Saturday, April 30, 2016

Writing Everyday

I have already written about the need for more time and the fact that prioritizing for optimum productivity is a must. in order to be a success at any profession though it has to, of course, be one of those priorities. I am an author. Writing is in my blood. I wake up thinking about it, dream about it and get distracted during other activities focusing on it instead. I have all the ambition in the world but I struggle with the follow through. It is a priority but I have a terrible habit of letting it slip down a few rungs when something shiny and new enters the picture.

I am a true child at heart and that is complete with the insane amount of distractions that fill my life daily. Most adults I know have distractions as well but have methods of tuning them out or filing them away for later. I just add to the pile of overwhelming stuff already on my plate and keep going. I jump from project to project then complain when I never get to officially cross anything off the to do list. Oh, and speaking of the list, it is never ending. Not just because I am doing eleven things at once making completion slightly more difficult but also because overtime I feel accomplished and cross something off I find three new ones to add on at the bottom.

I have a day job, as do most beginning writers. I am significantly older than many writers at my stage if you are to believe the ages of those on social media but that has not deterred my dreams or my focus. If anything I have the same passion with a great deal more experience. My biggest issue is making a dedicated effort to write everyday. I can do something writing related nearly everyday and that is a start. However when it comes to opening up the document and sitting down to add words to the story I am definitely still at amateur status.

I edit, or write a post for my blog most days. I read through writing related posts on social media and yes I often open another window to look up something that was being discussed that I didn't totally understand. I recently looked up a word regarding a genre of books thinking it probably had nothing to do with what I write or read and came to find out one of the books from my reading challenge this year was in the genre and I had really enjoyed it. I am learning each and everyday but I am still learning to make time for the most important aspect, writing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Voices In My Head Excerpt (Unedited)

“I didn’t do anything to you! I am calling the cops so you better get away from me.” He called back through the door. He had no idea that she couldn’t leave even if she wanted to. The standoff went on for only a couple minutes until the laughing in her head calmed down. Chelsea, knowing the police were on their way and not wanting to be part a headline involving any of it climbed to her feet. She left the knife where it had fallen. She ran through the front and dropped a hundred dollar bill on the counter snatching her bags.

She threw them into the car and peeled out of the parking lot heading away from the direction of the police station. She was not this kind of a person but she also had no rational explanation for her behavior. She drove home making sure to obey all the speed limits and signals so as not to draw attention to herself. She pulled into the garage and immediately closed the door. Before she even unloaded the food she went inside and closed all of the drapes in every room making the house look empty.

After she was sure it appeared she was not home she put everything away. Chelsea paced in the kitchen. What had come over her back at the butcher? How could she have attacked someone like that? She really felt like she was losing her mind. She looked at the clock over the stove, it was only one fifteen. It was going to a very long day. She couldn’t sleep because he would have more control than he already did so she had to find a way to either distract herself or defeat him. She had no idea how to do it but at least she had gotten way from the butcher shop before the police got there. As she paced though she ignored the fact that in her hurry to escape she had left her fingerprints all over the money as well as the knife.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Understanding The Market

Selling our work is the generally the number one goal of authors that publish their books but it is important to not only put it out there but also to let others know where to find it. Marketing is so important but if done incorrectly your efforts can be next to useless. You would never want to see an erotic novel on a website for children, though that is an extreme example, it can show how bad of an idea it is to simply share your work everywhere.

If you are showing your work to people with little or no interest in the genre or it is not the correct reading level, i.e. children's books on an adult site or vice versa, then it will not matter how great your sales pitch is because it will fall on deaf ears. First and foremost you have to know your audience. If you are dating someone that loves romantic comedies would you take them to a slasher flick on a romantic night out? Hopefully the answer would be no. The same goes for promoting your books. You wouldn't want to push your latest true crime novel at a romance writers convention nor would you proudly display you children's picture books at a horror conference.

Before you even hit print it is a good idea to go on to different sites like Amazon or Barnes & Nobel to see books similar to your own. Look at how the are categorized and pay attention to the other books recommended. Once you have a list of books and authors you can search on Google or social media sites to see how those works and their creators are portrayed. You can then throw in some tweaks to make the promotions your own but you will have started by understanding who it is you are selling to.

At face to face events you are not always surrounded by just your target audience. When I get a booth at a show there are bound to be hundreds if not thousands of faces walking past me and only a small percentage will stop to talk to me about my books. That is fine though because I am not trying to sell to everyone, just to those that would be interested in my genres and topics. Kids like the candy on my table and the mothers with them tend to stop and chat with me about one or more of my books so for me it is a great ploy to get people at my table but for another author I see often that wrote a based on true events book about combat neither the kids nor their moms are the right group for him. He talks to the men that show up in military hats and the bikers with flags proudly stitched onto their vests.

We do not overlap in our marketing because we have different audiences. We will however speak up if we are talking to a general book fan and mention the other author in attendance because cross promoting can help both of us. The biggest advice I can give is to make sure you do your research, not just on your book, but on who will buy it as well. That way you do not waste time and effort trying to catch the eye of the wrong people and instead can grow a true fanbase of those who will love what you created.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Time - The Most Precious Resource

I have had the discussion many times. I have heard my friends say it, my family remark on it and of course I hear it everyday at work. "I just don't have enough money!" Well the truth is that it depends on how you look at things if I have enough money or not. For the lifestyle I live and the things I enjoy yes I absolutely have enough. For traveling the world or becoming a roaming gypsy determined to live off my family fortune while I make my name as an independent artist no I am a little short for that one. Perspective on money is key when it comes to the all important "Do I have Enough?" question. However, to quote a good friend, I can always make more money.

For me, and many others I am sure, the real precious commodity that we never have enough of is time. You cannot make more time. You can waste it or manage it well but ultimately it is a fleeting finite item in our lives that passes far too quickly and generally without our permission. I know I have a tendency to exacerbate this issue by taking on more things than I can fit into any normal schedule but I have so many interests that I struggle to turn down any of the events or projects that are mentioned to me.

Many writers I know also deal with the A.D.H.D. issue of having so many ideas in their heads that we have to constantly take notes because we can only work on a few things at a time yet our minds are bombarded almost constantly so we have to be prepared to step out of one setting and into another with a new group of characters for a quick side note then right back to the original piece. By the time we get finished with part one and move on it can be hours, days or even moths later. We never seem to have enough time to get to everything on our to do lists, partially because we always are adding to them.

Time management may be key to being productive however no matter how much I manage it I still find that I run out. I make my priorities, sleep generally gets the short end of the stick on that one, and I jump from project to project in order to try and accomplish as much as possible. People tell me that burning the candle at both ends will cause me to fizzle out too soon someday and they are probably right but until we invent a way to create more time or I get a clone I will keep pushing as though tomorrow will never come.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sharing Your Work

As artists of any kind we pour our hearts and souls into everything we create. Painters leave themselves on the canvas, dancers let their inner light shine on the stage, singers display their talent through their vocal cords, musicians feel the music flowing through their veins and writers weave themselves into their characters and storylines. We don't work a normal nine to five like more traditional professions and we aren't able to simply turn it off and leave our job at the office. A great deal of what we do is in our minds so it is with us all the time. We will wake up in the middle of the night to jot down lyrics, chords or characters and find inspiration everywhere throughout our day.

Of course we dream that once we have created our masterpieces that we can sell them. Hopefully in time we will not only make a few sales but we will make enough to work as an artist full time. I am a writer so my stories are the art that I hope to get out to the world. I joined several groups and share the links to my books in those groups. I will be getting more involved with local writer's groups in the  near future and understandably I will make sure they know I have books that have been published. These tactics however are not enough.

All forms of artists know that we must share our work as well as make sure our name in order for people to even know we are out there. For writers we give out free copies of our stories for reviews. We will take part in events that relates to our topics or genres in order to interact more closely with our readers and potential fans. We even take part in anthologies that raise money for charity or are put together to help groups of authors grow their fan bases without expectation of compensation. The free work will not obviously pay the bills but it is a necessary evil in order to reach beyond our own family and friends.

Another great way to grow your reach, possibly the best way according to the marketing profession, is word of mouth. However unless your family and friends circle is enormous it is very difficult to reach many beyond that group without networking so it is a must to interact with others in the industry as well as those we want to read our books. Being a part of groups, sharing what has and hasn't worked for us who paying attention to what others have done can be key to growing our businesses. Yes we are businesses and brands so making sure to share who we are can be the best way to reach further for what we do.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Have you ever heard the phrase jack of all trades, master of none? Do you know what it means? Most do but if not it simply defines a person that knows bits and pieces about many subjects but is not an expert on any particular topic. It is a saying that applies to almost every writer, especially fiction writer, that I have ever met. We all know a little about a lot of things but few of us could take the stage and give a seminar on any of them.

This happens because we get inspired to write books that either center around a hobby or profession we have never done or have a character that happens to be involved in something that has never crossed our paths before. We don't want to abandon our inspiration so we have just one choice, we have to become well versed on whatever subject we are currently clueless about as quickly as possible. We have to do research.

It is very similar to writing a paper in school. We start with the basics of what we already know then make a list of the deeper parts that we have to look up. It could be clothing type or speech patterns for a different time period. Perhaps we need a map of a location that we have never visited yet our characters are determined to live there. What if you are writing a medical thriller but your only experience with doctors is from your annual check up? The terminology as well as knowing what medications or procedures would go together, have accurate side effects and make sure everything is performed properly by the correct people.

I myself am working on a mildly erotic thriller series set during the same time as the Salem Witch Trials. There are a number of overlapping elements from astrology to Wiccan traditions that must be referenced. I also have to blend enough of the time period language for it to feel accurate while simultaneously keeping it light enough for modern readers to follow the story without getting bogged down. Also I must keep everything organized making sure I acquire all of the same information for each book in the series so that when a reader moves from one book to the next the story will flow the way it should. Research can feel boring and overwhelming but it is a sign of a professional writer to make sure you have everything in order so your readers can happily fall into your created world without having to Google something every couple of pages or question the authenticity.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


For many in the writing world being traditionally published is still the dream that we strive to achieve. I have made the leap from my snobby assumptions about Indie authors to believing in the work that they put in and the professionalism that many display. I have become one of them but I have not given up the goal of at least once being accepted by an agent and traditional publisher so that I can be considered hybrid for traditional and Indie work.

When looking into the traditional world one must first capture the attention of representation, in rare instances you can submit directly to publishers however you must make sure that you read the guidelines carefully and those opportunities are few and far between. Since most publishers do not accept unsolicited work it is vital to obtain a literary agent in order to get your foot in the door. Again very few agents will accept manuscripts mailed or emailed to them without an introduction first?

This is where the query comes in. The dreaded letter that must be perfect in order to accomplish your goals. You have to have the right hook to draw in your target. Once they are captured you hold them with the intricacies of your plot using just a few key lines. Finally you must demonstrate why you and not just your book are a perfect fit for their agency and representation. The letter shows your talent and ability while simultaneously selling you and your dream.

It is a world of rejection to be sure. Very few, like a fraction of a percent, strike gold on their first try. Be prepared. The rejections will most likely come and when they do it will be as a flood. My first book I submitted over thirty times and those I did hear back from were all rejections. I decided I had a lot to learn still and that is why I went Indie. I worked with an editor and have studied different aspects of promoting. I have so far to go still but the journey has brought me to a new level of understanding from where I started. 

There is nothing wrong with either form of publishing as long as you approach them with the right attitude. We are professional writers whether a large publishing house puts their stamp on the book or we hit publish online ourselves. These books are our works of art, our business and we approach each endeavor that way. Anyone thinking of submitting I encourage it. It helped me and I haven't stopped dreaming of the acceptance letter but for now I love being Indie as well. Either choice you make I am happy to say welcome to our world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


The terms plotter and pantser come about mostly in my world around November. While we always discuss them off an on throughout the year, remarking on which we see ourselves as and how we cannot work as the other, that is the number one time they are seen. Why you might ask? I would say that because while many of us are writers year round and want to pursue it in some form as a career November brings about Nanowrimo and that is an epic challenge for either type of author.

Plotter more aptly describes people like my brother or my father. They are analytical, planned out and organized types that prefer to know what is going to happen, how and when. They would far prefer to write a research paper or report than anything in a creative writing course under almost any circumstance. That is not to say there aren't thousands of creative writers that prefer this method of creating a book. There most certainly are. I envy their ability to think all the way through a project, know what research needs to be done, have outlines and checklists and then put it all together in a captivating way.

I myself am far more of a pantser. As the name would suggest we simply fly by the seat of our pants, going with the flow as things in our stories unfold before us. In my case there are times I am as much reader as I am writer. I will find myself longing for my computer so I can drift into the world of my characters and see what happens next. I will start with a concept and I have some vague ideas of what I want to see happen or, at times, just how I think the story should end. For some reason when I am just sitting around thinking about the book though I will find myself blocked. I come up with plot holes that seem impossible to fill.

Aside from basic information I am almost exclusively going with the flow when I write. For certain books there is more research needed than others. If I know ahead of time I will make a list of anything I can think of that I may need to look up and so in that small aspect I am a plotter. A great friend of mine says she is a plantser, a combination of the two. I would like to think that describes me as well but being honest I pants far more often with only a tweak of plot in me. For those that read my blog and are also writers I wonder, where do you fall in the plotter / pantser world?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


When I was in school I was taught that anytime you write anything longer than a page it is a good idea to have an outline. For a paper that is only a few pages long this may seem a bit extreme but my teachers pushed it nonetheless. They emphasized that by having the outline you would be sure to include all needed information as well as see what kind of flow the paper would have so it was easy to read. While I agree that having a plan can be great for research papers and newspaper or magazine articles when it comes to writing books I find it less necessary.

For some novels like my Syn series I have done and am currently doing a tremendous amount of research. I have a running list of notes I have taken for the series and there are certain elements that could be seen as an outline. I do take notes on each of the main characters, what drives them or hurts them. I keep watch for who or what might cause them pain and frustration but honestly when I am writing the majority of what I do is simply listen to them as they tell me their stories. 

I have been out of school for many years so I have no need for the process of writing a term paper or citing my sources yet so many writers still follow that same pattern for their novels. They create character bios, something I have experimented with myself. They will come up with a layout or storyboard for their chapters or sections and then add in details as they research or the characters reveal them. 

I have been trying to incorporate different aspects of the outline process to find a blend that works for me but so far I just do better when I am winging it. For this style of writing I am overall what is known as a pantser while those that plan everything out are called plotters. The outlines are definitely more of a plotter element though I have a great friend and fellow writer that has called herself and at times me as well plantsers. We have an initial idea of what we are working to achieve but ultimately just go with the flow as we create. I will be writing more about Plotters and Pantsers in my next post.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Never Give Up Excerpt

Detective Meyar went home after talking to the Dentons and tried to get some sleep. It was a long day and was quickly turning into a very long night indeed. He lay in bed, flipping through channels but not really seeing any of it. His mind was still on the homeless Nick Marks that had been the suspect in a robbery years ago, and the strong possibility that he could be connected to both the young dancer and the recently deceased Justin Denton. He was sure that there had to be a connection but no matter how hard he racked his brain he couldn’t figure it out.

            He went over and over the information in his head but it just kept coming up with blank spots that he didn’t seem to be able to fill in. Finally he got up and stumbled over to the desk in the corner. He pulled a notepad and pen from the top drawer and began writing everything out so he could more clearly see the holes and try to find exactly what he needed so he knew what he was looking for once he went in tomorrow and had access to the case files. The flow chart he created took less than an hour to create but he now clearly saw that a lot seemed to center around Kyle and Nick Marks and there was possibly some connection with Kyle’s wife Sabrina as well. He wandered back to bed and eventually fell asleep, mind still racing.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Multiple Topics

I know many writers that swear by the notion that one project at a time is the best way to proceed when making your way through your books. At most, they tell me, you should be writing one and editing one at a time. The few that are traditionally published, or hope to be, may also add one more to that list. For them there is writing, editing and submitting. I tried to do it that way but as it turns out  I am far to A.D.H.D. to make it very far trying to follow a schedule like that.

For me I do my best to only work on a few projects in each stage at one time. I currently have one book that has been submitted, three in the editing process and two that are being written. One of the books in editing is also in the research stage simultaneously because I am looking into information I may need for the rest of the series. That is one part that while I am definitely still learning, I truly enjoy.

I struggled in school because I had to learn what the curriculum stated instead of what was interesting to me. Now as I learn about the subjects relevant to my books I find I can easily get lost for hours. When I finally make my way back to reality I have learned a great deal but I have also spent more time than I had allowed to do so. At that point I have to play catch up choosing to either back burner writing or editing for the rest of the day or if I am determined to do both still I must sacrifice sleep to get it all done.

If I have the next day off then losing sleep may be the better choice but if I must be at my day job I have to prioritize and pick the most important project to work on. The problem is that if I choose writing I will see my binder that contains the book I should be editing and if I am editing my mind will wander to the novels waiting to be written. Sometimes no matter what I choose to focus on I will be struck with an epiphany for a completely different book altogether and have to make a quick note and try to get back to my current work.

It is a chaotic way to work but for some of us it is best to have enough choices that we can always focus on something in order to maintain productivity. I am learning to fit time management into the grand scheme of things but I enjoy my chaos for now.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Language - Using The Proper Voice

The are so many challenges to being a writer and for each of us the biggest challenge could be different. For me personally I would say the most difficult part of actually writing is trying not to use a passive voice. Making the words work harder for me and not letting them just sit on the page is one part of the writing process that I deal with at every stage.

One of the first things I noticed when I started learning about the passive voice was that a passive sentence is generally wordier than an active voice. I tend to be wordy. Part of that is from doing Nanowrimo probably. When you consistently take part in a challenge that is based on a word count it becomes your driving force. My stories are usually right around the fifty thousand word mark anyway so if they fall short I go back to add words here and there. Many times I will take a sentence, paragraph or scene and by adding the extra words take it from a working voice back into passive.

Then I am tasked as I go through editing to be able to fix a problem that I created. I already have trouble editing because I am still learning so many aspects of it as I go. I recently learned that there is even a mode on my computer to help me with editing. I also have been introduced to a few sites that will help me with grammar as I go through slowly editing the rough first draft.

I am quite a bit older than so many of those I see online taking part in Nano as well as other writing challenges so when I interact people assume I have been actively involved in the writing world since I was their age. If that were the case I would most likely be better versed in how to do much of what I am learning now. I always enjoyed the creative side of English classes in school but I hated the grammar, formatting and formality of the rest of the class so I never did well. I think it shocked many when it was a career I chose.

The best advice I have gotten so far when it comes to writing and looking for that subtle passive voice is to consider if the sentence, paragraph or scene would function the same or better without the words. Can you pare down and still keep the message the same? If so then it is better to use less and say more. That is what is meant by making the words work harder for you. You can Google examples which is what I did. It took awhile reading through them to truly understand how to fix the issues. I would look at the passive sentence and try to guess how they would fix it then scroll to see if I was right.

After more than a dozen samples I started to improve. It is much more difficult in my own writing to spot the errors. In the examples I knew that they were passive and in need of altering. With my own writing I have to read each sentence with a critical eye asking if it is indeed passive. I believe that for my current editing project I will be going through it three times before I do the first revision. Once for typos and glaring errors like missing words or plot wholes. Second I will be sending it through one of the grammar checking sites and once I have made note of those issues I will be looking at each section for passive voice to make every word work as hard as I do.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Killing Off Characters

I love creating stories and getting to know my characters as I write each and every one of my stories. From the first moment that a character pops into my head and begins to tell me about themselves until the point that we say goodbye that character becomes a part of me. Sometimes they introduce themselves months before I get the chance to sit down and develop their stories while other times they show up just as I am beginning a new project and can jump right in. For a few of them I met their figments and have slowly gotten to know them even though they are still patiently waiting for me to put them and their stories down on paper.

I think in many cases the most difficult part of character development is not the beginning but the end. Occasionally it is slow going to get a character to open up. I have one named Jessica that it can be like pulling teeth to get her to tell me anything about her. She is quite secretive but that is just a part of who and how she is so I have to respect that. Then there are others like Annora that not only are far more open with their information but almost demand attention. The best example of that is Persyphone Syntel. She captured my mind and told me her story during the drive home from a camping trip. I got to know her through and through without ever having to even try.

Regardless of how fast or slow I am to say hello to a character there is one thing that remains difficult, saying goodbye. Most often because I write drama and realistic fiction I find that the goodbye is simply because I ended the book. The story ran its course and it is time to move on to the next project so I have to close the cover and move on. In certain cases though, and more recently the frequency has been increasing, I have had a character that left because of a death. I am not well versed in killing off my characters and have had mixed emotions about doing so.

For my thriller there was a couple losses and my current drama Sharing Strength there have been a few as well. In the case of Sharing Strength the loss of the characters that did not survive through the book were needed for the sake of driving the story but also demonstrating an honestly tragic fact about our society and those living in it with PTSD. When I had to create the scene where one of the characters died I went into a personal state of mourning for almost a week. To anyone outside the writing profession that may sound dramatic and ridiculous but for those of us that love our creations as though they are a part of our very being it is perfectly understandable. I would love to offer advice on ways to do it or reasons but the fact of the matter is that some characters are not meant to survive and as the author it is something you have to make peace with if you are ever going to manage with those that must perish in your stories.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Journaling / Blogging

One of the first thing that I was told to do when I started in my publishing journey was to start a blog or online journal. I had never had one before and could not imagine what I would possibly have to say that people would care to follow. The fact that now a year later I still only have one follower and no idea how to gain more implies I still have a lot to learn. I am fine with that because at least I am trying.

It started as just exactly what it sounds like, a journal I wrote and put up online in case anyone actually was interested. I struggled very quickly to keep coming up with topics though and that stumped me as to how to go on. I started reading about different topics other people covered and did my best to find subjects I could intelligently discuss however I once again ran out of ideas quickly. It was only about six months ago that I was chatting with a friend and he suggested that perhaps I should try creating a schedule and posting it then follow that as a template so I always had a guide as to what I should be writing about.

That worked for awhile, I did character profiles on Mondays, submission tips on Tuesdays, book profiles on Wednesdays, Thursdays were for something about my writing that had been happening that week, Fridays I would put up marketing tips and a little more about me and my writing on Saturdays. I have had to do research to come up with enough marketing and submitting tips but my real struggles came with the profiles. I only have three books of my own to share and the characters are limited so I have been helping to review and promote books I read and that my friends write that I want to help share with the world.

For me the most difficult part is remembering to try and put up a new post everyday five to six days each week. It is important because it helps get my name out there and the consistency means people can count on having something new to read everyday. I am working on it but like everything else in my life right now it is a work in progress.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Indie Lifestyle

Indie writers face a scrutiny and snobbery that most traditionally published authors will never face. It is assumed that because anyone can self-publish and sadly there are hundreds if not thousands that are not at the point they should be in order to publish but still do it anyway that all that do are unprofessional and the writing ins't up to par. Yes it is true that with so many people simply putting words on a page and hitting publish those of us that do go through the process of editing, revising, creating cover art and formatting to create a book that could proudly stand next to any traditionally published book we face a steeply graded uphill battle.

I know authors that fall into the "I wrote it so I have the right to publish anything I want" category and I cringe to know that as an Indie author I am thought of in the same light. However I do have dedicated readers that enjoy the pride I take in my work as well as my storytelling and will make sure to tell others that I am a real author not just someone that puts something out for the vanity of seeing my name in print. It is painful to know how far we still have to go.

There are advantages however to being Indie instead of a traditionally published author. I may have smaller sales and have to work tremendously hard for each and every one of them but I get to keep a much larger portion because I do not have to split my royalties with my publisher, editor, or agent. When I set something up and get to go and do promotions it is all my success and I do not have a publicist telling me what to say or a concern about making anyone look good other than myself.

We are responsible for everything for our work and promotions as Indie authors and that means that we work every day, long hours making our small businesses grow. Just because we work hard for ourselves and growing our brands however does not mean we are out competing against every other Indie author, in fact we tend to partner and cross promote to help one another instead of being fiercely competitive. It is a world we live in proudly but it is far more work than most can ever imagine. We live it and love it but we are prepared for everything that comes with it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Being a writer is amazing but it is different than the stereotypical picture most people have of what being a writer actually means. The day dream we are fed through books, television shows and movies is of a rich writer whose sips expensive coffee drinks while lounging in their expansive houses and reading classic literature day to day and going on sold out book tours that welcome them with open arms and send them out with a roaring ovation.

While there are those celebrity authors that would incite a crowd by showing up and signing copies of their latest book most of us lead lives of quiet desperation. We spend our days procrastinating and planning events, releases, epic moments and then staring at the black page that will hopefully someday contain the magical words that will make the rest of our plans more of a reality.

We don't sip the expensive Italian lattes instead we down copious amounts of regular coffee. We read book after book devouring the inspiration but usually in our tiny corners instead of lounging in our personal libraries. We pour our hearts and souls into our work though many times we hide from the actual writing for long periods of time as we perfect the art of procrastination.

The one thing that is important to make sure you develop no matter whether you are a starving Indie author or a high paid professional is the ability to push through the blocks and desire to hide from our computers and make some dedicated time to write on a regular basis. Finding time, no matter how short, to write and keep a schedule is vital to continuing on and growing as an author. If you don't keep getting more words down on the page it is impossible to make all of those loft author dreams come true.

Even if your first book was to go on and become a best seller, one book will not make a career for you. You must find even just fifteen or twenty minutes each day to add to your current projects and let people know what work you have available so you can keep gaining in your reach and getting your name out there for readers to find you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Grammar and Style

This is the largest part of the writing process that I struggle with. I do not know the best references for style or for learning how to get better with the grammar but I am always on the lookout for ways to improve. I was recently told about grammarly and Hemingway as sites and applications that I can use to help find the grammar issues with my manuscripts. Sadly I know that there will be a large number of errors found when I get to that point.

It has been pointed out to me from editors I have worked with in the past that I tend to overuse the word "and" and well as commas. I also for some unknown reason struggle to use wonder and wander at the right places. I always seem to mix them up even though I know how to spell each and what they mean. No matter how much I focus when I am writing I always find these issues and they are the first items I look for when I start my editing.

Formating is another issue that I am learning and in many senses that also has to do with grammar and style. The ability to create sentences that flow and have the correct layout is a priority though with dialogue authors do have some latitude to move around. People aurally speak with proper grammar. Even if they do, when you read it the dialogue sounds forced and overly proper. Slang accounts for such a large part of the way we speak while at the same time wreaks havoc on the grammar check for any computer.

I do own the Chicago Manual of Style though I would be hard pressed to admit to opening it more than a few times each year. I used it more when I was in college. It is a good reference but I have always liked books more about finding a plot or developing characters that are relatable if not always likable. I am intending on taking a few English classes in time that will allow me to improve my skills for writing overall especially the grammar but I welcome any suggestions that recurrently out there and will be offering how much I like Hemingway and grammarly as I get the chance to use them.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Face To Face Promotions

I recently read a book about working conventions and some of the best ways to sell your work when attending these venues. For me it is the preferred method because I am best in person where I can shake a hand, smile and talk to someone one on one. I love being with people and have no stage fright or social anxiety which makes that aspect easier for me.

The other reason I prefer the face to face as opposed to the online promotions is that I am not exactly tech savvy. I struggle to do more than post a status update and rarely think about taking pictures let alone posting them. My boyfriend is very good when it comes to pictures or video but I am afraid I fall significantly short in that realm.

In my review of Working he Table I gave a review of several of the things I have learned and how I am incorporating them into the shows I attend. I am thrilled to announce that I am teaming up with a number of other Indie authors to try and organize the largest show I have ever been a part of tentatively called Indie Author Con. It should be overwhelming, stressful and an amazing experience. I am looking forward to in immensely.

One of the biggest joys I have is that it gives me an excuse to go to as many shows and, conventions and conferences as my time and money will allow to learn from the others about what does and doesn't work in order to make our's as successful as possible. This time I will be responsible for more than just setting up a table and selling my books. I will in every aspect be selling myself and my abilities.

Many authors do not understand that when it comes to face to face promotions you are selling ourself as well as your work. You are doing the same online but I can do an author takeover online without brushing my hair or getting out of my sweats however when I attend a live event I make sure my table looks interesting and presentable and just as much focus is put on me and my appearance. I will be doing several more blog posts in the series on being marketable most of which has to do with in person presentation.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


I love being a writer. It is the biggest passion in my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. The problem is that I struggle with almost everything that comes after the draft is written. The first step and most important part is the editing but I am woefully unskilled at that part of the writing process. I struggle to go through my own writing to find errors and plot holes for many reasons.

Some of the issues are glaringly obvious but many of them are minor concerns I may not be able to pick up on. I am generally ok with finding typos or a word that I was going so quickly I forgot to include but for certain plot holes my brain knows what it is supposed to be so I find it hard to pick out when things are missing.

Even the plot holes are not the worst part however. There is one part that as a writer I should be so much better versed in than I am and that is grammar. I was always terrible when it came to grammar lessons in school and I hate worrying about it now. I was turned on to some websites and applications I can use online for free that will help and I am grateful for that though I am deeply afraid the first time I use it just how many errors I will be told I have.

Once I have my long list of corrections I must go back and fix them as I attempt the rewrite part. This one isn't so bad as long as I make my notes as I go through the first time. Some writers pull up the document in a review style, something I just learned existed, and they will edit and make notes right there on their computer. Because I struggle to even read on my ebook reader I prefer to do it the old fashioned way with pens, highlighters and notes in the margins.

Right now I am working on my novel from last year's Nanowrimo. I am under deadline which is probably the only reason I am pushing through as quickly as I am. I am grateful to my friends that are actually good at the editing process and have offered the sites like and Hemingway to help make the parts I struggle with easier and hopefully in time I will learn to become better at the editing process.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


I was talking to a friend of mine at my day job the other day and she asked me how I am able to go to a coffeeshop and be able to write while I am there. She mentioned that she struggled with distractions when she was in school and tried to study anywhere other than a quiet corner of the library or her dorm room. She talked about how if it wasn't almost completely silent with no one else around that she would never be able to remember anything she was reading and found it impossible to think about how I would write in those conditions.

I used to believe that as well and never ventured out but then I started to find the lack of distractions to be a distraction on there own. My mind would hear things or make up things to keep me from being able to concentrate. That was when I left the house the first time and went to the library to try and make some progress there. I was moderately successful but eventually I had to admit that the sound of people typing around me was distracting so I needed a way to block it out. That was when I first made a playlist for my book.

I was concerned the sound would get in my head and mute the voices of my characters but in time I trained myself to just put the music in the background like a white noise and the characters were still speaking loud and clear. In fact all the music did was enhance the mood of the book. As I got practice and was able to find ways to not just block out the distractions but incorporate some of them as on the spot inspirations.

I was not always able to do that but with practice I believe most writers are able to overcome almost anything that keeps them from concentrating. In fact I have written this entire blog post while sitting in my pajamas on my couch in the middle of the afternoon while watching an episode of Criminal Minds and simultaneously having a conversation on Facebook with a friend about an upcoming event. Like anything else finding a way to block out the things that keep you from doing work just takes dedication and practice and you will be able to overcome the excuses you may not have even realized you were making.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Clutter In The Workspace

When I was first setting up my office I got so overwhelmed by all of the advice I was being given that I almost shut down the whole operation right then and there. Because every person has their own idea of the perfect workspace trying to please others can quickly become an impossible task. Even worse, by setting things up according to what someone else deems as the ideal situation you are sacrificing your own style for theirs.

In my case that meant making a work place that felt cold and uncomfortable. I was unable to reach out and communicate with my characters because I felt no sense of connection to them in the space. I barely felt a connection to myself there let alone my work. It was just a storage location for a long time until I gave up trying to be like someone other than myself. Once I reorganized I became much more productive, at least for awhile.

If someone was to walk into my office now unless they were familiar with my personal system it is likely they would believe that it is still nothing more than storage. There are boxes of my books and convention stuff stacked up along one wall. The desk as a pile of reference books and notepads on it with a dry erase board sitting on a ledge just above. There are notes scribbled and tacked up all over the walls and on the ledge next to my whiteboard sits a stack of file folders with the names of all my current projects on written on them.

There are half a dozen binders on the floor under the desk waiting for me to print out books for editing and three on my chair with highlighters and pens stuck in the tops. It does not appear to be the most conducive place to work and in all honesty for the most part it is not where I do the majority of my writing or promoting. I do however read and edit there and that is a great use of the space for me. The clutter is organized perfectly for me even though many others would question the ability to find anything at all.

For writing and promoting I tend to move around from coffeeshops to my living room or even lying in bed while I watch tv before falling asleep. Being a writer allows me to move around and be productive almost anywhere but for my own office I have found that sometimes being surrounded by clutter is exactly what I need to feel organized.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Breathe - Excerpt From Upcoming Book

Today I have chosen another book to excerpt. This is from one of the projects I have printed out and will be editing shortly. This book is called Breathe. I hope you enjoy it!

“Ok, lets play a little game shall we?” He laughed. It was a knowing laugh without even a spark of humor. It was the worst sound she had ever heard but she was certain that was about to change.
“A game?” She squeaked it out. “How is a game going to prove I care about people?”
Just then she heard a click behind her left ear. She didn’t turn around. She didn’t need to. It was the sound of someone removing the safety on a gun. Her father had been a marksman in the military and had a collection of handguns when she was growing up. She would never have mistaken that sound.
“I am going to ask you about these people you claim to care about. If you get it right we won’t shoot them, but if you get it wrong, they die. Pretty simple don’t you think?” Her heart stopped. He was right, he had been there much longer than she had and he had to know tons of information about them she couldn’t possibly know. He was going to kill them and make it her fault.
“If you ask me things from before I got here I have no way of knowing them. You just want to blame me for their deaths.” He seemed to consider this for a moment.
“Its fine I will only ask you about the last year. You should know all sorts of things for the last year. And if you really cared and had gotten to know them well the timeline wouldn’t really matter anyway.”

A quick peek out of the corner of her eye showed the soft glint from the barrel of the gun as it was eased closer. She steeled herself, preparing for him to hit her but he didn’t. He simply took a firing stance and waited for the game to begin.