what an idiot. No one could be that stupid. For some reason I remembered it. It would pop into my mind at odd times. And then one day I understood.

I was the idiot. It was a humbling revelation, let me tell you.

I had the time. I had a computer. Most certainly I was in the possession of a pen and some paper. Ideas weren’t the issue. What to write was a given. The support had always been there from family and friends. But I was in denial about my fear. I needed to own up to my insecurities and my misconceptions. I wanted writing to be easy. For the process to be as natural as breathing. For the words to flow like ink. From pen to paper to bookstore.

Um, yeah. I know. Not the way it works. Letting go of those unrealistic expectations was a relief. It also left me with no more excuses.

Then I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I should frame that book and hang it up in my office. Unfortunately, I lent it to someone and never get it back. I hope they got as much out of it as I did. There was one particular quote that resonated with me.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The Alchemist, Page 23, by Paulo Coelho

And that’s exactly what I needed to believe. That the universe is behind me. Supporting me and wanting it for me. I mean, come on, who can resist channeling the power of the UNIVERSE. And, oh boy, I wanted it. Still do. So bad I can taste it.

So, I resolved to make a serious attempt at being a writer. To learn how to do it right. To start.

The third thing? I’m one of those people that needs to be part of a flock. Member of my church, member of a book club, former PTA member, various other groups, etc. and so on. You get the picture. So, I joined a writing group. It was the best decision I ever made. I learn stuff about writing. Where other people, just like me, are learning the ins and outs of writing. We talk about writing. Slowly, my confidence grew. More learning ensued.

My debut romantic suspense released on June 1, 2012. It took me four years, give or take, to write, rewrite, revise, and polish just over 65,000 words. But I did it. Not because my fears evaporated, but because I outfitted myself with the tools and the belief I could beat them back.

Ergo, I write.

Author Bio:

I grew up on a farm in the middle of Canada's breadbasket. Under the canopy of crisp blue prairie skies I read books. Lots and lots of books. Occasionally, I picked up a pen and paper or tapped out a few meagre pages of a story on a keyboard and dreamed of becoming a writer when I grew up. One day the inevitable happened and I knew without question the time was right. What to write was never the issue - romance and the gut wrenching journey towards forever.

Website and Blog:


Karyn's awesome romantic suspense - Backlash - at Amazon. And links to all her stories - plus a free giveaway can be found HERE.

Friday, January 25, 2013

This Just In

If you have a book ready to be submitted, there's some kind of event on Twitter today.  Learn more about it HERE.  (I don't know the blogger.  I just kyped the link from Alexia Chamberlynn.)

Anyway, it's a Twitter pitch party using the hashtag #pitmad and it runs today from 8am to 8pm EST - so there's plenty of time.

I'll be getting something together later - like after the thought of throwing a pitch out there stops making me feel like I want to hurl.


Update 1:31pm MST: Two different pitches for Djinnocide out there in the Twitterverse.  Wish me luck.  And if you're participating, chime in.  Or friend me and we'll see what each other are up to.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Check This Out

If you've ever been in the submission process, or if you're getting ready to jump in, then you probably should be visiting Matthew MacNish's blog: The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment.  In his words, it's "A clumsy attempt at making some sense of the sinister submission process..."

Personally, I don't think it's clumsy at all.  Matthew's critiques are seriously helpful and thoughtful.  So, go forth and check it out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Survival Tip #5 - Cultvate Contacts... But Be Sincere

Last week over at The Killer Chicks, I talked a little bit about making friends in the industry.  It's an important thing - even if you're a hermit like I am - so I thought I'd expand on it a little here.

Finding friends online is easy enough.  There are writing groups, forums, and blogs everywhere - from the newest of writers who're just starting their first chapter to the most seasoned of professionals.  Some of them are awesome, others aren't.  You just have to find your niche and go for it.

Because, yeah, this whole thing can be extremely lonely.  Typically, your family and the friends you have outside of the industry can be supportive as hell, but they still don't really understand until they've been here doing this.  My mother is an awesome person and a voracious reader.  She listens to me talk about the writing and the querying.  She also listens to me rant when things get crazy-pants, and she tries to provide sound advice.  But she can only do so much.  All of them can only do so much.

Which is one reason you need writer friends.  It always helps to have some one out there in the world who understands.

Beyond that (or maybe in addition to that), though, you also need to 'cultivate contacts' in the business.  These days - and maybe all the days before - having contacts in the business is an important thing.  Knowing people who've been through this can help you overcome some of the difficulties because they've already faced them.  I know the friends I've made have helped me in numerous ways already, and I hope having those friends will help drive sales once I finally someday get a book published.  (Which goes back to another post I wrote for The Killer Chicks about something I call 'Pimpage'.)

"Exactly how am I supposed to do all this when I can barely say two words to strangers?" you might be asking.  Well, one thing you need to remember out here is these people aren't in front of you.  They can't see you.  No one is going to point and laugh.   Be yourself and I'm sure you'll find people who will be your friends.  Heck, if you're nice and yourself, you probably already have a friend right here.

But one thing you need to remember as you're out there trying to make friends and cultivate contacts and just generally network - you need to be sincere.  There's nothing that can turn a relationship sour faster than insincerity.  And if you can't be sincere, be silent.  Or as my mother always told me "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

How about it, folks?  Do you find the whole idea of making friends daunting?  Are you the kind of person who stops by a blog and reads, but doesn't comment because you're a wallflower?  What are some things you've done, or can do, to cultivate contacts?

Monday, January 21, 2013


Sorry we don't have a guest poster today.  I didn't think about it until it would've been too much of an imposition for me to ask anyone to write a post.  (I like to give guest posters at least a week.)  Instead,  I'd like you to visit me over at The Killer Chicks where I'm talking about something scary... Pimpage.

Thanks for stopping by here.  I look forward to seeing you over there.  And if you're hot for a guest poster, stop by next week.  I've already got someone awesome lined up for the 28th.  =o)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Survival Tip #4 - Faking It

As writers, we constantly hear 'Write What You Know'. 

But really, what do we know?  Sure, if you have a background in the military you might be able to come up with some awesome political thrillers.  Or if you're a lawyer, you could write a believable legal suspense.  Or if you're a baker, you could write one of those cute mysteries with recipes at the back.

Personally, my life is pretty boring.  If I wrote only what I knew, I'd never have a chance to get published.  I mean, sure, I did things out there in the world before I started writing.  But even then, that stuff was bland.  Who wants to read about a manufacturers' representative for electronic components?  I mean, besides the occasional funny anecdote about the engineer who spent every one of our meetings talking to my breasts.  Or the story of Suicide Squirrel.  It's all cute, but there really isn't a book's worth of interesting in any one of the things I've done.

Not that I'm totally trashing the whole 'write what you know' idea.  It's a perfectly valid suggestion.  When you know about the things you're writing, it lends authenticity to your work. 

Still, I think there's something the people who use that as a banner are missing.

We can know things without knowing them.  If that makes any sense.  With the right amount of research, we can know a boatload of information without actually experiencing any of it. 

That's right, folks, we can fake it.

We writers are masters at creating a false world.  Did Jules Verne 'know' anything about time travel?  Did Orwell ever experience a dystopian society?  Was Anne Rice hanging out with vampires in her spare time?  Nope.  They faked it.

And you can, too.

I think what the phrase 'write what you know' really boils down to is getting to know your subject matter inside and out.  Like I said, there's research to help with that.  Beyond that, there's creating your world in your mind until you KNOW it inside and out.  Plus, if you have little experiences you can sprinkle around, it makes your fakery feel all the more real. 

Take a hobby you enjoy and make it your character's.  Use an interest and give it to your MC.  Find a memory and weave it a bit to make it someone else's.

So, don't sweat the 'write what you know' mantra so much.  Write what you write to the best of your abilities and no one will doubt that you KNOW your subject.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest Post: "DEFYING GRAVITY: Self-Publishing" by Silver James

DEFYING GRAVITY: Self-Publishing 

     Thanks, B.E. for asking me to weigh in on a subject that’s hot right now—self-publishing. What does that have to do with gravity and defying the same? A lot actually. Self-publishing has become so easy, anyone can do it. But just because anyone can doesn’t mean they should. I remember when I first participated in National Novel Writing Month. People dashed off their 50K/60K/90K novels, printed them out and started submitting. In December, a massive wail accompanied by much gnashing of teeth went up from the publishing world. Agents and editors cringed and wondered if they could take the whole month off.
     Why? Because NONE of those books were ready for submission much less publication. In the almost ten years since, wannabe authors completely bypass the traditional route and throw their work out there. As a result, for most of those ten years, self-publishing was tainted. Only junk was self-published. And I’m being polite to label it junk. I’d hazard that at least 95% of it was absolute crappola.
     That perception is slowly starting to change. New York Times best-selling authors are starting to self-publish—Courtney Milan, Allison Brennan, Debra Webb, Jennifer Lyon and many more. Still other talented authors are finding self-publishing as a route to enter the world of traditional publishing. They self-published first, hit big, and then New York came courting.

     Do you have the entrepreneurial spirit? Have you studied and perfected your craft? Do you have a support system of editors and cover artists, of beta readers and proofreaders, friends with chocolate and strong shoulders? Do you have absolute faith in your ability to tell a compelling story? Do you believe you are up to the challenge?
     If you can’t answer yes to those questions, then self-publishing probably isn’t a good fit for you. You are basically going into business for yourself. You can nickel and dime your way but at some point, you’ll need some cash outlay if you don’t happen to have editors and artists in your family and friends circles. Even beyond the business of self-publishing—the fine-tuning, the marketing, the production of a saleable book—you have to believe in yourself and have faith that your writing is up to the scrutiny. If you think it’s tough sending out queries, just wait until you hover over the sale pages waiting to see if your “baby” bombs. If you think rejection from a potential agent or editor hurts, just wait until those reviews start coming in—the ones from strangers who don’t worry about your feelings. This is when friends and chocolate comes in handy.

     B.E. asked me why I decided to self-publish. I’m traditionally—if with a small press—published and I have a manuscript under consideration at a major publishing house. I’m not one of those who thinks traditional is bad. It’s not, especially if that’s what makes you comfortable. Me? I’m something of a control freak. And I don’t always write to “spec.” I can. I have. But it’s not really the way I write. I LIKE the idea of having control, of not “fitting” my voice and my stories to the constraints of an editor or a marketing department. I describe myself as a cross-genre storyteller. My paranormals have mystery and suspense along with the romance. My suspense novels have a touch of the supernatural and a helping of romance. My action/adventure thrillers have a big ol’ pile of paranormal and sex—at least as far as the men are concerned. The women? They recognize a good Happy Ever After when they read one!
     In addition to the genre-bending I do, I also use a “cinematic POV.” There are those who call it head-hopping. Me? When I read, I want to know what every character in the scene is thinking. I have no desire to have actions and thoughts filtered through an observing character. It’s the way I write and I’ve fought with more than a few editors over the tendency. The freelance editor I use understands that this style is part of my voice and my brand and even though it drives her nuts, she works for me. And that’s pretty much the bottom line. I’m the boss. I have all the responsibility but I also get all the benefits.

     Writing fanfic will not get you a six-figure advance, E.L. James notwithstanding. Trust me when I say that was a fluke.
     You won’t get rich self-publishing unless you write erotic romance and even then it needs to be WELL-WRITTEN erotic romance and nothing is guaranteed. You have a 50-50 chance of flopping.
     Keep meticulous records or the IRS will eat you for lunch and there’s nothing sexy about an audit!
     Don’t get your hopes up. Go into it with the idea that you could fail. Any sale then becomes a win and you’ve got nowhere to go but up.
     Don’t publish anything that isn’t the very best you can produce. Your name is going to be associated with that title forever—for better or worse.
     Do be a professional.
     If you aren’t comfortable flying without a safety net, then self-publishing probably isn’t for you. If you need external deadlines, you might be better served by traveling the traditional route. If you’ve had a couple of rejections without any interest and figure it’s time to self-publish, wait. Keep submitting. Keep polishing. There’s a reason you aren’t getting asked for partials or fulls. Yes, you might be submitting in all the wrong places but it also might be because your work isn’t quite ready for prime time. Make sure it is before you take this step.
     Get educated. There are forums out there. The Self-Publishing forum on RWA (if you are a member) is full of information and helpful people. Savvy Writers is another blog with good info. There are Yahoo loops.
     And finally, did I mention this is a business? There’s no room for ego and all the room in the world for hard work. You need a business plan. You need to know your stuff. But at the very bottom of it all? You need to believe you can live your dreams and that you can defy gravity and fly!
     Now go watch this video and get all inspired and stuff!

With a rampant imagination aided and abetted by a Muse who runs with scissors, Silver James loves to share the stories created in that vast cosmic void pretending to be her mind. Over the course of her lifetime, she's been a military officer's wife, mother, state appellate court marshal, airport rescue firefighter and forensic fire photographer, crime analyst, and technical crime scene investigator. Retired from the “real world” now, she lives in Oklahoma and spends her days at the computer with her two Newfoundland dogs, and the cat who rules them all, writing tales of mystery, mayhem, and magic. Oh, and a little romance.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Check This Out: Revising After NaNoWriMo

Scrolling down my dashboard the other day, I came across this link that I thought would be perfect to share here:

Operation Awesome - Gennifer Albin: How I Revise

She gives excellent advice.  I've done the print thing for years, and I've tried the font changing thing, too.  Both are prime ways to get out of the rut your brain gets into so you can revise without getting in your own way. 

Never tried the text to speech thing.  I do read my work out loud sometimes to get the dialogue right, but that's still me reading to myself.  This might be a fresh way to break away from myself.  If I figure it out and it works, I'll let you all know.

What tricks do you have to help you edit?  Have you tried any of these and how did they work for you?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Guest Post: Natalie Murphy Talks About Writing During a Busy Schedule

As writers, we face many difficulties.

Not only do we try to write a brilliant manuscript and edit it, but we need to query and follow all of the necessary steps towards publication. And at the end of the entire painstaking process, we aren’t even guaranteed success. In fact, we’re likely to fail, no matter how hard we try. Uplifting thought, isn’t it?

But what about the other challenges we face?

Regardless of how much we’d love to actually have a writing cave where the outside world can’t reach us, that’s simply not possible. We all have families, jobs, and other responsibilities. That’s part of what makes a successful author so heroic in our eyes. How do they do it? How are they able to be so productive while balancing the rest of their life? Although I can’t speak for every author out there, I have noticed a trend in their answers to those exact questions: time management.

I know, I know. We all hate that answer, but it’s true. To be successful, you need to be able to manage your time, however much of it you might have. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mother of three, or an executive at a big company. Or, like me, a college student. Either way, you need to know how to manage your time. 

For the past four and a half years of my life, I was neck-deep in university, desperately clawing my way towards my English literature degree. As if that wasn’t enough, I also earned a minor in European history. Throughout those years, I faced two very serious arm surgeries, an engagement (which required wedding planning) and, of course, my writing.

Yep, that’s right. Through all of that, I managed to write my very first novel at the age of twenty-one. I prepped it, wrote all of the necessary documents (letter and synopsis) and queried that sucker. And I got an astounding response, too! I did all of this during a full—and slightly insane—class load. How?

Time management.

First and foremost, I didn’t view writing as a hobby. In my mind, it was simply another class that I had to work on. I had writing to do, so I did it. Some days I was literally falling asleep at my computer, but that didn’t stop me. I had set a goal for myself and I was going to finish it, even if it killed me.

Secondly, my days were perfectly scheduled from start to finish. That might sound a bit crazy (and impossible) to some of you, but it worked for me. I’m not this OCD about my time now, but I still make daily lists of things I need to accomplish. It makes me feel good when I can cross something off the list, even if it’s just laundry.

If you’re anything like me, you could waste a good hour doing nothing but surfing Facebook and Twitter. When I entered university, I knew I couldn’t continue that trend. Not only were my parents paying for my education, but I have an inherent need to succeed at everything I tackle (which is both good and bad). I knew that meant I had to find a way to hold myself accountable. Lists work for me.

To succeed, I had to be strict with myself. If I wanted to check my emails in the morning, I had fifteen minutes to do so. Once those fifteen minutes were up, my inbox was closed and I was working on whatever essay needed writing that day.  When that essay was done, I moved onto the next project, and the next, and the next. Writing was simply another project that needed completing. When I looked at it as an assignment, I excelled. I had to finish my story—I had no choice. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still relaxed. To have a happy and successful life, you need to be able to strike a balance between your work time and your relaxation time. For me, I adore naps. Whenever the work became too much, I shifted my schedule around and took a wonderful nap. 

I also worked towards the goal of leaving my weekends open. Since I lived on campus for the majority of my degree, I would work during the week and collapse on the weekends. I would visit with friends, watch movies with my parents, read sexy romance novels, and sometimes, if I felt up to it, I would work on my story. 

So there you have it. It’s not about how much free time you have on your hands—it’s about how much time you make for yourself. If you place writing as a high priority, your progress will reflect that. It takes organization, dedication, and most of all, it takes patience. You will have good days and you will have bad days. Accept that and move on. Once you do, everything else will fall into place.

Bio:  Natalie lives in Roanoke, Virginia with her new husband and their dog, Powell. She graduated magna cum laude from Mount Royal University with a B.A. in English literature and a minor in European history. She is also a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and Celtic Hearts, where she co-chairs the newsletter committee. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog at

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Check Out This Awesome Blog

I just caught this link on Twitter and thought I should pass it along. 

If You Snooze... You Lose over at a brand new (to me) blog - The Book Shepherd.  I'd never been to that blog before, but you can bet I'm following it now.

"Have you been snoozing where it comes to your book. Maybe this is the day, the week, the month, the year when your book is no longer in your dreams or chatter … it becomes a reality."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Check This Out

I don't know if any of you visit Genreality, but they're getting ready to call it quits.  The blog will remain up indefinitely.  Just no new posts.  Anyway, the people who contribute are all doing one last post and today is Diana Peterfreund's turn.  Since she's talking about 'rules' of writing, in about the same way I do, I thought I'd share it with you all.

The End...?

Excerpt:  "Which just goes to show you that writers are going to receive a lot of advice with words like “must” and “have to” and “never” attached to it — a lot of advice that tells you there is only one way to do things and you will never ever be published, never ever have a career as a writer, unless you do it like that.
And I’m here to tell you: Screw ‘em."

And if you're not familiar with Diana, she wrote the wildly popular (and most excellent), Secret Society Girl series PLUS an awesome 'killer unicorn' series, as well as several other incredible books, shorts, and non-fic.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Poll Results and the New Poll

Happy New Year, Everyone!

2012 went out with a whimper and the first poll here at The Unpublished Writers' Guide closed.  We only had 12 people take part, but I think it gives us a better idea of who we're targeting here.  (And yeah, since it's just me, using the 'We' kind of makes me sound like I have a frog in my pocket.)

I'll leave the results up for a few more days, but here's how they broke down.

2 people said they're still working on their first book.  Cool beans.  Keep coming and bring friends.  The Guide is all about helping people reach THE END.

1 person said she had a book finished (even if she didn't really agree with the second part of that answer - she knows what to do and is in the process of doing it).

5 people have multiple books finished, but they're still unpublished.  I'm one of the five, so I know exactly where all y'all are at.

and 4 visitors are already published authors.  You're also welcome here.  I know that publication does not mean an end to all the problems we have before our books hit the shelves.

Whatever stage you're at in your writing career, I hope you all can find something of value here at The Guide.  And if you need something you don't see, feel free to write to me.  I'll be happy to meet the needs of the visitors - within reason.  And if you have any questions you think other visitors might be able to help with, send those, too.  We can also do a once a month Q&A session, if that blows anyone's skirt up.

As for the new poll, what I'm looking for isn't how long you've been writing - because I think most of us can answer 'all our lives' in some form or another.  I'd like to see how long each of you has been writing with publication in mind.  Personally, I've been at this for nearly 9 years now.  How about you?