Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Post: "What I Know For Sure" by Misty Evans

What I know for sure
By Misty Evans
Since the premiere issue of O Magazine, Oprah’s done a What I Know For Sure column on the last page. It’s usually the first thing I read in her magazine because it always gets me thinking about life and what I know for sure. As a writer and published author, I have my own list of What I Know For Sure and thought I’d share a few of them with you.

No matter how many successes we’ve experienced, fear of failure can stop us dead in our tracks.
I have over twenty stories published in four different series. Several have been on best seller lists, both the publisher’s and retailer’s sites. Currently, my latest hot romantic suspense, DEADLY PURSUIT, is on four Amazon bestseller lists. I’ve received dozens of good reviews and won several reader’s choice awards.
But every time I sit down to work on a manuscript, the Doubt Demons snuggle up beside me. They fill my head with negative thoughts. They freeze my fingers on the keyboard. “You need to do more research,” they say. “Your muse is burned out. Give her a rest.” They tempt me with distractions. “Why don’t you check email/Twitter/FaceBook? There’s a Falling Skies marathon on. You can write tomorrow.”  
Fear is an ugly four-letter word. The Doubt Demons are, in essence, fear of failure, fear of rejection. Hard to face head-on, so I sneak around them to give myself courage to hit the keyboard. I light a candle, turn on some music, and dangle a piece of chocolate in front of my laptop. I talk back to the Doubt Demons. “This is the first draft and I don’t have anything to prove.”
What I know for sure is, Doubt Demons are going to haunt you at times. Face yours and watch their control disappear.

Being a successful is 10% inspiration and 90% determination.
I love my muse. She’s brilliant and wears fabulous shoes. However, she leaves me alone a lot, facing the Doubt Demons and the blank page on my lonesome. If I waited for her to show up in order to write, I’d still be working on my first story…the one I started in eighth grade.
But I’m determined, if not brave. I love to spin stories and I’m completely, 100% on board with becoming a life-long, professional author. Goals and dreams are written in my journal and I’m petal-to-the-metal, balls to the wall, going after every single one of them.
One caveat to this What I Know For Sure is that, like Alice, once I fall down the rabbit’s hole and immerse myself in a story, my muse usually shows up in her fab shoes with a brilliant plot device or line of dialogue that I would never have thought of. She touches me with her sparkly, creative wand and, bam, the heavens open and words rain down.
What I know for sure is that when you think you most need the muse (or more time, money, or energy) to appear is that’s the time you most need to get to work. Don’t wait for her to guide you. Put on your own pair of fabulous shoes and start walking. Before you know it, she’ll be skipping along at your side.

“No” doesn’t mean “never”. It just means “not right now”.
Remember that old saying about the only two sure things in life are death and taxes? Well, I’d like to add one more. Rejection. No matter who you are or what you do, rejection is part of life.
As a writer who’s lived through countless rejections, I can tell you they will not kill you, and to use another saying, they will make you stronger…IF you think of them as a tool and not a personal attack.
I hit the USA TODAY bestseller list with a book one of my agents tore to pieces with a three-page email of all the things wrong with it. The book currently on those four Amazon bestseller lists? I was told by another agent it had too many dead bodies and not enough romance. Each of those books were in my “throw away” drawer. Each of those books has proven to be successful regardless.
When you get rejected, here’s what you do: First, let your ego have a meltdown for a few minutes or a few hours. Rejection sucks, plain and simple, and denying it will only offset the emotional flooding you’ll feel at some later, openly embarrassing point in your life (like your kid’s parent-teacher conference or in the Starbuck’s line when they run out of the mocha frappuccinos). Better to open the gates, get it all out, and move on ready to face your goals again.
Next, take steps to rebuild your self-confidence. Every small step, every goal you’ve achieved so far is an earned accomplishment. Every day of work you’ve finished, every project you’ve signed off on, every child you’ve raised, race you’ve participated in, song you’ve belted out in the shower. If you’re a writer, every sentence and every chapter is a hard-won masterpiece.
Keep a “pride” list or “success” list on display where you can read it every day. Fill it with the goals you’ve achieved and compliments you’ve received. Over time, those successes will far outweigh the failures.
Last, but not least, find the positive in the negative. When I say use rejection as a tool, I mean glean anything you can from it to make yourself a better person. Like author Suzanne Finnemore says, “Rejection can be like mulch: dirty, smelly, and essential to growth.”
Essential to growth. Rejections can give perspective and help overcome weaknesses. They can push you to up your determination and cull the crap.
And the next time around, you’ll be one step closer to a “yes”.

No one else can walk your journey for you.
Expressing yourself is a fundamental human experience. Be true to the small voice within and remember that you have two selves. Your inward self that remains untouched by the world, which is your soul, and your outward self, which is your personality. Respect, understand, and nurture both, and you’ll have the power to change lives. Including your own!

So tell me, what do you know for sure?

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She teaches writing workshops and offers writing services through her business, Strong Brew Coaching. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about her stories at

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guest Post: Silver James on Finding Inspiration


One question that all authors get asked is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” Most of us have rather pat (or snarky) answers. In my case, I blame it on my Muse. Some of you have “met” Iffy. Her favorite game is “What if…?” Her favorite things include chocolate and coffee, preferably mixed together. Her favorite way to procrastinate is look at pictures of sexy guys who might or might not resemble characters in her head. And if you put a margarita in front of her, Katy bar the door! (That’s a colloquialism. You can look it up. Google is your friend.) Anyway, Iffy is a nickname. Her real name is Iphigenia. It means “sacrifice” in Greek, but that’s a topic for another day.

Today, we’re talking about inspiration and where it comes from. There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to Muses. Some of us depend on ours. Other authors snort and roll their eyes. “No such thing as writer’s block,” they proclaim. “You have to work through it.”

Tell that to Iffy. Of course, in my case, the Muse is like a maniacal toddler on a sugar high, complete with scissors. In fact, the picture I have of her portrays that very thing. In other words, she doesn’t need any encouragement. She has far more ideas than I can keep track of, and usually have absolutely nothing to do with whatever project I happen to be currently working on. Because she’s so scattered, I tend to write cross genres. I read that way so why not write, right? Usually, that means that I write paranormal thrillers, contemporary romances, and romantic suspense. I even have a horror novel hanging out under my bed waiting to scare the bejeesus out of me if I ever pull it out again to finish.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Get to the point. This is this, I wrote a short story several years ago after being invited to participate in an anthology of police stories. Most people submitted real life essays. Me? Nope. Iffy would have none of that reality stuff. She wanted me to write something fresh. Different. Outside the box. Uhm…yeah. I was a week away from the deadline and had nuthin’. Zip. Zero. Nada. Then one morning, I stopped in to buy a cup of coffee at the local convenience store. They’d just gone to “fancy” coffees, each with their own name. And there it was: Café Midnight, a dark roast with rich but mellow overtones sure to wake you up.

I bought the giant economy size—boy did I need the caffeine kick that morning—and headed off to work. By the time I got there, I had the inkling of a story idea. And Iffy pirouetting around my office. By lunch, I wanted to take the afternoon off to write but…day job. I stopped for pizza on the way home, banished the family, and hid in my office. By midnight, I had the rough draft for CAFÉ MIDNIGHT.

What’s it about? A burned out homicide cop. A mysterious diner. And a dead body. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well, when the cop is Joe McGwire, everything. See, he walks into Café Midnight and straight into a mystery involving Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, and several other famous detectives. Also, the Mafia. And the Chinese Tong. And it all came from a cup of coffee. I did mention that Iffy is rather enamored of coffee, right?

 The point of all this is that inspiration is everywhere, if you just look. It’s in a song on the radio, the headlines of a newspaper. It’s a commercial on TV. A picture shared on Facebook. A sentence overheard in the line at the grocery store. And yes, even in a cup of coffee.

I’ve recently released CAFÉ MIDNIGHT on Amazon, with a new cover and some minor revisions. It’s fun to read. It’s cheap. (Only 99 cents). Here’s the link: Amazon And the blurb:

A burned-out homicide cop. A mysterious diner. A dead body. What could possibly go wrong? 

When that cop is Joe McGwire? Everything. Back on duty after a deadly shootout, Joe and his new best friend, Insomnia, hit the streets. Drawn to a diner called Cafe Midnight, Joe walks into trouble. 

Welcome to Cafe Midnight, where the coffee's hot, you can still smoke, the payphone costs a nickel, and famous detectives hang out looking for a case. 

This short story is a fond homage to film noir and the detective novels of the last century. It's a tongue-in-cheek tale about a hard-driven homicide detective and the denizens of the dark he meets while investigating his latest murder. And finally, your question for the day:

Where do you find YOUR inspiration?!?

 Silver likes to walk on the dark side and coffee. Okay. She loves coffee. LOTS of coffee. Warning: Her Muse, Iffy, runs with scissors and can be quite dangerous. She's the author of the award-winning Moonstruck series and other books, including a new series, The Penumbra Papers, coming Fall 2013. She's been a military officer's wife, mother, state appellate court marshal, airport rescue firefighter and forensic fire photographer, crime analyst, technical crime scene investigator, and writer of magic and mystery. Now retired from the "real world," she lives in Oklahoma and spends her days at the computer with two Newfoundland dogs, the cat who rules them all, and myriad characters all clamoring for attention. She writes dark paranormal thrillers, time travel romance, and light contemporary with a kiss of suspense. Want to know more? Visit her at

Thursday, August 15, 2013

That's the Question

This morning as I was making my way through my blog list, seeing which posts might interest me, I saw the following post title: "Are you a serious author?  Do you want to be successful?" (The link goes to a post about two spots left in a class or a conference or something in Denver...)

But that's not important.  What's important is that the questions posed there in the title got me thinking. 

Ya know, if someone had asked me those questions in 2004, I would've been adamant about YES for both.  I was very serious about being a successful, published, wildly acclaimed author. 

If someone had asked me those same questions a few years later, I would've looked at them like they were stupid and said "Well, duh.  You think I'm doing all this for my health?"


Well, let's face it folks, I'm tired.  It's damn hard to continue to maintain that level of seriousness and commitment after 9.5 years of this.  Unmet expectations wear a gal down.  Hell, even my husband has stopped talking in terms of 'when you get published'.  When I finished rewriting that last book, we were both like 'well, that's nice, when's dinner'. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm still committed to writing.  I still want to be published.  But after beating my head on a wall umpteen times, it doesn't feel as crucial as it used to. 

And also don't get me wrong, if I ever saw any glimmer of a chance that I could be published, I would become as serious as I used to be and the drive would come back.  I know that for certain.  Whether that ever becomes a reality is what isn't so certain. 

How about you?  Are you a serious author?  Do you want to be successful?  How crucial is it for you now?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Check This Out

First off, if you aren't following Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds blog, you really should be.  Second, I follow Chuck, but I don't always read his posts - because sometimes he's too crass for me (to which he would probably reply that I was a sissy-baby-wimp).  Still, he has some really insightful stuff most days - if you can get past the cursing and the crassness.  (Yeah, I swear like a dock worker some days, but not every day and not with such profusion.) 

Anyway, this morning he had a guest post from Delilah S. Dawson - who has been on my Amazon wishlist for freakin' ever.  In her own eloquent, and less 'slap you in the face', way she let's you know the 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author: Lazy Bastard Edition.  (I just wish it focused more on getting published when you are a lazy bastard - which I am.)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Writerly Quotes - Part 3

And here we are with the quotes again.  I scrolled down the database and came up with nothing writerly in the Is or the Js.  So today, we're starting with the Ks, ans seeing where that takes us.

Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position. - Stephen King

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. - Rudyard Kipling

The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists’ discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish. - Milan Kundera

If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow. - Louis L'Amour

In every great novel, who is the hero all the time? Not any of the characters, but some unnamed and nameless flame behind them all. - D.H. Lawrence

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. - C.S. Lewis

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write. - Sinclair Lewis

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. - Jack London

The writer’s joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought. - Thomas Mann

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. - Thomas Mann

The trouble with writing a book about yourself is that you can’t fool around. If you write about someone else, you can stretch the truth from here to Finland. If you write about yourself the slightest deviation makes you realize instantly that there may be honor among thieves, but you are just a dirty liar. - Groucho Marx

If you want to be a writer, you need to read, and you need to write. Everything else is varying shades of bullshit… - Seanan McGuire

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. - James Michener

I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions. - James Michener

Good writing is about making yourself and your ideas understood by someone else. - Miss Snark

Well, we made it to M today.  I hope you enjoyed these quotes and maybe were inspired by a few.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Important Advice

For the love of godiva, post your email address!

This is important so agents can contact you, but also, it's important if you're entering a contest - like the gal I still haven't heard from who won Karin Tabke's book.  There has to be some way to contact you privately listed on your blog, your twitter bio, your FB page... Throw the world a bone.

And I realize putting your email addy out there means who might get inundated with spam or let stalkers know where you can be reached or any number of other paranoid things.  I get it.  If you're worried, create an email addy that you only use for public consumption.  But please... Be reachable.  You never know when you might be missing out.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Writing Quotes Again... err... Part 2?

Since I don't have a guest for today, I thought I'd share the next round of writerly quotes from my quote database. 

There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brain child is a deformed idiot. - L. Sprague deCamp

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. - Philip K. Dick

This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it. - Eeyore

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top. - Unknown English Professor

There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can't screw it up. - Raymond Feist

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. - Gustave Flaubert

There are many reasons why novelists write – but they all have one thing in common: a need to create an alternative world. - John Fowles

I'm putting all this down in my memoirs, so if I grow up twisted and warped, the world will know why. - From Brighton Beach Memoirs

Modern poets talk against business, poor things, but all of us write for money. Beginners are subjected to trial by market. - Robert Frost

Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. - Neil Gaiman

It’s a damn good story. If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check. - Erle Stanley Gardner

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing. - Melinda Haynes

Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up. - Ernest Hemingway

You know that fiction, prose rather, is possibly the roughest trade of all in writing. You do not have the reference, the old important reference. You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true. You have to take what is not palpable and make it completely palpable and also have it seem normal and so that it can become a part of experience of the person who reads it. - Ernest Hemingway

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. - Ernest Hemingway

Today was D-H - because I just have that many writerly quotes (growing all the time, too).  I realize today's quotes were pretty tongue-in-cheek and snarky.  That's just the way the alphabet fell - and how my mind must've been working the day I chose which quotes to add to the database. 

We'll see what next time brings (which could be next week if I don't get off my buns and find a guest for Monday).