Thursday, February 28, 2013

Time Is on Your Side

Today's to-do list
and Sunflower Priestess
To Do list:
1.  Unpack C's Room
2.  Finish collage
3.  Pack to mail bday pressies
4.  Laundry
5.  Groceries
6.  WRITE!  non-stop 3 hours
Finish part one
7.  Dishes

Time:  As a writer, it seems like when I am the busiest, I am the most inspired.  Of course, I don't seem to have time to write then.  Ugh.  The irony!  Life inspires us.  How do we make time for all of it?  

Just today, nearly everything on my to-do list, like laundry and cooking and unpacking my son's books (we just put a new floor down in his room), went undone.  There's always tomorrow... 

birthday collage
But the one thing that I did accomplish was rewriting/revising part one of my novel ms. and starting in on part two.  When I looked at my to-do list at six o'clock, trying to decide what I was going to make for dinner--as time had once again escaped me--I realized that I'd accomplished quite a bit and that we'd be eating something microwaved, but oh well, I can't do everything!  

Tomorrow, I'll get the laundry done.  Tomorrow, I'll unpack the books and make a nice dinner (or order pizza).  

manuscript and wrapping
If I'm inspired and the words are coming, and my family is taken care of, I am going to write.  

Because I have trouble concentrating when I have too many things to do, I will frequently cop a squat at a coffee shop or library.  If I need to get a lot of writing done, I'll book an inexpensive hotel room and work overnight.  If I were closer to a writer's retreat, I'd go to one.  I had the opportunity to go to a lovely one when I lived in Virginia: The Porches.  I highly recommend it: beautiful, peaceful and inspiring.  Right now, my son is very young, and I don't like being away from him or my husband, so I fit things together.  Rather, things are piled on top of each other--as in the picture above.  Time is on your side!  If I can make time, you can make it!  Big Love to You and Yours.  

Michele Young-Stone, author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.  Two novels forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.  Follow my blog if you can.    

Goodreads Book Giveaway going on right now!  Win a signed 1st edition!

Tweet Tweet

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When You Don't Get What You Think You Want

By Marilyn Brant

You know that song by Garth Brooks,
"Unanswered Prayers"?
Or that famous one by the Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"?

Yeah, me, too.

But I wonder how many times, when you heard one or the other of them on the radio, you thought about something in your life and said to yourself, "No, no! I really do want that particular thing ___(fill in the blank with your heart's deep desire). I don't wanna just get what I need -- I'm telling you* what I need, and it's the same thing that I want!"

[*"You," in this case, typically refers to one of the following: God, Mother Nature, the Unseen Forces of the Universe and/or your Magic 8 Ball.]

Publishing seems to inspire such moments more frequently than, say, almost any other less crazy-making occupation. And I'm not telling you that only because I've had some rather heated discussions with my Magic 8 Ball. But, if I'm being totally honest, I'll admit that in the nearly 13 years that I've been a fiction writer, my perspective on what's an actual blessing -- vs. what's a blessing in disguise -- has changed.

I remember finishing my first manuscript -- a women's fiction story that was (roughly) 625 handwritten pages long and (exactly) 509 typed pages in Times New Roman 12. I can now see countless flaws in it...but, back then, I thought it was a work of utter depth, brilliant pacing and staggeringly beautiful prose. Of course, at the time I wrote it, I hadn't yet actually read a single book on the craft of fiction or taken a class on the art of novel writing or, you know, even talked to a published author about...anything. So, my frame of reference for what constituted a "good" piece of fiction was rather limited and more than a little faulty.

This did not in any way stop me from desperately wanting a publishing contract with a NY house for that book. And Garth Brooks could croon on the radio all night long about how thankful he was for prayers that went unanswered, but I was convinced I was more perceptive than he was anyway and, seriously (!!), I knew what I wanted.

Turned out, I needed to dig a little deeper into that desire. Yes, I wanted to be a published author -- that part proved true -- but what I really wanted, more than almost anything at the time, was to have written a story that was a good solid piece of fiction. I kept wishing for a book contract for that first novel. But it was actually acquiring the novel-writing skills that would lead to a book contract that was my deep-down burning dream. (And I got the contract eventually, too, but only after I'd finished my fifth manuscript. No one, not even me, should ever have to suffer through that first one again... I remain ever grateful and relieved that it never got published.)

With the enormous changes going on in the publishing industry over these past few years, I've had conversations with dozens of writers about the books they've sold or haven't sold. About the dreams they'd once had for certain projects and how they thought it was the end of the line when those stories weren't picked up by a traditional house.
Many novelists put them away in a drawer or hid them on a flashdrive somewhere. They tried to forget about them, but there was always that lingering sense of disappointment.

And then digital publishing exploded onto the scene.

Authors who'd never found the right editor to embrace their work, suddenly had a platform to make thousands of sales, if they could reach their ideal audience. Books that didn't fit neatly into a publishing niche before, now had an honored place on the virtual bookshelves. I cannot begin to count the number of times I've heard in just the past twelve months, "Thank God my book didn't sell to ____ publisher!" Why? Because it gave the author the freedom to sell it to another house that did more for them marketing/distribution-wise or to publish it themselves and reap much greater royalties than they may have gotten under different circumstances.

In one instance, at least, that was true for me, too. I'd been very discouraged when Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match didn't sell to a traditional publisher several years ago. It had gotten so close! It made it as far as that final mystical roundtable of publishing people at a well-known house...and, at the last minute, they decided against buying it.

Honestly, though, that was the BEST thing that ever could have happened to that book! (And I'd hug Garth Brooks and Mick Jagger and sing their songs along with them both, if they were here, just to prove it.)

From a royalties standpoint, the story earned more in its first month after release than I would have made from that traditional publisher's small advance, plus, I got to keep all of my foreign/audio/etc. rights and I had complete control over selecting the cover design and choosing the release date. But, best of all, I got my deeper goal...which wasn't really to sell that novel to a NY house, but to connect that story with its right readership. I didn't have the online community network back then that I do now, and that's a large reason why I think I was able to help this book find its audience. Not selling this story too soon was, in fact, exactly what I needed...and, surprisingly, what I wanted as well. Even though I didn't know that until a few weeks ago. :)

What about you? Have you ever not gotten something that you thought you wanted, only to later discover that it was a blessing in disguise? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Marilyn Brant is the award-winning women's fiction author of According to Jane, Friday Mornings at Nine and A Summer in Europe, as well as a #1 Kindle bestseller who also writes digital romantic comedies. She likes to sing everything from pop-country to rock-n-roll (but only when she's alone in the house), and she's very attached to her Magic 8 Ball.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Zen and The Art of Marketing, a survival message for writers

by Samantha Wilde
My long-awaited second novel, I'll Take What She Has, hits the shelves today. I have spent the past two months eating, sleeping, drinking and making love to marketing. (Bad in bed, by the way.

If you are going to work at getting your book out into the world, into the hands of readers and reviewers and critics and bookstores and bloggers and radio stations and television stations and friends, no good marketing plan can be without this: DTIP.

Sounds like a vaccination, doesn't it? Actually, it is. It's the way to vaccinate ourselves so we don't, as writers, become sick with the effects of the responses to our marketing. If you get yourself and your book out there, you will undoubtedly come up against rejection, criticism, silence, and the worst of them--failure.

I don't mean that you'll fail at everything, but, honestly, even with the best efforts, we can feel as if we have failed. If you want Oprah and #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list and you don't get there, you feel like you've failed. If you get in touch with bloggers who don't reply or reviewers who give you two stars, then you're bound to feel some sense of rejection. And this applies to all, including the most brilliant and accomplished of novelists. No one can write a book everyone likes. No one can market without some rebuff or silence or insult.

That's why we all need DTIP: don't take it personally. This is my survival advice for writers. It's my survival advice for living.

One person loves your novel. One person can't stand it. One blogger wants you on their site, one blogger never responds. You get a hundred people to read a post, you get ten. You're still putting out your best. Your book doesn't change in the hands of the readers; the readers are different. I truly don't know how any writer could survive the challenges presented by the layers of rejection involved in publishing and promoting a creative work without the ability to see that, in the end, it's not personal. And I don't mean that a person isn't rejecting you when they reject your book, I mean more than that.

Once you surrender your work to the ferocity of the modern world, the uncensored judgement of the internet, and the fierce competition of the publishing industry, you have to hold close to Zen.

When my copies of I'll Take What She Has arrived at my doorstep, I dressed up and I lay down in those books and rolled around in ecstasy. I wrote a book that was scheduled for 2010, went through five changes of editor, almost didn't release, and finally came to me in 2013. I wasn't going to wait for People or Oprah or the NYTimes to feel inside that experience of success. And you don't need to wait either. The world will or will not validate your work, or it will do it in part and not in other parts. Don't take it personally. The world has its own troubles. In truth, some of the most successful, prominent and most celebrated writers still do not feel they have gotten there yet. Where we all want to get to, it isn't a place, it's a feeling--and you can go there all on your own. And that's the Zen of it.

Watch the book trailer for I'll Take What She Has here. Buy I'll Take What She Has today and give Sam some more Zen! The book, about envy, friendship and new motherhood was an RT Book Review Top Pick. Sam, the mother of three small children and the author of This Little Mommy Stayed Home, is an ordained minister (believe it or not!) and a yoga teacher. Read her blog, laugh at her outrageous videos on FB or follow her on twitter @whatshehas.

When EB White talks, I listen
by Brenda Janowitz

One of the things I'm most often asked about the writer's life is my writing schedule.

I've heard all about this mystical "writing schedule."  In fact, I hear all the time about writers who have one-- they wake up every day at 5 am and write until 7.  Or they sit down and don't get up until they've written 1,000 words.  Or they go to writers colonies and hammer out entire books in the span of a month.

I envy those writers.  I really do.  I wish I could have such discipline.  But I don't.  Because the thing is, the thing that no one ever wants to hear, is that I don't have a writing schedule.  What I do is write whenever I can and as much as I can.  Simple as that.

My life is filled with little kids running underfoot, and carpools, and figuring out what to put on the table for dinner.  (Wow, I sound really glamorous, don't I!?)  I try to make the most of those times in between.  The few hours I have between dropping my son off and nursery school and pick up.  Whatever precious time I get if and when the kids nap.  A quiet evening here or there when the kids are in bed and my husband's stuck at work.

I wrote my entire first novel in the space in between.  When I got home from work early, when I had time on weekends, on lunch breaks.  I'd edit while riding the subway downtown, on the bus crosstown, on the Long Island Rail Road on trips to see my family.  And it worked.  Sure, it took longer than if I'd been writing every day until I hit the 1,000 word mark, but that wasn't my life.  So I fit the writing into the life I had then.  And I still do the same-- I fit the writing into the life I've got now.

EB White said "A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper."

Words to live by.

I’m the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST. My third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, will be published by St. Martin's on July 2, 2013. My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find me at or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Is Going Indie Right for You? by Jess Riley

Unless you’re a member of the Lykov family, you’ve probably noticed that publishing has undergone some dramatic changes in the last few years. Most notably, it’s become easier to self-publish your work and actually make a living writing.

But how do you know if “indie publishing” is right for you?

My first novel was published in 2008 by Ballantine Books; the book sold at auction and went back to press three times. Not too shabby for a scrappy little midlist title! But the publishing landscape has changed significantly since that book sold, and I’m convinced that the same manuscript wouldn't sell today.

In the four years since that book was released, I wandered through a bleak literary desert littered with false starts, missteps, second-guessing, rejection, and depression. My original editor tried to help, pitching story ideas that I inevitably botched because they didn’t come from my own little Eeyore heart. She moved on to different publishing houses and new projects, and I returned to the desert.

In 2011 I was hit with the idea for All the Lonely People. My agent loved it (which came as a huge relief), and we submitted to maybe a dozen publishers, getting heartbreakingly close rejections. A few months into our submission process I began to lose patience and heart. Maybe I should have given it more time, but this past fall I pulled the book from submission and after lots of agonizing, released it myself.

I was inspired in part by Karen McQuestion, another Wisconsin writer who told me self-publishing was the best thing she’d ever done for her career; she controlled her destiny, and her readers were judge and jury of her work. (And who could argue with sales topping 500,000?) My husband also eloquently pushed me into the indie camp with, “You don’t want to be like the Confederacy of Dunces guy, and people only read your stuff after you’re dead.”

Several of my other author friends also encouraged me, because they too had made the leap…and it wasn’t that scary.

So I swallowed my pride along with any misgivings I had and prepared for Plan B. It’s a personal decision for each writer, and knowing what you hope to get out of it before you take the plunge helps. I’m pretty new to it all (and I still have lots to learn), but here are a few early observations:

Know your audience, know your genre. If you write genre fiction—especially romance or thriller—self-publishing could be right for you. If you write literary fiction, legacy (traditional) publishing is still a better fit.

Learn from the best. Before I took the leap, I researched what other successful indie writers were doing. Many are incredibly generous and knowledgeable (J.A. Konrath and Dina Silver come to mind), and have blogged at length about their experiences. In some cases, I hired their cover artist, formatter, and editor.

Hybrid helps. If you go indie, having a background in traditional publishing helps.  You can still succeed without it, but it does make things a little more challenging (depending on your genre), at least initially.

Define what success means to you. Regardless of how your work is published, remember that a very small percentage of all writers can earn a living writing full-time. Have realistic expectations; self-publishing does give you a bit more breathing room (no push to sell big the first week, no pressure to earn out an advance), but it might take months or years for your career to build.

Book bloggers are an indie author’s best friends. I was fortunate to have the support of several awesome book bloggers. If you don’t have the time to devote hours and hours to researching and pitching bloggers in your genre, consider investing in a coordinated blog tour or netgalley listing. You won’t have traditional exposure, so reader and blogger reviews are more important than ever.

Most importantly, be a professional, and be 100% sure your book is the best it can be. You might get just one chance to convince a reader that your story is worth their time and money. Quality counts.

Have an eye-catching, professionally-designed cover, and be prepared to pay for it.  The same goes for conceptual and copy editing. Which brings me to:

Have an amazing, professionally-edited story that people will recommend to their friends. Both legacy and indie publishing depend so much on word-of-mouth. Write a freaking incredible book.   This goes without saying regardless of how the book is published, but self-publishing can make it too easy to put something out before it's ready for prime time. (Refer to Saralee Rosenberg's awesome blog post a few days ago for some tips on that front.)

And be flexible and kind to yourself. There is a learning curve involved. If something doesn’t work, try another approach. Tweak your sales copy, re-do your cover, experiment with pricing or author collaborations. Keep learning, keep evolving. Take full advantage of the control indie publishing affords you. Think of your marketing approach the same way you think about your crummy first draft: you can always revise it.

Or better yet, write the next book.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: if you’ve gone indie, and what are your takeaways from the experience? If you’re an aspiring author, which publishing model appeals to you more?

Jess Riley just released her first novella, Closer Than They Appear:
a quirky mix of lad lit and chick lit with recipes and bingo cards, because why not?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Clearing The Oprah Fog

By Ellen Meister

I'm excited to announce that my new novel, FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, hits stores today. Since I've been a Dorothy Parker fan forever, this book that feels as if it's been a lifetime in the making.

And as I reflect about the road here, I'd like to share with you some thoughts about a problem so many of us writers have. I call it The Oprah Fog ...

E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a book is like driving a car at night. "You can never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
            Very true. But sometimes, after the muse strikes, writers float into a seductive place where headlights do no good.  I call it the Oprah Fog—that cushiony mental space between the formation of an idea and the cold hard mechanics of executing it.     
            In this dreamy mist, we imagine words flowing effortlessly from our fingers to the keyboard. Frustrations will be minor and adorable, crumpled in pretty balls around the trashcan. We envision a cinematic shot of a bookstore window with our hardcover on glorious display. Even our morning coffee will taste better, as we linger over the newspaper, seeing our title climb the bestseller list. The book will be so beloved that Oprah will go back on network television just to interview us. We will wear great shoes and a beautiful suit. We will be thinner.
            There's nothing wrong with the Oprah Fog. It can, in fact, be a valuable vacation before the real work begins. But you have to know how to find your way out.
            Recently, one of my adult ed writing students came to me with a problem I had heard many times before. "I have a great idea," she said, "but I'm stuck. It's writer's block. I don't know what to do."
            "You don't have writer's block," I said. "You're in the Oprah Fog."
            She stared at me, her eyes light with hope. Did I know the way out? Had I been there myself?
            Of course. Even authors who have already traveled the twisty road to publication get bogged in the Fog sometimes.
             Not long ago, I had a spark that lit up my frontal lobe: My next novel would summon the ghost of  Dorothy Parker—arguably the greatest wit of the twentieth century. I would bring her spirit to life as mentor to a timid woman movie critic. I was so excited by this concept I didn't follow my usual course, which is to spend months making notes and working out the story, writing a few chapters to see if I could nail the voice, pace and characters, and finally constructing a loose outline to show my agent. This idea just felt too hot to sit on, and so I rushed to my agent's office and breathlessly pitched it, in much the same way I imagine movie people do. I got the exact response I had hoped for—electrified enthusiasm.
            Traveling home, I was abuzz. This would be my best novel ever! It would tear through the bestseller lists. Terry Gross would call me begging for an interview. Even erstwhile network television hosts would want me as a guest.
            Best of all, it would be easy to write. The storyline was already falling into place. The characters were almost fully formed. And I didn't even have to invent a voice for my main attraction. She already had one. I would simply reread Dorothy Parker's poems, stories, essays and letters, and I'd hear her perfectly. She would speak right through me.
            Except she didn't.
            Why? Because I was in the Oprah Fog. 
            So I did exactly what I advised my student to do. I put my fingers on the keys and started typing. I wasn't writing chapters yet, but making notes. And that's the thing about finding your way out of the Fog. The focus of writing is the exact thing that clears the air. So even if you feel stuck, doing your thinking on paper (virtual or actual) is the true beginning of your journey. Then, with your muse seat-belted in beside you, you can travel down even the darkest road, your highbeams lighting the way.
Ellen Meister's latest novel, FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER is in stores today. To order online, visit any cyber bookseller, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Penguin. For more information visit

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When the Parent Becomes the Student by Jenny Gardiner

I find that as a parent it’s easy to get caught up in being the teacher. While raising children for such an extended period of time, we have long been the ones in charge, the ones to impart lessons learned from our own hard-fought experiences (lessons our kids usually want nothing to do with learning). Moms and dads become habituated into being right, which isn't actually the best of habits, when it comes down to it. But now that my kids are grown, more and more I'm finding that they've become the teachers, and I their student (sometimes willing, sometimes not so much). It's an interesting twist on the relationship but in many ways things seem to come full circle, which is nice role reversal. Take for instance my son, who watched his peers signing on for big bucks jobs during the end of his senior year of college, and opted against that himself. Back when I was in college, that was pretty much what you did. (Well, except for those of us with degrees in Liberal Arts, who watched all of our peers making gobs of cash while we practically lived in cardboard boxes beneath bridge spans and begged for our supper). But nowadays I think our kids are learning that there's more to being happy than making lots of money. You're likely to be far more content when following your passion than filling your wallet. My son did just that, instead choosing to travel for a while after working hard in college. And in so doing, was able to grow so much as a human being, immerse himself in vastly different cultures, learn a new language, and find inner peace under fairy Spartan living conditions. He reveled in being able to go with the flow, to be happy in the moment, and really grew to understand the importance of hard work. Such essential lessons to learn at such a young age, and I envy him that he was able to do that before becoming entrenched in the have-to's of life. But not only did he do that, he also did it with a great level of fearlessness. So much of what holds us back in life is our fears: we need to arm our teachers for fear of random shooters, we practically strip naked (and remove our shoes) for fear of terrorists on planes, we need to live a life of fear in order to have a false sense of security. It's really a rather twisted way of living, when you think of it. At the end of the day, none of us has much control over our lives, and to spend so much of our waking hours trying to control things so that they don't go badly can end up being very self-defeating. You lose the true zest for life that way. And speaking of fears, my older daughter teaches me often how important it is to not let worries win the day. Despite overwhelming fear of the unknown in going off to live in another country for a semester, she sucked it up and did it. And then proceeded to jump out of an airplane over the Swiss Alps, travel alone, staying in sketchy hostels at times, and even camp in the Sahara desert in Morocco despite not speaking a word of the language, which made travel there challenging. She shunned her anxieties and allowed herself the gift of going off to quite literally explore the world. It's not an easy thing to do; it's far simpler to be paralyzed with fear, which is what so many people opt for. In addition, she has taught me so much about facing down adversity. In dealing with various medical problems over which she had no control, she has powered through hard times and kept a brave face going. It's more than many adults could do. My younger daughter has shown me what strength and determination and hard work will get you. She worked hard enough to gain admission to an Ivy League school, no small feat. But then she had the maturity to decide the massive debt accrued by enrolling in such a school made little sense, and instead knew she would be perfectly happy at a highly-respected but more affordable school. And she regularly proves to me that if you keep chipping away at a problem, a solution will be found. She has shown me time and again that if you fight through it, you will succeed. Unfortunately, sometimes reflected off my children are my own vast shortcomings -- those things I desperately need to improve upon. It's my kids who will call me to task for being intolerant or critical or shrill. They're the ones who will remind me to not be impatient, or nosy, or annoying. And they'll gladly wince while telling me my jokes are painfully bad. They're sometimes too quick to find my faults but that's okay, because it's honest. I may not like what I see in the mirror they're holding up to me, but what better way to know what to prove upon? I don't know, maybe I'm just inherently quite flawed and they're wise to it. But I'd like to think this is just how the world works, and I'm at the tipping point now. It's their turn to get even, in a good way. I've spent more than 20 years imparting my dubious wisdom on my kids, but it's abundantly clear they have much more to teach me: to follow your dreams, to do what makes you happy and happiness will follow, to struggle through adversity, to prove them all wrong. I have become the Grasshopper to their Master Po (Forgive my bad Kung Fu reference), and I'm honored to be learning at their feet now. Jenny Gardiner is mulling whether she has the courage to skydive too. Until then, you can find her at

  Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Slim to None

Anywhere But Here

Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)

Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (I'm a contributor)

And these shorts:
Idol Worship: A Lost Week with the Weirdos and Wannabes at American Idol Auditions

The Gall of It All: And None of the Three F's Rhymes with Duck

Naked Man On Main Street
find me on Facebook: fan page
 find me on twitter here
 find me on my website

Monday, February 18, 2013

Twenty-five Things I Know For Sure About the Writing Life

by Saralee Rosenberg

This year marks my twenty-fifth anniversary as an author and how wonderful that the silver has not yet tarnished. Eight of my books have been published, (four novels and four non-fiction titles), and yesterday I finished HOTLINE TO HEAVEN, my first novel for younger readers.

Reinvent yourself or die!

In honor of my two and a half decades in the trenches, here are twenty- five things I know for sure about the writing life. The list is meant to remind both the emerging and the experienced writer that there may be a million other ways to make a living, but few that are as exasperating lol. I meant rewarding. And exasperating!

How do you spell rejection? A-B-S-O-L-U-T

So for what its worth, here is my best advice:

1.     Readers, reviewers, agents and editors are idiots unless, of course, they love what you wrote. Just kidding. They may not get you but they know what they like so listen and learn. You just might discover your book's fatal flaw.

2.     Read the how-to books and blogs, take classes and spend the summer in Iowa. But at some point just write the damn story and let your characters be your guide.

3.     If you breathe life into your characters, by page 50 you'll hear the natal heart beat. And that is the point they are big and strong enough to take the story in the direction you had no idea you were going.

4.     If your characters are not leading the way by page 50, you made a wrong turn.

5.     When nothing is going right, go left.

6.     Input and feedback matter, but not too soon. The rush for accolades and encouragement can destroy potentially great ideas before they've had time to percolate. Resist the temptation to ask for comments until you're on solid ground.

7.     Input and feedback matter, but only from the right people. Those with an agenda or who like/love you too much to be brutally honest are doing you no favors. You only need a few trustworthy, gentle readers to keep you in check.

8.     Admire other writers but don't aspire to be them. We don't need Richard Russo light.  Aspire instead to bring yourself to the party. We'd love to hear YOUR voice.

9.     Just when your story feels like it's falling apart it may actually be falling into place.

10. Have faith.

11.  You can't edit what you didn't write.

12.  The Internet is a time suck. You show me an author who is jumping between Facebook and a manuscript and I'll show you an author who is writing crap.

13.  Yes, yes. Crap sells. That doesn't mean you have to contribute to the shlock pile. Give us your absolute best work.

14. Enjoy elation when it occurs. Whether it's finishing a book, getting an agent, an advance, a deal, a great review, an award, an interview, making the best-seller list or just hearing from a reader who sings your praises, take time to be excited. You get nothing in writing that guarantees it will ever happen again.

15.  Take criticism but not disrespect. Anyone who is rude, dismissive or mean spirited is not worthy of your time and talent.

16. If someone turns you down, move on. Every door that closes brings you one step closer to the door that was meant to open.

17. Follow your instincts and trust that your ideas are coming from a higher place. A place that honors you.

18. Write daring. Your job is to disturb the Universe.

19. Care a great deal about your well being and that of your characters.

20. Dont waste time worrying about something that has not yet happened. There is a no-refund policy on time spent dwelling on the future. Worry only when a problem has presented itself and only if fixing the problem is within your power.

21. There are no such things as problems. Only opportunities to do things differently.

22. If you are writing to dazzle and impress then you should become a speech writer. Novelists will better serve their readers by telling stories that matter.
23.  Pushing to write a certain number of pages per day is like committing to driving a certain number of miles on a long road trip. You may arrive but you'll have missed the great scenery and possibly the turns that you should have taken.

24. Thank everyone you meet for whatever service, friendship or act of kindness they show you. This has nothing to do with writing, but an attitude of gratitude will lighten your load.

25. No matter what, if your blessings outweigh your burdens consider yourself among the very luckiest.

So that is it from the trenches. Happy writing. Oh and one last thing. Dream big! I did and it brought me to you.

Saralee Rosenberg