Tag Archives: community

6 Must-Haves For Nurturing Relationships With Readers

I love my readers! 

They say such nice things about me, like:

“Grubb thinks big. And it comes across in her novels. They’re packed with action and romance and great dialogue. But she never compromises. There’s a moral line she doesn’t cross…but they aren’t stuffy or stilted in any way.”

Or, “Entertaining and made the time fly. Hard to put down. I normally read 50-75 novels a year and most of them I read and forget. This one has stayed with me. Quirky romantic hero, well-defined characters, and a great story. There were a few typos and other grammatical issues, but easy to overlook when the story is so good. Highly recommend!”

Six Must Haves For Nurturing Relationships With Readers by Katharine Grubb

There isn’t a better feeling than having readers get you!

Now I know that I can’t please all of them. I do have my share of 1-2 star reviews. But if I look at my body of work in the big picture, I want to nurture this relationship with my readers. I want to love my readers and strengthen our relationship for the long term.

These are six great must-haves for me if I’m going to love my readers.

1.  AN ATTRACTIVE ATTITUDE  I think that generally speaking, people are attracted to lightheartedness. And while there is a place in this world for controversy and strong opinions (perhaps in the books I write), I think our persona as authors should be one of cheerfulness. (This means NO COMPLAINING. EVER.) I know how much I’m turned off by bad attitudes, so I can imagine my readers would feel the same if I were whiny, condescending or rude.

2. AUTHENTICITY Writers are ordinary people who spend a lot of time thinking. We’re not some pretentious, chain-smoking, cat-loving hermits who substitute our stories for actual human intimacy and wear a lot of black. (At least I’m not.) I believe that writers who can show their humanity to others, who can allow non-writerly life to be seen by the public (within reason), who don’t isolate themselves or create a lofty image will be able to identify with their readers. I like to meet people who are real and if they aren’t afraid to show their weaknesses, then I love them all the more.

The FIRST EVER Conference for 10 Minute Novelists will be held August 9-11, 2018 in Cincinnati, OH. We’re featuring Donald Maass, James Scott Bell and Janice Hardy! Come and learn with us!

3. ACCESSIBILITY  We are so lucky in this age to be able to communicate with our readers. It used to be that readers wrote letters to authors and there were no reviews on Amazon and no one could tweet you. Wise writers should take advantage of these communication methods and figure out what works. This would include, among other things, having an email address on a blog and engaging in conversation.

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”
Napoléon Bonaparte

4. AN INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE  So, what was your favorite love song from the ’80s?  Our readers can provide all kinds of answers to questions, but we need to ask them! I found while I was writing, that my Facebook fan page readers have great insight, they have good ideas, they know exactly how feasible it would be to hide a laminating machine in a dorm room. Because I’m asking them questions, I’m starting some interesting conversations, think about things in a different way and outsource my research (all of this adds to my authenticity and accessibility!) My readers know I’m up to another story and so when it comes out, they’re all the more excited. Win-win!

5. APPRECIATION Readers are why I do this. Every time I find out someone read my book or left a review, I am a little humbled. My readers are taking a chance on me. A $3.99 ebook isn’t a very big chance, but still. Out of the millions of things these readers could read, they chose my book and from the response, I’m getting, they are willing to fork over even more. I can’t take this for granted. Perhaps fame and fortune are part of my future. I never want to be so big that I don’t forget who loved me in the beginning. I thank my readers often. You should too.

6. EXCELLENCE (and thus ends the A Alliterative point. Sigh.) If we go to the trouble of writing a book, then we must be diligent in all areas of it. We must take care to make it mechanically sound, not cut corners and not disappoint our readers with sloppy, unprofessional work. Poor editing communicates to the reader that we don’t care about them. I would hate for my reputation to be tarnished because I didn’t take the time to be excellent.

Granted, ten, fifteen years from now my own experiences may change this a little, but for now, I want to cultivate these qualities as a habit, so that I can continue to have great relationships with my readers.

 What else can you think of that readers want? What do you want as a reader? Which of these is hardest for you? Which of these is the easiest?


Did you like this post? You may also like:

Top 10 Ways To Get Your Readers To Fall In Love With You or,

Top 10 Things You Should Be Saying To Yourself That Will Help Make You More Successful


 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community. 

Five Signs To Keep Writers From Going Wrong

By TLC Nielsen

Are you a Writer Gone Wrong?

10 minute novelists are an upbeat, happy group of writers striving to be all they can word-ly be.

But unbeknownst to many is another, small group of writers who hoard their words, shudder from social interaction with other (competing) authors, and cannot restrain themselves from talking/chatting/emailing about their books, blogs and other writings far more than necessary. This group of writers took dangerous forks on the writerly road, ending up down a path they never intended to take.

Here are 5 road signs to keep you, and me, from joining Writers Gone Wrong!

5 Road Signs To Keep Writers From Going Wrong by TLC Nielsen

Road Sign #1 Writing Conferences- To go or Not to go

Beware the path that leads you away from attending writing conferences. I’m thankful my writing path started 6 years ago when a persistent writing friend invited me to a local, annual writing conference. Yes, it was expensive, but so is any 4-day conference with room and board attached. It took two years of writing for a scholarship before I won a full-ride award. By attending this conference, I moved from being an amateur writer to becoming a serious wordsmith. I proved to myself, my family and other writers that I was “in it to win it.” I have gone to a yearly writing conference ever since and I wouldn’t have finished my novel without the support I found there. Attending a conference also gave me a deadline, making me work harder and smarter to have my one-sheet, short biography, and manuscripts ready to go.

Road Sign #2 Word Hoarding versus Sharing

Finding an amazing critique group requires some hunting and some sacrifice of time but the alternative is scary. Left to themselves, writers gone wrong will think everything they’ve written is amazing or, more like me, that it all stinks and should be destroyed before anyone can smell, I mean read it. Writers need to be actively involved with a peer group of fellow wordsmiths they can trust to help them edit and improve. The first draft isn’t called the “vomit” draft1 for no reason.

It took me three years of attending that local writing conference before I found a handful of writers who lived close enough to me to start a critique group. I trust these writers because of their keen insight and the amazing works they share with the group. I had been involved with a library writers’ group previously, which left me scarred and scared; there were a few alpha writers who positioned themselves to be in control. That was my first experience with writers gone wrong and it took me ten years before I would try again. So, as a self-confessed word hoarder, I implore all writers to become word sharers, even if it means starting your own critique group and having to be its president for a few years. The benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

“Writers need to be actively involved with a peer group of fellow wordsmiths they can trust to help them edit and improve.” — TLC Nielsen

It’s truly an honor and privilege for me to be involved with the serious writers in the On the Border chapter. When this group first started, we looked at a variety of organizations before choosing to join Word Weavers, International. These organizations are a great way to get support and find writing groups in your area. I joined the 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook about the same time my critique group started and my fellow writers, both online and in-person, are responsible for my success as a word sharer on this word-strewn journey…together.

I joined the 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook about the same time my critique group started and my fellow writers, both online and in-person, are responsible for my success as a word sharer on this word-strewn journey…together.

Road Sign #3 Lone Ranger or Accountability Partner – that is the question

Writers who’ve gone wrong may sometimes attend a writing conference and occasionally pop into a critique group. They may be too much of the lone ranger type to seek out a mentor or accountability partner. When I attended my first conference five years ago, the presenters hammered out the trifecta of writer success: conferences, critique groups and one-on-one relationships. Eugene H. Peterson in a 2017 publication summed it up well: “I am not myself by myself.”2 He may have been referring to the church, but I think his statement stands for writers – I am not my writerly self by myself. If no one reads my words, I am simply a journal writer, not an author. To be an authentic author takes accountability, sometimes the uncomfortable kind.

Road Sign #4 Using Your Writerly Powers for Good or…

Do you give or take in your writing? Literary agent Leslie Stobbe said if you want to be a writer, then write! 3 Find an organization to use your skills to help, for the need of volunteer writers is vast. There are numerous ways to use your word powers for good. Here are two basic mainstays: always a) quote your sources and b) ask for permission to use other folks’ words whenever possible.

However, there can be a dark side to having writerly powers, when it’s too easy for authors to stray into taking more than they give.  Oh, they may pretend to offer something for free but there’s a catch – you owe them. A true gift comes with no strings attached. It takes dedicated effort to use words to help others, whether offering to write guest blogs for writer friends, volunteering free writing services to a worthy organization, or sending thoughtful letters to others – just give back full-heartedly. And remember the advice from Leslie, if you’re a writer – then write.

“Being a participating member of 10 Minute Novelists is a great start!”

— TLC Nielsen

Road Sign #5 Decimal Point Growth or Decline

In chatting with my mother, a published botanist, she encouraged me to mention becoming Decimal Point writers, “people who are incrementally increasing their skills.”4 She clarified that even though 1.4 writers are still considered at “1” a small increase to 1.6 catapults them towards “2.”

Writers who have gone wrong, however, tend to think in extremes – I’m a “10+” or I’m a “0”. I’m learning to celebrate the small incremental steps of my writing journey in order to dodge the doubt that plagues me. My small successes include reading books for pleasure while on the stationary bike, writing a monthly blog and bringing something, anything, to the critique group to which I belong. I’m also entrusting my novel to beta readers, a step of trust in my word-ly journey. 

While my book has not been published yet, I hold on to the 10 minutes a day commitment that gets me ever closer to my goal. 

The choices writers make EACH DAY will either expand or contract their growth: in conference attendance, word sharing commitment, community mindfulness and accountability and, most importantly, in giving back.


1 Bob Hostetler, WTP 2016 conference, Wheaton, Illinois. “Vomit draft” quote, source unknown.

2 Eugene H. Peterson, CT Pastors: “The State of Church Ministry in America”, 2017 (p. 30)

3 Leslie Stobbe, WTP 2012 conference, Wheaton, Illinois

4 Botanist Linda W. Curtis, self-published author of three books on plants:

Aquatic Plants of Northeastern Illinois, Bog-Fen Carex of the Upper Midwest and Woodland Carex of the Upper Midwest.  Permission granted


TLC Nielsen fights her writer-gone-wrong tendencies by being the current VP of the Word Weavers On the Border writing chapter, mentoring new attendees at a local writing conference, and belonging to the 10 MN group. She’s editing her first novel, By Land or Sea, and will be attending only one conference this year, at her spouse’s request. She uses her writerly powers for the better by occasionally judging book contests. Her decimal point increases include playing trombone on Rich Rubietta’s CD Resting Places, contributing a story on p. 68 of I Believe in Healing by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk, belonging to the 365 Writing Club here at 10 MN as well as interviewing ordinary folks with extraordinary stories at this monthly blog: https://lookandbe.blogspot.com.  You can find her occasionally on Twitter as Read2Mii2.

16 Simple Things To Do To Be More Creative

Everybody wants to be more creative.

Creativity is that moment when your ideas come together in just the right way, you may see something that no one else did. Creativity is problem solving, but it’s also strategy, connections and applications of concepts. When we’re on fire creatively, sometimes we don’t know where the original spark came from but we know we like the innovative blaze it ignited.

The problem with creativity is that it’s the hard work of the mind and sometimes the ideas just aren’t there.

We know what makes our bodies tired, but often the mind gets tired in entirely different ways. If we are writing for a living, or hinging our professional success on creativity, then we can’t afford to waste too much time not innovating and creating.

13 Simple Things To Do to Be More Creative

 

The first step in becoming more creative is to start with your physical well-being: Get enough…
These alone won’t make you creative, but they will bring your mind to the optimum situation where creativity could occur.

Other ideas to set yourself up to be creative.

1. Get your mind off your task. I am a mother of five, so I know all about distractions. It turns out that having my kids come into my office every thirty seconds to show me something insignificant and dull is good for my brain. Distractions can make me more creative. They certainly make me annoyed.

2. Do something logical. Now according to this researcher, the jury is still out on how exactly one brain activity helps the other, but doing logic puzzles, Sudoku or crosswords certainly can’t hurt your creativity. I’d like to think of these logic breaks as cross-training for your mind. If you focus only on inventive thinking, your brain could be need for a rest.

3. Put yourself in a low stakes creative setting. Don’t know what to write next in your novel? Go get your pencils and adult coloring book and veg out. When you are coloring, you are making creative choices, but because they are rather insignificant ones, your brain can take a breather. Maybe after a couple of pages, you can face your writing again.

Ways To Be More Creative by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

4. Exercise. This article a University of Georgia study showed how exercise increases memory and analytical thinking.  here’s even this series on Youtube called Yoga for creativity

5. Get out of your own head. According to this article from PsychCentral, your overthinking about your task could be the very thing that paralyzes your creativity. It certainly can paralyze the rest of your life. Consider putting projects aside and deliberately putting your mind on something new. This may be all it takes to get fresh perspective.

6. Change the scenery. This thorough article gives lots of examples of how to create novel experiences during your week so that your creativity is encouraged.  Even things as simple as altering your commute or rearranging your office can stimulate your brain and make your ideas flow.

7. Go through your old notes. According to this article, “innovation can only ever rearrange what already exists.” I would agree. As storytellers, we’re always remixing old ideas — old character tropes, old plotlines, familiar settings — to make something fresh and hopefully innovating. Your old ideas may not be brilliant on their own, but if they are coupled with your current experience and insight, you may find great inspiration.

8. Try a new juxtaposition. Analogies can be a great way to stimulate creativity. When I was in college, I was introduced to the idea of the synectics model, which is a way of comparing unlike objects or creating fresh analogies to stimulate creativity. This video explains it too. Occasionally I use this  (with my original notes from the ’90s) to understand my themes or characters better.

9. Discuss your idea with other creatives or peers. We all know that having someone to trust to bounce ideas off of is helpful. Don’t know any writers? It just so happens that I lead the liveliest writers group on Facebook. You should join us.

10. Make lists. I love, love, love everything that Brain Pickings has to say, but then they did an article on how Ray Bradbury would make lists to stimulate his thinking. Oh! This is perfect! Do what Bradbury does and you could write the next Fahrenheit 451!

11. Meditate. I was totally sold on this idea when I read this: “We can stop wringing our hands and waiting for the muses to fill our minds with novel and useful ideas. The science suggests that we can take an active role in inspiration and that this exercise can help!” I would believe that anytime you pursue mindfulness, you’re going to come out ahead. Not to mention that your stress level decreases, your blood pressure lowers and you feel physically energized.

12. Get organized. You’ve probably read the phrase, “A tidy desk is a sign of a sick mind,” or something along those lines. Maybe you’ve used your disorder as an excuse to be creative. But the good folks at The New York Times have done a little science and they think you should tidy it up if you want to be creative. Now set your timer and get to it. You’ll probably like the way it looks when you’re done.

13. Listen to music. According to this Psychology Today article: “Music not only affects your creative musings but also your energy levels.” But you probably already knew that. You already knew that some music makes you get up and dance. Some puts you in the mood to write. Sometimes music takes you on a memory trip. Music is powerful, so plug in those earbuds. You’ll be inspired in no time.

14. Take a nap. Of all the thing on this list to bolster creativity, THIS IS MY FAVORITE! Our little brain cells need a rest! I’ve always suspected as much, but it’s nice to know that science backs me up when I close the blinds and tell the kids not to bother me for 45 minutes or so.

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15. Move forward on the worst idea. So in the 30 seconds I was using to Google all of these suggestions, I couldn’t come up with the documentation to support that moving on the worst idea was a good creative strategy. I still stand by it and this is why: assuming the stakes or low (and really, drafting a novel in this saturated market rarely creates high stakes for anyone) try the worst idea on your list of potential ideas. Move forward. Take a step. See what happens. Either you’ll discover that it’s not such a bad idea after all, or you’ll adjust it and modify it so much, you’ll create more and more ideas and you’ll be recharged by your discovery. It’s a win-win.

16. Read. Of all the things on this list, reading is one that you should be doing anyway. You probably don’t need a reminder that reading feeds your subconscious, increases your vocabulary and knowledge, opens your mind to new ideas and helps you think critically, but I’m going to paste a link in here anyway to make it official. 

You can’t specifically turn your creativity on and off like a tap, but you can set your mind up strategically so that it has the better chance of being creative.

Got any more ideas? Send me a comment! I’d love to hear how you’ve become more creative.


Like this post? You may find these helpful too!  

Top 10 Ways To Make Your Words More Beautiful

Or, Top 10 Ways To Deal With Writers Block


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Top 10 Pro Tips For Attending A Writing Conference

by Christina Alexander

February is upon us and that means conference season approaches.

If you are attending your first writing conference, CONGRATULATIONS! You have made the first step to furthering your writing career. While each conference is unique in the opportunities it offers, there are some universal tips to remember in order to get the most out of the conference.

Top 10 Pro Tips For Attending A Writing Conference

1.    Choose Wisely

Conferences are expensive. Often, it’s an issue of saving up money all year before being able to afford to go. Between registration, cost of travel, hotel, food, and other goodies (not taking into account the prep beforehand), you can easily spend up to $2000 per conference. In this case, choosing the right conference is just as important as deciding to attend a conference. Is it hosted by a genre specific organization like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, or is it a general conference for all authors like the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference? Each has its own benefits and drawbacks depending on what you are looking to accomplish, and what they provide.

Pro Tip: Last year when many of my writing friends were attending Romantic Times in Las Vegas, I was tempted to attend. But after some careful consideration I decided to attend the Romance Writers of America conference in San Diego, CA instead. While RT is fun, and many of my friends were attending, it offers more for published authors. I realized that at this point in my career I would benefit from the networking opportunities and workshops of RWA. I can always attend RT after my books come out. (Admin note: The first ever conference for 10 Minute Novelists will be held in 2018. Watch this spot for more details.)

2.    Plan Ahead

Once you decide on the conference that best suits your needs, plan ahead. Most conferences release workshop schedules to attendees a few weeks before the event. Sit down with the list of workshops (and their room numbers) and a map of the conference facility. Go through the list and see which workshops you want to attend and figure out where they are. Most workshops run 45-minutes, with a 15-minute break in between. You’ll have just enough time to get from one room to the other, and maybe stop by the bathroom on your way.

Pro Tip: I have a confession to make–I am addicted to spreadsheets. When I attended RWA last summer, I went prepared. I took a map of the conference hotel, a list of the workshops, and put them on a spreadsheet. That way I had a visual of what was happening where and at what time. I even color coded it based on the type of workshop it was (craft, chat, research, career, etc). It was a thing of beauty…

3.  Time Management

Hand-in-hand with knowing the schedule ahead of time, is knowing what the best use of your time is. With many workshops occurring at the same time, it’s sometimes difficult to decide which to attend. If you face this dilemma, sit towards the rear of the room. There is no shame in ducking out of one workshop to attend another. It’s common to see people coming and going to listen to different speakers.

Pro Tip: When I found out that some of the workshops I wanted to attend were occurring simultaneous of each other, I panicked. Then I regrouped and took note of which ones were recorded. RWA records many of its workshops and offers them for sale to members. That way I was able to attend the unrecorded workshops and purchase the recordings for my library. Check with your conference, sometimes they’ll offer them for purchase ahead of time at a discount.

4.    The Hunt For Representation

Are your conference offers pitch sessions, and you are seeking representation, it is important to research the industry professionals who will be taking pitches. If you attend a general conference like Writer’s Digest or the Southern California Writer’s Conference, be sure the agent you pitch to represents what you write. It will be a waste of time for both of you if you pitch your literary fiction novel to and agents who only reps children’s books. Even if you are attending a genre specific conference, not all agents or publishers represent the same books. A publisher who produces romance books for the LGBTQ community will not be interested in a small town contemporary romance with straight characters.

Pro Tip: I know it’s tempting to bring your completed manuscript with you to a conference, but I don’t recommend doing so. Most industry professionals will not have time to read with an eye for acquiring, and they do not have the room to pack multiple manuscripts. If you get a request for your manuscript, you will be given specific instructions on how to submit the required documents.

5. Pitch Perfect

You did your research and made a pitch appointment with your dream agent. Do you have your pitch ready? If you don’t, now is the time to write one. If you are having trouble with it, think of your pitch as the back cover copy on your book. What would it read like when your book is published?

Most pitch appointments run anywhere from five to ten minutes. You’ll have a few minutes to give your pitch and some time afterwards to chat with your prospective editor or agent. While you can memorize your pitch, it is always a good idea to keep some notes handy in case your mind goes blank. Don’t worry if your delivery isn’t perfect, industry professionals know most writers are introverts and public speaking–especially in front of strangers–isn’t their thing.

Pro Tip: When I pitched my story I made sure to write it on a 3×5 note card. It kept me on point, and also gave me a place to write questions of my own. The pitch itself only took two minutes, and that left time for the agents to ask me questions about my story and where I see my career going (hint: they’re looking for longevity!), and for me to ask questions about the agent, their agency and how they could help me achieve my goals.

6.    Be Prepared

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared. Not only for your pitch, but also for your workshops. I’ve known some people who get so focused on their pitch appointment, they forget about the workshops and networking opportunities available to them. Make a list of things you will need to bring with you. If you like to handwrite notes, be sure to bring a notebook and pens with you. If you are more technically inclined, a tablet, laptop or mobile phone may be more your style–just be sure to bring a portable charger or two to make sure you are fully charged at all times.

Pro Tip: Many conferences are held at hotels, but the little hotel notepads don’t offer much space for note taking. I always bring extra notepads and pens in case someone needs one. If you’re published, you can even bring a pen with your website or logo on it. What better way to be remembered than as “that nice writer who gave me a pen when I needed one.” Who knows, you may meet a new friend or writing partner this way.

7.    Networking

Opportunities abound to network with other authors, editors, agents and other industry professionals. Aside from the pitch appointments and workshops, there are evening socials, publisher parties, and the ubiquitous hotel bar. I know, writers tend to be a solitary lot but a conference is the perfect time to break out of your shell and make connections. Here are a few things you should have in your networking arsenal.

  • Business Cards: If you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to have some business cards made. They should include:
    • Your name
    • Your email and/or phone number
    • Your social media handles
    • Your website, if you have one
    • What you write
    • Optional items include:
      • Your tag line, if you have one
      • A photo headshot
  • Elevator Pitch: You may run into editors and agents in unexpected places and should be ready with your elevator pitch. The premise is that it should only take as long as an elevator ride.
    • Having trouble thinking one up? An easy way to create an elevator pitch is to summarize your story into one sentence of 20 words or less. Similar to how the old TV Guide movie entries used to read.
  • Elevator Introduction: You should be able to introduce yourself at a conference. Confession–I get super nervous around big name authors and editors, so I fan girl. A lot. Which usually means I forget my own name. In order to combat this and at least look like I know what I’m doing, I have a little introduction that I keep handy.
    • “Hi, my name is Christina. I’m a 911 dispatcher by day, historical romance author by night.”
      • It’s fun, it’s quick, and a shows a bit of personality. It’s also a nice ice-breaker to use at the bar and social events.

Pro Tip: I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’m going to say it again. The bathroom is not the place to pitch your book. You can wait a few minutes for your target industry professional to exit the bathroom before you launch into your pitch.

8.    Pack and Dress Wisely

Don’t know what to wear? You can’t go wrong with business casual. While most conferences don’t have a dress code, you will want to present yourself as a professional. Shorts, jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops may be appropriate for your hotel room or walking about town, but not necessarily for you pitch session or workshops.

I mentioned before that many conferences are held at hotels, and hotels are notoriously cold in their public rooms. Be sure to bring a sweater and to dress in layers.

Pro Tip: Packing also goes hand-in-hand with being prepared. Make sure to check, and recheck, what you have in your suitcase before you leave. Do not be like me and get to your conference destination only to realize until the first morning of the conference that you forgot to pack appropriate shoes. Luckily, there was a shopping center across the street from the hotel where I was able to buy an emergency pair before things got underway.

9.    Take Care of Yourself

Conferences are busy events. Lasting three to four days, they pack as much activity as they can into such a short amount of time. Workshops start early in the morning and go all day. Then there are the after parties, the publisher parties, the meet and greets, the hotel bar, books signings… the list goes on. It can be an introvert’s worst nightmare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of it without having a nervous breakdown.

Pro Tips:

  • Be sure to wake up early enough to eat some breakfast, grab a cup of coffee (or two), and mentally prepare for the day.
  • Bring non-perishable snacks with you. Granola or protein bars are small enough to stick in a bag, and can stave off hunger until the next scheduled meal break.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated. Being inside with air conditioning can dehydrate you, even though you’re inside. Water bottles are easy to carry and refill as needed.
  • Try to avoid snacks and drinks that are heavy on the sodium and sugar, as they can dehydrate you.
  • Sitting for long periods of time taking notes can make everything tense up. Take some deep breaths and stretch your back and limbs, and flex your wrists.
  • Stay healthy! Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitiser. To prevent your skin from drying out too much, keep a travel size hand lotion in your bag.
  • Don’t forget your mouth! Stick lip balm is easily portable and will keep your lips from chapping in the air conditioned rooms, and a tin of mints will keep you fresh for your networking opportunities.
  • If you find yourself overwhelmed by the crowds and activity, take some time for yourself. If it’s close you can go to your room or, if your conference offers it, take advantage of the Quiet Room for a few minutes and recharge.

10. Have Fun

This is the most important tip I can give you: have fun.

Yes, writing is a business and a conference can go a long way to furthering your career. But this is also a time to listen, learn, laugh at the jokes, and make new friends.

When I attended my first writing conference, I didn’t know anybody or the first thing about writing a book. I went with an open mind and an empty notebook. I thought I would learn some new skills and, perhaps, come out with a story idea I could play with. Was I nervous? Absolutely! There’s nothing like being a new person in a new place completely unsure of yourself. I did not expect to walk out of there with new friends, friends who have turned into colleagues and have helped me grow as a writer over the years. You may go in as a solo writer, but you leave as a member of the community with everyone encouraging you on your way.

And that is truly priceless.


Christina Alexandra is a romance writer from Southern California. Always looking for an adventure, she has held many different jobs including both medical and veterinary offices, music teacher, law enforcement instructor, service dog puppy raiser, emergency grief counselor, coroner’s assistant and, currently, an emergency services operator. Christina writes stories set in Georgian and Regency England and credits her varied experiences as the foundation from which she builds true-to-life characters and emotional stories with a unique twist on modern issues. When not researching, writing or working, she spends her time traveling and cooking–oftentimes with a historical flare.

You can connect with Christina online at her website ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram ~ g+

How To Review A Book As An Author

By Olivia Folmer Ard

In this digital age, an author’s internet presence can make or break her.

Reputation, success, overall career—these are just a few of the things on the line when we power on our computers and plug into the virtual world. We’re all familiar with the horror stories about authors reacting badly to online reviews of their own books—Kathleen Hale stalked a Goodreads user who left a snarky one-star review, going so far as to physically visit the woman’s home, and Richard Brittain took stalking a step further when he tracked down a cheeky 18-year-old and bludgeoned her with a wine bottle after she criticized his work on Amazon.

Simply put, our kind does not always fare well in the digital realm.

We creatives are a sensitive breed, acting as protective mother hens to our word-children. Without proper discipline and restraint things can turn ugly, and fast.

 

But I’ve noticed a growing trend of self-published and independent authors who struggle with having a good presence on the opposite end of the spotlight. Instead of losing control with a reviewer of their own work, they lose control when they step into the reviewer’s shoes.

Authors should be a shining example of leaving stellar reviews, be our opinions positive or negative. We know firsthand how much work writing, revising, editing, promoting, publishing, and marketing can be. Whatever our opinion, it can—and should—be handled with grace. Here are a few basic guidelines to ensure this happens.

Were you given a free copy? Acknowledge that!

In this industry, receiving free review copies happens a lot. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this exchange, but it’s important to be transparent about these things. Let’s say you give an honest five-star review of your critique partner’s book, but neglect to include a disclaimer that you’re acquainted with the author and received a free copy. Now, let’s say someone figures out you’re connected with the author. Suddenly, that five-star review isn’t looking so shiny. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you were honest in your review. It doesn’t even matter that you barely know the author and have only been Facebook friends with him for three weeks. You weren’t forthcoming about the situation, and now the whole ordeal seems suspicious. People may not feel they can trust you anymore. And they certainly aren’t interested to learn more about YOUR work.

Use professional language!

The three S’s—slang, snark, and swearing—are fun to employ, especially when you’re discussing a book you didn’t enjoy. But when writing a review, especially one intended for public online display, you should avoid all of them. You’re not just a funny Goodreads user anymore—you’re criticizing or praising a colleague. Decorum and respect are in order here.

This goes double for authors you’re acquainted with, even in such nebulous ways as “I think we bumped into each other at a workshop five years ago.” In these cases, you must avoid writing the review as if it’s a personal letter. No, “Suzie, this was so good—much better than the first draft. Post more about this book in the group next Wednesday!” Instead, shoot for, “In The Great American Novel, Ms. Smith’s skills as a writer and storyteller are only improved from her stellar debut, The American Novel.

Be honest, but kind!

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you enjoy a fellow author’s personality, online presence, or cute cat photos—their work just isn’t your cup of tea. That’s okay! If you choose to review their books, be honest in your reactions; however, before you hit “send” on a two- or three-star review, check yourself. Did you write your honest thoughts in the best possible way? Did you, in emotionally neutral words, explain the issues you found with the story, or did you just say “this book stinks”? Did you come up with at least two things the author did well to “sandwich” your complaint?

If you said no to either question, reconsider posting this review. There’s always a way to express an opinion without being downright mean. It isn’t always easy, but we’re writers, after all—if anyone is able to temper honesty with kindness, it should be us.

Can’t say something nice? Don’t say anything at all!

They may say they don’t care if you give it one-star, but let’s get real here: we all care about that. Consider this the Golden Rule, Author Edition. I’ll admit, this one is extremely difficult to pull off. How do you say to the nice author you met online, the one who’s helped you out so much, “I know I promised to read and review your book, but trust me, you don’t want my opinions on public display”?

This isn’t fun. It stinks. It stinks even more if, like me, confrontation is your kryptonite and fibbing is distasteful. Each situation will vary, depending on how long you’ve known the author and how developed your friendship is. They may never ask you when you’ll post a review, and if that’s the case you’re off scot-free. But if they check in with you to see how the reading is coming, it’s best to let them know how you feel before posting a fully negative review for their work.

Couldn’t finish the book? Say so!

Whether you didn’t have the time, the story disinterested you, or the writing was just plain awful, it’s important to let those reading your reviews know if you didn’t complete a book. Further to the point, include details. What page were you on when you stopped reading? What Kindle %? Did you skip around a bit before giving up? This helps others struggling with the decision to keep reading or not decide whether they should persevere, and it’s also a courtesy to the author. What if the problem you had with the book was resolved one chapter over from where you stopped reading? If that’s the case, you’ve unintentionally misrepresented the world and possibly led potential readers astray.

Avoid the “I would have written it this way” trap!

Nothing is more insulting when another writer rolls up their sleeves and turns into an armchair quarterback in the Amazon review section. You might wish a character handled a certain situation differently, and it’s fine to say so, but don’t list all the ways you would have written it better. You’re leaving a review, not teaching a course. What you would have done is irrelevant, because this isn’t your book. Not only will you damage your relationship with the author (if you have one), potential readers may lose faith in the author’s credibility and authority. It also makes you look snobby and unprofessional, and if others find out you’re a writer, they most likely won’t be checking out your work.

Don’t participate in a publicized blog tour if you can’t give a positive review!

It happened to me. I signed up to participate in a release blitz for an exciting new novel, I downloaded the free book, and . . . I couldn’t finish it. Couldn’t get past 10%. I wasn’t an author at this point, so I had no qualms about leaving a review on Amazon (with my did-not-finish information front and center), but I couldn’t bring myself to post the review on my blog. Not on a day when I knew the author would be doing her best to sell, sell, sell. I could have opted out and posted a promotional blurb instead, but I didn’t want my followers to think I recommended the book, so I did the not-so-comfortable thing—I emailed the tour coordinator and told her I wouldn’t be able to participate.

Most coordinators will tell you it’s fine if you have a negative review and they’d still love for you to participate. As an author, I strongly recommend bowing out. It’s a bad idea to showcase a negative review of another author’s work on a day when lots of traffic will be coming through.

Write the review you’d like to receive!

If your review is positive, make it more interesting than “Good book!” If your review is negative, make it more constructive and kind than, “This book sucks!” You’re an author! How much do you crave well-thought-out, elegantly written reviews? How much do the hastily written, vague one-star snark attacks hurt? Write the positive review you’d choose to include in your promotional material. Write the negative review you’d actually be okay with, one you’d find yourself nodding along with thoughtfully and saying, “Yes, I see where she’s coming from.”

Study these guidelines. Learn them. Implement then. Your fellow authors will thank you!


Olivia Folmar Ard is a secretary, history nerd, and all-purpose geek. She’s the author of The Bennett Series, and Readers’ Favorite 5-Star recipient ‘Tis the Season. She is pursuing a second degree in sociology. She and her husband JD live in Central Alabama, where they look after two crazy cats and wait for their miracle baby. Website/Blog: http://oliviafolmarard.weebly.com/Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/oliviafolmarard.author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/oliviadeard Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/oliviadeardGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/oliviadeard Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/oliviadeard

 

The Diary of A Beta Reader: A Guest Post by Sara Marschand

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Guest blogger Sara Marschand explains her thought processes while she beta reads. A beta reader is often the first or second set of eyes a manuscript gets. Their purpose is to spot holes in a manuscript and communicate to a writer, who maybe a little myopic, that changes need to be made. 

For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of beta reading for many authors.

Much of my feedback highlights awkward sentence flags and unclear story parts. Sometimes it’s a setting that can’t be visualized, other times it may be a whole scene that doesn’t fit the narrative.

Logical errors are the easiest to spot. One author described a tiny cabin that two inhabitants lived tightly in. The next scene featured and armed militia crowding in for a sword fight. Plus, the heroine escaped everyone’s notice as she snuck out a secret back exit. Not likely!

Another author switched back and forth between night and day a couple times in a scene. The author had missed a couple words in editing that changed the clarity of the entire section.

But what goes on in the mind of your beta reader?

This is a snapshot of a year in the life of me, a beta reader. I tackled two works. The authors at different points in their careers.

Diary of a Beta Reader by Sara Marschand

Need questions to ask of your beta readers? Click here!

March

A new paranormal romance arrived. I love urban fantasy mixed with romance, so I can’t wait to dive in! It’s the author’s first book.

Prologue

Action at the beginning. Good start. I’m a huge fan of destruction. The author is overly fond of exclamation points, though. I will gently suggest she doesn’t need quite so many. I’ll have to wait and see if the prologue is relevant to the story.

Chapter 1

And now, I have whiplash. What the heidi-ho did the action- packed prologue have to do with this vapid girl’s POV?

Some of the actions are hard to envision, but I can help with that.

The cool fairy names totally fit the genre. I like them, and I’ll let the author know.

The writing style feels like YA, but why are they all wearing spiked heels?

Chapter 2

Hmm. This author makes a lot of grammatical errors. I’m not an editor, but there are so many, I can’t help but to comment on a few. After all, these could be typos.

Based on the language and simplicity of the sentences this must be YA or mid grade. I thought I was getting a book for adults, but moving on!

Chapter 3

Nope. These errors are definitely not typos. I know I got this pre-editor, but did the author even try to make it readable? Maybe I’ll send her a link to a good grammar book. For grins, I ran this chapter through the Hemingway app— second grade reading level. No wonder my intelligence feels insulted. This is beyond my ability as a beta reader to suggest fixes for, but I really, really, hope she has an editor.

Chapter 4

The characters roll their eyes too much. Another easy fix.

That paragraph was the best yet. If I highlight the excellent passages, she’ll know what works. I’m glad I found something redeeming amongst the choppy sentences.

This is clearly a novice author, but hopefully I can give her something to build her craft. I see a lot of thesis “telling” statements followed with the “showing” sentences. If she can delete those tells, the quality of writing will be improved.

Chapter 6

Holy exclamation points, Batman !!!!!!

These characters all walk and talk the same. I can’t figure out the hierarchy of the fantasy creatures. It seems like age and wisdom mean nothing, but it goes against norms of the genre.

Chapter 13

A pornographic content warning would have been appreciated. Adult audience confirmed. Erotica is not my typical genre. I would not have agreed to read this because of my inability to judge the content properly. Ironically, this is the highest quality writing in the book, except for the choice of words. I’m fairly sure the romance community never describes body parts in the terms used here.

Chapter Who Cares. Lost count.

The agony!  I quit !!! With lots of exclamation points and missing apostrophes!!!  I will never beta read again. Why did I sacrifice a weekend for twenty bucks? I regret my life choices. I read 80k of something the author should have said was an Alpha read and full of shocking content. I spent another four 4 hours summarizing my feedback where I gently wrote a paragraph on why this author should seek an editor.

The paranormal romance beta left me shell-shocked. A content warning flag should have been applied, and if I hadn’t been paid, I would have sent it back after chapter one due to sloppy writing. I could not, would not, take another beta for several months after that grueling read. I even quit the beta reading service I belonged to. I read only published and polished works until an author I’d worked with before asked for me to give feedback on her sequel. The first book was epic in length for the rates I charged, but I loved the story, so I agreed to the second installment.

“Beta reading perk: finding out what happens before anyone else.”

— Sara Marschand

August

The Word document arrived!

It’s been a while since book one. The author made significant changes after the book one beta. I’m really glad she gave me the final version, otherwise I’d be lost. Still, I have both versions swirling around in my head so I’ll review my notes and the changes. I want to get to the new book—stat!   

I don’t expect any nasty surprises. A book refined this far allows me to look at the broad strokes of the story. I’ll provide comments on little things that cause bumps in the read, but I’m looking forward to digging into the overarching plot and character development.

Prologue:

Symmetrical with book one. It’s a teaser for sure, but I like it. The tie-in to the climax works perfectly.

Characters:

There is so much good with this story, but my job is to find the holes. The major characters are just as I remember them, but one minor character bugs me. The male protagonist goes out of his way to keep the minor player alive, and ends up out of character as a result. The protagonist would never behave this way, and it’s too early in the book to have a major character development. The minor character needs to die. He’s got too much dangling plot potential to keep alive if those ideas won’t be pursued.

Two awesome second tier characters deserve a spin off or at least a short story. I’d love to see them on a caper together.

Romance:

This book has less romance than the first, but the opportunities exist. Where’s all the love?

Pace:

Four chapters in the space dock go on FOREVER. I started skimming when I got really bored. It’s basically four chapters of a character complaining about his aches and pains and wallowing in self-pity. Most of this material is repetitive, and it’s a departure from the feel of the rest of the book. Nix this. Please. A paragraph of this would be plenty. This could be a great place to insert a few hints about the end, though.

Dialogue:

Too much cursing. I enjoy a good swear, but not when it detracts from characterization. Multiple characters are using the exact same verbiage, and I’d like to see more differentiation.

Conclusion:

I fixed a few typos because I couldn’t help myself. There are still a number of junk words, which could be removed for conciseness, but I love this book. I’m so happy the author lets me read her works.

The harshest of my direct thoughts never made it into my feedback verbatim, but I did find polite ways to share them and encourage the author as best I could. Author 1 needed to work on her craft more before the story could be addressed. It was a hard read that made me much more selective in the works I’ve taken since. Author 2 and I had an established relationship. Other than a few typos, the copy was clean. I was able to focus on her overall story and plot twists that didn’t work. The author took my feedback graciously and even discussed potential changes afterward. A character died, thanks to me. So many authors take your feedback and you never hear from them again, but this author values my input.

The moral of the story: Give your beta reader the most highly edited work you can and let them be part of the process. The feedback you get will be deeper when their time is time spent reading the story and not fighting fixable errors. I beta read because I love helping authors shape the best story they can.


 

Top 10 Tricky Things You May Have To Do In Order To Achieve Your Goals

We can’t be the writer we want to be if we keep doing the things we’ve always done.

This is the time self-involved, sensitive writing types, think about how we can make this upcoming year the best ever. Especially if we are participating in Nanowrimo. This is an exciting time of year and it’s also kind of scary.

We’re going to have to make some changes. Sigh.

This week’s list is the Top Ten Tricky Things You May Have To Do In Order To Achieve Your Goals.

Top 10 Tricky Things You May Have To Do To Achieve Your Goals by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

1. You may have to say no to the expectations of others. This is tricky because in the past you may have said yes too much. You may not have been firm with your boundaries. You may not be known for taking time for yourself. If you are a 10 minute writer, then it is very reasonable to request that the people around you allow you that little bit of creative time.  I want to encourage you to love yourself enough to say no. This is an excellent article from PsychCentral about how to reclaim your boundaries and take care of your own needs. 

2. You may have to write down a plan and stick with it. This is tricky because in the past, you may have given up on things too early. You may remember the sting of failure. You may remember the times that having goals did nothing but taunt you because it didn’t work out. But writing down goals and keeping them visible often create a hope in us to keep going. Here’s another list of 10 — 10 Simple Strategies for Sticking to Your Goals. This is good advice.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott

3. You may have to go to bed earlier or get up earlier to find time to write. This is tricky because sleep has a way of claiming us. Setting an alarm means we have to take action. Being disciplined often isn’t as much fun as late night television. But your writing goal will cost you. I’d like to remind you that if you can find an extra ten minutes each day to write, and you write 500 words in that 10 minutes, that’s 3500 new words this week. That’s 14,000 new words this month. That’s 168,000 words this year. All you have to do to get those kinds of numbers is set your alarm. Here’s another encouragement to do this from Write To Done.

4. You may have to make writing a priority even though you’ve never treated it as one. This is tricky because this means you may have to face your fears. Some aspiring writers aren’t writing for legitimate reasons, like say, their fingers are broken, or their computer was smashed by an angry toddler. But some non-writing aspiring writers don’t write because they are just afraid to sit down and do it. They fear failure. They fear disappointment. They fear rejection. The difference between a writing aspiring writer who is afraid and a non-writing aspiring writer who is afraid is that the first one is sitting on their butt, putting words down.  All of us are afraid. Write anyway. Find a way around your broken fingers and record your voice instead. Get out a sharpened pencil and notepad while you wait for your computer to get fixed. Despite your fears, write for 10 minutes today. I bet you’ll want to keep going. 

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”
Albert Einstein

5. You may have to change your expectations for time spent in other areas, like housekeeping or meals. This is tricky because we have to live. I understand this. There are seven people in my household and they’re under the impression that they should wear clothing and eat occasionally. I believe that all of your required, general life tasks can be made more efficient so that you can find little pockets of time here or there. My favorite ways include doing my errands all on one day, or making meals in my crock pot and rice cooker. I also delegate most of my household chores to my children. Take a day or two to think through exactly how your time is spent and come up with a plan. It’s likely you’ll find pockets of time that will make all the difference.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” ― Karen Lamb

6. You may have to apply yourself to learning about craft and then be teachable. This is tricky because beginning writers often have a lot of confidence. Or worse, they have well-meaning relatives who sugar-coat what the aspiring writer. If you’ve never been in a critique group, taken a writing class or workshopped your story, you may not know where you need to improve. If you are serious about pursuing your writing dreams, then you need to be serious about learning. Here’s a list of cheap and not-so-cheap ways to learn to be a better writer. Here’s a list of ways to meet other writers so you can know your work is “good”. And then, of course, a link to the coolest writing group on Facebook. 

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

7. You may have to express your needs to your spouse or significant other. This is tricky because your determination to write will definitely affect your relationships. You may have to communicate your needs. Some spouses and significant others will jump at the chance to help. Others may not be so enthusiastic. Take the time to express how much you need space to work and time to work. Come up with practical solutions that create minimal interference in others’ lives. Make sure that you are reciprocating and supporting them in in their goals too. Jeff Goins has some great stuff to say about this. 

8. You may need to learn a new organizing tool or system in order to reap the benefits. This is tricky because if you’re like me, you’re lazy. If you’re like me, you don’t get excited about learning curves. If you’re like me, you believe that the old ways are good enough. They may be, but if you’re in the habit of losing your work, then you need to find a better system. If you follow 10 Minute Novelists on Pinterest, then you can use our board on apps and software that can make your writing life easier. Good organization is critical for good performance. Don’t let laziness or reluctant learning get in the way of you being your best.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

9. You may have to lower your expectations on social media. This is tricky because everyone tells authors that they need a Facebook page, a blog, an Instagram account and a million other things and they all take time to keep up with. I suggest that you pick 2 or 3 social media platforms that you are the most comfortable with, and get the most excited about, and only do those. I have a blog, I lead a group on Facebook and I try to maximize Twitter and Pinterest. Are you leaning toward Twitter, but you don’t know how to make it work? I can help! 

10. You may have to go easy on yourself in some areas. You may have to kick yourself in the pants in others. This is tricky because every day is a battle. We have to overcome our inner selves to face the tasks in order to achieve the goals. Every day we have to make the little choices that will add up to the big choices. Every writer faces this. You are not alone. I’d like to suggest that the most important step you take in becoming a writer and pursuing your dreams is knowing who you are. Once you know, or at least have a hint, then it will be far easier to make all the changes I listed in steps 1-9.

The creation of words, at times, can be the expression of the inner workings of our soul. The more secure we are on the inside, the more excellent our words will be on the outside. 

You may have some tricky things to do now. 

 Do them anyway. If you fail, keep going.

Your dreams are worth it.

Top 10 Reasons Why Reciprocal Reviews Are Unethical

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

This has the potential of being my most controversial post yet.

And I like controversy about as much as I like snooty  moms asking me personal questions about the decisions I made in the raising of my children.

But I believe that reciprocal reviews for authors are unethical, unprofessional and unnecessary. 

Unfortunately, the idea of “you review my book and I’ll review yours” is a common one among writers, especially self-published writers who are just starting out. The necessity of good reviews and the belief that reviews alone will generate sales is a faulty one. So this behavior of reciprocating favorable reviews can nudge an author into a tempting but ethically slippery situation. My friend Jane Steen, who has written a great deal about ethical behavior for authors, has this to say about reciprocal reviews. But below, I have my take on the issue.

Top 10 Reasons Why Reciprocal Reviews Are Unethical by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

But  I believe that reciprocal reviews have the potential of being unethical simply because any quid pro quo arrangement could be intentionally tainted, possibly inaccurate and maybe even dishonest.

1. On their own, individual reviews don’t make a huge difference. Let’s be honest. While it helpful to have some reviews on Amazon.com, it’s like throwing a bucket of water on the house fire. You’re doing something but it won’t be enough. It is far better to have an accumulation of them, from actual readers, all with a variety of opinions about your story. Too many five star reviews is just as suspicious as no reviews at all.

2. Someone in a reciprocal arrangement is getting the short end of the stick. You hand me over your copy of  Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses‘and you yank a copy of Falling For Your Madness out of my hands and the idea, you say, is that we both write a review.So then I read Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses and I discover a lot of problems. I may find tons of spelling and grammatical errors. I may also discover the work is derivative or sloppy or badly formatted or kinda dumb. You give my book a solid 4 star review. But it would be a stretch to give yours two. So you come out with a loss. Unless I lie and give you a four or five star review, which goes against my conscience.  At that point the loss is mine. This idea of reciprocity sounds even, but it’s not. Not by a long shot.

3. Reciprocal reviews do not build up trust, do not strengthen friendships, rarely improve one’s writing — they just boost numbers. What if the case is reversed and I give your Princess Zombie book five stars and you give my FFYM two? Wouldn’t my feelings get hurt? Wouldn’t I avoid asking you in the future? If we both lie, just to make each other comfortable, we’re not doing either of us any favors.

No one is going to stop you from soliciting reciprocal reviews from your writer friends.

It’s likely you can collect a few dozen and no one will notice.

But in the long run, your reputation could be at stake.

4. Art is subjective. The whole 1-5 star system is not a very good one. I once got a two star review because the reader thought that I didn’t give enough attention to the suffering mother as she gave birth in my story. (Oh, and you better believe I wanted to respond to that!) This imperfect system already has too much corruption and too many people who take advantage of it. Reserve your reviews for books that you read, not books that someone is making you read.  That way you can enjoy the subjectivity of our art and be free to leave the reviews you want to about it.

5. Reciprocal Reviews turn a gift into an act of commerce. We give our heart and souls into our work for our readers. If we’re lucky, our readers respond to our art with their reviews, recommendations, follows or other examples of reader love. A reciprocal review, by someone that has already agreed to a favorable report, cheapens the act of art itself.

6. Reciprocal reviews tell yourself and the world that you don’t have the means to earn success through your own merit. Why do we even publish if we’re going to manipulate the system? Personally, I want to be known as a great writer. I want it to be because of my skills, my craftsmanship, my own hard work. If I depend on the manipulations of others to become great, then the victories will be far emptier.

And believe me, I’ve got far better things to do than check on you. 

But that doesn’t make it right nor fair.

7.  Reciprocal reviews are like gift exchanges at Christmas. The best gifts are those that you give. They’re the ones that you’ve thought about, that you’ve worked for, that you’ve discovered is the perfect gift for someone you love.  So not only do you give the gift, you give the meaning and affection behind the gift. But if you give a gift because you have to, then you think about equal values and “what if she gives me something nicer” and the whole reason that you give gifts in the first place, out of love and affection, is completely squashed.

8. The goal of reciprocal reviews is fairness. Fairness is a poor marketing strategy. Generosity, however, is an excellent one. Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin, said, “Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you have achieved your potential.” I believe this. I’d like to stop looking to the people around me to judge what is expected of me, like a reciprocal review. Instead, I want to look for ways to be generous and not expect anything. I believe this is the way to grow long term relationships which is far better than one review.

9. Reciprocal Reviews are based on fear. If I had you a copy of Falling For Your Madness, my fingers are crossed that you’ll like it. I’ll hope that the comments you make in your review are worth the effort it took to read the book. Hope is too positive of a word. I”ll probably be very anxious and fretful — hoping that my review of your book is fair enough. I may even go so far to count words.  If you bought it, I’ve already received my compensation. I’ll stand firm in the quality of the book and not be afraid of what you’ll say in your review. I have enough to stress out about in my life, thank you very much.

There is no such thing as an Author Ethics police. This is all the more reason to govern ourselves in the most excellent way to get reviews. 

10. Reciprocal Reviews are unethical if they hide facts from the readers. The act of hiding anything looks bad. If you avoid reciprocal reviews then you don’t have to worry about Amazon.com or anyone else connecting one of your readers with a review you left. I know that I don’t want any hint of impropriety linked to my name. I’d rather pass on your offer of reciprocity than risk an accusation of wrongdoing or misleading readers in the future.

Sales are great, good reviews are good too.

But our character and reputation lasts much longer.

Say no to reciprocal reviews and put yourself in the best possible light. 

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Everybody wants their blog to be noticed.

But in reality, that’s a little tricky. According to Tumblr stats, there are 375 million on Tumblr alone, that’s one for every person living in the United States. That stat doesn’t count WordPress and other blogging platforms. Writers are constantly encouraged to blog more, but getting noticed is becoming more and more difficult.

How do you get more traffic to your blog? Follow the meme #MondayBlogs!

The#MondayBlogs idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag, on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this.

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

How Can I Get More RTs On Twitter?

I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs on Twitter, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them. I’d like to suggest, with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.

1. It’s All In The Headline

Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!

2. Follow Headline Rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter

This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.

3. As Tempted As You Might Be, Don’t Say “New Blog Post”

 Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out. Whenever I see this, I conclude that the writer is unimaginative or stuck in 1999 or both.

Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs
Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs

4. Put As Much Thought Into The Headline As You Did Into The Post Itself

Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Top Ten Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.

5. Use Numbers

I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs”  — the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting. This is exactly why I write all my blog posts in Top 10 lists. My blog posts have structure, continuity and all I have to come  up with are ten points and I’m done.

6. Exaggerate A Little

“Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.

7. Be Funny

 Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.

8. Sell You, Not Your Book

 As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!

9. Study Other Headlines

Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!

10. Consider the Blog Post Itself

If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.

Learn From The Experts

And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.

And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?

There Has Never Been a Better Time In History to be a Writer

But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to  be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist and Mother of Five

 

Becoming an author is like becoming a parent. 

The writing of the book, was the pregnancy. You conceived the idea in a romantic, intimate moment.

You developed it secretly in the dark. You wrote while stuffing your face with all kinds of snacks. You tried to explain your characters and your plot to others and they just didn’t understand. And the length of the ms got bigger and bigger. And you wondered will I ever get this done? Will I be waiting for the arrival forever? 

And the big day comes!

You get your little bundle of joy from Createspace or some other expert labor and delivery establishment! You count all of the pages to make sure that it is all there!  You think that your book is the most beautiful and the most amazing thing that was ever created! And you tell all your friends! You post it on Facebook! There has never been a book before this book! No one will be a better author than you!

And then the novelty is over.

The well wishers have bought their copies. You realize that you’re the one up all night with the little buggar. You second guess yourself, are you the best marketer you could be? Amazon Kindle sales are nice but the reviews aren’t as complete as you’d like. The sales are only trickles. You thought that perhaps something significant would happen now, something bigger? The blues come on you and you don’t know what to do. One star reviews smell like dirty diapers. Rejection letters are the mean toddlers who throw sand on the play date. And then there’s that other author close to you who says, “I would never do that to my book! What are you thinking? What kind of an author are you?”

This metaphor can go on forever. 

Just like parenting, we often don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing our books. Just like parenting, we read good advice and we try it, but it doesn’t always work for us. Just like parenting, we have great aspirations, but sometimes we get caught up in our own inadequacies and our own faults. Sometimes the frustration of knowing what is best for us is overwhelming.

Like parenting, if we are going to market our books, we kind of have to figure it out as we go. 

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing is Like Good Parenting by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. A good parent does what they can when they can. You don’t fill out college applications the day after coming home from the hospital. A good marketer understands that there are seasons for their book, look at the process in the long term and gives themselves grace.

2. A good parent has low expectations. A first time author should have them too. I haven’t  met a mother of a toddler yet that  didn’t. If you’re a first time author, understand that you won’t sell thousands of books. That’s okay. You’ve got your future ahead of you.

3. A good parent attends to the basics automatically. For a parent, that means having baby fed, washed, nurtured and well rested. For an author, that means having the manuscript well-written, well-edited, well-covered, and accessible to readers on the most basic of platforms, like Kindle direct. As your platform and skill set grows, your accomplishments will too.

4. A good parent doesn’t compare their kid or their style to another parent’s child or style. A good book marketer doesn’t either. What works well for your friend’s book, Amish Zombie Princesses won’t work for your book, Lint Art for the Lonely.  Like parenting, our marketing journey is a personal one and we have to choose what’s best for us and not judge others’ choices.

5. A good parent knows parenting is a game of inches. Children don’t master good manners in one lesson. It takes years. Authors who market should understand this too. A first book gains a few readers, the next book gains more. This game — parenting and marketing — is not for the impatient.

6. A good parent uses their community. Who hasn’t asked a friend, neighbor or family member to watch a child? What parent hasn’t depended on a social group to help them out? Authors need community too. If nothing else, an author’s community can encourage him, help promote, help fine tune and show how things can be done.

7. A good parent manages their time the best they can. They have an understanding of what must be done and figures out ways to get it done. A marketing author does this too. The engage with their readers without being too distracted. They delegate. They learn how much they can do in 10 minute increments.

8. A good parent takes reasonable risks. They want their children to stretch themselves, try new things and grow. A good marketer does this too. They aren’t afraid of speaking to the librarian at their local branch or calling the local paper. Both parent and marketing author knows you never know what great thing could happen if you try!

9. A good parent knows the “rules” but makes them work for their situation. A good marketing author does too. They’ve read marketing blogs, they understand generosity, they’ve taken great notes. Then they get good ideas and apply the principles their way.

10. A good parents sees the differences in their children and nurtures them accordingly. A good author may also see that each of their books opens doors that the other one can’t. They also aren’t afraid to learn from their mistakes and do better with children and books this time around.

Authors should take another lesson from parents — just because you do everything “right” doesn’t mean that there are guarantees. Parenting is fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, pain and expense. But then, it’s awesome and joyful and exhilarating.

But like parenting, marketing will take hard work, trial and error, risk-taking, expenses, time, energy, possible humiliation, disappointment, regret, sleepless nights, and the list is endless.

So are you a good parent/marketer?  What other similarities do you see? What has parenting taught you about marketing?

Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake

If we are rich writers, we use words like Paula Deen uses butter and cream.

We liberally pour  out our ideas and our vision into our paragraphs and prose. We add in sweetness and flavor and texture who we are and what we care about in every book. We sculpt our words together like sugary icing roses along a cake and we present our final, finished projects as grand feasts for the world, allowing our readers to savor each morsel and each portion.  If we are rich writers, the solitary act of creating is a full and satisfying one.

But I’d like to suggest that more satisfaction that comes when we are connected to writer friends who are making their own sweet compositions.

 

You are, indeed, rich, if you have written books by the dozens, won awards, and sold many copies.

Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake
Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake

But you are richer still if you have close friends who coached you along the way.

Every success, every victory, every instance of #AuthorHappiness is just one tiny blip on this long writing journey, that is, quite honestly, a lonely one, but is magnified when it is shared. And the sad, dark times are so much easier with their comfort.

The rejection letters will come. Let those around us buy us a drink. 

The 1 star reviews will trickle in. Let those around us say, “They just don’t get your brilliance.”

The doors will close. The publishing house will go under. The disappointments are a given if we choose writer as our identity.

Within a group of writers, you have mentors and mentees, you have advice and warnings, you celebrations and sorrows. You can squeeze each others’ hands and say, “it is scary,” but you can do it. Or, “you are good, hang in there” or “this happened to me once!”

How do you find other writers?  There are tons of ways! But the easiest is to join my group 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook.

I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends
I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends

Writers, as tempting as it is to wrap yourself up in a solitary, lonely world with just your characters and your computer as your companions, please don’t neglect the importance of community. Reach out to other writers. We need you too.


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

 


 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

What It Means To Be A 10 Minute Novelist

A 10 Minute Novelist is a time-crunched writer with big, big dreams. I’ve been a 10 Minute Novelist for nine years now. Despite having five children, homeschooling, baking my own bread and doing ridiculous amounts of laundry, I know what being a 10 Minute Novelist means. 

You Don’t Have High Expectations

If you had high expectations, then you’d be in a cabin in the woods or have hours to yourself or even a locked door. Nope. You’re a 10 Minute Novelist. That means that you get what writing time you can, when you can.

What It Means To Be A 10 Minute Novelist
What It Means To Be A 10 Minute Novelist

 

Your Daily Results Are Messy 

While you try to keep the story straight with all its plot twists and action, you also try to juggle a family meal and soccer practice and what your elderly parents need and whose homework needs to be checked. You lose your place. You forget plot points. You change your main character’s name six times. But messiness is a sign of life. If anyone understands that, it’s the 10 Minute Novelist.

You’re Not Afraid Of The Daily Fight To Find Time

There is not great art to finding time. It’s messy. It’s impulsive. But it is like you have a super power. You’ve trained your brain and your fingers like the rebels in Concord and Lexington to be ready at a minutes notice. When you sit down, you make the most of your time at the computer. Or at least you try.

I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends
I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends

 

You’re Not Afraid Of the Daily Fight To Find Words

Sometimes your antagonist only dreams about causing the kind of grief your pet, child or family necessities cause you. But that’s not the point. The point is that you have made an effort to pursue your dreams today in the smallest of bits. Something will come of this session. Even if it is only the reassurance that this is important. Those little bits of words and phrases will join together. Those sentences will become scenes. Those scenes will increase in their frenzy and emotion. Those scenes will become acts. And you will have a story. Oh, yes of course it’s messy. But it’s there. And it wasn’t there ten minutes ago.

You’re Humble

While you do have aspirations of greatness, you also have to do laundry. While you wrestle with each verb and noun, you also wrestle with the dog to get in the car so you can take him to the vet. You have material at your fingertips, especially if you write comedy, because the toddler decided to take off all her clothes in the middle of the Kroger. You have this safety net that keeps you from becoming too self-absorbed and isolated in your art.

Every fear is based in a lie.

You Have A Vast Cheering Section

And as much as you’d like to think isolation is a good thing, it is rarely healthy. You have new friends who are in situations just like yours. (And if you don’t, the Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, is just a click away!) You have a wealth of information from other writers whose knowledge and experience can assist you. Do you have an #AuthorHappiness? We want to cheer with you! Are you having a tough time? We’ll give you a hug!

Your Doubts and Fears Are Getting Weaker

They used to be there. Who do you think you are? Isn’t being a mom enough? Only selfish people want to pursue their dreams! You’ve never been very good. You don’t know what you’re doing. No one will like what you have to write!  You’ve realized that you are the only writer who has thought that. Instead of believing those little voices, you tell yourself the truth. My dreams deserve 10 minutes! 

You Often Feel Like Giving Up. But You Don’t.

Because you’re a 10 Minute Novelist you look at the disaster that was yesterday, or the rejection letter or the bad critique and then you write about it. You may channel all that pain or frustration into a scene or character (in 10 minute increments,  of course) and create art out of pain. You don’t let the suckiness of life keep you from writing. You understand that this journey to publication and possibly fame and fortune is a bumpy one. You understand that all writers, all successful writers have had to face discouragement after discouragement.  You give it all you’ve got, but you don’t beat yourself up if all you had today was a measly 83 words.

Why Can't I Find Time To Pursue My Dreams?
Image from http://emilystroia.wordpress.com/

 

You Have A Realistic Future

You have a new confidence and vision as you see your dreams come together day after day. You’ve received practical tips on how to find more time. You have new skills for word craft that you didn’t have before. You have a standard before you that is clear — until now it’s been rather fuzzy. You have defined to yourself what success really is and you see the steps are to get there.

Your Only Competition is Yourself

You may hate taking criticism or suggestions, but you’re open to improvement.  You have a unique journey into the world of writing and no one can say to you this is the best way for you.  You can taste victory and it’s doubly sweet because of all the struggles you’ve had to face. You’re not afraid to laugh. You enjoy the company of the other writers around you and doesn’t look at them as competitors, or that their success takes away from your own.

What 10 Minute Novelists Means To Me
What 10 Minute Novelists Means To Me

It is a very humbling honor for me to lead over 1100 writers worldwide who call themselves 10 Minute Novelists. They do all these things with grace and joy. They are my #AuthorHappiness.

#Top10 Tuesday Top Ten Things You Get To Do If You’re A Member of 10 Minute Novelists

 

This month, my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists celebrates one full year of writerly awesomeness!  We are pretty proud of how far we’ve come in one short year. If you’re not a part of the group, you should be. If you sign up here, then you can get these 10 awesome things! 

Top 10 Things You Get If You're A Member of 10 Minute Novelists

1. You get to meet over 900 amazing writers from all over the world. Many of these writers are new to writing. Many have a lot of time restraints like full-time jobs or small children. All of them have this desire: to be a great author despite the restrictions in their life.

2. You get practical tips on craft, blogging, marketing, publishing and publicity. This happens through the feed on the Facebook page but also through three chats a week on Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and we have a mug collection. 

Awesome gifts for writers
Mug says: “I’m A 10 Minute Novelist and I have awesome friends!”

3. You can have a badge on your blog that looks like this:

What You Get When You Join 10 Minute Novelists
I’m A 10 Minute Novelist And I Have Amazing Friends

4. You can post your blog every week on our #MondayBlogs thread and get to know us better (and read our blogs too!)

Where Can I Promote My Blog?
Share your latest blog post on our group page. Use the hashtag #MondayBlogs

5. You can be inspired every Wednesday when we have our #AuthorHappiness Day! This is when all of us post the victories big and small about our writing. Why do we do this? Because this job can be a lonely and discouraging one. #AuthorHappiness is a great way to remember that we’re not alone in our journey, that the struggle does have it’s moments of victory and that we’re all in this together.

What Is #AuthorHappiness

6. You are invited to Vickie Miller’s weekly Facebook chat. She’s an Alaskan writer and mother of a whole bunch of kids. She leads a discussion on the practical side of writing. She’s fabulous!

Vickie MIler, leads a chat on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook page. She lives in Alaska with her large family.
Vickie MIler, leads a chat on the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook page. She lives in Alaska with her large family.

7. You can enjoy our invisible snack table! (So, we do get kind of silly here.) At every chat we imagine what we would be eating if we were actually in each others’ presence. The silly part is when the “snacks” tie in with what we’re talking about. For example, our chat on great opening lines had beluga caviar and champagne — the most expensive appetizers ever. For a pretend snack table, we go all out.  You don’t want to miss it.

8. You can enjoy our weekly Twitter chat. Every Thursday night from 9-10PM EDT (Boston/NewYork time) we meet using this hashtag: #10MinNovelists. Every week, we address issues that are important to writers everywhere. Wanna see what we’re talking about in the coming weeks? Check out the events here.

See? We REALLY ARE on Twitter!

 

9. You can follow us on Pinterest!! We have over 50 boards and over 1200 pins all set up to help you be the best writer you can be!

Follow 10 Minute Novelists on Pinterest
PINTEREST! You know you want to!

10. AND  . . .  we have a Goodreads group!! You can’t be a writer without being a reader! Join us there and check out what we’re reading!

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.39.01 PM

Writerly Reasons I’m Thankful

 

This last weekend my family and I celebrated with the rest of our nation. We stopped to celebrate and contemplate for what we were the most thankful.

As a writer, I have a list too.

reasons I'm thankful

I’m thankful that it’s super easy to get my words into the hands of readers. I’m thankful for great tools like Scrivener, Evernote, Hemingway, Canva and my MacBook Air to make writing as physically and organizationally easy as it can be. I’m thankful for Createspace and Kindle Direct that became the best solution for my self-publishing needs. I’m thankful that there has never been a better time to be a writer. What was impossible ten years ago now is an everyday occurrence. I am very thankful for technology.

But technology is just a tool. I’m thankful that my writing has allowed me to meet readers and writers from all over the world. I’m thankful for Facebook and Twitter which are the tools I use to find them. I’m thankful that connecting with people has never been easier. I’m thankful for every reader of this website, every comment, every connection and every lurker. It means a lot to me that you stop by even if I never know why.

I’m thankful that my writers group, 10 Minute Novelists, has surpassed all of my expectations. I’m thankful for the inspiration I found as a result of this group.  I’m thankful that relationships are developing in the group, that the writers are inspired to find time to write and be better in their writing. I’m humbled and overjoyed by what this group has become. I can’t wait to see what happens to it next year.

I’m thankful for my writer friends who have been with me for the last five years. These are the friends who know me the best and if anything they’ve wiped a few tears in my heartache and were the first to jump for joy with me in my victory. I wouldn’t have had today’s successes with out the pain and struggle of yesterday.

I find it so interesting that my writing dreams are so much more than words on a document. Published books are nice and it really does feel good to see my name on the copyright page and deposit those advance checks, but the real joy in this journey, is the people. How could I do this without the people in my life? If I never write another book nor post another blog I would have considered myself rich as a writer because of the friends I’ve made.

This is why I am thankful.