Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Survival Tip #14 - Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Yeah, we've all heard that one before.  1) Don't sweat the small stuff. 2) It's all small stuff.

In the grand scheme of things, most stuff is pretty small.  And if you focus on all those small things, they can seem pretty big and get overwhelming and be a total buzzkill. 

Let me tell ya a little story... one some of you may have already heard at least part of (and are kinda sick of - I know I got sick of talking about it when it was happening). 

I moved here to this beautiful place at the beginning of April.  Since we moved with almost no large belongings, one of the first things we did was order new furniture - pretty much a whole houseful - and appliances.

The appliances arrived no sweat.  (Thank you, Sears.)  And the beds, too, since they were ordered from the same place.  (Again, thank you, Sears.)  However, we ordered the remainder of the furniture from a local dealer's website one Saturday night.  I called Monday morning to make sure they got the order and to get lead times for delivery.  Everything looked to be 10 days to three weeks out.  No sweat. 

Later that same day, the dealer called and told me the recliners were pushed back, but he had a couple he could get in sooner - just a little more $$ each.  Okay, fine.  We ordered the new recliners he recommended because we needed something other than lawn furniture to sit on.  The recliners came in but the end tables we'd chosen suddenly got back ordered, too.  But he had a ton of nice end tables in stock we could come look at.  He'd even cut us a deal.  So we went and looked.  Picked out a couple nice new tables and he delivered them with the chairs the same day.

He also assured us that the rest of the furniture was on schedule to be delivered the following week.

Time passed.  No furniture.  I called and bitched - getting increasingly irritated with every day that went by.  Finally, the delivery day came and I was assured everything would be here.  Until about an hour before he was supposed to be here with my stuff.  Then he called and said not everything had come in from the manufacturer.

Needless to say, I was livid.  Where in the hell was the rest of my bedroom furniture??  I spent the next couple hours ranting and bitching.  (My poor husband - who is a saint - put up with it.)  Before the delivery guy arrived with the dining set, I promised Hubs not to take it out on the guy.  I would wait until after he left to call and rip the salesman a new way to go.  Except the delivery guy was the sales guy.  And I'd already promised.

Funny thing happened while I stood there waiting for this nice young man to adjust my chairs so they'd be steady on my floor... I let all that anger and angst go.  It might've helped that he was so sorry about everything.  He looked genuinely nauseous at what the manufacturer had done to me.  (It also helped that my husband was taking everything so well that I felt like a crazy-woman in comparison.)

Anyway, since you sat through that whole story, let me get to the point. 

I was letting the small stuff totally put a crimp in all the great things about living here.  So we don't have dressers to put our clothes in.  Everything hangs quite well and what doesn't hang fits in our old dresser that some brilliant person insisted on moving 700 miles.  (Hubs wanted to sell it rather than move it.  I don't blame him.  It's a bitch to move.)  Not having dressers isn't killing me and it isn't likely to. 

Life totally gets easier when you just let the small stuff go.  Hey, I was totally pissed about the dressers and damn near missed enjoying how awesome the dining set is.  (It's gorgeous.)  When those dressers finally get here, they're going to be awesome, too.

When I finally get published, after all these years of crawling through the minefield on my hands and knees, it'll be AWE-SOME. Until then, crawling isn't so bad.  You find a lot of loose change down here and the occasional pretty pebble.  Sometimes a feather... Look! A nickel!

Anyway, here's another thing: Don't let the small stuff ruin your enjoyment of what you do have.  If you love writing, write for the sake of writing. Because when you sweat the rejections, they might just drag the joy right out of you.  No one wants that.

Okay, your turn.  What's one thing that you could totally turn into the small stuff it is and let go? 

PS. The rest of the furniture is supposed to be here on the 6th.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Guest Post: Liz Fenwick - Publishing Outside the U.S.

Our guest poster this morning is an old blog buddy of mine, Liz Fenwick.  I first met Liz when I was a member of a group called The Novel Racers back in... oh... 2005/2006 or so.  It was a mostly UK group with a few other strewn around the world - including me here in the U.S.  Over the course of being a participant, I learned that Liz is a really neat person with a lot to share.  And her writing is pretty awesome, too.

Anyway, give it up for Liz Fenwick...

My second book, A Cornish Affair, was published in the UK on Thursday. Although I’d dreamt about this happening, it is still unreal to me. If someone had told me when I was a high school freshman living just outside of Boston that I would be writing about Cornwall, England and that I my first book, The Cornish House, would be published in the UK and Commonwealth countries in English by Orion, in German by Goldmann (Random House), in Dutch by Boekerij , in Portuguese by Leya Quinta Essencia and in Norwegian by Cappelen Damm, I never would have believed it. Although I had travelled to Ireland at that age the thought of being read in different countries and different languages was totally beyond my dreams.

A Cornish Affair was first written as August Rock in 2005. It had been through 27 rewrites before I sold The Cornish House. In the editorial process for publication it went through another 4 rewrites (not counting copy editing and proof reading!) During those four rewrites I cut 70,000 words (final word count 94k)…It is a far better book for it but it shows that writing isn’t for the faint hearted….

I am not yet published in the US and in fact I have been told that my books may be too English! I have to find this funny. I moved to London when I was 26 and since that time I have lived in Calgary, Moscow, Houston, Jakarta and Dubai. So I have now seen a lot more of the world than I ever imaged… I have also seen how different the world looks from outside the States and how different the publishing world is….

The US market is the big dream. More books are sold there, but I think it’s the hardest market to break into. I am grateful that we were living in London when I decided to write fiction again. Thanks to Romantic Novelist Association and their New Writers’ Scheme, I was able to network with agents and best selling authors at events holding only 150 people or less. Publishing in London is a very small world and it’s done differently. The whole submission process is different. I won’t say it’s easier…just different.

Aside from writing the best possible book you can (and that is never the first draft!), the most important thing is to have passion and you have to put that passion into what you writing. That same passion has to keep you striving…striving to get better all the time. Each book is harder. Once you are published the works really begins in earnest. Not only are you trying to write great books, but you are promoting your most recent book and thinking up the next one. I am grateful it took me seven years to get an agent and a publisher. Those apprenticeship years allowed me to find my voice, to network, to learn social media…in short to prepare for what happening now. Yet I still feel unprepared and still have so much to learn.

Liz's second book A Cornish Affair recently hit the shelves.  Here's a blurb: 

Running out on your wedding day never goes down well. When the pressure of her forthcoming marriage becomes too much, Jude bolts from the church, leaving a good man at the altar, her mother in a fury, and the guests with enough gossip to last a year.

Guilty and ashamed, Jude flees to Pengarrock, a crumbling cliff-top mansion in Cornwall, where she takes a job cataloguing the Trevillion family's extensive library. The house is a welcome escape for Jude, full of history and secrets, but when its new owner arrives, it's clear that Pengarrock is not beloved by everyone.

As Jude falls under the spell of the house, she learns of a family riddle stemming from a terrible tragedy centuries before, hinting at a lost treasure. And when Pengarrock is put up for sale, it seems that time is running out for the house and for Jude.

And here's a little bit about Liz, from her website:

Writer, expat expert, wife, mother of three, dreamer turned doer....

I was born in Massachusetts and after nine international moves I now live in Dubai with my husband and two mad cats. I made my first trip to Cornwall in 1989, bought my home there seven years later and, although I live in Dubai, my heart is forever in Cornwall, creating new stories.

My debut novel THE CORNISH HOUSE is published by Orion and is out now. It is also available in in German (Sterne Uber Cornwall), Dutch (Sterren Boven Cornwall) Portuguese (A Casa Dos Sonhos). A Norwegian editions is being prepared.

My second book A CORNISH AFFAIR will be published by Orion in May 2013.

I know her books aren't available stateside yet.  Maybe if the followers here and elsewhere start clamoring to get a bit of the Brit over here, we'll encourage her publisher to throw us a bone.  

Okay, the floor's open.  Any questions for Liz?  She's about 6 hours ahead of this blog, but she'll be stopping by when she can to answers questions and comment.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Just In

New Leaf Literary and Media is having a Query Contest - it needs to be a one-sentence pitch and it's due by Friday (5/24). 

If you enter, come back here and let us know.

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Survival Tip #13: Wallow a Little Then Let it Go

I don't have to tell all of you that rejection stings.  We've all been there - if not with our writing then at least in life.  (And if you meet a person who says they've never been rejected ever, wonder if they've got a bridge to sell you, too.)

First let me start off by saying I don't think mine is the generally accepted way to handle rejection.  In general, we're all supposed to just suck it up.  And for godsakes, don't talk about it on the internet.  Makes you look like a loser or some such crap.  (A notion probably put forth by the same people who claim to never have been rejected, I assume.)


What I do to combat rejection is I wallow in it a little.  I bitch.  I complain.  Sometimes I write a blog post or two trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.  (Always without being specific with the exact names of agents and agencies - I'm wallowing, but I'm not insane.)  The point is, I let it out.

Then I let it go.

Sure, my last rejection stung like the Dickens.  And sure, I pissed and moaned about it to friends - and perfect strangers on the blogs.  Then I let it go.  It is what it is.  You have to get it out and let it go so you can move on.

Which means more submissions and ultimately more rejections.  And perhaps more wallowing.  Trust me, though, over time rejections do sting less - unless it's a submission you really had your heart set on, but even that sting goes away faster with each instance. 

And hey, if my wallowing helps another writer see that he isn't alone in his pain, then that's even better. 

What do you think?  Do you wallow or do you hold it inside?  Or do you just wallow privately where no one can see you?  Does seeing someone else go through the same pain as you lessen it for you a little?

Monday, May 13, 2013

How Do You Keep Writing?

This morning there's an awesome article over at the Writers Digest blog:

"How to Keep Writing in the Face of Rejection"

Go read that and then come back here and tell us how YOU keep writing in the face of rejection. 

Some days I'm not sure how I do it.  I guess I have to set aside the idea of getting published and just write for myself.  Because after the rejections weigh me down, and I'd rather curl up in a ball under the covers until the world ends, something has to get my fingers on the keyboard again.  I can't not write - not for very long anyway.

So, how do you keep writing when all you want to do is quit?  How do you not quit?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Purpose of The Guide

Hi All!

I don't know how necessary this is, but since I got a rather strange email this morning, I thought I would explain what this blog is all about (and what it's not about).

I created The Guide to reach out to other unpublished writers.  We're here to help each other.  I bring in published writers from time to time - because they've been where we are and they made it out.  I want to help other unpublished writers become published writers - and hopefully help myself reach that goal, too, in the process.

I do not, and will not, use this place as a means to sell other people's services.  Not that some  services aren't perfectly valid and necessary.  I just don't want to sell that stuff here.

I will use this to help sell other author's books.  Someday I'll be published, too, and I hope someone out there does a little helping sell my books, too.  It's a pay it forward system.  But I don't do this because I hope that someday you'll all feel beholden to me and feel like you have to buy my books.  I certainly don't feel like I have to buy my guest posters' books because they stopped by here.  I buy them because I want them.  I hope you all will do the same when the time comes.

So, my little welcome message over there on the right?  It's meant to encourage other WRITERS to guest post here.  It is not meant to encourage people to stop by and hawk their wares.  While I do appreciate the fact that people have services they need to sell in order to buy groceries, I don't want it done here. 

This place is for writers.  Period.  Fiction and non-fiction.  Hell, I'll even love it if a editor stops by - if they've got something writerly to say.  As long as the post they have in mind isn't slanted toward selling their services in particular, we can work something out.  Write me a post geared toward helping writers, and you're golden.  (The same goes for cover artists, illustrators, publishers, agents, etc.) 

Want to write a sales flyer for your company disguised as an informational blog post?  Head on down the road.

I hope all that makes sense and clarifies things for the casual passerby. 

Thanks for stopping by.

-B.E. Sanderson

Monday, May 6, 2013

Guest Post: "Avoiding Career Mistakes" by Debra Webb

Avoiding Career Mistakes

There are lots of missteps or mistakes one can make in any career. Some are unavoidable and ultimately prove to be learning experiences that help to mold you as a writer and to provide landmarks along the path of your career. The motto I would urge you to embrace is: Experience is wisdom. Wisdom thrives on knowledge. Knowledge is power. As a writer you already possess the power of the pen, but, if you’re like most writers, your greatest desire is a strong, powerful, enduring career. Absolutely doable as long as you avoid the first and biggest mistake any writer can make: Giving up. Never, ever give up!

As you develop your writing voice and flex that storytelling muscle, there are a few things you should consider up front. What sort of stories do I enjoy writing? What do I write best? What type of stories do I want my name to evoke when mentioned by a reader or editor? Simply put, what’s your “brand?” I’m not suggesting that a writer can’t delve into more than one arena, but I am saying that the vast majority of your best known and most successful authors are associated with a specific type of story. Who wouldn’t think of horror when Stephen King is mentioned? Or John Grisham when talking legal thrillers? Or romance in a discussion about Nora Roberts? When you’ve mastered a genre to the point that your name is synonymous with that genre, then you can rest assured that you have built a sizeable audience. A sizeable audience equates to good sales. I would urge you to avoid the mistake of writing all over the place and FOCUS. Decide where your strengths lie (romance, suspense, mystery, whatever!) and focus. Create amazing characters immersed in a compelling story that shines with your distinct voice!

Avoid surrounding yourself with (perhaps well-meaning) folks who undermine your confidence. If your goal is to be a published author and to have a long prosperous career then you must treat your writing as a business. Love your friends and family but avoid allowing too much outside influence in your business, particularly if it undermines your confidence, frustrates you, or just plain old confuses you. Focus. Work hard and trust your instincts. Again, remember that knowledge is power so make knowing the market and the industry a part of your work. Amid other industry professionals is the best place to learn (conferences, chapter meetings). My younger daughter is a nurse and although she is licensed and employed she must take a certain number of classes each year to stay licensed. Just because you get that first contract doesn’t mean you’re done with learning. The industry and the market are evolving and changing, stay on top of those changes.

Once your book is on the shelves, don’t be afraid of the reviews or the reader feedback. Make note of any points you feel are useful and put the others behind you. Frustration is detrimental—avoid it! Every single reader is not going to love every single book you write. Even you won’t love each one equally. Each story is a unique creation with distinct characters who, like real people, are different. If you have difficulty dealing with bad reviews, avoid them.

Lastly, once your career has gotten off the ground and you have a few published books under your belt, I would urge you to avoid two major pitfalls we face every single day in this business by doing two things: 1) Never forget that this is business. As creative people we have a tendency to forget to put on our business hats when it’s time to talk contracts and the like. 2) Never stop growing as a storyteller. The day you think you can’t learn anything new in the course of writing a story is the day you stop putting your whole heart into your work.

DEBRA WEBB, born in Alabama, wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain—and a five-year stint with NASA—that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has penned nearly 100 novels including her internationally bestselling Colby Agency series. Her debut romantic thriller series, the Faces of Evil, propelled Debra to the top of the bestselling charts for an unparalleled twenty-four weeks and garnered critical acclaim from reviewers and readers alike. Don’t miss a single installment of this fascinating and chilling twelve-book series!

Visit Debra at or at You can write to Debra at PO Box 12485, Huntsville, AL, 35815.

RAGE, the fourth installment of the Faces of Evil series is in stores now! 

Disturbing echoes of a Charles Manson massacre disrupt a quiet Birmingham suburb...a missing child is the only witness. Deputy Chief Jess Harris puts everything on the line when her key suspect is one of Birmingham's finest. With a killer now focused on her, she must find the missing witness and the truth before it's too late for them both.

And Deb has graciously agreed to hold a contest - giving away two copies of this awesome book (U.S. and Canada only).  Leave a comment to enter.

Thanks so much for stopping by The Guide today, Deb! 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Quick Poll

Hey All!

When you get a chance, stop on over to The Writing Spectacle and help me out by answering a couple quick questions.  Thanks!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guest Post: "Finding Balance" by Lynn Viehl

This morning, I'd like to welcome the most awesome Lynn Viehl to The Guide.  Lynn's latest book Nightbound - the third in her Lords of the Darkyn trilogy - comes out May 7th. 

Finding Balance
Lynn Viehl

Today I have to do laundry, write twenty pages of fiction and finish some promotions.  To do that I must ignore the Internet, e-mail, new story ideas, my next series in development, working on my art quilt, playing with the dogs and the other thousand distractions around me.  I'll also have to deal with the unexpected, like Mom calling about a medical issue, my daughter needing a ride to her volunteer job, improvising a meal because I forgot to defrost something and a friend who drops by without calling, which will over-excite the dogs, which usually results in a digestive accident.

That's a typical day for me.  On the upside I don't work a day job, my family helps out with the chores and sometimes the pups don't puke in front of my friends.  I also have no web site, Facebook page or Twitter account to update, or any cons or book signings to attend.  To be honest  I haven't made any public appearances since 2003.  Sounds like complete madness, doesn't it?  Everyone knows a pro writer has to do all that stuff and then some, or their career is utterly doomed.

I haven't always been this doomed.   When I turned pro I let other writers, editors, and the agent tell me what to do.  They said I could sell a lot of books if I did what all the other authors did.  What they didn't know was anything about me, my shyness, my disabilities or the fact that being in any kind of spotlight makes me blush, perspire, stammer and even occasionally throw up.  

For three very long, dreary years I forced myself to do what they said.  I didn't sell a lot of books or make any of the lists, but I did get steadily depressed, actually stopped writing and seriously considered quitting Publishing.  This after I'd spent ten years pursuing this dream job, which turned out to be a nightmare, all because I sucked at being an author.

 Okay, I didn't suck at everything.  I write a lot, and I'd begun posting free stories on the Internet for my readers, which they loved.  I also enjoy teaching writing (weird, right?  But true -- when I talk shop I forget to be shy) and the online free writing classes I hosted for two years were fun and quite popular.  So was my weblog.  For me all it was all writing, and when I write I'm a different person -- probably because I'm doing what I love.  

That realization was my personal/professional epiphany.   I decided that if I was going to fail, I'd do things my way by focusing on my strengths, not my weaknesses.  

Before we get into what happened to me let's talk about you.  Are you happy, productive, and selling your work?  If yes, you don't need my advice; you've already figured it out.  If you want you could come over and help me get this laundry done.  If you're unhappy, not writing and/or not selling, then you may be where I was.  This doesn't mean you have to give it all up to do nothing but write, but you might consider making some changes. 

Speaking of writing, how much did you get done this week?  Couple of pages?  A chapter?  Nothing?  Now think about how much time you spent updating Facebook, Twitter, promoting your latest release and whatever else you did that was not actual writing.  Compare the two figures -- are they equal?  How do you feel about everything else?  Does updating Facebook make you as happy as writing a fight scene?  Is Tweeting as big a thrill as typing the last chapter of a story?  

If your answered yes to the above, then you've probably balanced your writing equilibrium between writing and non-writing activities.  If not, you may be wasting energy on things you dislike that make you feel lousy in return -- aka creative poison.

Do you love going to writer conferences?  Plenty of people think they're fun, and there are lots of editors and agents at them, too.  Once during an online discussion I suggested that for every con any writer wanted to attend they should first write two books.  This idea scandalized everyone until I asked them for their ratio between cons attended and manuscripts finished.  Most said they attended at least three cons per year but rarely completed even one book in the same time.  Half of the others said they had yet to finish writing their first novel.  Going to a con to have fun and pitch editors is great, but you do need to have something to sell. 

Making big changes in your writing life can be scary, especially if you're convinced you have to do the must-dos.  What if you swapped out just one thing you do from something you hate to something you love?  Try it for a week and see if it makes a difference in your productivity, your creativity and how you feel about your writing life.  If it works, try it with something else.  If it doesn't, try something different.  It doesn't matter if you find your writing equilibrium via a radical epiphany like mine or through a subtle and gradual process; both roads lead to the same destination:  a more productive writing life.       

How does finding that balance pay off?  Well, after  I found my writing equilibrium I didn't quit or fail.  Seven of my novels subsequently made the NY Times bestseller list, and my fiftieth novel will be released In August.  I've taught thousands of writers how to cope with the work and the life.  I've also been ranked at various times as one of the top 100 female bloggers on the internet, the top 50 book bloggers, and the top 10 SF author bloggers on the internet.  

Success is wonderful, but what really matters is that I'm happy and I love my job.  In any kind of life, there is no better balance than that.            


Lynn is the blogger better known as Paperback Writer.  Check her out, read her books, and bask in her awesomeness.

Oh, and even though Lynn has been more than gracious giving us a guest blog today, she's also decided to do a contest, too.  One lucky commenter will win the following gorgeous prize from Lynn:

This is what Lynn had to say about the prize: "The winner will get the tote (designed and hand-quilted by me), which will be packed with a signed set of the trilogy, a sampler of herbal teas from Celestial Seasonings, a box of Walker's shortbread rounds, a reusable insulated sports bottle, two mini garden kits (Sunflower and Herbs in a Can) and a green quilted bookmark." 


So, get commenting.  Lynn will be stopping by throughout the day to reply and keep the conversation going.

And thanks, Lynn, for stopping by today!