Monday, September 24, 2012

L.J. Sellers Shares All In The Writer

Awhile back I told you that The Writer magazine would shut their doors if a buyer wasn't found. I'm thrilled that they did find a buyer--Madavor Media. As far as I know, they'll continue as they are, publishing wonderful articles like A Successful Journey into E-Books by L.J. Sellers. You absolutely cannot afford to miss this article. It’s in the October 2012 issue. L.J. lays it out there for you, all the reasons she switched from being a traditionally published author to an eBook author. Her reasons are good and methodically thought out. The best thing about this piece is the honesty, her tone. L.J. doesn't skip or skimp on the info she shares with the reader. You can trust this information.

Some of her valuable advice was in this paragraph: I decided to stop wasting time and money on things that weren't working and focus on things that were. What wasn't working for me was my small publisher, which couldn't get my books into stores. What was working for other people was the growth in ebook sales.

This is excellent advice for all of us. We need to evaluate what’s working for us and what isn’t.

L.J. shares her path through the digital world, and her decision to forget about print books and bookstores certainly paid off. Amazon Publishing offered her an 11-book contract. Yep, you read right. Now rush out to the bookstore and pick up a copy of The Writer. You can learn something from L.J. Sellers.

You can read more about L.J. Sellers by visiting her website.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Falling In Love With Kindle--A Romance

I've finished my novella! Thanks to everyone who commented and encouraged regarding my ending. Several comments really helped me. I can't say that I'm 110% in love with my ending, but at least it's an ending. 


Finally … finally, I’ve fallen in love with my Kindle. Not because of anything I’ve bought and read, or the convenience of having 500 books flopping around in my purse no matter where I am. Rather, I love it for what it helps me do. I had no idea . . .

I’m sure most of you knew that you can email your manuscripts to your Kindle address to proof and/or critique your own novel. I had no clue this was possible. Let me tell you who haven't taken advantage of this, it really works! All the problems in my book seemed magnified!

When I saw my novella in the same format as your books I’ve purchased, I was able to see clearly much of what I needed to fix, improve, flesh out or cut. Over the weekend, Saturday through Monday, I went through the story twice, read every word twice, and I felt confident enough to send it to a reader who will look at it one more time to make sure certain elements fall into place before I query the editor.
My novella was written to be a part of a series published by The Wild Rose Press, an e-Book series. There are elements that must fall in line with the other books already published.

Now… while I wait for one of the other authors to read my book, I’d better get to work on another short piece I've started. I’ve been invited by a friend to create a Christmas story for an anthology she wants to publish. Fifteen thousand words and deadline is October 15th. Let’s see how fast I can get into the Christmas spirit.

What have you got going these days? What do you want to accomplish between now and December 31st? In the wonderful words of Tim Gunn: make it work!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The End - Or Is It?

I’m in a bind and need help.

I finished my novella some time ago and absolutely loved my ending. It left me endeared to my characters and a smile on my face. I felt that even though the story is a little creepy with a couple of evil characters, the ending would leave the reader feeling good. After all, those evil characters were put in their place--so to speak.
However, I sent my manuscript to beta readers and agreed with all their suggestions. They were easy to make. One, whose opinion I really value because she reads across the board, said she thought my ending needed more punch. The story didn’t end with action--just a sweetness. I could see exactly what she meant. My sweet ending was easily incorporated into “the punch” except for one thing: I have no ending now. I don’t have satisfaction, a paragraph or two that makes me feel the story has truly ended. I can’t find that comfortable wrap-up, and that final satisfying sentence that makes me nod, or smile or wipe away a tear.
I keep putting my characters in different locations to see if something sparks my imagination: a brother’s condo where they share a cup of coffee and wrap up loose ends. Doesn’t work.
I’ve put them in a hotel, in the breakfast bar, with swollen eyes from weeping and lack of sleep. That’s okay, but I don’t have the right dialogue for a wrap-up.
Now, I’m investigating them standing around a safety-deposit box, discovering some things they didn’t know. They’re together and they’re getting more answers. This seems like just one more chapter I’ll need before the final wrap-up.
My endings have always been fairly easy, evolving from the characters and their situation. I’m at a complete loss.
Do you know your ending before you finish your book? If not, how do you determine what works and what doesn’t, and what leaves the reader satisfied? Do you change your ending often? If you have no clue to your ending, how do you create one?
I'm desperate for comments and suggestions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Characters I Live With

Are you a people watcher? While living here in our home away from home, I am, more than ever. I watch people, listen to what they say and try to determine what they might do next.

I watch people when I go to the library to write. The library here has no “Speak Softly” rules. I’ve heard a lot of moms fussing at their kids. I've heard a lot of undisciplined kids too. I listened to one young teen ask a guy to take her to the mall, then go into a detailed account of how her grandma left her grandpa and wasn’t going back to him.

I watch people when I shop in Wal-Mart. Most of them look incredibly unhappy, as if they’d rather be anywhere else. Amazing how different yet how alike we all are. What amazes me most, is how a person can walk right past me, within spitting distance, and totally ignore me, never speak a hello.

I watch (and hear) people outside my apartment window.The guy above us is on a health/exercise kick. We get up at 4:30 every morning. He gets up at 5. I hear him turn on the blender to mix his morning drink. I wonder what he has in it. Is it a powered Slim Fast drink (I’ve noticed he’s lost a little weight) or something with protein. 

I met a lady when she was walking back from the dumpster. I was getting groceries out of the back of the car. Within fifteen minutes, I knew she was someone I didn’t want to know. She warned me right away--several times--that she was unlikeable. By the time we'd finished our visit, she had me convinced. I haven’t seen her since. I think she’s avoiding me as much as I’m avoiding her.

There are two young guys who live across from us. When we first moved in, I’d see them leave the apartment every day around 10:00 a.m. The short, stocky one would go out to the car first, fiddle with locks, toss his backpack inside and wait for his friend. Five minutes later, the tall lean one, who always walked fast, would go to the car, carrying his little dog. This was the routine for the spring semester. At least, that was my thought--that they were college students, taking their little dog to a ‘sitter’ then hurrying on the class. I’ve never seen any visitors coming or going at their place. I guess that should have been a warning considering they're young and should be having parties and lots of friends over.

Two nights ago, there was a loud pounding on their door. An authoritative voice yelled: Sherriff’s office. Open up.” No response--more pounding. “Search warrant. Open up.”

Two hours later, the tall lanky occupant was taken away in handcuffs. The short stocky one wasn’t around, but he brought friends the next day and moved out. So much for the quiet, unassuming neighbors I'd admired for spending their time studying. You can read about it or watch the video HERE. For the record, I never saw any children going into his apartment. None. Ever.

People-watching, paying attention to what is around us, can help us with our characterization and make our scenes more authentic. I'm sad for my young neighbor, and everyone who knows and loves him. His life is ruined. On a more positive note, I'm excited to know exactly what a law enforcement officer sounds like when he beats on a door yelling, "Search warrant, Open Up." And very thankful he got the right apartment.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Contest for Self-Published Books

I came across this contest yesterday and thought some of you might be interested. Deadline is looming so check it out now and follow the guidelines to perfection. Top winner will get a year's worth of full page advertising. That sounds like a valuable prize for a self-published book! Good luck!


Go HERE for submission info.

Shelf Unbound book review magazine announces the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book. Any self-published book in any genre is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $10 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Shelf Unbound magazine.

To submit an entry, email a PDF of your entire book, including the cover, to , subject line Contest Entry, and send a check for $10 made out to Shelf Media Group to Margaret Brown, Shelf Media Group, 3322 Greenview Drive, Garland, TX 75044. All entries received (and entry fee paid) will be considered.

The top five books, as determined by the editors of Shelf Unbound, will receive editorial coverage in the December/January 2013 issue of Shelf Unbound. The author of the book named as the Best Self-Published book will receive editorial coverage as well as a year’s worth of full-page ads in Shelf Unbound (rate card value $6,000).

The deadline for entry is midnight on October 1, 2012. The winners will be notified by October 15, 2012. Additional information and rules can be found on our contest rules page at

For further information, please feel free to contact Margaret Brown, Publisher, via email:

Shelf Unbound book review magazine, a 2012 Maggie Award finalist for Best Digital-Only Publication, reaches more than 125,000 avid readers in the U.S. and in 42 other countries around the globe. Subscriptions to Shelf Unbound are free at

Take a moment to check out Every Writer's Resource -- This is a great site. There are many resources and more contests to enter. And remember, always investigate the contests you enter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

IWSG: Get Rid of the Clutter

If you read my previous post, you know that my AOL email was hacked. The only word that comes to mind is devastating, but only because I've had my AOL email address for ten or twelve years. jessy31writer was who I was. It was my identity. When I went to writers' conferences, attendees may not know my name but all I had to say was, "I'm jessy31writer" and they'd say, "Oh, yeah."

Devastating! Sort of reminds me of when I learned we were moving to Oklahoma. I could hardly stand the thought of being so far away from our kids, I couldn't stand the thought of lifting and moving furniture, traveling in two vehicles across a couple of states, searching for a place to live, waiting for the cable guy. If you've moved much, you know the drill. Using a new email address felt the same way.

Oklahoma--in spite of the wind, the drought, tornadoes, new TV stations, gangs, drive-by shootings, unfamiliar grocery stores and brands of food--has been great for my writing. I only know one person here, two if you count my husband, so all I have to do is cook, wash clothes and write.

I'm trying to treat the AOL hacking the same way. I'm trying to make it work for me. My new virtual mailbox is pretty bare. (Now that I think about it, our physical mailbox is bare too, but that's another story.) Those 60 yahoo groups I belong to have been trimmed. So have the e-newsletters. For a few days, I fell into that what's the point state of mind and unsubbed. I wasn't reading them anyway... just collecting them.

Now that I've crawled out of that what's the point state of mind, I can see that clutter, whether it's on your computer, in your email or physically around you, destroys creativity. Clutter weighs you down. Clutter becomes a habit. We (or I) accept it, live with it, without realizing how destructive it can be.

Without the clutter of my Home Sweet Home in Louisiana (we left all furniture behind), I'm writing more. Maybe without the clutter of my AOL email, I'll submit more.

Take a look at your writing life. If you aren't writing and submitting, you might need new surroundings. I'm not suggesting you move away, but try leaving home for a few hours each day to write in a new place: the library, a cafe, bookstore or coffee shop. If you think you'll do too much people watching, then don't comb your hair or wear make-up. Believe me, you won't look at anyone for fear they'll look back at you.

I used to think I couldn't write anywhere but in my own home. That's a lie we tell ourselves to hang on to our creature comforts. Take it from me, you can write anywhere.


Are you writing? If not, why not? Frustration? Clutter? Have you fallen into that what's the point frame of mind? That's normal but don't hang out there too long. There's a reason you're there; find it. Get rid of it. And write.