Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Five Stages of First Publication

by Alana Garrigues and Nutschell Anne Windsor
Hello Lynda fans! Nutschell and I are so happy to be here today, on our third from final stop on our month-long Story Sprouts blog tour! We've had so much fun visiting with everyone from around the blogosphere!

Story Sprouts is a mixture of writing resource and anthology, with 38 stories and poems created during a six-hour writing day workshop last June. Some of our authors have been published before, in a variety of media, while for many this is the first time seeing their name in print. As an organization (Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles) dedicated to educating and inspiring writers on their road to publication, we are so proud of all of our authors, but especially excited for our first timers! First publication is a wonderful feeling and ego-boost for writers!

So, we've decided, in jest, to identify the five stages of first publication. Perhaps you can identify?

1 - ELATION: Your name is in print. Your name is in print! OMG, YOUR NAME IS IN PRINT! Pure, uninhibited, jump-up-and-kick-your-heels together joy - your name is in print.

2 - DOUBT: Your name is in print. With a story. Wait, what did the story say? What will your friends think? Did you put your best foot forward? Wasn't there a mistake on the 10th page, in the 3rd paragraph, in the 4th sentence? What will people think about your brain and how it works and what that story says about your sanity? Oh, this could be bad ….

3 - RELIEF: Your editor caught that mistake on the 10th page, in the 3rd paragraph, in the 4th sentence. Phew. And another 200 mini mistakes you and your word processor and your revisions didn't even notice - commas and misspelled words. Nice. Saved from the wrath of the grammar police.

4 - FRUSTRATION: But wait, your editor also changed something that you said that was brilliant on the 64th page. Why did they change that? You spent days perfecting that metaphor. How could they change it? Isn't that your name on the cover? And what about these other 10 spots that were tweaked unnecessarily. How could that be?

5 - RESOLVE AND SATISFACTION: Your name is in print. Your neighbor and hairdresser and high school english teacher have all expressed their positive opinions (even if it did take months to get it into their hands!). The story is good. You don't have to hide under a rock with doubt or kick your editor to the curb. You created something, and people like it. It is something to be proud of. And you're ready to tackle that next story with resolve, intent on giving your editor even less work on the next round, and your reader even more to fall in love with.

So, what do you think? Feel familiar? What did we miss?

Learn more about Story Sprouts at
Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles at
To buy Story Sprouts: Amazon

To find Alana:  Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter
To find Nutschell: Blog, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why Don’t More People Buy Your Book?

Many factors go into the success of a book. To neglect just one of those factors is to miss giving your book the best chance it can have to sell well. Today I’ve explored just some of those factors on the Insecure Writer's Support Group website.

I'd love to see you over there.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Best Writing Advice Ever

What is the best writing advice? I'm often asked this question and, while one piece of advice is never the ultimate golden nugget guaranteed to work for every single writer on the planet, I will always repeat advice given to me:
"Keep writing and don't give up."
If you do keep writing and striving to improve, then you will:

Gain confidence. The more you write, the more comfortable you'll become writing. With this comfort, comes confidence.

Discover your voice. If you keep writing, then you'll find your own voice, rather than borrowing the voice of a favourite author. Your uniqueness will naturally begin to shine.

Master the theory. There's only so much theory one can read about. You have to put it into practice to truly understand it. Some people suggest, once you've written a million words, then you start to 'get it'. This number is not an absolute, of course. Some writers need more, some less. But it takes time and this means never giving up.

Find freedom. If you keep writing, then you'll find the freedom you need to try different things, explore concepts you wouldn't normally explore. You'll become less precious over your every word and you'll stop overthinking every sentence.

Maintain sanity. It's sheer insanity for a writer to give up writing. I know; I tried it once. Not smart. The stories crying out to be written don't go away. The characters begging to be born don't suddenly vanish. The need for creative expression doesn't dry up. Sure, they might hide in the background for a while, but they come out in other ways, such as grumpiness, distraction, and a growing dissatisfaction with life.

Consequently, my heartfelt advice to all writers, new and established: Keep writing and don't give up.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Monday, January 13, 2014

How Writers can Balance Time Spent Online

In a previous post, I wrote about the many distractions threatening our writing time. The overwhelming response in the comments was that the internet is the biggest threat. E J Wesley said it best:

"The internet is such a double-edged sword for most of us. It's hard to write without the resources it provides and almost impossible to reach an audience without it these days."

With a pinch of discipline and understanding, social media and all things internet don't need to take over, despite their lure and all the reasons we need to be there.

The tool vs. recreation.
To balance our time online, we need to be able to differentiate the internet from being a tool and being a recreational outlet. As a tool, it can help us achieve the goals we want. As a recreational outlet, it can distract us from the things we want to do most and even prevent us from achieving our goals.

For example: As much as I love blogging and Facebook, I need to remind myself, if I allow the time on those outlets to go past my daily allotment, then it falls into the recreational category and I only have myself to blame when I don't achieve my goals.

Know your weakness.
Only you know your weakness. For some, a weakness might be Twitter: You think you'll just pop on for a second, and an hour later you're still there chatting away with friends, having a great time and justifying it by calling it marketing. For others it might be less easy to justify, but just as much of a distraction, such as Facebook games.

If you are honest and acknowledge your weakness, then that's a big step toward dealing with the problem and making a change.

For example: If you're able to acknowledge your weakness is turning those seconds into hours, then don't 'just pop on'. Give yourself a specific time each day to indulge and stick to it. Set a timer if you have to, or turn off your alerts. Again, only you can know what solution works for you.

Fight the guilt.
Don't let guilt sway you from your goals. Building a large following happens over time, and with it comes a higher demand to maintain those connections. Your goals will remain the same, so that means something has to give. All too often, it's the writing time that get put on the backburner because guilt will creep in and tell us we have to visit a gazillion blogs a day.

A writer with no books out won't need to use social media as much as a writer with something to sell. Yes, a new writer needs to build a platform but, more importantly, that writer needs to write. In fact, all writers need to write. Individually, we need to work out how much time is needed to achieve each goal. And stick to it.

There comes a time when you have to ask yourself what you want from the limited time you have and how much you gain in return.

How do you manage your internet time vs your writing time?

Photo: my herb patch: Thyme (since this is a post about time management, lol)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

10 Questions to Avoid Asking a Writer #IWSG

I'm back from my break at last, feeling refreshed and eager to get on with my exciting (and busy) plans for the year. Consequently, I thought I'd start the New Year with a lighthearted post for the Insecure Writer'sSupport Group. To learn more about the group, check out our resource-filled website,  or to join us, click HERE.

Many of the questions below are sure to trigger a mountain of insecurities in writers, or worse, trigger the beast within us. My advice is to avoid these questions at all cost.

  1. Why haven't you finished writing that novel yet?
  2. Can I be in your book?
  3. Why aren't you published yet?
  4. Have you thought of a different career path?
  5. Why don't you publish that first story you ever wrote?
  6. How good is it doing nothing all day?
  7. Can I tell you my great story idea?
  8. How much money do you make?
  9. Do people even read these days?
  10. When are you going to get a real job?
And the bonus question:
  1. Can I interrupt you for a second?

If you've been asked any of these questions, what's been your reaction? What are some other questions you'd like avoided?

The IWSG Facebook group has started 'News & Promo Saturday' when all members are encouraged to post one promotion about their book or share some great news with the group. 

Photo: I got a new camera with an awesome macro for Christmas. You should've seen me in the hardware store taking photos of all the bits n pieces. Amok, amok, amok!