Archive | January, 2014

Achieving Long Term Success As A Writer

31 Jan

003Oh yes indeed, it is Happy Friday once again.  Big plans for this weekend and they center around my Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl!  Go Hawks!

But that’s not why you are here now is it?  You are looking for some gems of wisdom that will propel you to stardom.  Well sorry, I’m all out of wisdom today.  LOL

I was reading the HubPages blog/newsletter yesterday, and in it they talked about writing about an event two weeks in advance for maximum Google effect.


I hate Google but I’m not going to get into my reasons for that right now.  Let’s talk a bit about this “maximum effect” thingie a moment.

My problem with this approach is that everybody and their mother does the same thing.  Going viral is a one-hit wonder sort of thing and leads to……trying to do it again.  What this means is that I constantly have to scour the internet in search of hot topics and then try to write about them two weeks in advance (timing is everything after all) and then do it again the next day, and the next, and the next, and the…..

My approach is a bit different. I like to write about things that have a lengthy shelf life.  Frugal living, writing, organic gardening, the environment, social issues….these topics will remain popular year in and year out.  No one-hit wonders for me; I’m more concerned with long-term success.

Just some random thoughts; do with them what you will.


Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
Marie Curie

Right on Marie!


Yellowstone 2009 047

Do you see anything worth writing about in this picture?  Any attack of the senses? Any jiggle of the grey matter?


Writing is a process.  It is like building a home from the ground up. You start with the foundation, then frame, then wire and plumbing and then you enclose it.  It takes a long time to build a home by hand; it takes a long time to build a writing career.  Be patient, keep working on that foundation, and believe in yourself.


It’s time to go out and have some fun.  You deserve it.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Pay Your Dues and Wait Your Turn

28 Jan

003Welcome back this last week of January. I’m sure many of you reading this are quite ready for winter to end.  As for us on the west coast, this was the winter that wasn’t.  Soon, and I mean soon if this weather continues, it will be time to start the garden……sheez, I’m not ready for that!

Let’s talk about instant gratification today.  So many people want it.  We want to laugh immediately when watching a comedy. We want our burger and fries immediately when at a fast food restaurant.  We want instant success as a writer, yes?  We write an article and want hundreds to read it that same day. We write a book and want a publisher to knock on our door offering us five figures for a bonus signing.

Nope, doesn’t happen!

Success in writing is a methodical process.  You have to slowly build your platform and you have to keep improving, all the while the voice screams inside your head that you are wasting your time and what an idiot you are.

Well you aren’t an idiot….you are a writer.

If you have been writing for some time now, say one, two or three years, think back to when you first started.  Can you see the progress you have made? My goodness I can.  I can’t believe how far I have come in three years.  Over 400,000 views…a novel….several other ebooks….one novel ¾ done…two others waiting in the wings….oh my goodness yes, progress has been made.

Have I been approached by a traditional publisher yet? No, but that just means my time hasn’t arrived for that milestone yet….yet….so I keep writing, keep improving, keep doing the things that are necessary so that I will, eventually, be approached by an agent or publisher.

You have to pay your dues in this business; there is no other way.


All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.
Pope Paul VI


Make one new contact today…set a goal to make one new contact each week.  A peer in the writing business, a new agent, a new bookstore owner…someone who might be a valuable contact in your future.  It’s all part of building your writing platform.


card hands 004

You know what to do.  Give me 200 words based on this picture. I know you can do it.


The Erma Bombeck Writing Competition is accepting entries now through February 17th. You can read all about it here.


If you have your own blog may I suggest that you highlight a new writer each week? Spread the love and the love will come back to you.


My goodness gracious this has been a productive day. I hope it has been for you as well. I’ll see you in a couple days. Until then, keep writing and await your turn for success.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Is Your Writing Original?

23 Jan

003And another Thursday is upon us. I hope my friends in the Midwest and East have recovered from yet another snowstorm.  Hopefully February will bring you some relief.

Meanwhile here in balmy Olympia, all is well. I continue to make progress on the novel….I’m 80,000 words into it and still don’t have a working title. LOL  No hurry I guess.  When I finally finish this novel then I am going to turn my attention to several ebooks that have been in the planning stage for quite some time.  By year’s end I hope to have three of those done and published.  So it is a busy time here and I’m sure it is for you as well.  That’s what we writers do you know….we write!

Today I think we’ll talk about originality, but first a quote.


The world in general doesn’t know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.
W. Somerset Maugham

I love that quote but I certainly hope you don’t face anger from the public for your originality.

A truly original thought in writing is rare.  The major themes have been done to death, have they not?  Truly good writers, however, can take a theme that has been beaten into a bloody pulp, and give it a new twist….a new approach….a touch of originality in how that theme is handled….and suddenly success arrives.

As you contemplate your next article, or your next story, or your next book, look for that new twist…that new approach.  I think your readers will be quite pleased that you did.



Come on….you know you want to write about this. J


Give this one a try and see if it doesn’t get the juices flowing.  The Super Bowl is coming in a little over one week from now.  Write 200 words related to the Super Bowl.  You don’t need to be a football fan to do this; in fact, not being a fan might be an advantage with regards to originality.


Take a break.  I’m going to go eat lunch and then I’m going to go for a walk. I need it. I’ve been cooped up  in this studio for almost three years now and the walls are starting to squeeze me.  It’s time for some fresh air and a new perspective.


I hope this weekend is restful for you.  Spend some down time from writing and think about where you are headed.  Are you meeting your goals? If not, what’s holding you back?  Are you satisfied with your writing?  What can you do differently to jump start your writing career?

Have a great weekend and thank you for stopping by.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Setting Goals As A Writer

21 Jan

003Welcome back to another week of improvement.  I hope your weekend was restful.  Our local football team made it to the Super Bowl so all is right in our little corner of the world.

And since the Seahawks met one of their goals for the season, today seems like a good day to discuss your goals as a writer.  Do you have goals?  Do you have a plan?  Serious question for serious people, and I only ask it because I am a bit surprised by the number of writers I run across who don’t have any direction whatsoever.

Now let me begin by saying if you simply write because you have the passion then that is good enough for me. The goal, in that case, is accomplished every single time you sit down to write and I say bravo to you.  Anyone who has followed me even a little bit knows how I feel about writing with passion, so I’m in your corner all the way.

If, however, you have other goals, say to write a book, or to make it as a freelance writer, then may I suggest breaking your goals into smaller, more-manageable goals that are doable in the short term and will give you some quick success?

For example, let’s say your goal is to write a novel.  Well great, but how are you going to go about it? Do you just want to write one before you die?  A bit nebulous if you ask me.  How about setting a goal of writing one chapter every month?  That way you will have some good feelings about your accomplishments.

Writing is a tough gig, and I think it is important that we give ourselves attainable goals so we can experience some “feel good” sensations along the way.


It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

Yep, I have to agree with old Leonardo on that one.


Writer Advice has a flash fiction contest going on with a deadline of April 18th. A $15 entry fee is charged.  Check it out here.


How about a music prompt today.  Here is the link to a Youtube video of a song I love.  Check it out and see if it doesn’t prompt some writing out of you.



For those of you who hate music.  What does this picture say to you?


I never remember who I’ve highlighted, but oh well.  Here is my friend Donna with her blog…check her out; she’s a nice lady and a darn fine writer.


Happy writing to you all this week. I’ll check with you on Thursday and see how you are doing with those goals.  Thanks for the visit.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Scheduling and Chillin As A Writer

16 Jan

003Happy Thursday to you all, the 16th day of January, 2014.  Where oh where does the time go?

I had an interesting day yesterday. I doubt it was interesting to anyone else, but since I am somewhat of a reflective person, looking back on it was definitely interesting.

I have mentioned many times the importance of having a schedule if you are a freelance writer.  Writing is a business, and you can’t expect to succeed in a business that you do not treat like a business. I have regular business hours and during those hours I write.  Period!

So yesterday, when Bev’s son needed to go to the dentist for oral surgery, and I had to take him because he couldn’t drive home after having anesthetic. I was two hours late starting my writing day.  I was, in a word, flummoxed. LOL  My writing day was completely turned upside down and I never really recovered.  I was in constant catch-up mode and I eventually just gave up trying to work on my novel. I literally had to take a deep breath and tell myself to chill out and relax.

Yes, I can be a bit anal.

So there are two lessons today: one, I do believe freelance writers should have a schedule; two, it’s okay to chill when things don’t work out like you planned.



Think of an experience from your lifetime that relates to this picture….then write about that experience and how it changed your life.


The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Stephen Covey

This one was for me. J


If you are a freelance writer and you are looking for customers, try contacting local businesses.  You have a leg up on competition because you are local.  Approach them by explaining what you can do to improve their business by putting a professional face on their website and in their blogging.


Hey, I’m running late, and I have to cut corners somewhere.  I promise to have more for you next week.  Have a productive remainder of the week.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Becoming Your Main Characters When Writing

14 Jan

003I don’t even know what day I’m posting this so I’ll just say howdy!

An interesting thing happened while I was working on my latest novel.  By the way, I officially hit the ¾ mark on the novel…but back to my point.  While I was writing I noticed that my writing voice in other writing ventures was changing. I was beginning to sound more like my main character Toby King….or he was beginning to sound more like me. I’m not sure which it is.

I write in first person.  I do that for several reasons, but the main reason is because first person allows me to dig deeper into the thoughts of my characters….I become them, so that as the novel continues they end up writing it based on our shared thoughts.  Does that make sense to you?

I have to feel what my characters feel or it isn’t real to me.  I have to think like they think or I can’t make it believable.  I have to see what they see and react the way I know they will react….Toby and I have become one during this process.  I understand him very well because so much of him…is me.

Let’s go to the quote of the day and then I have more to add.


The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.
Oprah Winfrey

To continue, I feel empathy for my characters because they are real to me and I understand what they have gone through.  That is a remarkable feeling and I hope each of you experiences it at some point.

I have had people tell me that they could never write revealing exposes about themselves the way I have, and I find that a bit sad.  Writing is an intimate conversation between writer and reader.  It is exposing our humanity and risking the consequences.  I can’t imagine writing any other way.


street fair Aug 2012 048

Empathy…..use it and tell me what one of the people in this photo is feeling based on their facial expression.


The Phoebe Winter Writing Contest is taking submissions now for fictional writing 7,000 words or less. Deadline is February 1st and the cost if $17 per entry. You can read about it here.


The Writer’s Digest Self-Published Books Contest is accepting submissions; early bird deadline is April 1st. For details click here.


If you don’t know my friend Mary (tillsontitan on HP) then now is a good chance to meet her. She does a great series on the history of the Academy Awards and you can find her latest in that series here.


My good buddy Mark Bruno has a blog called The Clean Life. If you want an uplifting message of hope then check him out here.


I had an epiphany the other day and it made me laugh.  I was bemoaning the fact that a lot of writers don’t share works of fellow writers, and a lot of writers don’t bother to comment on articles written by their peers. I see so many on HubPages who just post their articles and then disappear into the woodwork….and I was feeling very negative towards those people until the epiphany came….they simply don’t care to be a member of a community.  All they are concerned about is getting their work online and offering it up to the google gods….and you know what?  That’s fine!  Writing is not a one size fits all occupation, and what works for one may not work for me, and the opposite is true as well.  I happen to love the community of writers that I belong to…and so I think I’ll stick with it.


I read somewhere last week that when writing dialogue in a short story or novel one shouldn’t use contractions, that it isn’t proper English.

B.S. is my response to that.  First of all, contractions are part of the English language; I know that because there is a name for them. LOL  Secondly, characters must sound like real people in a novel or story, and real people talk with contractions.   For goodness sake, use contractions if you want to.


A little longer than normal but I short-changed you last week so this makes up for it. Have a great day of writing my friends.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


A Message of Nothingness Today

9 Jan

odds and ends in Feb 2012 007What day is it? Thursday? Well Happy Thursday then.

Confession time, but first a quote.


I’ve got a hectic schedule, but I wouldn’t have my life any other way.
Dominic Monaghan

Okay, my confession. I was getting ready to upload my blog post this morning and realized I hadn’t written it.  I had it scheduled to do yesterday, but a customer called in with a “have to have it now” job, so I got sidetracked….and then all the kids came over for dinner and this blog post was suddenly so far back in the recesses of my mind as to be insignificant.

So here I am today with nothing for you.

Forgive me?

Whatever you are doing today, remember that we all became writers because we had a love for writing.  Never lose that love….writing is a gift and I want you to always appreciate that gift and treat it as such.

Have a great day whatever project you are working on.  I need to take care of a real estate agent who needs his Buyer’s Guide, and then I’m going to work on my novel….and hopefully I’ll remember to do my blog post for tomorrow. J


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

All Ya Gotta Do Is Sit Your Butt Down and Write

7 Jan

003Happy Tuesday and Happy end of the holidays.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas (kind of) but I am always so happy when the madness and rush of the holidays end.  Now I can get back to doing what I love to do, namely writing.

And that’s what this site is about….writing.  If you are a writer then I hope you find something here that will help you. If you are a writer wannabe then hopefully I’ll inspire you to finally sit down and start writing.  I have said before and I’ll say again, the world desperately needs writers.  We need more beauty in the world, and writers have the ability to alter reality and make this world a bit more manageable.  I love that I am part of this very special fraternity/sorority. J

This is just a random posting with a few odds and ends I want to toss out.


Bev was surfing yesterday and she found this site called NokBok.  It is a new site for writers and it will open next month….check it out here….the royalties they say they will pay are great.  It might be a nice place to put some of your old Hubs that have not done well and see what happens.  It’s free to join so go read about it and let me know what you think. I’m going to sign up this morning as soon as I finish this missive.


Check out a new friend of mine and a lady who is very serious about this craft of writing; she has the desire to improve and I love her passion.  Here is her blog and oh, yes, her name is Michele!


Hey, a little self-promotion never hurt anyone, right? I started a new blog called The Dysfunctional Playhouse and I’d love to have you join me there.  You can find it right here.  I will be posting to it every Tuesday and Thursday and we’ll discuss succeeding in life despite our weird families. LOL



Go ahead, immerse yourself in the picture and let some free verse emerge.  Give it a try and let your muse roam free.


So much is written about how to write a novel.  It all makes for nice articles and then it all makes for nice kitty litter box linings.  Listen up because I’m going to give you a sure-fire way to write a novel….are you ready?

Sit your butt down and write!  Don’t tell me that you have always wanted to write a book but never got around to it. That’s just so much horse dung!  Make time!  Your life span is shortening as we speak, so get with it.

“But how do you do it” the whining continues?  Sit down and write!

Listen, we all have our own process.  I like to write the basic story first, and then on my second draft I fill in character and scene descriptions, and I also add filler and subplots that will give the story depth. But I like to write the whole basic story first so I maintain the rhythm that I believe is so important.

There are those who start with an introduction. There are those who begin with a conclusion.  There are those who write character descriptions and then let the characters tell the story.  There are those who only write in the morning and there are those who write late at night.

Find what works for you and then sit your butt down and write!


I would love to spend more time with you but hey, the short week put me hopelessly behind on my schedule and I’ve got to get busy. Have a great week and if you get a chance come visit me at The Dysfunctional Playhouse.  We’ll have fun there. J


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”