Monday, December 30, 2013

Writers' Goals for the New Year

I am a firm believer of setting goals and setting them well. Goals that are vague or unrealistic are not helpful. Being a writer can be isolative work and there is a lot of self-motivation going on. If you are luck you have a family member, friend or colleagues cheering you on. In the end a writer needs to somehow motivate himself or herself.

Here are some attributes that are needed for  Great Goals:

-MEASURABLE- I read several treatment plans by clinicians through out the year. One common problem is that they are not measurable. How much and how often.

-SPECIFIC- Saying you are going to run the San Francisco Triathlon in May is more specific than you will do some kind of community run thing.

-DESIRABLE- You must want to do it. If you have no desire for it, then it most likely will not happen.

- ACHIEVABLE & BELIEVABLE- Set goals that are realistic. If you don't believe you can do it or if it is not probable, maybe you should rethink the goal. Create a more attainable goal.

- TIME BOUND- Give yourself a deadline.

-KNOWN or SHARED- (Warning: Made up statistic) You are 76% more likely to reach a goal if you let someone know about this goal. Don't just share with JUST anyone but share with someone who you know will support you and cheer  you on.

I am big on goals for the New Year. It might have something to do with the new year coincides with my birthday. I used to make goals for work, goals for myself and goals for my family. I know that is a lot of goals. I used to write a bunch of goals and tuck them into my wallet pocket. Every time I pulled out my credit care, there were my goals.

In 2012 I had one goal. It was to publish a book. I not only reached that goal but I reached every goal that had been on my list for years.
List of Things I Accomplished in 2012
I lost over 50 lbs.
I ate better
I exercised
I got married
I published a book
 The year 2012 was a successful year. I am not sure what my 2013 goals were. (Horrible) My brain is hard at work making goals for 2014.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Surviving Guests as a Writer

If you are anything like me, I have this constant itch to write. I hope to find a bumper sticker that reads "I would rather be writing." My in-laws are visiting for a week. I am in the minority of wives and actually like my in-laws. I, however, have a hard time when people visit and trying to find time for anything let alone writing. This week I am even more itching to write because I was given a new laptop for Christmas. (I snuck away to write this.)

Here are some ideas of how to survive any overnight or long term guest.
  • Prepare them for time that you will need to write. Let them know how much time you will need and when you will need time.
  • Set-up thing that will occupy them. Have a friend take them site-seeing, set them up on a blind date, plan a massage, create a scavenger hunt, etc.
  • Wake-up really early or stay-up later than them. That is not working for me this weekend because by the time I wake-up go work-out, go walk my dog, everyone is awake. At night I am so exhausted from entertaining all day, that I have no energy for writing.
  • Find a remote place to write and hide for a while.
  • Bring your laptop into the bathroom. Not the best idea I know.
  • Write while they are doing something that they like. Write while they are on a run, shopping, watching television, playing strip poker, etc. I had a great time when a group of friend and I went to Key West. I went cafĂ© hopping and wrote all day. They went shopping.
  • Only invite writers or avid readers to visit you. They will understand and respect your need to write.
  • Plan extra time to write before and after they visit.
  • Just enjoy your time with your guests. Do something adventurous, new and/or interesting. That will give you inspiration for your writing.
It is hard trying to find time to write on regular days. It is even harder when you are under pressure to entertain. Try to find unique ways to find time to write.
How do you find time to write while guests are over?
Do you have this need to write while guests are at your house?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Learning as a Writer

What kind of formalized writing training do you have? None.
Since I was four, I wanted to be a writer. (You have heard many writers say. I know I have.) Someone told me it was a poor person's job and do pick something else. So, I picked journalism out of lack of knowing what else to pick. Then one thing led to another and now I am a therapist with a minor in journalism.

Formal training? I had a kick-ass creative writing course in high school. I wrote a seventeen page historical fiction in fifth grade. I have journals and journals filled of stories and memoirs. That is not enough to shape me as a writer.

I have read a half-trunk full of writing books. I have read a minivan full of books. I have read a lot of blogs, forums and articles on writing. I read most if not all of JA Konrath's Blog. His blog has helped me a lot with conceptualizing the ebook world and marketing world.

I have read books by authors about writing. I read about finding the core of my story, character development, marketing, networking, tactics of writing, being creative and finding inspiration. I recently stumbled upon an post by Chuck Palahniuk Chuck Palahniuk's 13 Writing Tips. Read it. It is good. If you have never read Chuck's work you should. He is the author of Fight Club. Yes, it is a book as well as a movie. He also wrote a book Damned I stumbled upon in my library-ebook-loan excursions. Damn that book was provocative. I loved it! The best part. It took you nowhere and everywhere. It has me rethinking why people are sent to hell.

Ideally, I would love to go to writing workshops and conferences, but the money is not there. I also do not want to have to share within a group and give feedback. I just want to learn. I guess a lecture is good. Or I could sit in a closet and observe a lesson so nobody can see me. I will write more on this later . . .

Since writing workshops are out, I am going to write into my New Year's goals to seek out good writing articles to read. I am starting with Chuck and tackling his Chuck's 36 Writing Essays.

What do you use to better your writing?
Any workshops or conference closets you suggest I hide in?
How do you learn or grow as a writer?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

27 Gifts for Writers

When I was younger my Aunt Gloria used to get me a writing journal ever year. She would sign the inside in calligraphy. Every year, I would fill it with my writing. I still journal but my writing habits, needs and wants have changed over the years. I no longer write stories, I type them. I no longer write solely about my stuffed animals. I write about people who are full of it. Every writer is different but here are some ideas for gifts to give writers.

Here are my ideas of what to get writers (or me) for holidays, birthdays or anytime.

1. Time to Write: This is the most important gift for any writer especially if they have a full-time job and a family.
  • Buy them a night at a hotel or cabin. You could take the kids on a day long trip or a weekend trip somewhere. My ideal would be someone renting a small rustic cabin for me (with electricity) or setting up a campsite for me. Other ways to save them time would be to do chores for them or watch their kids.
2. Laptop/tablet/computer.
3. Journal. Find out first if they like lines or no lines. Pay attention to the type they use now. I like the moleskin journals.
4. Writing program. Scrivener is just one. Cover design software. Research the most popular ones out there.
5. eReader.
6. Digital Recorder. To record interviews, to record thought or ideas while they are driving.
7. Gift cards or Gift Certificates to Amazon or bookstores.
8. Flash Drives.
9. Writing Books. On Writing, Write Brain, Writing Down the Bones, other writing tips books or thesaurus, Flip Dictionary, dictionary, etc.
10. Favorite pen.
11. Word game books or puzzles.
12. Word A Day rip off calendar.
13. New desk chair.
14. A massage.
15. Soundtrack to their writing. Make them a mixed CD (I still listen to CD's) or gift them a mix for their ipod, mp3.
16. For a published writer: Buy some of their books, get them to autograph them, and send them to friends.

17. Find  Beta Readers for them or promise to Beta Read for them.
18. Money for editors, cover designers, etc.
19. Signed copy of a book by an author who they like.
20. Subscription to stock images sites. (for their blog).
21. Pay for a month or more of their website fees.
22. Laptop accessories. Bag, cover, small table, etc.
23. Plan adventures or a trip that will hopefully fuel their writing.
24. Make a coupon book of things that you will do for them. Foot massage, take them out for coffee, read 20 pages of their latest novel, do dishes for a week, etc.
25. Pay for a Writing Conference, class or Workshop.
26. Help them market their writing. Volunteer to hang flyers, help out at book signings or readings.
27. Buy them business cards.

What gift ideas for writers do you have?
What is the best thing you have received as a writer?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Growth of a New Writer

Recently, I had an old friend and co-worker ask me to mentor him in writing. Me? I just learned how to crawl and you want me to what? Okay, I will do it!

Having this mentoree makes me think about back to a year ago. Fifteen months ago I self-published my first book Trail Swap. I have published two short novels, written two books, and learned a lot about social media and marketing. I have learned and grown a lot in my short fifteen months as a writer.

Think of a newborn (I know that a writer is no way as miraculous as a baby). If you compare a newborn to a fifteen month old there are huge strides being made. Think of the physical changes and changes in ability that go on in those fifteen months.

Think about vocabulary of a human. At eighteen months a baby knows about fifty words, at twenty four months about 250 or 350 words, and at thirty months about 600 words. That is amazing! In year they increase their vocabulary by 500%. How many words do adults learn a year? I don't want to even know? (I need to start subscribing to more word-a-day calendars).

I hope that I keep learning, and find partners in this learning process.

What do you do to grow as a writer?
What has been the biggest skill you have learned?
What is your best resource?

Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) 2014

The year has gone by quickly. In a few weeks there will be the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). In a small nutshell the ABNA is a contest that Amazon puts on for new authors. It usually starts mid-January, they take 10,000 entries, have five categories, and the winners get a writing advance and a book contract.

Last year, I was three months into calling myself a writer and threw together an entry. This year I am mostly done with one book Love's Autograph and not anywhere near being done with my next book. It does not have a name. Love's Autograph is a lesbian romance so I feel like it has little chances in any contest other than a lesbian fiction contest.

I think I am not alone when I say that I wish that I had more time to write. I have these things called bills and a family to help support thus I have a full-time job that I really like. I am one purchase away from buying a bumper sticker that reads "I would rather be writing." I think this is interesting timing that I looked at my vacation bank for work and I now have 12 days I must use by January 31, 2013 or I lose them. I have slotted five to use during the holidays. I have seven days that I have to use somehow.

My mind goes to writing, writing, writing.

I have to decide if I am going to try to shape my "not named" book for the ABNA.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pitch Wars Winners are Announced

So despite checking for my name three times, I was not picked as a Mentoree for the Pitch Wars at In two days I scouted the mentors, wrote the query and pulled five pages from my manuscript. I also was not blown away by my submission. I figured I would try though.

I am bummed about not making it, but I am looking forward to some feedback from the mentors I sent my manuscript to. Some things I think I will hear are the following:

  • The Lesbian Fiction category has limited range.
  • You are hilarious and good looking and I was intimidating.
  • Keep writing.
I submitted a query for Love's Autograph. I like the book by the way and I am working on revisions now based on six beta readers feedback. I still did not get my editor's notes, but I am impatiently waiting.

I still can take part in Pitch Madness on Jan 8th, but I am not sure what that is yet.
On Twitter on #PitchWars there are a lot of other authors who were not chosen. (Thousands of people not chosen.) It is nice to have the camaraderie of them saying congrats, be proud you wrote a book, keep writing. It can be discouraging. I, however, know there are many stories still inside me, there are many blank pages ready to be filled and readers out there ready to laugh.

Waiting for My Agent Charming to Save Me from Book Marketing

I know I am not alone when I chant, "You gotta fight . . . for your right . . . to write!" I am not into the whole having to build a platform (where are the nails) and social media. Blah! I have a hard enough time finding time to write. I guess I should just "enjoy the journey" and all those other bumper sticker sayings.

I was in a bookstore this weekend and saw ANOTHER book from a famous author. I said, "How does he find the time to write?" I said this to my wife who I am not sure if she is paying attention. Then I answered myself, "Oh, he writes full-time."

I guess a lot of the times, despite reading blogs and connecting with other writers on line, I feel alone and lost in this struggle to make it as a writer. I attempted to grab some help last week when I entered the Pitch Wars from Brenda Drake's blog. I sent in a query and five pages of a finished novel to two mentors (picked from a pool of over 40 mentors). I found out tomorrow if I get picked for the second round and then pitch an agent.

I just finished reading How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. It was very affordable and had some good ideas. She tried to make marketing sound fun, but still I am a bit unmotivated. So, here I am waiting for my Agent Charming to help take care of all the things that I do not want to do regarding my writing. Just let me write already. (Sorry if this sounds grumpy . . . I haven't had my coffee yet and it has been almost 40 years!)

What do you do to battle this marketing vs writing issue? Any ideas you have? Are you My Agent Charming?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Journey of Rookie Writer Michael Vogel

"So I froze!! I quit writing all together.  I found other things to do with my time.  The whole time, I felt a void, because I wasn't writing, but I still would not pick up a pen or tap on the keypad."            -M. Vogel

Any of you that have been following "Writer & Wilderness Girl Under It All" know that I lived in the woods for four years with at-risk youth. Two years into my career I transferred to a new camp in North Carolina. A handful of counselors and myself built the camper and hut. One of those counselors was Michael Vogel. We have reconnected and now he is being featured on my blog. Also, he is my official first writer who I am officially mentoring. I find it inspiring to watch writers beginning their journey.

Why write? A question that some people have asked me before.  My response, why not?  Writing is one of the easiest hobbies that you can have.  Anybody can write, pick up a pen and paper, and let it go.  My method is a little more, ehhh, just get out the old computer and start pecking away on the keyboard.

I am an old pro at writing.  I have always loved to write.  Nothing specific, just write.  It was always difficult for me to talk to girls that I had interest in.  So I attempted to write poetry, as a way to communicate.  That was if I could ever get the nerve to actually give it to them.  I would find that my luck with women was not what I wanted it to be back then, and I believe this is where my writing started. Also, I actually wrote for my school newspaper in high school, but I felt like writing for a newspaper may not have been the best job in the world. (If I would have known then what I know now, I would have thought a little more about that as a major.)

Now the blogging thing, is a new thing to me, and I have not really done a whole lot. I you could say (to use a sports analogy) I am a rookie, but I feel like I have some talent that maybe the coaches may see, and give me a shot to showcase my abilities.  So I set out last year when my son was born, to do this big daddy blog, but time and excuses got in the way.  I just did not think that people really cared, what I was writing and I felt very few people had interest in what I had to say.  So I froze!! I quit writing all together.  I found other things to do with my time.  The whole time, I felt a void, because I wasn't writing, but I still would not pick up a pen or tap on the keypad.  I just let it go.

I often read blogs, and am encouraged what other people write.  I have a kid, who I identify as my little brother.  The kid is PASSIONATE, about writing.  He blogs often, and has multiple ideas for books that he wants to write.  Still I did not pick up the pen and left the keyboard alone unless I was searching the web, Tweeting, or Facebooking. 

About a month or two ago, my friend and author, challenged me to write again.  So I asked her if she would mentor me, and challenge me, to continue to write.  So this is where we are at, my blog site is up and running, I have promised her that I will continue to write and she has stated that she will continue to give me encouragement along the way.

The goals I have I will save for another night.  I do feel like a book may be in the works in the future, but for now, I will continue to make you laugh as I give you a glimpse inside my world of being a dad, husband, football coach, golf hack and just goofy ole me.  Thanks for giving me a bit of your time today.

Follow Mike's Newbie journey at

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Writer List of 25 Reason to Be Thankful

As a writer what am I thankful for today? I figured  I would write a holidayish post. In my life I am thankful for many things, and it is usually easy to create a long list. Let's see how I do regarding my writing life.
These are the thing that I am thankful for:
  1. Having the "right stuffing" of imagination.
  2. Readers who enjoy my writing.
  3. People in my life who support my writing, even if they don't read my books.
  4. Anyone who reads my books (especially who buys them.)
  5. Beta Readers.
  6. My editor.
  7. Health and ability to write so long and often.
  8. Spell check.
  9. The time I am able to scrape together to write.
  10. My characters.
  11. Resources for new writers out there regarding marketing, cover design, etc.
  12. Other writers support and insight on writing.
  13. Well written books.
  14. The FIND & REPLACE option in word. (For when I change a characters name or decide to move the scene to another city.)
  15. Self-Publishing and ebooks phenomenon.
  16. Automatic Save on my laptop.
  17. FanFiction.
  18. The time I am writing uninterrupted.
  19. Writer websites and forums.
  20. Anyone who reads my blog.
  21. My drive to improve, learn more about writing and reach more readers.
  22. A room full of book ideas in my head.
  23. The excitement of seeing my book in print for the first time.
  24. Reaching a life-long goal of writing a book.
  25. My dog for cuddling on my feet while I sit in my Lazyboy typing away on my laptop.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life is Good with Beta Readers

As I wrote in my previous post, I am now using Beta Readers. It is great. I got lucky and found several readers who read my book quickly, and gave me valuable feedback. It also helps that they liked my book.

I did a lot of research on how to find them. Go to my post on finding beta readers. Despite all this research and efforts, I had a hard time scraping up some readers. I was successful through the World Lit Cafe  and Ladies Who Critique. Even though I posted several posts on many sites, I only had a few people to be Beta Readers. Three of them were through swaps. (Although I love reading, I liked their writing. I would rather have spent that time writing.) It was nice to help them out, too.

I got connected to five Beta Readers. In two weeks, four of them gave me pages of feedback. One of them is a friend of mine, three were unsure and unfamiliar with the lesbian romance genre, and one was an avid reader of lesbian romance.

What was great about this process?
  • They were very pleasant to work with.
  • Three of them are writers, so they know some of the things to look for.
  • They were fast readers.
  • I gave them parameters of what to look for and concentrate on, and they gave me feedback on it.
  • They gave me very specific feedback.
  • They liked my book!
  • Many of them were excited about the book.
  • Two people read the book in less than 24 hours. (I like to chalk that up to them really liking the book, but they just might be fast readers.)
My goal going forward is to gather more Beta Readers, and maintain the readers I have.

Learning Through the Writing Process

My first book Trail Swap I did not use any Beta Readers = Rookie Mistake
For my First book Trail Swap I did not use an editor (initially) = Worse than Rookie Mistake

So, let's just say that I am learning and hopefully my writing is benefiting from this learning. My next full-book is called Love's Autograph. I took a different approach.

  • I wrote the book in approximately three months.  Trail Swap was a 10 year effort.
  • I used an outline.
  • I took a break from it before proof reading it.
  • I used a format of trying to create some tension and conflict to make it interesting.
  • I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote a romance novel.
  • I am using an editor from the beginning. I am still not using a professional editor yet. Just a grammar/spelling freak.
  • I am using Beta Readers.
  • I am putting my sites on ebook publishing and print from the beginning.
  • I am thinking about marketing from the beginning.
These are all changes that I think will result in a better more polished, better selling book, overall better quality book.

What have you learned since your first published book?
What have you changed in your writing process?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trail Swap is out in Print!

I am excited to report that Trail Swap is out in print. It is available from Create A Space estore first. I will get more royalties if you buy from this site.

In 5-7 days it will be available on Amazon. I am so excited to see how the sales go, and to have people buy it. It took me three proofs to get to this point. Most of the learning curve came from the cover. Steph was a trooper and stuck with it. It looks great.

I can't wait to sign my first autograph. This has been a dream of mine for a while, and I am excited to see this take off. I have worked very hard on this book. I had friends and authors give me feedback. I have had strangers say mean things in reviews (okay probably not as mean as my skin is thin to criticism).

I had several friends and family members say to me that they would buy it but they don't  read on eReaders. Well here you go! No more set-backs!

Interview with Author Lyn Gardner

IceI have been connecting with authors whose work I admire. One book that I recently read was Ice by Lyn Gardner. I was not sure I would like it because the characters are Detective Inspectors. I am not a huge fan of crime novels. (I know I am one of few.) The book was not about detective work but about rival detectives Alex and Maggie. They are thrown together on an assignment when a plane crashes in a blizzard. I really enjoyed the story and Lyn Gardner's writing. Now she has a new book called Give Me a Reason. Here is what she had to say in an interview.

Tell us about yourself. Perhaps something not a lot of people know about you.
Most of the things I want people/readers to know about me, they already know. I’m a transplant from the northeast who settled in Florida about nine years ago. I love the game of golf, although my writing has limited my time on the links. I can also add to that that I love all animals, but I’m partial to dogs, which explains the three Yorkshire terriers running around my house. I’m absolutely, positively afraid of heights, and if I never see another spider, it will be too soon! Wine is my drink of choice, and I prefer dark, dry reds, but I’ll partake in a crisp white every now and then if the mood strikes. And most of my friends know that I can twist almost anything they say into something sensual. What can I’s a gift. ;)

 Tell us a little bit on how you started writing. I read in your Bio and blog that you started in FanFiction? What show dragged you into doing that?
I started writing after becoming hooked on a BBC show called Bad Girls, and subsequently, I became captivated by the fan fiction surrounding it. I read hundreds of stories, some good and some not so good, but they all had a common thread besides the TV show. They were all written by normal people who just wanted to tell stories. I have always written in my head, imagining scenes and dialogue, but it wasn’t until joining a few sites to read the stories they contained, that I found the courage to start putting my own words on paper. Much to my surprise, my first story was very well I just kept writing.

Tell us about Give Me A Reason? Why is it a must read?
That’s a difficult question for me to answer without (1) sounding egotistical and (2) I hate spoilers, so giving away any is not an option. Plus, I’d never presume that any of my stories are a must read, but I think many readers are discovering what I hoped they would. Give Me A Reason is not just a novel about’s a novel about life.

Its pages contain the story of a woman’s methodical journey to find herself again, or more importantly, to accept who she has become. She’s lost the ability to trust and with it hope, faith and the meaning of friendship are also gone, and the story deals with how she re-discovers what comes naturally to 

I’d say to anyone who wants to read about faith and hope, then read GMAR. If you want to read about love and family, then read GMAR. If you want to read about the power of love, or better yet, the power of hope, faith and love, then read GMAR. And if you also like a little “heat” with your read, and perhaps some angst, well then, by all means, read GMAR.

How long did it take you to write Give Me a Reason?
Originally, GMAR was a fan fiction which took me almost a year to write. When I decided to publish it, there were a lot of changes that had to be made, and I wanted to put to use some things I had learned since the original. The rewrite took an additional ten months, so I guess you can say it took a couple of very long years, but it was so worth it.

What was your inspiration?
In this day and age, it seems to me that too many people continue to measure normality and beauty based on someone else’s standards, and I believe that to be terribly wrong. When a person has a disability or a quirk, people stare or worse yet makes jokes, and that’s not me. Just because a person isn’t as strong as you, or as beautiful or as smart or as extemporaneous, that doesn’t make them any less normal. It just makes them – them.

We are all individuals and we all have issues, so I decided to write a story about a woman with issues. A woman so damaged by her past, she closes herself off from everything and everyone, and in reality who hasn’t done that to some degree in their life? Who hasn’t been afraid to take a step never taken before? Who hasn’t been fearful of rejection so much that they never ask the question? Who hasn’t looked in the mirror and not liked what they’ve seen? So, to answer your was my inspiration. 

What do you think makes a successful romance book?Romantics crave the “happily ever after. They adore the chase, chuckle at the conflict and perhaps swoon at the consummation, and when they reach the end of the book, if the writer has done their job, the result should be a three-way love affair involving the two main characters and the reader.For those who have found their soul mate, romance novels reaffirm what they already know. To love and to be loved is the most wonderful feeling in the world. And for those who are still looking for that one person who will complete them, romance novels give them hope that true love may be just around the corner.In my opinion, for a romance book to be successful, it needs to offer the reader the promise of a smile, but not just one that appears on their face. It needs to reach their heart and remain there long after the last word is read.

 I read in your blog that you turned down a Publisher (for Ice?) and decided to self-publish? Was that move successful?Most definitely! I walked away from every writer’s dream, and let me make it clear...I have nothing against publishers, but the one who offered me a contract wanted too much. For me to be proud of what I create with my words, they must be my words. The story must be the story I want to tell, not what a publisher believes should be told. I don’t want to fit into someone else’s mold...I want to create my own. 

I see that you have over a hundred reviews of Ice. How successful was that book?It all depends on how you measure success. If you measure it by the amount of books I’ve sold, with regard to Ice, I can tell you that I published it almost twelve months ago, and it still remains on Amazon’s Best Seller’s list in the genre of lesbian fiction. If you measure it by the amount of reviews and/or comments left by readers on Amazon, I can tell you that Ice has received over one hundred twenty reviews and 88% of them are four or five star. But, if you measure success by producing a story that makes people want to turn the page, want to read it again, and want to send me emails telling me how much they thoroughly enjoyed my book, well then...Ice was beyond successful. 

What marketing advice would you give new self-published authors?Oh, you are definitely asking the wrong person that question! I love writing, but marketing and self-promotion are incredibly hard for me. I’m not a person who can stand atop a soapbox and shout “Look at me, I wrote a book,” or better yet post ads of FB messages or tweets encouraging readers to buy my books. Instead, I truly depend on the comments left by the readers, some bloggers who have reviewed my books, and a few, like yourself, who have asked for interviews to help promote what I write. I think the best advertising is word-of-mouth, so I ask the readers at the end of every book to post a comment or review if they feel the book worthy, and luckily many have. Their words sell my words...and I believe that’s the way it should be. My opinion means nothing. Their opinion means everything.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?Writing is still a part-time gig for me. I have a full-time job, and I go to work Monday through Friday like most everyone else, so all my writing gets done on nights and weekends.  

 What do you like best about writing?It would be easier to give you the list of the things I don’t like about it because that would be an extremely short list. :)For me, writing is the ultimate form of escapism because instead of losing myself in someone else’s world, I’m creating my own. How cool is that?If I had to pick what best I liked about writing it would have to be the putting all the pieces together and making them fit. For me, that’s where the fun really begins. I’ve got the concept of the story in my head, but now I have to create characters, choose locations, plan conflicts and then make sure I close every loophole along the way. That’s the challenge, and that’s why I adored writing Give Me A Reason.Leaving the subject matter and the length of the book out of the equation, I had never tried to tackle a story that contained so many characters, but the deeper I got into the GMAR, the more fun I began to have. There’s a scene in in the book where I have eleven people all interacting, and I’ve got to tell you, that was unbelievably fun to write. A challenge, most definitely, but when it was all said and done, I could not have been happier with the result.So bottom line...from start to finish, there really isn’t anything I don’t like about the process that goes into writing a book. Okay, so I’ve been known to whine a bit while waiting for my betas to return final comments, but trust me, I whine quietly. The rest of the time, I’m having a blast.  

What does the future hold for you as a writer? Any books in the works?I hope the future holds many more years of writing, and yes I have another book in the works. It’s in the very early stages though, so it’ll be awhile before I’ll be ready to release any details about it. :)  

Anything else you would like to say?I’ve said it before, but it is so worth repeating! I want to thank the readers for allowing me to live my dream. Most have been kind in their remarks and receptive to my stories, and for an independent author with no formal training, no editing department to back her up, and practically no self-promotion, I truly owe my success to them.I’d also have to thank those who beta for me. They unselfishly spend hours reading my stories, looking for typos, suggesting edits, and being the punctuation police. I couldn’t ask for a better group of betas, but more importantly, I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends.  

Check out Lyn Gardner's Books & Blog:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What to Ask of Beta Readers

So, you found someone special to read your book or writing. Now what? Once you find a Beta Reader who wants to read your type of writing. It is important to let them know what you want from them.

1. Ask them what kind of Beta Reading they like to do. Some people like to do spelling and grammar checks. Others like to just give their opinion of the story. Others want to do it all.

2. Let them know what you would like from them. It is best to do this in written form so that they have something to reference while reading the writing.

3. Talk about a time frame. Let them know when you would like it back by, and see if that works for them.

Here is a list of topics that you can ask Beta Readers to focus his/her attention. Pick areas where you would like feedback. Be careful not to overwhelm or not direct them at all.

  • Is the beginning attention grabbing?
  • How is the character development?
    • Did you form a connection with the characters?
    • Anything confusing about the characters?
  • Clarity & Consistency. Is there anything unclear or inconsistent in the book? (Did the characters hometown change mid-book? Eye color? etc)
  • Anything distracting about the book?
  • What emotions are evoked?
    • Is it entertaining?
    • Funny? Scary? Sad? Exciting?
  • Did you lose interest at any point? What point?
  • Satisfactory ending? Did you see the ending coming? Was it too out of the blue or unpredictable?
  • Any holes in the story?
  • Any part unbelievable or far-fetched?
  • Anything that you are wondering about still?
This are just some topics to start off your Beta Reading adventure. Make sure to thank your Beta Readers. You can do this by giving them a copy of the finished product, give them a shout-out on your blog, Beta Reading for them
or mentioning them in your book.

Matching a Beta Reader to Your Writing

How many Beta Readers do you have? How did you find them? Better yet, if they are working out for you, how did you pick him/her? Matching a Beta Reader to your writing and you is a big feat. It is not only about finding someone who is reliable, and competent.

Here are some things to take into consideration:
  • Do they like your genre? If they don't like your genre, that could taint any feedback you get. They might hate your vampire book because they don't like vampires. They might like your battle scenes because they never read one before and don't know a good scene from a bad scene.
  • Do they give you the type of feedback you want? You might be looking for everything from grammar, consistency to plot feedback, and they only spellcheck the document. The Beta Reader might only talk about what they thought of the ending.
  • How fast is the turn around? If you need feedback within a few weeks, make sure your Beta Readers is on board with that expectation.
  • Too nice or too tough. A lot of authors state, "Be honest. Tell me the truth." Every author has a limit to the thickness of their skin. Ask for specific feedback, and take it or leave it. If a Beta Reader is too critical without any specifics to back it up, he/she might not be for you.
  • Related or Conflict of Interest: Your parent, sister, partner, or work colleague might not be the best person to Beta Read. Anonymous Beta Readers don't have to share a bed with you or a conference room.
Overall, be specific of what you want from your Beta Readers. See my Post on "What to Ask of Beta Readers."

Friday, November 1, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)o was started in 1999 by Chris Baty. There were 21 participants that first year. In 2010 there were 200,500 participants. Article About NaNoWriMo

The goal is to write 50,000 words from November 1st to November 30th. The goal is to get people to write, and keep writing. The point is to get people to write unedited and to free themselves from worrying if it is any good.

There are several websites out there for NaNoWriMo one is
There is even a writing camp! Yes great for a Wilderness & Writer Gal. Writing Camp
 A link for Young People
Some authors are giving away prizes as incentives Lindsay Buroker's Blog

I have heard a little bit about NaNoWriMo, but it was half-way through November before I would realize that I once again forgot. I am excited about the Writing Camp, and about getting hooked up with some sites.

I have a decision to make. I am currently in the middle of a book. If I finished it by writing 50,000 words would that count? I really like writing and wish to spend more time on it. We shall see how it goes. Ready, Set, Go!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"True Nature" Author Jae Interview

"My biggest goal is to publish enough novels to make a living, but to avoid publishing so much that my writing becomes empty and all the characters start to look like weak copies of each other." -Jae

Jae is an award winning author of lesbian romances. I first stumbled upon her when I picked up her ebook Second Nature from Amazon. It is a shape shifter lesbian romance. I usually don't read those type of books (lesbian yes, but not shape shifter), but I really liked this one. I became a fan. Then I was looking up how to find Beta Readers, and landed on her site. I read the article and then saw that the header was her new novel True Nature. I knew then and there I would have to interview her.

Interview with Jae

Tell us a little about yourself. What is something most people don't know about you?
I’m a writer, an editor, a traffic psychologist, and an office supply addict. I’m German and live in the southwestern corner of Germany, close to the borders to Switzerlandand France.

Something most of my readers probably don’t know about me is that I hate public speaking. It makes me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. A weird trait for a psychologist to have, I know.
You just released your book "True Nature." How does this book compare to your other books? Why is it a must read?
True Nature (Purchase Here)has all the trademark elements of a “Jae novel”—at 141,000 words / 480 pages, it’s a nice, long read, giving me ample time to develop my characters and their relationship.
Yet at the same time, True Nature is a fast-paced, plot-driven book. Unlike my other books, I think this one could appeal to mainstream readers too, since it has elements of thriller and urban fantasy. But instead of featuring a hero and a heroine, True Nature has two strong women for its main characters.
Both Rue and Kelsey are strong in their own way—Rue as a take-charge, human alpha and Kelsey as a submissive wolf-shifter, who’s in a conflict between following other people’s expectations and following her true nature.
My biggest complaint about lesbian fiction is the abundance of books with characters who "all of a sudden realize they prefer women." It is as if they were struck suddenly with some potion, and now they are gay. What do you think is important or makes a good lesbian fiction book?
Well, in my books, nothing happens “all of a sudden” or for no good reason. In my contemporary romance Something in the Wine, Annie has previously thought of herself as a straight woman who’s not good at and not interested in relationships. During the course of the book, she falls in love with a woman, lesbian winemaker Drew. But despite the title, there’s no potion in the wine, which is making her gay. She comes to the realization that she’s attracted to women—or at least one woman—through much soul-searching and as part of a process that involves finding out who she really is and what she wants from life, not just in regards to her sexual orientation.
The most important thing for a lesbian fiction book—or any book, for that matter—is to make any event and any action of the characters believable. Readers have to be able to understand what motivates the characters. Unlike movies, books give us a chance to dip into the thoughts and emotions of story people, and writers would do well to remember that this is why reader read books. They want to become part of the inner world of the book’s characters.
How much success have you experienced with your books?
I’ve been much more successful with my writing than I ever thought possible. My books have won a number of awards, among them four GCLS awards. Something in the Wine has been the #1 bestseller in the lesbian fiction category on Amazon for weeks. I’ve had great feedback e-mails from readers from all over the world. I consider myself pretty lucky.
As per your blog, you are moving to be a full-time writer December 22, 2013? Tell us about that transition? How did you come to that decision? What steps did you take to move toward that?
I switched publishers in 2012. Sales with my new publisher, Ylva Publishing, have been great. For the first time, my life-long dream of becoming a full-time writer started to seem less and less like a pipe dream. I hesitated for a long time (and until I was sure I had enough money saved to have a financial cushion), but in May, I finally told my boss that I’d stop working as a psychologist at the end of the year.
I’ve taken a little more time off since then and played full-time writer on those days, testing what a new work schedule might look like once I work from home. I also contacted other writers who write full time and asked about their lives as full-time writers. I started posting a series of interviews with some of those authors on my blog:
What do you think sets you apart from other writers?
I’m not sure if it sets me apart from other writers, but when it comes to my writing, I’m a perfectionist. I do extensive research for each of my books, I take my time developing characters that are three-dimensional, and I go through an extensive process of beta reading, editing, and copy editing for each of my novels. My whole heart is in writing, so I don’t do things by halves.

What do you love most about the writing process?
I love almost everything about it, from the research to the final editing. When the writing just flows, it’s a wonderful feeling.
I have read "Second Nature." I really enjoyed it. What was your inspiration for that book? How did you come into writing about shape-shifters?
Well, actually, a friend from Hollandis a big fan of Buffy, and she convinced me to watch a few episodes. One of the episodes had a werewolf that didn’t look or act very convincing to me. I told her that I could do better than that, and she challenged me to actually write a story about a werewolf. Since I’m more familiar with cats, I made it a story about a shape-shifter who can turn into a liger.
Of all your characters you have created, who is your favorite and why?
That’s like asking a mother who’s her favorite child J

I have a soft spot for Luke from Backwards to Oregon. She’s such a bundle of contradictions. To the outside world, she’s a tough, successful rancher. But on the inside, she’s a big softie.
I also love Kelsey and Rue from True Nature. They have an interesting dynamic together.
How much time to you spend marketing your writing? What venues do you use? Any marketing tips?
It varies. Some days, I don’t do any promotion at all; sometimes, it’s about two hours a day. I do most of my marketing online. I’m on Facebook and Twitter, I have my own website and a blog I try to update regularly, and I participate in online groups.
The best marketing tool is still word of mouth, so the advice I can give you is to write good books, invest in a good editor and a good graphic artist for the cover.
Don’t spam your readers online with repeated posts of “buy my book, buy my book.” Build a relationship with your readers instead, write more good books, and publish a few short stories, either for free or at a low price, because more readers will be willing to try out your writing for $0.99.
What do you think is most important to be a successful writer?
Dedication. Writing is not just an art; it’s a craft like any other. And like any other craft, writing requires years to master. A lot of writers expect the very first novel they ever wrote to become a bestseller instead of seeing it as an apprenticeship.
Ideally, every novel will teach you something for the next one. It’s a life-long learning process, and that’s part of what I like about it.
Your Favorite books or authors?
I’ll list just the favorite authors of lesbian fiction; otherwise, this interview would become longer than one of my novels.
My favorite authors in the lesbian fiction genre are KG MacGregor, Gerri Hill, K.E. Lane, L.J. Maas, Fletcher DeLancey, Meghan O’Brien, and a few others that I now forgot to mention. I also like Radclyffe’s early novels.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? Do you have any other books in the works?
I hope to be a full-time writer and a part-time editor for Ylva Publishing in five years. My biggest goal is to publish enough novels to make a living, but to avoid publishing so much that my writing becomes empty and all the characters start to look like weak copies of each other.
Right now, I’m working on a Christmas short story titled The Christmas Elf. The next novel I will publish will be the revised second edition of Hidden Truths, a historical romance and sequel to Backwards to Oregon.I’m also working on a series of nonfiction books about writing.
I have a million ideas for novels I’d like to write after that, but I’ll let my muse pick which one to start with.
Anything else you would like to say to your readers/fans?
I’d like to take the chance to thank my readers. Each of you has contributed to making my dream come true, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
Purchase any of Jae's books HERE.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cate Beauman's NEW Book Coming Out

Cate Beauman’s newest release is available now through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Visit for more information and to read excerpts from her best selling series The Bodyguards of L.A. County.

When the past and present collide…
Wren Cooke has everything she’s ever wanted—a thriving career as one of LA’s top interior designers and a home she loves. Business trips, mockups, and her demanding clientele keep her busy, almost too busy to notice Ethan Cooke Security’s gorgeous Close Protection Agent, Tucker Campbell.  

Jaded by love and relationships in general, Wren wants nothing to do with the hazel-eyed stunner and his heart-stopping grins, but Tucker is always in her way. When Wren suddenly finds herself bombarded by a mysterious man’s unwanted affections, she’s forced to turn to Tucker for help.
As Wren’s case turns from disturbing to deadly, Tucker whisks her away to his mountain home in Utah. Haunted by memories and long-ago tragedies, Tucker soon realizes his past and Wren’s present are colliding. With a killer on the loose and time running out, Tucker must discover a madman’s motives before Wren becomes his next victim.

 The Unofficial Waiting For Wren Soundtrack
As I have discussed with previous book launches, music plays a huge part in my writing process. I typically listen to Pandora or YouTube and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as the novel unfolds.  Here are a few of the songs that I had on “repeat” while I created Tucker and Wren’s story! 


The soundtrack, of sorts, for Waiting For Wren:

·        Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips
      ·        Lego House by Ed Sheeran
      ·        Wanted by Hunter Hayes
      ·        What Would Happen If We Kissed by Meredith Brooks
      ·        Trying Not to Love You by Nickelback
      ·        Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth Ft. Emeli Sande
      ·        I Hate How Much I Love You by Rhianna Ft. NeYo
      ·        Be Still by The Fray
      ·        All Along by Remedy Drive
      ·        Clarity by Zedd
      ·        Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
      ·        To Build A Home by Cinematic Orchestra
Read an excerpt from Waiting For Wren:

She pulled in her drive, dropped her phone, and gripped the wheel with trembling hands as heat from the vents rushed over her. She stared at her darkened front steps in the shadows cast about from the neighbors’ tall trees. What if he was here? His texts weren’t threatening, and technically neither were the flowers, but Rex wasn’t healthy. In the two years she’d owned her home, she’d never been terrified to get out of her car and go inside like she was now.

This is what he wants. He wants you to be afraid while he plays his games. Steeling herself, she grabbed her phone and got out with her key fob clutched in her unsteady hand. The cool rush of wind tossed her hair in her face, and she swiped wavy locks behind her ear as she strained to hear over the rustling leaves. She walked quickly, her eyes darting everywhere.

She just had to get to the door and step inside. The panic button was in the entryway if she needed it. The police would come help her, along with whoever was fielding calls at Ethan’s company tonight. “I’m almost there. I’m almost there,” she whispered, flinching, blinking, startled as the sensor lights flashed on to brighten the walkway. The security lights. It was just the security lights. She forgot she reactivated the feature the night of the gala. She took another step forward and saw the blood by the pretty pot of red mums. “Oh my god. Oh my god.” A black cat lay on her step, decapitated and bloated in a pool of dark, congealed crimson. “Oh my…”

Her breath rushed in and out as she stumbled back. The cellphone in her clammy hand rang, and she screamed. Blindly, she pressed “talk.” “Hell—hello?”

“Do you like it?” someone whispered.

She whirled, scanning, searching for Rex. He was here, somewhere. He had to be.

“Why won’t you call me?” The whisper turned into a pathetic whine. “Why won’t you call me, Wren?”

“Stop,” she shuddered out as she hurried to her car, looking over her shoulder from time to time, sure he was waiting to pounce. “Stop doing this. I’m calling the police.”

The whining stopped abruptly and turned into mad, riotous laughter. “They won’t believe you! They won’t believe you!”

“Leave me alone!” She hung up, gasping for air. Tears poured down her cheeks, and her hand shook as she opened her door, took her seat, and locked herself in. She had to get out of here. She had to get away. It took her two tries to shove the key in the ignition as she glanced at the bloodstained step once more and backed out with a squeal of tires. She sped off, heading toward Ethan’s until she remembered he was gone and a quarter of his house had been gutted for the new edition. All of them were gone—Ethan, Hunter, and Austin. She pressed ‘one’ on her speed dial, listening to the repetitive ringing. Ethan’s smooth voice told her to leave a message, but she hung up instead. She turned down another street, taking her farther from her home, and punched in Ethan Cooke Security’s twenty-four hour assistance line.

“Ethan Cooke Security. This is Mia.”

“Mia, it’s Wren.”

“Wren, are you okay?”

“Yes.” Her voice broke, and she shook her head as she clutched the wheel with one hand. “No. No, I’m not. There’s a dead cat on my porch.”


That didn’t exactly describe the horror she’d just backed away from. “Someone killed a cat and left it on my front step.”

“Oh my god. Where are you?”

“In my car.” She sniffed. “Driving around. I don’t want to go back to my house alone.”

“Of course not. Let me patch you through to Tucker Campbell. He’s on call.”

Tucker? “No, wait—” But it was too late. Soothing music played in her ear.

“Wren?” Tucker’s deep voice hummed with concern.

Her lip wobbled, and tears began to fall again. “Yeah, I’m here.”

“What’s going on? Mia said something about a dead cat?”

“Someone chopped some sweet cat’s head off and put the body on my front step.”

He muttered a swear. “Are you there now?”

“No, I’m in my car, driving around. It freaked me out. I don’t want to be at the house by myself.”

“I don’t want you there either. Come to my place until we get this figured out.”

If choking fingers of terror didn’t have her by the throat, she would’ve refused, but Tucker was offering his help. She needed help. “I don’t—I don’t know where you live.”

“Ocean View Apartments, off Highway One.”

“What if he follows me? He might be following me right now.” She glanced in the rearview mirror and cringed as headlights trailed behind her.



“Who the hell is Rex?”

“The crazy bastard who left the dead cat on my porch.”

“Son of a bitch, Cooke. Don’t stop. Don’t’ pull over. Drive on a flat tire if you have to. Just get here. I’ll be waiting outside.”

“Okay,” she sniffed, too afraid to be prideful. “I’m about ten minutes away.”

Did you enjoy the excerpt?  You can read the first three chapters on my website,

 About the author:
Cate currently lives in Tennessee with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernard, Bear. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County.  Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, two years later, I’m working on my sixth novel and I’m an Amazon best selling author.  I’m very grateful for the support and success I have had.  - Cate “

Contact Cate 
Amazon Author Page

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