Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Post: "My Aspirations" by Stacy McKitrick

My Aspirations

B.E. asked if I would guest blog. I guess she thinks I’m someone important - haha! Well, I don’t feel all that important, but I have reached a level I wondered if I’d ever attain. Probably a level some of you would like to reach. So I’ll tell you how I did it.

I started writing in April 2009. Yeah, I’m not one of those people who have been writing all their life. I did do some writing in high school, but never pursued it. What I love to do is read. But something inside of me kept pushing me to write, so I thought: why not? Could I actually write a book? Four months later I had my answer. I could!

But was it any good? Did it have merit? Should I bother to revise and edit the story (because I knew it still needed work)? My daughter thought it did. That was all I needed. I joined RWA and pursued publishing.

I wanted an agent. I wanted my books in book stores. Those were my aspirations. I took classes and polished that novel to the best of my (then) ability. Thought it was pretty good. A year later I started querying that first book.

To say I crash-landed is putting it mildly. I took some more writing classes and wrote my next book.

I thought it was great. My readers (that would be my daughter and my friend) thought it was sappy. Guess I still had more to learn. I took some more classes and wrote another. My daughter said that was the one that would get me published. In 2011, I started querying that third book. And while I queried, I wrote my fourth.

Agents didn’t want it. Vampires are done to death (try telling that to my daughter, though!). Did I really want an agent? Well… yes. But I wanted my story to be read. So I dropped the aspiration of having an agent and being traditionally published, changed it to just being published, and started querying small presses.

Did I feel like a failure because I was aiming lower? Yes, I did. But then I realized it’s like an entry position at a company you want to work for. You just want to get your foot in the door. While I queried for that foothold, I wrote my fifth.

The rejections continued. As I crossed off the publishers on my list, I had a decision to make: do I sit on the book or self-publish it? I couldn’t sit on it, so I set up a deadline. If I couldn’t find a publisher by the end of 2013, I would do it myself. And let me tell you, that decision was not made lightly, because I really didn’t want to do it myself.

I discovered a pitch session on a blog in Feb 2013. Wrote up a decent pitch and got a request for a full. Next thing I know, I’m offered a contract! And all before my self-imposed deadline. “My Sunny Vampire” will be released on January 6, 2014!!

In order to get my vampire book published, in order for it to see the light of day, I had to lower my aspirations. I also had to keep learning and keep writing.
Has this path changed what I want? Heck, no. I still want that agent and hope this is one way to prove I deserve one. Then again, I may end up proving to myself I don’t need one. I have these two non-vampire books to work with, too!

In the meantime, I’m writing my next vampire book and wondering if self-publishing is in my immediate future, because, you see, I want that first vampire book to see the light of day. And you know what? Self-publishing doesn’t look as scary as it used to, especially with this experience behind me.

Do you have lofty aspirations? How much are you willing to work to achieve them? And are you willing to lower them?


Stacy McKitrick fell in love with paranormal romance, decided to write her own, and found her passion in life. She used to work in accounting, now she spends her time with vampires, ghosts, and aliens. Born in California, she currently resides in Ohio with her husband. They have two grown children. You can find her at her website or her blog.

Stacy's book isn't available for pre-order yet, but it's due to be released 1/6/14.  You can check it out on Goodreads. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.  =o)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Self-Publishing Information

First off, if you didn't see it when I talked about it before go check out Alan Rinzler's interview.

Then you need to read Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know over at C|Net.

Want to know what kinds of money you're looking at laying out?  Check out The Real Cost of Self-Publishing from Bloomberg.

Or read the quickie article at Galley Cat: How Much Should Self-Publishing Cost?

I'll be adding to this as I find links and discover information, so check back when you get a chance.  (I'll try to post a 'hey, I updated that' when I do, but you know me and remembering stuff.)

If you have any great links to self-publishing resources (that aren't shameless advertisements for vanity publishers disguised as helpful, informative articles), share the love and leave them in the comments.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Check This Out

Agent Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency on why she rejects manuscripts.

And if you haven't seen this yet, book editor Alan Rinzler is interviewed by BookBaby here.  The best explanation and justification for self-publishing I've ever seen.  Wow.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Guest Post: '1 Part Thick Skin' by JB Lynn


There’s a lot to learn when you’re an unpublished writer. (There’s a lot to learn when you’re a published writer too, but that’s a whole different post.)

Learning the craft is not easy as you try to master intangible things like character development, description, setting, pacing, conflict, resolution…etc.

Then there are other skill sets you need. Things like how to give a decent critique and maybe, more importantly how to accept a critique (that may or may not be decent).

That’s what I’m going to talk about today. How to deal with a critique, or a rejection letter, or, down the road, a less-than-effusive review.

Nobody likes to hear that something they’ve slaved over for months, or even years, isn’t simply fabulous. After all, you’ve poured your heart and soul into this and you love it. The rest of the world should too, dammit!

But life doesn’t work that way.

So you have three choices:

  1. Don’t send your work out. If you don’t share it, no one can pick it apart. Of course this guarantees you’ll never publish it, but hey, if you really can’t take the criticism, this is an option.
  2. Share your work, but develop the mindset that if you don’t like a criticism, it’s “wrong” and don’t even consider changing your manuscript.
  3. Put your work out there and take your lumps, knowing that they’re part of the learning curve. Be brave enough to drop your defenses and consider that the critique/rejection may have some merit.

I happen to think number three is the way to go…with one HUGE caveat.

It’s okay to wallow in your misery first.

No, really, rail against the unfairness of the critique deliverer for a set amount of time (I tend to like the 24 hour rule) and then look at what they’ve said again. Chances are, once you’ve had your little temper tantrum you’ll find nuggets of wisdom in a critique.  If you can’t, your chances of improving your book are greatly decreased.

I know that may be hard to swallow, but I’m speaking from experience.

I rewrote THE FIRST VICTIM three times for an editor at one publishing house…and he ultimately passed on the manuscript. I rewrote it two more times for another editor at another publishing company before it was accepted. Each time I got an editorial letter I railed about how ridiculous it was. Then I calmed down and implemented 80 percent of the suggestions and finally, after WAY more work than I’d have liked, I sold the book and launched my publishing career.

Did this mean I was suddenly the “perfect” writer? No, another editor, at another publishing company, made me rewrite sections of both CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN and FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you receive a rejection or critique you don’t like.

  1. It’s one person’s opinion. You don’t have to take it as gospel, but if you ignore it out of hand because you don’t like it, you’re shortchanging yourself of the chance to improve.
  2. This is a tough business. You have to develop a tough skin. Yes, criticisms hurt, but you can’t let them stop you in your tracks. Forward momentum is everything.
  3. You don’t know everything. Your ego isn’t 100% “right”. Success results when you try something new and/or learn from your mistakes.

Just so you know that I don’t think I’m perfect or an expert, here’s one of the one star reviews for THE HITWOMAN GETS LUCKY that made me wallow:

“What a stupid waste of time, the only reason I finished it was I was walking on a treadmill. Ridiculous plot and even more inane characters. Main character Maggie has conversations with her dog and her lizard, works at an insurance company and kills people for pay on the side. Now is asked to steal and suddenly she has a conscious? I give it one star as I read the whole book in a 60 min walk. Glad it was on the "free kindle books" from Amazon. Highly doubtful I would read another book by this so called writer.”

Ouch! Right??

Still everyone is entitled to their opinion. The trick is figuring out whose is worthwhile and not being too egotistical to learn.


Besides being a writer, JB Lynn is a compulsive reader, a runner (of sorts), an enthusiastic cook (who doesn't get the appeal of the Food Network), and someone who has an irresistible urge to eavesdrop at all times.
For more information about JB and her books, visit:

Or you can buy her books through her author page at Amazon.  The fifth book in her Neurotic Hitwoman series - The Hitwoman and the Neurotic Witness - just hit the shelves and it's a definite winner.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Guest Post: 'What Kind of Writer Are You?' by Silver James

What Kind of Writer Are You?

We've all heard, and probably joined in the debate, about pantsers vs. plotters. Do you outline before you sit down to write your novel, or do you sit down at the computer each day, waiting to be surprised, writing your book literally by the seat of your pants? Or are you a combination of the two? Plotser is a term I've heard bandied about to describe that unholy marriage of the two.

I had decided I was sort of, kinda maybe, a plotser. I know my main characters inside and out because I spend a lot of time getting to know them before the plot and setting gel. Usually. Sometimes, I get the idea for a plot and then go in search of characters to make it work. (Why are there a whole bunch of incomplete WIPs that I started that way? *scratches head*) But I digress. So, there I am, with characters in hand, the beginnings of their story, and a vague idea of where it’s going to end up. I sit down at the computer, open a blank document, type Chapter One, and start typing. The story usually unfolds organically, in a systematic way from Point A to Point B to Point C etcetera, etcetera, etcetera until I type The End. Usually is the operative word there.

Sometimes, a scene bursts into my imagination like skyrockets on the 4th of July. The action unfolds like a Technicolor movie or I eavesdrop on a conversation that snaps and sizzles, the character unaware I’m there. Unfortunately, I seldom know where to put this stuff. So I make a note of it, and once upon a time, stuck it on my white board, hoping one, I remembered it was there, and two, I found a place to incorporate it in my story. That was before Scrivener. I’ll do a Scrivener post for B.E. one of these days.

Then came my second National Novel Writing Month. The month started with the death of my mother, the death of my best friend's father (in the same week), and a lightning-fast road trip right after Thanksgiving to California to help my friend close out his father’s house and estate. Have I mentioned that I'm competitive? Like REALLY competitive? I sat down to write the novel with every intention of starting at the beginning and working through to the end. Yeah. Right. What's that saying about best laid plans?

I was bound and determined to get my 50K written so I started jumping scenes. I wrote what seemed promising, what Iffy, my Muse, decided might be intriguing to the story. I left *** notations to mark where I needed research. I finished the month with 50,134 words. And a manuscript that stinks, is a jumbled mess of scenes dumped out helter-skelter like puzzle pieces. I haven't touched it in four years. That's about to change. That manuscript is the second novel in my Penumbra Papers series that just debuted with the novella, THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC.

What’s changed is that I’ve discovered I’m a Puzzler. For me, writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are there—characters, plot, world-building, dialogue, plot, descriptions. It’s up to me to fit them all together until the whole picture emerges.

I used to work puzzles back when I actually had free time. LOL I’d have a row of edge pieces. I’d have a corner section that radiated out part way. But mostly, I had clumps of pieces that fit together and eventually, all those clumps joined together to make the puzzle whole. Writers who “frame” their puzzle/book with all the edge pieces are plotters. Pantsers start with that corner and fans out, following whatever direction the story takes them. And then there’s me. The Puzzler. I somehow manage to take all those clumps/scenes and get them into a cohesive whole by the time I hit The End.

This was definitely true with my latest book. I had more pages in my Unused Scenes folder on Scrivener than I had chapters. Luckily, they all came together and THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC came to life. The world  and characters of The Penumbra Papers is near and dear to my heart. This is a series I’ve nurtured for almost ten years now, though it didn’t really come together until recently. And now that I know I write “organically” as a puzzler, the process is so much easier.

What about you? What kind of writer are you? Do you piece together the outside edges first? Do you start at one point and work your way out? Or are you like me, a puzzler with clumps of ideas and scenes spread from one end of the computer to the other? ;)

If you’re interested in checking out the new series, you can buy THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC at

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writerly Quotes - Pt 4

Thanks for stopping by again today.  I've been lax finding guest posters lately, so here we are with the quotes again.  I hope you enjoy these....

The novel is not “a crazy quilt of bits”; it is a logical sequence of psychological events: the movements of stars may seem crazy to the simpleton, but wise men know the comets come back. - Vladimir Nabokov

The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation. - Larry Niven

We work and write and wait for the big moment to happen. If it happens. In the meantime, we dream of pool boys. - Allison Pang

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
- Alexander Pope

There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write. - Terry Pratchett

Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness—when a glorious idea comes to mind and, secondly, when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be. - J.B. Priestley

A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return. - Salman Rushdie

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; signifying nothing. - William Shakespeare

I'd rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer. - Jack Smith

If you're a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes. - Mickey Spillane

The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book. - Mickey Spillane

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. - John Steinbeck

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. - William Strunk, Jr.

And that's it for today.  Next time I have to do this, should be the T-Z section and therefore, the end.  Then I'll have to find something else to put up here when I've been lazy. 

Got any quotes you'd like to add? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Check This Out

This morning Chuck Wendig talks self-publishing.  If you're even kinda, sorta thinking about putting your book out there yourself, read his 25 Steps to Becoming a Self-Published Author.  I don't always agree with everything Chuck says, but that's immaterial.  Read it.  READ IT.  Commit it to memory.  Take it to heart. 

Then, as with every piece of advice, use what works for you and toss the rest.  (Just make sure you aren't throwing diamonds in the trash because you thought they were stupid rocks.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Agency Alert

In case you hadn't already heard, Jill Corcoran left the Herman Agency to start her own company:  Jill Corcoran Books.  Over at her blog, she does a whole 'meet the literary agency team' post that you should check out.

I don't write what she's looking for, but maybe one of you does.  She currently closed to submissions until she gets everything running smoothly.  Still, this agency is one worth watching. 

Good luck!