So you’re writing a novel. 5 things to think about.

Hi, friends!

I tend to think a lot about process and the little things that go into working on a project and yeah, the overarching philosophy behind the act of writing.

I mean, obviously, if you’re writing a novel, you probably have the ultimate goal of being published. Let’s assume that’s the goal, anyway and let’s focus here on writing novels/fiction.


Writers don’t write just to get published. If that’s the only reason you’re doing it, re-assess. Write because you love it, because you can’t NOT write, because if you didn’t your soul would wither into a desiccated carcass, left to bake on the salt flats of your future.

So with that in mind, I’m here to disavow you of some notions because writing a draft of a novel isn’t just hammering something out and then you’re ready to go get it published (and then make ass-loads of money).

I think most people probably are aware that more goes into this, but what they don’t realize is even when you have a draft hammered out, that draft will need to be re-written several times. Re-writing is a huge part of writing, and it can be tedious, but that’s the nature of the beast.

Writing, like any other skill or ability, requires a lot of practice and some new writers aren’t willing to put in the time, energy, or resources to learn the craft or the mechanics of it and develop from there.

Nobody starts out a perfect writer and honestly, there is no perfect writer. Even the really good ones aren’t perfect.

There are people who might have a better grasp of craft prior to writing a novel, and people who have read widely and taken classes and have an excellent command of the language, but their drafts are going to need work, too.

Also, writing isn’t necessarily a goal. It’s a journey, and as you travel, you will be kicked around, experience frustration and exhaustion/burnout, be subjected to harsh critique, deal with the constant of trying to market yourself, and chewed up and spit out by publishing, regardless of the platform you use.

So here are 5 things I’ve learned in the decade+ I’ve been professionally writing fiction about what you need to consider when you embark on your first novel-writing adventure.

1. Assess your reasons for doing this. Seriously. Really have a think about this. Because if you’re thinking writing a novel is a get-rich-quick scheme…oh, honey. Bless yer heart.

Not to suggest this doesn’t happen. But…generally, it doesn’t. Everybody in this business is hungry, and competing for various readers. Finding your audience is going to take much more than one book. So once you embark on this idea of being a novelist, that means you need to write many more than just one. You need to commit, and it’s a fuck-ton of work.

  • Who are you writing for?
  • What are you trying to say? (your message)
  • Have you found your writing voice?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice on this journey?

See: “Writing Tips to Make You Better” (writer Jeff Goins; lots of good stuff at his blog, btw)

That last one is something new/new-ish writers don’t seem to really consider, is what they’re willing to sacrifice on the journey. Because you will be making sacrifices. So it’s good to get to know yourself (if you don’t already) and understand what you’ll give up and what you won’t in order to do this.

Write because you feel the call. Not because you think there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that a bunch of dancing leprechauns are only too happy to give you. If you’re looking to make money out of writing, stop. Write because you want to, because it’s almost a need, because you’re compelled to tell stories.

See: 10 Inspiring Reasons to Become a Writer (HuffPo)
See: “Writers Don’t Write to Get Published” (writer Jeff Goins)

The majority of professional writers have day jobs, especially if you’re in the US because that’s the only way we’re able to access affordable health insurance and benefits (and that’s a whole other subject and rant). Which is not to suggest there aren’t writers who are able to make a living at this. But it’s a constant hustle, 24/7 and if you have family who depend on you or you have other commitments, you’re going to have to figure out how to make all that work, in addition to ensuring that you’re taking care of yourself and engaging in wellness. This can be a stressful business and you have to ensure you’re part of the wellness equation.

So really think about what your goals are in terms of writing. If you’re just wanting to hammer something out for NaNoWriMo to prove to yourself that you can do it, that’s one thing. But if you’re wanting to turn that project or something else into a published work and then embark on a writing life in some regard, that’s a whole other thing.

Think about what you intend to do with your project. And along those lines…

2. Focus on craft. There are a lot of moving parts to writing. Stories that are written well run smoothly, and you aren’t aware of all the moving parts because they’re flowing seamlessly together.

A reader should stop reading because something was so awesome that they wanted to read it again. They shouldn’t stop because something isn’t working. Colleague and fellow author Joan Opyr told me that years ago. Good writing/story-telling is like a well-tuned engine. Everything works together so well that you don’t notice how well it works and you just enjoy the ride.

Work on your craft — on the mechanics of writing. Learn grammar, the parts of sentences, the parts of a story, how things fit together. Become a better writer before you go out in the world looking for a reward for it.

See: “Don’t Fake It–Learn the Craft” (Beth Hill at The Editor’s Blog)
See: “10 of My Favorite Writing Craft Sites” (author Kate Weiland)
See: “7 Craft Lessons Every Writer Must Learn” (writer and editor Michael Noll at HuffPo)
See: “The Most Neglected Writing Tip” (Jeff Goins)
See: “The Difference Between Good Writers and Bad Writers” (Jeff Goins)

Take workshops/classes/webinars on writing and craft. Learn fundamentals. Read books on how to construct novels: plot, characterization, dialogue, pacing, narrative arcs. Types of fiction. What connotes style. What genres you’re interested in. How those types of stories are constructed.

If you want to write well, you have to work at it, which means you also need to read widely and often. Read writers better than you so you get a sense of what makes a good story. Read across genres to expose yourself to all kinds of approaches and styles. All of this will inform your style and craft, and will help you develop as a writer.

I’ll repeat: To write well, you have to WORK. You have to make the time to practice your craft and to learn the mechanics of writing. Sorry. There’s no easy way to do this. Good product requires a lot of work on the back end and in writing, you’re the back end.

3. “Hope for the best but expect nothing.” The late Harper Lee said that, which seems funny now because she didn’t publish more than a couple of novels and look what happened there. But her point is well-taken. It’s great to hope. Hope fuels a lot of cool things and without that, what the hell would ever get done?

But don’t expect that the world owes you a damn thing for your novel, no matter how much blood, sweat, or how many tears you poured into it. Refer to point 1, above. Write because you feel the call and you want to tell stories. But don’t expect that people will care about those stories. That’s part of writing. Don’t be looking for rock star status. If that’s your only reason for writing, re-assess.

Here’s more of Lee’s quote, from an interview she did in 1964 (Lee was notoriously press-shy, so this is a treat):

Hope for the best and expect nothing. Then you won’t be disappointed […] You must come to terms with yourself about your writing. You must not write ‘for’ something; you must not write with definite hopes of reward … People who write for reward by way of recognition or monetary gain don’t know what they’re doing. They’re in the category of those who write; they are not writers.

4. Read. I said this above, but I’ll say it again. All good writers read widely. Nonfiction, books, short stories, periodicals, long-form journalism — brain and soul food, friends. If you’re serious about improving your craft, do not lose sight of reading as an important ingredient in your writing life.

If you’re going to do this writing thing, you need to challenge yourself through reading. Writers need to be wordsmiths, and versed in the art of language. Don’t stick to one genre or one or two authors. Read widely, read often. You’ll find inspiration and ideas in other people’s words, and you can use that to improve your own writing and feed your brain.

Carlo Dolci: “St. Catherine Reading a Book” (EVEN SAINTS READ), early-mid 17th c.

See: “14 Reasons Why Writers Need to Read” (editor and author Jan Fortune at Noteworthy)
See: “3 Reasons Writers Read Books” (Joe Bunting at The Write Practice; excellent writing advice there)
Podcast: “Why is It So Important for Writers to Read?” (Write Now podcast with author, editor, podcaster Sarah Werner)

So if you’re serious about this writing stuff, READ.

5. Think about your writing life. What that means is, writing isn’t just about reading books and doing workshops/classes. It’s also about understanding that like any other skill, you need to practice just about every. freaking. day. Top athletes and musicians engage with their craft every day. If they take a break from the physical act of sports/music, they’re still thinking about it.

It becomes embedded in their bodies, brains, and lives.

I’m not suggesting you work 12-hour days at writing and take an hour off here and there. Like anything else, writing requires that you find a work/life balance, but if you’re new to this, you absolutely need to be realistic about how much time you’re willing to give to a writing life and if you can’t commit to engaging with your craft every day, then this isn’t the gig for you. And that’s fine. It’s not for everybody. Go, you, for giving it a shot! There’s no shame in not continuing and finding your groove elsewhere.

Like anything else that you want to do well, writing requires COMMITMENT and WORK and TIME and PERSEVERANCE. If that’s you, then GO, YOU again!

But really think about why you’re doing this.

Writer Jeff Goins wrote a manifesto for writers, and I totally agree with it. Here it is:

Jeff Goins, “A Writer’s Manifesto”

So there you go. If you’re working on your first novel, there are lots of things to consider. Like your platform. And in the great scheme of things, why you’re even doing this and what it’s going to entail.

Whatever you decide to do, GO, YOU! If this writing life is for you, welcome!

Happy Monday, happy READING, happy writing.

So you want to be a published author: 5 things to think about first

Hi, friends!

New year, new…whatever.

ANYWAY! Thought I’d get back into the groove here with some more blogging. Not that I haven’t been blogging/writing/podcasting, It’s just that I’ve kind of left my website all by itself and that ain’t right!

Okay. So I thought I’d bring some things up for y’all to think about — ESPECIALLY if you’re an unpublished author looking to be published and get your debut novel out there for the world to see.

What new authors don’t realize is that publishing is not end-game. It’s not even part of the game. Publishing is a goal — and an admirable one, whichever route you decide to go in that regard — but it’s only one aspect of this whole writing gig. There are all kinds of moving parts to being a published writer, and I see a lot of writers who complete a novel and then submit it somewhere and think everything’s copacetic, they’re on their way to all kinds of money and fame and…


Disavow yourselves of that notion right now.

Indeed, there are working writers who do make a living writing and publishing and the whole enchilada. But there’s a lot of hard-ass work that goes into that, and oftentimes a bit of luck, too. In other words, just because you get published or you self-publish does not mean your work will sell.


And many first-time/new authors don’t realize that there’s a whole helluva a lot that published writers need to be doing to market, promote, and brand themselves. So let’s talk about 5 things I think new/unpublished authors should think about doing.

1. Start thinking about your author BRAND. Do this months and months before you actually publish. This is one of those moving parts that will play into your website and your social media, so you need to start pondering that.

What exactly IS this thing called an author brand?

It’s how you present yourself to the reading world. You are selling something. That something is both the things you write and YOU, the person behind the writing. It’s your IMAGE. It’s what a reader is going to get from you and your writing. It’s the genres you write, and what someone can expect. There’s a reason, for example, that actors have PR firms and agents. Because they’re marketing themselves in addition to the roles they play in their work.

As an author, you, too, now have an image to get out there and maintain.

See: “Your Guide to Branding Yourself as an Author,” NY Book Editors
See: “7 Best Ways to Build an Authentic Author Brand“, Creative Penn
See: “How To Build Your Author Brand From Scratch (And Why You Need To)“, The Book Designer

2. Get yourself a website. Yeah, I know. Pain in the ass. But there are so many platforms now with easy-peasy dashboards and templates and low rates to get access to sexier templates that it makes no sense for you not to do this. And register your site as Don’t do something like or You want to be official-looking, and the way to do that is to spend about $15 a year on WordPress or whatever site to register as a

Why do you need a website? Because when people try to find you online, it’s a good idea to have a static home address, if you will, where they can find you. Look up any well-known author that you read. Every single one of them has a website.

Here’s the thing. Get that website up and running even while you’re writing your first novel. Even before you’ve published anything. You can use it to blog (which plays into your branding) and to post free stories on so people get a sense of who you are as a writer. Link it to your social media. I launched a website two years before I published anything. And then I used it to post blogs and stories and the like. I still technically do that.

Also, when you approach a publishing house (or an agent) with your first manuscript, the first thing they’re going to do is do a search to find out if you have an online presence and what kind of presence that is. So get yourself a website.

See:”10 Best Website Builder Platforms for Writers and Authors“, Writing Cooperative
See: “Top 5 Platforms for Easily Creating Your Author Website
See: “Author Website: Examples, Templates, and How to Build One“, Booklaunch

3. Social media. There are two schools of thought on this. One argues that authors don’t need to engage on social media; they should use promotional tools and market that way and avoid social media in order to focus on writing instead.

See: “Why Authors Should Not Use Social Media“, TCK Publishing

And then there’s the other school of thought that encourages authors to engage with social media, and integrate it with other platforms.

I fall into the latter school.

I mean, I agree that you need to make some decisions about work/life/writing balance, and social media can be a huge time suck, so use it wisely.

Choose the platforms that work best for you. I use Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook. I detest the latter, but it comes in handy for engaging with people. And sadly, Facebook owns Instagram, which pisses me off. And Tumblr has also irritated me recently with a shift in its terms of service that have gutted it. But, hopefully, something new will come along that will be awesome. We’ll see.

Anyway, don’t just randomly go out there and get an account on every platform you can find. Use platforms you’re already comfortable on. That’s the key. Why?

Because social media is NOT for selling books. Not really. It’s super freaking annoying to potential readers if you do nothing on your social media accounts except demand that everybody buy your books. You’ve seen THOSE authors, right? All they post anywhere is “BUY MY BOOK.” You get no sense of who they are or what they’re doing.

They’re that person standing outside the grocery store with a clipboard wanting to talk to you about signing something. It’s annoying af, amirite? The people who are successful at that approach ENGAGE you with something other than “SAVE THE ENDANGERED SCREAMING CHEETAHS BY SIGNING THIS PETITION.” They might say, “Hey, can I show you this cool cat video? I found my cat under a house down the street from me. Here’s a photo. This is Buster. Isn’t he the cutest?” And then they’ll tell you about the endangered screaming cheetahs, but the point is, they gave you a little bit of themselves before they asked you to do something.

So don’t just take to social media and post a constant stream of BUY MY BOOK BUY MY BOOK OMG BUY IT NOW. People tune out after the first one of those. And besides, don’t you have some writing to do? HMMM?

What you’ll be doing on social media is helping reinforce your BRAND. That is, who you are as a writer and what readers can expect when they read your stuff. You are ENGAGING on social media. INTERACTING. Posting interesting links about writing or something that personally interests you. You’re chatting with people. You’re NETWORKING. THAT is the purpose of social media. Sure, it’s okay to announce the release of a book and to remind people now and again, but if that’s ALL you’re doing on social media, you are failing at social media.

See: “How NOT to Sell Books: Top 10 Social Media Marketing No-Nos for Authors,” Anne R. Allen

I’m going to send you to a blog by Jane Friedman, who is a total guru about writing and publishing. I get that some writers/authors have real issues with social media, and Friedman notes that there are lots of other ways to reach people via the interwebz without having to do social media. I’ll let her talk about these things:

See: “So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What?

4. Marketing isn’t an option. You have to do it. And you have to figure out what’s going to work for you as a person and as a brand and you have to commit to getting all of that out there. It takes a LOT of time (and money, in some cases), but if you’re going to write and publish, you HAVE to market yourself and your work, no matter what publishing route you go.

You need to start thinking about marketing NOW, before your book is written. Think about its genre. What is it? What audience are you hoping to find? That is, who’s going to want to read this book? How might you reach those readers? These are questions the publisher is going to ask you, too (if you go that route). So you need to think about what MARKETS your book will appeal to and about how you’re going to reach those markets.

See what I mean about moving parts? Marketing, social media, website, author brand all work together in this business. And you have to understand that an author who doesn’t self-promote or engage or work on getting their brand out there is not going to sell books, and if that’s one of your goals, well, sorry. You have to market.

There are so many ways to market and so many approaches that I’m not going to try to explain how to go about doing it because here’s the thing. The best marketers in terms of writing know themselves, and they try different things and approaches and find the ones that work with their style as people AND as an author brand. So there’s a lot of trial and error here, friends, and again, that’s going to take lots of time (and probably some money), but you have to find your groove in this, and you have to remember not to smack people in the face with your promotion.

See: “10 Essential Marketing Tips for New Authors,” Book Marketing Tools
See: “Opinion: If You Want to Sell More Books, Skill Up,” Alliance of Independent Authors
See: “The Psychology of Author Marketing,” Jane Friedman (Guru)
See: “Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promo That Actually Works,” Delilah Dawson


5. Don’t be a douche. I dunno, maybe this one should’ve been number one up there. But this is a mantra that you need to carry with you in your author branding mission and in marketing, and in your public life as an author. Hell, it’s good life practice in general.

People do tend to notice if you’re behaving badly on social media or at conferences and if they decide you’re an asshat, they’re not going to buy your books and they’re going to tell other people why they don’t buy your books.

People may say that they “separate the art from the artist,” but DO they? I’d argue not. And people can have long memories about such things. You know what has an even longer memory? The Internet. Even if you delete something, it’s never gone. And if you said something that was douchey, chances are, somebody screen-shotted it and they’re going to re-post it to remind people of your douchery.

So if you screw up and say/do something douchey, own it and apologize. You’ll probably have to do that a lot of times, but eventually, the point will get across that you are a responsible adult and you recognized you said/did something that was a mistake and you are now trying to make amends.

But the best medicine is always prevention. Do your very best not to be a douche and/or behave badly in real life or on social media (the two can merge). You will screw something up. You’re human, after all. But self-awareness goes a long way in life.

All right friends! Leave other tips for new authors in the comments if you’ve got ’em.

Happy writing.

10 things to help you get your manuscript ready for submission

Hi, peeps!

So here we are in a new year and I know for a fact that bunches of you are working on manuscripts and once you’re done with your draft, you’re going to hopefully get it submission-ready. That is, you’re going to prep it in hopes that a publisher will think it’s awesome and sexy.

First things first. Not all houses accept a full manuscript for a read. They might just want the first few chapters. Or maybe the first few chapters and the last few. That’s fine. The point is, if you have a full manuscript that’s ready to go, you can easily extract the chapters or first 50 pages or whatever it is the potential publisher may want to see. And you want those to be clean and ready for viewing. So here are 10 things you can do to help you get it that way.

Continue reading

10 things you can do for a productive writerly new year

Hi, all!

Hope your holidays went awesomely and that you’re well on your way to settling into this latest chronological trip around the sun.

So let’s talk new year, new opportunities.

I don’t make resolutions. Instead, I make a few goals to accomplish but leave options open for opportunities that may spin off said goals and/or things that don’t go so well. I also create new good habits or strengthen existing ones if I haven’t been as engaged as I’d like in those.

So here are 10 things to do to get you into the swing of a new writerly year and to keep you going throughout the year. Or, if you’re not a writer but have other pursuits (whether creative or otherwise), some of these you may be able to tailor to that.

1. Get organized.
I do this at the start of every year. And generally it begins New Year’s Eve with a house-cleaning. I’m pretty regular about cleaning my house, but I do a symbolic one around the end of the year so I go into the new year feeling fresh n’ clean! LOL

Then I usually spend the first week or two of the new year getting rid of material things around the house and donating to charity. Clothing, dishes, furniture — things that have served their purpose but no longer do (at least with me) and someone else no doubt could put them to use. I also begin organizing for tax season, something that you have to do every year regardless, but for writers, there are things you need to organize in terms of deductions and royalties and the like.

Point being: organization and cleaning up can help unclutter your creative energy and help you focus, which might also help with some forms of depression.

2. Set a goal for the one writer project you want to complete this year.

Maybe it’s a novel. Or a novella. Or a few short stories. Whatever it is, create a realistic timeline (part of the “get organized” strategy) and make a schedule. By such-and-such date, for example, you want to have 5,000 words written. Or whatever it is.

TIP: Be realistic about all the commitments in your life. It is possible to work in writing a novel around a day job and a family and all the other things that come up (ask most writers). Even 30 minutes a day once or twice a day can move you to your goal. Carve out the time. If you’re serious about writing or any other goal you have, carve out a bit of time and be open to moving that time block around as you figure out what your schedule is during these first few weeks of the new year and what times of day you’re most creative. Work it that way and stick to it.

Here’s a cool link over at Author Media that helps you create a writing schedule that works for you.

3. Buddy up.

Find a writer buddy who is also working on a project who can serve as your cheerleader and nag (lol). Like a workout buddy, your writer buddy will engage in writing sessions with you, whether online or in real time. What that means is, if you’re doing an online writer session, you agree with your writer buddy on a set time on specific days and you check in online and do your writing thang. Then you share what you wrote.

Looks like Xena finished up that one section of the Sappho scroll…

Sometimes you won’t get very far with your word count. So what? The important thing is, you’re producing something and you’re sharing it with your buddy (and she’s sharing it with you). It’s like you’re working out together, showing how many sets and reps you got in. And your buddy might also serve as a beta as you’re going along, which helps with the re-writing aspect of writing. Heh.

4. Take breaks.

From writing. Seriously. Writing burnout can be a thing. I know people tell you to make writing a habit and you have to produce something every day and omg deadlines but guess what? Driving yourself off the road because you’re exhausted or tense or need to deal with other things does not help you complete the journey. Stop at a rest area and stretch your legs (to continue that metaphor).

Make sure you spend time with your loved ones and that you take time for yourself that isn’t the physical act of writing. Writers are ALWAYS writing, because we’re constantly seeing stories all around us and working scenes out in our heads, but the physical act of writing is where you’re staring at your screen and pounding away at your keyboard (or longhand writing; however you do it). I’m talking about taking a break from THAT. Once a week. Once every two weeks. Just a little break from your routine to refresh your mind and give you a jolt of creativity.

5. Get out.

Literally. GET OUTSIDE. Specifically, green space, friends. Wherever you are, go to green space. Some of you live in areas of the country where that’s not difficult. Others have to use what’s been engineered (e.g. Manhattan’s Central Park). Or, hell, take a walk around your neighborhood. Just be OUTSIDE. Make it a point to do that. And also, do not use your phone or other tech when you’re outside. Be present.

6. Unplug.

What that means is, when you’re doing a writing session, you are writing. Don’t go messing around on social media after you finish a paragraph or a chapter. Get up and walk around or make a cup of tea or something and go back to writing until your scheduled session for the day is done.

Try to minimize your obsession with the rest of the world at least during your writing time but I’m going to STRONGLY suggest that you unplug regularly, for maybe an hour a day. It helps give you perspective and allows you to be present with your thoughts and to engage with the world without the filter of social media.

And in these shitty times, it’s important to ensure you don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the toxicity of what passes for discourse these days. Which is not to suggest that you don’t engage at all online with your contacts, colleagues, and friends. Just don’t get sucked in and make sure you spend time engaging in the real world, too.

7. Eat right.

Creativity needs good fuel. If you’re eating/drinking things that aren’t conducive to overall health, you’re eventually not going to feel completely healthy. And it will run you down, which means you will lose effective writing time. So have a look at your diet and clean it up, friends.

Start with one small thing. For example, switch from soda (even diet, which has its own set of issues) to, for example, sparkling water (the kind that doesn’t have fruit juice, which adds sugars). Almost 6 years ago, I went off caffeine, which meant that I stopped drinking soda. I had been drinking diet colas, but going off caffeine made me quit those. Sure, there are decaf soda options, but I lost the taste for soda really quickly and I don’t miss it at all.

Eat regular meals (and try to eat with your loved ones, no distractions!) and don’t eat late at night. That can contribute to and exacerbate issues. So don’t eat after, like, 6 PM which is what I try to do.

Snack on ready-sliced fruits and veggies. I get this stuff ready ahead of time or buy those packets of baby carrots and dip them into guacamole or tzatziki or I’ll just munch ’em plain.

Lower your unhealthy carbs (i.e. cut back on alcohol and overly processed carb-laden foods). If you start focusing on eating more good proteins and vegetables, you don’t need the energy burst (then crash) that comes with carb and sugar boosts because your body will be effectively fueled all day.

But if you just want a starting point: stop drinking soda and cut back on alcohol. And if you smoke, maybe make that one of your writing goals, to stop. Better overall health means more creative energy and more stories. 🙂

8. Get moving.

Exercise helps with overall health — physical, emotional, mental. And exercise helps clear your mind and energizes you, which funnels right into creative energy.

And you don’t need to join a gym to do it, though that does help get you into a routine. I actually do workouts based on Navy Seals exercises, because I don’t need a gym and I can take the routines on the road (I travel a lot) and they don’t require special equipment.

I do a circuit of those 3-4 times a week, then on non-circuit days I’ll walk or ride a stationary bike or do some other kind of cardio-only then finish with a few sets of core-strenghtening exercises.

It is extremely important to strengthen your core. If you primarily sit to write (I alternate sitting and standing), you need to get up and work your core. Here’s a great list of core exercises that don’t need equipment.

Some of those exercises can be found in this cool list of 50 bodyweight exercises (that is, you don’t need equipment; you’re using your bodyweight as resistance).

Want to start simple? If you can, start walking. If you can’t quite do that, check out the bodyweight resistance exercises and core exercises to build up to moving around more. If you have health issues that preclude just starting on your own to exercise, check with your docs about what you can and cannot do and go with that.

Your body and your mind are interrelated. Keep your body strong and fueled with good stuff and it boosts your brain. 🙂

Be your own Amazon.

9. Read.

Read WIDELY. Across genres. Fiction and nonfiction. Magazines. Blogs. Fanfic. Read all kinds of stuff. Make it a point to stretch your reading comfort zones and read authors from different backgrounds and countries. Engage your critical thinking skills and question not only others, but yourself. This is how we develop and it’s how we create better stories.

10. Have fun.

This can also fall under “self care” (see above, too). My have fun routines include indulging my fangirl side, so I go to see movies or indulge in a staycation in which I get to catch up on some programs I haven’t had a chance to engage with.

I’ll also go out with friends and take day trips to get new perspectives. If you can, do a road trip, even if it’s just a few hundred miles. Get out of your zone, see new/different things, engage with different people. Fuel for stories, friends. Even fun stuff fuels your creative energies.


Be kind, to yourself and others. Stay alert and help build the communities that feed your soul.

Happy New Year!

Some reminder writing tip posts

Hey, all!

Damn. Been a while. But you can always find me over at Women and Words, on Twitter, or Facebook.

I’m working on several see-krit projects at the moment. A not see-krit project is the fanfic I’m doing over at Archive of Our Own. It’s a Clexa piece, and it’s over 180K words, now. Still going. Basically, I rebooted season 3. You’re welcome. 😀

Anyway! Here are some writing tips just for you, in a few different (oldies but goodies) blogs that I wrote. I still get requests for these, so here they are again:

On writing dialogue

On Point-of-view (POV)

On headhopping

“As you know, Bob…” (part of the writer’s adage, show-don’t-tell)

Participial Phrases

Get your write on!

Happy Tuesday.

Things I’m up to, including a forthcoming release and fanfic

Hiya, peeps!

Whew. So the Order Up blog tour wound down and we gave a bunch of copies away and hopefully introduced a bunch of you to some new authors.

Next week is crazy-time for a bunch of lesfic authors in the States, as we head to the GCLS conference. So I’ll be running around doing that. Tweeting and Facebooking and things, so if you’re unable to join us in person, well, you can still hang with us in spirit.

I also very quietly have been working on a long novella/short novel that is part of The Law Game series through Ylva Publshing.

Mine is If Looks Could Kill, and it’s Book 5. It’s due out in the next month or two. I’ll keep you posted.

If Looks Could Kill

Eleanor “Ellie” O’Donnell is part of a special investigative unit within the New York City Police Department. Her latest assignment has her tasked with uncovering the relationship between internationally known fashion mogul and all-around ice queen Marya Hampstead and a local Russian crime family. As legendary for her business acumen and beauty as her uncompromising and unapproachable personality, Marya Hampstead is not a woman to cross.

Unfortunately for Ellie, the only way she can get close enough to conduct her investigation is by pretending to be an aspiring designer who takes an internship at Hampstead’s company. Definitely out of her element, Ellie has to put all her acting and investigative skills to work as she delves into what at first seems a simple case of occasional public outings with a man whose family has ties Hampstead might not know about.

But when Marya’s father, an international businessman, shows up in New York, it becomes clear that something else is going on, and that there’s much more to Marya Hampstead than meets the eye. The question is, how much more and how deep is Ellie willing to go to find out?

In the fast-paced world of clothes, critics, and competition, Ellie uncovers a lot more than runway gossip, including secrets that will kill far more than a bad outfit.

Hope you’re interested in checking that out.

OH, and here’s a bit more news. You guys, I’ve just started posting my very first fanfic. I’m one of those obsessed with The 100. I’ve already blogged about the episode in season 3 that shall not be named here, and that is primarily what kicked me in the ass to actually do fanfic.

I have written fanfic in the past. Just not about TV shows and I’ve never posted it. I’ve used it as a writing exercise, to explore characterization and motives while playing in someone else’s world. Maybe that’s a weird form of cosplay. Heh.

At any rate, I am posting a Clexa fanfic, a chapter or two at a time, every week or 10 days or so, over at Archive of Our Own. The title of the work is “Grounded,” and I’m AndiLand or Andi Marquette over there, if you’re into Clexa fanfic.

How could you NOT fanfic this? I mean, for realz, yo!
How could you NOT fanfic this? I mean, for realz, yo!

All rightie. Happy weekending, everyone.

ORDER UP BLOG TOUR with N.R. Dunham!

Hey, all!

Like I said. I went crazy over here on my blog with various authors who have stories in the just-released anthology Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica, edited by yers truly and R.G. Emanuelle.


Today, we are joined by N.R. Dunham, who will share with you some background about her story, “A Twist of France.” She’s also included an excerpt, so dive right in and get you some. 🙂

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ORDER UP blog tour! Excerpt by Emma Weimann!

DARLINGS! It’s outta control up in here on this site. OUTTA CONTROL. We had Rebekah Weatherspoon, Jaye Markham, and now we’re having Emma Weimann!

I freaking love having all these people hanging out with me. Today we’ve got Emma Weimann, who scored a Goldie for her first novel, Heart’s Surrender.

Here, however, she’s got a story in Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica.


In “Something Salty, Something Sweet,” Emma tells the story of two women who have been together a while but still find and make time for each other.

So I’ll turn it over to her, now, and let her serve you some delicious-ness.

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ORDER UP BLOG TOUR with author Jaye Markham!

Hello, people! Well, as it turns out, my blog is getting a lot of action (ha!) during the Order Up Blog Tour. Which is fine n’ dandy with me.

Today I’m pleased to introduce Jaye Markham, whose story “Not Spam Again!” deals with women in the armed services during World War II in London.


I’m now going to turn this over to Jaye, who will give you some awesome historical (herstorical) background to her story and to the larger issue of women serving in WWII.

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Cheri Crystal on the Order Up Blog Tour! Day 6 (GIVEAWAY!)

And the winner of an ebook copy of Order Up is…
drum roll…

Thanks for playing, everybody!

Hi, everybody!

So award-winning author Cheri Crystal stopped by my place to get in on the Order Up anthology fun-ness. She’s busy traipsing around France right now, so let’s all feel a pang of sadness for her…NOT! Let’s all wish her safe travels and hope that she’s having a blast. Which, from her Facebook posts, she is.

Before we get into Cheri’s story and excerpt, I’d like to take a moment to hold in comfort all who lost loved ones in Orlando yesterday and on Saturday. May we find our way out of this somehow, and may we not lose sight of who we are, as members of all the communities in which we live, love, and work.

Thank you.

And now, let’s get into Cheri Crystal’s blog. Welcome, Cheri, and thanks for joining us on this here tour. In honor of your stopping by,

I’m GIVING AWAY YET ANOTHER EBOOK COPY OF ORDER UP! Just leave me a comment below and YOU’RE IN! Make sure you include your email address in the comment fill-out form, but not in the comment body. We don’t want spambots to find you and do icky things with your email address. We’ll draw a random winner on THURSDAY, JUNE 16 at 9 PM EST! And who knows? Sometimes the merry elves from Women and Words pop over to my site and give out extra copies…you never know…


OMG I love blog tours…

In Cheri’s story, “Clinch It with Coleslaw,” a woman and her two young children spend the summer in a cabin in a place that includes summer camp for kids. Their neighbor is another woman — this one a caterer, who’s there with her older kids. Let’s just say sparks fly between these two women, and so do summer recipes for love.

Take it away, Cheri!
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