Archive | December, 2014

Year End Review

30 Dec

003Welcome back to my blog!  I hope you all had a great Christmas.  Ours was very nice and I’m glad it is over.  I don’t mean that to sound Scrooge-like.  It was nice and now it’s time to move on and get back to normal for this writer.

And here we are in the final week of 2014.  As a writer, how would you summarize your year?

That’s the question we’ll be discussing today.


One of the hardest things for me, now that I’m famous, is finding people who can read my stuff and give me an honest critique.

Ken Follett



I love that quote by Follett.  I know how he feels.  It’s really nice having so many supporters who say such nice things about my writing, but there are times when I really need constructive criticism.  That’s how I grow, by getting kicked in the butt from time to time.  Resting on my laurels will not foster growth, and I am certain you all understand that.

So, on the subject of critiques, how is it going for you?  Do you get honest feedback from other writers?  Do you get honest feedback from yourself?


The end of the year is a time for reflection, but it is also a time to check our inventory, to review our past actions, and to adjust accordingly in the New Year.

What did you do that was helpful? What did you do that didn’t work?  What adjustments to your writing do you need to make in 2015?  Are you on pace according to your business plan?  What opportunities have you missed?  What dead horse are you riding that you need to hop off of?  These are questions that any business owner asks at the end of the year, and writing is a business…so ask them!

Take some time this week and review your year of writing, and ask yourself those questions as you formulate your 2015 plan.


There are disappointments in this business.  As you all know, I published my second novel in 2014, and there are members of my family who still haven’t read it.  Too busy I guess.  Not important I guess.  They don’t give a shit I guess.

That’s just the way it is.  People have their own set of priorities and that’s the way it always will be.  It in no way can discourage you, though.  A writer must have skin as thick as a rhinos to make it in this business.  Wallflowers and wilting Lillies need not apply.


For you visual learners out there. See what you can do with this photo.

010 - Copy


I’ll get us started by promising you this:  if you need my help, I’ll be there for you if it is at all possible.  Mind you, I’m not talking about loaning money. LOL  But I will give advice and support for your writing endeavors.  All you have to do is ask.


I’m not sure when I will return, but soon.  That’s the best I can do.  Until then, have a great week of writing and Happy New Year to you all.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Holiday Break

16 Dec

003Today is Tuesday, December 16, 2014, and I welcome you back to my writing blog.  I have a special Christmas present for you, but let’s start, first, with a quote.


Every gift which is given, even though is be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.


We get so busy.  During the holidays, life has us spinning in circles.  Am I right or am I right?

If you are a writer, you of course have your deadlines and to-do list, but besides all that, you have your families, and Christmas shopping, and running willy-nilly to and fro for last-minutes preparations.


Last year I remember writing an article on Christmas Day.

This year I’ll be taking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off.  I deserve it, and my mind needs it.

And you deserve it too!


I’m going to give you one less thing to read during the next ten days.  This blog will take the rest of the Christmas season off, but I’ll be back with it shortly after Christmas.  You have more than enough to do without feeling that you need to read this blog out of loyalty, and I know many of you would do just that.

So Merry Christmas from our family to yours. Thank you for your loyal following and your friendship. I think you know how much I appreciate you.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Adjust or Fall by the Wayside

9 Dec

003Welcome back my friends. Whether you know it or not, you are, collectively, a great source of inspiration and motivation for me, and I greatly appreciate each one of you.

What’s happening in my life? I still haven’t heard back from that agent who requested my manuscript, but she has three more weeks to respond, so we’ll just sit and wait patiently.  LOL

Meanwhile, I finished my first draft of “Shadows Kill” and am working diligently on the second draft.  I should be ready for an editor in three weeks….let’s say, Christmas.

The animals are all doing well and surviving the winter; probably adjusting to the cold better than I am, quite frankly.

And that brings us to today’s topic.


Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open.


Ludwig Wittgenstein


I love that quote!




Making adjustments….two things come to mind when I think of the daily adjustments we must go through in life:


One, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and two, there is no point in beating a dead horse.


The first part of that message has to do with over-thinking our writing career.  Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint.  The greats who came before you had to pay their dues, and you have to as well.  That means that simply because you don’t see immediate rewards does not mean you are doing something wrong.


The second part refers to the opposite end of the spectrum.  If you’ve been doing the same thing over and over for years, and seeing no reward, then it is probably time for a change of approach.


Figuring out where you sit in that spectrum is a key to success.



Schedule a time monthly to appraise how you are doing as a writer.  Depending on how that appraisal goes, it may be time to either continue what you are doing or make adjustments to your game plan.





For my visual learners, I give you this prompt.




Today I’m going to give a shout out to a pretty successful writer, but one you may not have heard of.  His name is F. Paul Wilson, and he has written a series of novels about a character named Repairman Jack.  If you enjoy books about the occult, with a liberal sprinkling of mystery and fantasy, Wilson’s books will delight you.  Give them a try.




I’m going to give another word of praise for Janet Reid.  You can find her blog by following this link.  I have found her to be very professional, encouraging, and helpful, and if you are serious about getting published, you would do well to follow her blog for an insight into the mind of a professional literary agent.




It’s time to get to work, so I’ll leave you for today. Thanks, again, for always being here. Have a great week and remember, if you should ever want to do a guest posting on this blog, just get in touch with me.

Oh, hey, today’s article on HP is my 900th.   I like that number. J




“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”




A Guest Post from Iris Draak

4 Dec

irisHappy Thursday to you all.  I’m going to make this short and then turn things over to my guest today, Iris Draak.  In fact, I’m just going to turn it over now.  Oh, by the way, this is my 200th blog post on this site. Thank you, all of you, for your support.  And now, here’s Iris!

Opportunities Abound at Local Writer & Publisher Conferences


I’m rewriting this for the third time. There is more pressure when one writes for writers. I am

grateful for Bill’s generosity in allowing me to share the stage with him and for the opportunity

to speak to you, his audience. I am anxious to be worthy of the honor and opportunity and

excited to share.


I have been bursting to share my experience at the 5th annual Idaho Book Extravaganza with

other writers ever since I went two weeks ago.


I am new to the writing community here in Boise, Idaho. I have almost no connections other

than my brother who is a publisher, one of the sponsors, and the one who invited me. But he is

not the connection you may imagine, which is a story for another day. Having said that, I would

not have heard about the even had it not been for his invitation.


My point there is simply that it only takes one tenuous connection to open a door to a great



So, there I found myself, a somewhat recognizable face (thanks to genetics) in an unfamiliar sea.

Thankfully I know how to swim.


Know Why Youre There & Meet the People


I arrived early and strategically chose a chair at an empty table. In short order two women

approached. I introduced myself, asked their names and asked them what kind of writing they



My primary objective for attending the event was to determine if the Idaho Writers Guild was

worth joining. I’d done some research but I’d been on the fence for months. Dollars are

precious and the notion that one must “spend money to make money” is only partially true. It is

all about the return on investment. I needed some convincing.


My secondary objective was to try to find a fit for getting my work published locally. I just

haven’t been able to find the right niche for it. I am more of an essayist, and I don’t care for

straight factual reporterstyle


writing. I was in a bit of a crunch because I had committed to Bill

that I would submit some of my work in November. I am also anxious to step out of my 9:00 to

5:00 office for the last time and never look back. Publishing regularly will be just the financial

supplement to my other writing streams of income needed to make that happen.


The clock was ticking loudly.


My tertiary objective was to pitch a book idea to a publisher. My brother would not have

accepted it. And I would have rejected his services had he offered. It’s simply not the right fit.

As luck would have it, the first woman I spoke to is a freelance writer who writes for multiple

local publications. She was kind enough to ask about my goals and style. I was honest. She

brightened and told me about a statewide publication that only wants essays in the style I

described. She gave me the name of the editor, who knows her well. We chatted a bit more and

then she invited me to the January meeting of the Idaho Writers Guild. She told me she would

be presenting. I was thrilled. She is exactly the kind of person from whom I could learn. And

she’s just a genuinely nice person.


This opened the door for me to share my hesitancy about joining the guild. I had barely finished

my explanation when her friend perked up and interjected that she is on the board. I asked her

several questions and she offered explanations that put me at ease. I told her I’d be joining and

was looking forward to the presentation by her friend.


The microphone squealed, and we took our seats. There were several sponsors who introduced

themselves and gave short elevator pitches for their publishing companies. There are a

surprising number of local publishers. I fact that still perplexes me.


After that we heard from a local writer and founder of the Idaho Writers Guild and an actor and


of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. He’s a man who has written multiple screenplays

and novels and yet has never been published. It was encouraging to know that he has made his

living for many years as a writer even without critical acclaim and a book deal. I settled in.


Breakout Sessions: A Place for Targeted Learning


Next we attended our choice of breakout sessions. Three sessions were offered backtoback

with eleven topics from which to choose.


Freelancing as a Professional Career Choice

The Realities and Revenue of Traditional Publishing vs. Independent Publishing

Ask Any Question about Copyright and Author Legal Issues

How the Introvert Revolution Impacts Every Business

Creating Short Feature Podcasts for Authors

Getting Your Fiction Book Published

Writing Your Book to Sell to Schools, Military, and Corporations

The Steps to Hiring an Editor

Working with a Graphic Designer for Covers and Interiors

Steps to Hiring an Illustrator

Getting Your Books in Bookstores


Introvert Revolution


For the first breakout session I chose the Introvert Revolution because this introvert has a theory.

I wanted to test it. I believe the time of the introvert has arrived and that technology has finally

collided with a distrust for showmanship. As it turns out the session went in a different

direction, but my active participation in it, in the form of comments and questions, opened the

door for a great conversation later in the day with my two new friend who also attended the



Professional Freelancing

I chose the Professional Freelancer session for the second round. That was an excellent choice.

My current strategy was exactly what she was recommending, which gave me a boost of

confidence. She also mentioned something about websites that made sense to me. She said we

should all have a “Services” tab in addition to a standard “Hire Me” tab. This seems obvious

now, but it hadn’t occurred to me to so clearly articulate each of my services and background in

each. I took note and made the change to my site the following day.


How to Get Your Book Into Bookstores


I had planned to listen to the attorney discuss copyright law and author liability; however, at the

last minute I decided to attend my brother’s discussion. He is a publisher as I mentioned, but

more importantly at this juncture, he has almost twenty years of experience in book retail. My

background in insurance and liability issues gives me an advantage when it comes to managing

risk in my business. But it occurred to me that my friends and readers may be very interested in

my brother, Robert’s, advice about getting their books into bookstores. It was so good in fact

that I plan to do an entire post on my own blog and a Youtube interview with him on the subject

after the holidays. However, I will share the short of it because it will be of primary concern to

many of you reading this today.


The top three things, according to Robert, that will make or break your ability to get your book

into a local store are:


  1. Quality
  2. Printing cost
  3. Distribution


When someone brings him their book he takes it to the bookshelf where it would be marketed. It

must fit in. It must have an excellent cover, the printing quality and feel must match

commercially marketed books and the price point must also match. If those requirements are

satisfied the only question remaining is one of distribution. If the book is not available through

one of the distributors used by that particular bookstore, it is a serious impediment to

successfully making the transition from marketing to selling.


The lunch break was announced and I took the opportunity to introduce myself to several other

attendees who seemed not to have found companions.


Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.


One of the things that was repeatedly talked about by the sponsors and speakers was the

necessity for marketing.


It was for some, unwelcome advice. But the depth of anxiety about marketing became apparent

in my discussions with several of these lonely writers.


I spoke to two people who had written and self published books. I asked one young lady what

genre she writes in. She asked me what I meant; I explained. Fiction. I asked her about the

target audience for her book. She stared, blinked and stared some more. I prompted her by

saying, “Teen fiction? Young adult? Adult?” She said, “Everyone”. I moved on.


The other person would barely look at me, although he did ask me for some tips on how to talk

to people. I told him about Bill and that Bill offers coaching to writers. He indicated that this

was what he needed. I asked if he would like for me to send him the information. He said yes. I

emailed him a “nice to meet you” email with a link to Bill’s blog immediately after the event. I

never heard back from him. Moving on.


Marketing. You gotta market! That means you have to talk to people. It means you have to talk

to the right people. It means you are wasting your money if you go to an event like that and

don’t take full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. That means you must be

able to tell people exactly what you need them to know and what you want. I would have been

happy to introduce those writers to my brother had I felt that it would have been worth his time

and theirs; they weren’t ready. This is business. Keep moving.


Maximize Opportunity


My new friends invited me to sit with them to eat. We talked for almost an hour. After

establishing a solid rapport, I was invited to join the Idaho Editor’s Association, a closed group

by invitation only. I mention this only to demonstrate that there are lots of opportunities at these

events and it pays to find people that you hit it off with, relax and just let things come to you. I

had no idea who these women were but none of us were trying to force an agenda.


Meet the Publishers


We finally worked our way to the publishers tables. I had eliminated several based on their

elevator pitches. Fine publishers I am sure, but like my brother’s company, not a good fit for me

or for my book idea.


I was able to ask all of my questions at one publisher’s table and peruse their selection.

Although I did not feel that one of these local publishers fit with my objectives, I did pitch my

idea. As it turns out it wasn’t within the scope of the topics they cover either. Although I wasn’t

that nervous about it, it did offer a sense of relief. I got my first rejection from a publisher!


Applying What Ive Learned


As I helped my brother pack up his display, said goodbye to my new friends and went home to

send follow up emails and organize my notes and calendar, the clock’s ticking seemed less

urgent. It was now simply a means by which to measure progresswith

its steady, reassuring

hands and a face that looks kindly upon me and my work.


Iris Draak 2014

My thanks to Iris for doing such a wonderful job on this post.   Great information, Iris.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.  Remember to always be open for inspiration.  You never know when your muse will come knocking.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Struggle All Writers Experience

2 Dec

003Thank goodness Thanksgiving is over.  I know, that sounds negative, but I thrive on routine, and Thanksgiving was anything but routine.  The food, the family, the trips to the grocery store, the seemingly endless visiting….and very little writing, which was almost painful for me.

So I’m ready to go. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.  Now let’s get back to normal.

One thing that did happen in the writing department over the weekend was a contact from an agent who requested my entire manuscript of Resurrecting Tobias.  I don’t have to tell you how big a step that is.  It rarely happens, so I’m cautiously optimistic.  She also asked for a month’s exclusive, meaning I won’t send the manuscript or even a query letter to another agent for a month….again, a good sign, and a deal I was more than willing to accept.  So cross your fingers, please, and send some good vibes out there.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the last chapter of my new novel, Shadows Kill, and will begin the first rewrite on Wednesday of this week….and I already wrote the prologue for my next novel, A Child Named Hope.

In other words, I’m staying busy.

How about you?  How is your writing journey progressing?  Let me know in your comment, please, because, well, I’m interested and I care.


Without a struggle, there can be no progress.

Frederick Douglass

I was reading a brief history of my favorite mystery writer, James Lee Burke.  In the mystery genre, this man is a god, and with good reason.  There is no such thing as “mailing one in” in his character.  Every novel he writes is exquisite, and he’s written a good number of them.

He is 78 years old now, and he really didn’t start writing seriously until he was forty-five.  I think he published a book after about four years of writing, then took four years to publish another.  He finally found critical acclaim for his work in 1988 at the age of, I believe, fifty-three.  Since then he has been prolific.

The point is this: Burke’s story is one that is similar for many other successful writers.  They struggled, just as we do, and those struggles forced them to work on their craft and become better writers.  I understand that, and I hope you do as well.

I have a five-year plan and I expect to be published by a traditional publishing firm after those five years.  I’m right on schedule, and I am confident, but I’m confident because I continue to do those things that are necessary to make me a better writer.  Like Burke, I refuse to “mail it in,” but rather I insist on my best work every time out. I’m not saying that out of ego. I’m saying it because I believe all writers should feel the same.


Sit down and write out a list of things you need to improve upon as a writer, then tape that list above your computer so you don’t forget them.


If you are an online writer writing for supplemental income, then you need to be thinking six months in advance.  With that in mind, today’s prompt is EASTER EGG HUNTS.


Say hello to Kim, known on HubPages as Klidstone1970.  You can find her here.  I find her to be a very good writer who so far has flown under the radar.  Let’s give her some recognition.


KinFolks has a poetry contest with a deadline of January 5th. Read about it here.


How would you like to win a residency in Glacier National Park?  Entries are now being accepted and will continue through the end of January.  Read about it here.


I will have a guest post on Thursday from Iris Draak.  You won’t want to miss it.  Until I return, have a great time writing, because if you aren’t enjoying the journey, then you should really consider some other hobby.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”