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Friday, December 23, 2016

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being A Writer

Sorry for the delay of today's post. I waited for my new charger/adapter because it's burdensome to write, format and upload blog posts on my phone. Alas, it came but it was the wrong one. So here I am, working on this post on my phone and no other computer at my disposal as I've started my winter vacation from work.

So here goes...this writing journey we're on isn't always easy. But it's it'd be nice to know a few things before that first step to one day being a published author.


I wish someone had told me just how hard it is to be a writer. Being a writer isn’t simply the act of writing a book but rewriting it, revising it, and editing it again and again until you either hate it or it’s as “perfect” as you can get it. Then, if you want to publish, there’s the all-new ball game of querying, rejections, rejections, and more rejections. After that comes the hard work that follows a contract; getting the book ready for publication, which could take a year.

What. You don’t think I’m done, do you? I’m just getting started. What comes next is the hardest part of all. Once you have a book/eBook published, it’s time to market: find readers and get reviews. Unlike the previous steps, these two tasks never end. And sometimes, they only get harder. There’s no one right way to do it. All a writer can do is everything in his/her power.

So, no, it’s not easy being a writer, but those who are passionate will grit their teeth through it and keep on keeping on. Or…keep on writing on.


I wish: someone had told me to get involved with other writers, told me that revisions are absolutely necessary (yup, didn't know that when I started, thought a novel should just come out perfect the first time, lol), and that practice eventually makes pretty good :)

CD Coffelt

Things I wish someone had told me... Biggest on my list is how much rejection hurts and how hard it is to overcome. The iron skin comes with time but after publishing, prepare yourself for snarky reviews.


The first thing I wish I’d been told about being a writer is about how lonely it can be. While I’ve been blessed with a wonderful support system for writing, not everyone has that luxury, and it can make it terribly hard and lonely for them. Even writers with great support systems are bound to run into someone, even within their support system, who isn’t interested in hearing about the latest plight their characters have become mired in. Or that isn’t interested in hearing about all the interesting facts they discovered about the process of rigor mortis, or about life in Ireland in the 1600s while they were researching their latest manuscript. Sometimes they’ll get to share these facts with someone, but other times, they’re going to be stuck with keeping that information inside their own heads. It’s also lonely because often non-writers don’t understand how frustrating the process can be. They don’t understand that you don’t know how long it’s going to take to write it, or how long the book is going to be. They also don’t understand how much research has to go into making certain things accurate. They don’t get the desolation of writer’s block. This is one reason why having a great support group is so important, even if the author has to find an online writer’s community to rejoice with them when the writing’s going well, and to commiserate with them when it’s not.

Other things I’d wish I’d been told was how much research you have to do. Well, that’s as long as you don’t want to get angry letters from some attorney telling you that your attorney character would have never handled a case the way he or she did, not unless they were trying to get disbarred. Or have some nurse tell you that your nurse wouldn’t have conducted the procedure you had them conduct because they didn’t have the authority to do so, even if they possessed the knowledge to. Or have a forensic expert tell you that there was no way your police officers would have received the DNA results in the timeframe they did, even if the lab wasn’t backed up. Or have some history professor tell you that there was absolutely no way your heroine would have been allowed to do something or own something you claim she did or owned, due to the laws of the time period you set your story in. Or that an article of clothing your character was wearing wouldn’t have been possible because your story was set a good decade or more before that particular article of clothing existed, or that it was called something different at that time and that the name you used for it didn’t exist until fifty years after your story was set. Then you have the joy of deciding how much of your research information to include to be accurate without creating an unnecessary infodump. I’ve had to research the resulting damage from a meteorite impact; proper police procedure when someone finds a body; the procedure for a heart transplant; laws of inheritance (and I STILL don’t have that one 100% clear!); the rate of decomposition of the human body under certain conditions; and what type of impact would be required to break both femurs at the same time. (Did you know that the femur is the hardest bone in the human body, and that it takes roughly 1700 PSI to break it? And that’s an average, since other factors can be involved, such as the angle of the impact, the person’s health and age, etc.)Ah, and number three is a hard one. Dealing with rejection. It stings at the least, rips a hole in you at the worst. There’s no quick and easy cure for it, either. You just have to develop thick skin. But rejection is one of the hardest ones to deal with. Most writers start out because they start writing and they generally get good responses. That opens the possibility to them that hey, maybe they actually have the talent to get published. But then they start sending their babies out into the world and they find that no one else wants them. So then they start second-guessing their capability. Maybe they don’t have the talent everyone led them to believe they have. New writers especially need to find the company of other, more experienced writers. Most more experienced writers are going to tell you what’s wrong with the story, but you need to be prepared to hear the truth, since some writers are more gentle in their criticism and others are less so. I’ve even seen some who are pretty brutal in pointing out the problems with another’s work. Rejection stings. I don’t care if it’s your first time or your 2,001st time. It stings. You just have to realize it’s not personal. Maybe that particular agent had already waded through 50 other horrible zombie apocalypse novel submissions before reaching yours and their eyes were crossing. Maybe they had just signed their third vampire romance and knew their house wouldn’t stand for just one more, even though they loved yours. Maybe they were having a bad day and you misspelled their name. Maybe they knew the market was already glutted with motorcycle-riding PIs. Or maybe you didn’t pay attention to their guidelines and you missed the fact that they just aren’t interested in star-crossed lovers who commit suicide at the end. But you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. And sometimes it hurts to realize that this particular manuscript should just be retired and stuck in a drawer for a while. Maybe you could dust if off after you’ve had several bestsellers. Or maybe you’ll pull it out with that intention, only to discover it actually was pretty terrible and you can justifiably burn it.And I also wish someone had told me about the investment of time. You have to make time to write. It’s not going to come just naturally built into your day. You have to make a conscious decision to write, and then you have to do it, no matter what. You have to set a schedule for yourself and you have to stick to it. Will you take a day off? Will you work short periods seven days a week? That’s up to you, but you have to set it and stick to it. If you sit around thinking that you’ll write when you have time tomorrow, you’ll find that tomorrow comes and you don’t have any time to write. And then you’ll think you’ll write the next day, and then next, and the…well, you get the point.There are other things I wish I’d been told, but this is probably too long as it is. In spite of the things I wish I had been told, I wouldn’t change any of it for anything. Because one thing I knew without having to be told was how wonderful you feel when you finish a manuscript, the sense of accomplishment that fills you. And sometimes that makes all the hard stuff worth it.


What I wish someone told me about writing?

Like how the bible wasn't faxed straight from heaven, all those books on the bookstore shelves didn't appear out of nowhere. You can think that you can write a book or write better than a particular author(s). But you're not just writing a book. You're doing so much more. You're giving yourself with every word, edit, revision, beta testing, querying, rejection and doubt, rewrite, etc. again and again again. You might have a better chance at getting hit by lightning than making a living writing. Even with all or lack thereof the marketing and publishing at your disposal once you do get a deal, there's no guarantee you'll be a successful or bestselling writer. Yet you can't help but to write anyways. Because you're a writer.

What do you wish someone told you before you started writing?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Best Gifts You Should Give a Writer

It's part two of this week's special roundup with the UB bloggers. And with Christmas days away of course today's post is about gifts. And in particular, gifts you'd like to receive, as a writer.


Well, I wish I could get an agent for the book I’m shopping around, but that’s not something anyone could give me. Although, it is my biggest Christmas wish.

A few good gifts for writers are a couple of ink cartridges, a portable keyboard, a lifetime subscription for Microsoft Office Home and Student, a bookcase, and Scrabble. But the best gift of all would be purchasing one of their books (if they’re published), reading it, and posting a review on Amazon and Goodreads. This gift is priceless.


Gifts: Definitely buy an author's books (and tweet about them!), a good pen (I like the Micron 005, which is probably too fine for many but I draw, too, and it is so smooth AND it's archival), maybe a wireless mouse (those pesky wires), Roget's Thesaurus (if they don't already have it), or any one of the following: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale, and a foreign language dictionary (very helpful if you write fantasy, imo), an adult coloring book with some good colored pencils, and hand lotion (the good stuff you get at the nice shops that smells divine).

CD Coffelt

Gifts for Writers. Easy-Peasy. Notebooks, pens. How about an external drive to backup your precious manuscripts? An Amazon Prime membership. Or a gift card to Dreamtime or IStockphotos.


There are several things that I feel would be the best gifts for a writer. First, there are the obvious big-ticket items. A new laptop or computer; writing or editing software; enrollment in one of the proven writing workshops, like Clarion; an external drive for storing previous works and the current WIP; a new printer; or ink and paper for the new printer or for their current printer.

Yeah, those are all dream items, but not everyone has the finances for those types of purchases. So for those whose funds are a bit more limited, there are always other options. Notebooks; pens and/or pencils; writing books like Writer’s Market, On Writing Horror for your Horror writers and other genre specific books for writers of other genres, as well as police procedurals for writers who might write mysteries. On second thought, police procedurals are great for any writer to have, simply because police procedure might pop up in other genres as well. There might be a murder in a romance, or someone might be arrested in a horror manuscript, and that author needs to know just enough about police procedure to know if their scenes involving the police are accurate. Medical references are also good, so the author will know if the injuries they described from a car accident are in keeping with the description of the accident. They also need to know if any activities they described the character doing after the accident would be possible with the described injuries. Other books would include Elements of Style, The Chicago Manual of Style, and On Writing. On Writing doesn’t take you through proper grammar and sentence structure, but there’s some sound advice in it, along with a good dose of humor as you read about the early life of Stephen King. And we can always use some comic relief in life, right?

Other great ideas are gift cards for Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or other bookstores. Those are great because if you’re not sure what types of books the writer wants or needs, they can decide for themselves. They might even choose to pick a book for reading pleasure, and I agree with Stephen King’s assertion that writers should both write a lot and read a lot. Filing cabinets can also be a good idea for the author, depending on the individual writer’s needs.

And don’t forget the nice little gifts that will allow the writer to pamper herself or himself! A favorite perfume or cologne; a day of R&R; or something else that you know is near and dear to the writer’s heart.

Hope this gave you some interesting ideas for the writer in your life!


Books. Books, books, books. Did I already say books? Everyone knows I'm a book lover but for the life of me, only once did I receive a book as a gift. And that was when I was a little girl and the director of the daycare I went to, who noticed I loved to read, gifted me Fudge-A-Mania. Loved that book so much that it became in tatters. Unfortunately, I don't have that book anymore because it was thrown out one day by my mom/aunt during a move. Hint, most writers like to read. So even if you don't know which book to get, they pretty much make it easy for you. Just check out the writer's Goodreads library shelf. And whatever they haven't read yet and what they want to read, you get. Another good gift to give a writer are pens. Yes, pens. And I'm talking about the nice ones that seems to siphon the words from you like flowing water. Also, giving a good review. There's no greater gift than that too. You can also give extra adapters (especially in my case), USB drives or a tablet with keyboard works too.

What other gifts you'd like to add to give to a writer?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Social Media Hashtags Writers Should Follow and Why

More than a few blogs posts ago I did a post about Twitter hashtags on my blog. About which ones a writer should follow and why. Then I had a crazy idea, well maybe not crazy. More like cool. What if I had everyone on Unicorn Bell pool their knowledge. And share their nuggets of information on the same subject. But this time on a broader scale.

So that’s what we’re doing today and for the rest of the week. We’re doing a writerly roundup this week and today’s post, see the post title, are about hashtags.


Two Twitter hashtags I believe all writers should follow are #MSWL and #StoryDam.

Using #MSWL, you can find out what agents and editors are looking for. These tweets let writers know what kind of manuscripts are on their wish lists and when to query. You can also check their website www.manuscriptwishlist.com for agents’ profiles with a more detailed list of what they’re looking for in general.

#StoryDam is a weekly chat that happens on Thursdays at 8pm ET. Every Thursday, there are 6 new questions that you can answer using the format A1: (Your Answer) for one tweet, A2: (Your Answer) for your next tweet, and so on. Tweet, retweet, favorite. Get to know other writers, make friends, and gain advice. The questions are posted on their blog/website. www.storydam.com.


Twitter: I don't tweet much but I do like #MSWL - it's very helpful!

CD Coffelt

Hashtags. Many hashtags I followed in the beginning are extinct. The one hashtag I still follow is #querytip. A writer never knows when something good might pop up.

#amwriting is one of my all-time-favorites, if not for information then as a virtual hug and encouragement.

Facebook is more “buy my book” screaming but Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors is great for advice. As a sidebar, I belong to several family groups that are closed to the public. It is a great way to exchange information and photos. I love that aspect of FB.


I’d said it once already and I’ll say it again. Definitely think about participating in #WIPjoy. Your story feeling stagnant? Your writing journey is making you feel isolated? #WIPjoy is a month long event. And a good way to rejuvenate the feelings of love and passion you first had when you started writing. Like finding out that the love is still there in a relationship. Plus, you get to network with and befriend other writers. The next #WIPjoy part is January 2017. Just follow @simmeringmind for the details. And follow the daily prompts and post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Have any social media hashtags you’d like to promote? Why?

Friday, December 2, 2016

100 Best Novels Quiz

Like Monday and Wednesday, today I'm giving you another quiz to play.

This one is a bit of a challenge. And they give you 15 minutes to do it in... 

Modern Library Board's Best 100 Novels

This quiz only shows 55 of them, but it's kind of particular. The titles are between 2 and 9 words long, and the full title (including all articles) must be entered for it to read. But, all the words in all the titles are given. Just...in alphabetical order. 

A few tips:
  1. Just type titles into the typing bar. It'll fill in the correct spot for you. 
  2. Spelling...counts. But, all the words are on screen, so you can check your spelling.
  3. The top 100 novels by the Modern Library Board is a thing. I bet you could look it up. Not that I'm advocating cheating or anything... 
Again, I'd love to know how you did in the comments. I didn't cheat, and it shows in my score... 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Guessing the First 200 Words

It's the end of NaNo. Tomorrow's December with holidays and parties and decorations and stress. Let's take a load off...

...with a random quiz. This one is going to take some time (15 minutes), but it's not as hard as you think.

First 200 Words: To Kill a Mockingbird

A few tips: 
  1. You'd be surprised how many "and" and "the" are going to show up. As well as the other usual words that we use to make sentences make sense. Start there.
  2. You don't have to go in order. Start with the obvious words. And all instances of the same word fill in at the same time.
  3. It reads down in columns, so the first word is in the first box, the second word is below the first word, etc. 
  4. Spelling counts. Capitalization doesn't matter. They fill in the punctuation. 
Good luck. Let me know how you did in the comments.
As for me...

(Full disclosure: I did cheat. A little. If I had the book, I would have cheated a lot.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Books by Their Covers Quiz

Did everyone have a pleasant Thanksgiving? Since it's Cyber Monday and the end of November (for all you NaNoers out there), I thought I'd keep things easy. How about a little literature quiz?

(c) Scott McLeod

This quiz shows you a book cover, and you have to come up with the title. Some of them should be familiar. Some of them might not be.

Books by Their Covers Quiz

A couple tips: 
  1. You don't have to go in order. If you recognize a cover, just type the title into the typing bar. It'll fill in the correct box for you.
  2. You don't have to worry about "the" or "a". I skipped all sorts of articles, and it still found the correct box. 
  3. No one will know if you cheat... 
Please let me know how you did in the comments. If you want to know how I did, feel free to click on the "spoiler button":

(And no, I didn't cheat. If I cheat, I get 100%.)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Three Writerly Dohs!!

As a writer and blogger, I’ve stumbled down many an alleyway mostly due to naiveté. And chasing squirrels. Lots of squirrels.

I recognize how stooopid they were, those instances of Doh! and I cringe. Of the multitudes of *facepalm*, three big Don'ts stand out. And since most writers have little time to dink around with long posts, here is:

Monumental Advice Number One

Tell no one you are writing/have written a book. If you have a spouse who supports you, it’s okay to tell them (she said grudgingly) but use digression. If he's a talker, well...

By keeping your writing career mum, you will avoid these Questions.
“So where is your book? I keep checking the NYT bestseller list but *insert the snark here* haven’t seen your name." 
“I saw this ad about publishing your own book. They call it a vanity press. Why don’t you use them?” 
“It’s been three months since you finished the book and still not published? Wow. “*insert pitying expression*

Advice Number Two:

Do not disparage agents, agencies, or your fellow authors on your blog. Self-inflicted wounds, i.e. shooting yourself in the foot, lose their charm after the first direct hit. No good can come of offending your potential clients and backers.

Last of the Three For-Heaven’s-Sake-Don’t-Do-This Rules

Posting rejections, the number of queries sent, the extra pages requested might seem like a good idea. But do you really want your followers to see this? Anytime I consider posting my stats, I refer to the Number One and the inclination dies.

Do you have any deep regrets since starting this business? I’d love to hear more from writers who committed the First Mistake, their friends and family’s responses, and how they dealt with them.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dear “I Hate Grammar!” Writer

Dear “I Hate Grammar!” Writer,

Many writers hate grammar. I used to be one of them. But to write well you have to understand grammar to some extent. In this post, I am providing quick rules, examples, and tips to help you understand some areas of grammar.

Image from Pixabay

1. You and I or You and me?

The quickest way to figure this out is to cut out “You and” from the sentence. Does “I” sound better or does “me?” Whichever one makes more sense is the correct pronoun.

Ex: Where would you like Mary and me to stand?

Sounds good. "Me” is correct.

Now let's look at it this way:

Ex: Where would you like Mary and I to stand?

Sounds bad. “I” is incorrect.

TIP: The POV we are in is always mentioned last. Ex: Mom and I went to the mall.

2. Italic letters or quotations for the names of songs/books/movies/TV shows?

The names of songs and other short works part of a bigger work (chapter titles, names of TV show episodes) are always in quotation marks.

EX: I listened to “Baby One More Time” on repeat.

The names of whole works such as books, movies, and TV shows are italic.

EX: I watched Gone with the Wind last night.

3. Who or whom?

Who – he/she/they

Whom – him/her/them

Ex: The woman who hit my car.

She hit me car. (Who is correct.)

Ex: To whom do I address this letter?

Do I address this letter to him/her/them? (Whom is correct.)

4. When to capitalize titles with names.

Always capitalize titles when they appear with a name.

Ex: President Obama, Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Cristina Yang, Chef Ramsey.

Capitalize titles used as a substitute for a name. When it’s like this, it’s like a nickname.

Ex: I looked at the Chief and knew the criminal got away.
("Chief" is referring to one person and is in place of a name.)

Lowercase the title when the term is used in a general way, not for a specific person.

Ex: The duties of a president are daunting. 

7 Fast Tips:

-       Seasons (summer, autumn, winter, spring) are lowercase.

-       Directions (north, east, south, west) are also lowercase.

-       Use em dashes at the end of dialogue when there’s an abrupt stop, such as when one character cuts off another character’s speech.

-       Use single quotation marks inside double quotations when a character is quoting someone.

-       No question mark for an indirect question.

-       There’s no such word as “alright.” Correct: All right

-       “Already” means it happened in the past. “All ready” means prepared. 

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds Before, and 30 Seconds. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dear “Editing is Crap!” Writer

Dear “Editing is Crap!” Writer,

Editing your book can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how to edit. I know writers who hate the task, and others who enjoy it. I actually enjoy it, so I’m going to share some tips and techniques to help you get the job done.

First, download my pdf The Ultimate Editing List. I’ll share a little of what you can find in it, but the full list will really help you make your writing stronger and tighter.

Whenever I edit, I start by using the Find tool in Microsoft to hunt down unnecessary, cluttering, filter words. I input them one at a time, take a look at every sentence with the no-no word, and cut as many of them as I can.

Some of these are: that, just, like, really, very, only.

Once I eliminate these “naughty” words, I do my first of several rounds of editing. I typically do three rounds before I give it to 2-3 beta readers. Then I implement changes based on my beta readers’ notes and go over it once more for good measure.

Image from Flickr

4 Editing Techniques:

1. Print out your manuscript.

Having a tangible form of your book that you can hold and edit by hand is always useful. Buy some red pens and highlighters, punch holes into your manuscript pages, and put them in a binder for accessibility. Read each page, each line. Cut out words, sentences, and whatever else needs to go. Add words and paragraphs of descriptions. Make notes on the side to fix scenes or add more emotion. When you’re done, transport the changes to your Word DOC.

TIP: Reading through the full story after these changes are made is wise.

2. Read backwards.

Start with the final paragraph, read it in its entirety, and work your way up, paragraph by
paragraph. This technique helps you to focus on the sentences rather than the plot. It’s
also a great way for you to focus on the flow of the sentences.

3. Change the font size and color.

Changing the way something looks gives your brain a rest and a way to spot new things. I like to make the font size 16 or 18 and change the color to dark blue, green, or purple.

4. Download your document to your Kindle device.

This can be easily done by emailing the document to yourself, accessing your email on your Kindle, and opening the document to be viewed in your library. This is usually my final form of editing when I feel I’ve edited as much as I could but still want to make sure it’s ready for someone else to view it. I like this technique because I get to see and read my story as a reader would. I can spot inconsistencies, typos, and where I may need to add more emotion.

2 Steps After You Edit Your Book:

1. Get at least two beta readers to take a look and point out any errors and plot holes. 

2. If you are self-publishing, the final and most important step is to hire an editor. Yes, really. Yes, even after you edited it yourself. Look around, research, and get recommendations from other writers. 

You don’t have to do all of these techniques, but picking at least two will really make a difference.

QUESTION: How do you edit your books?

Author of Hurricane Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

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P.S. Today's post on my blog is 100 Marketing Tips.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Starting Over

I just put away the novel that I've been working on for over a year. I had to do it. I'm going to have to restart it from the beginning to fix some issues that were making the ending unwieldy. So, while that novel is "resting", I'm going to start a brand new novel.

This time, I'm going to keep my story bible current.

You know what a story bible is, right? It's a collection of relevant info that you need easy access to. For example, there should be a list of character names, especially minor characters, so you're not calling the best friend's husband Bob in chapter two and then Henry in chapter fifteen.

Story bibles are vital for multi-book stories and speculative fiction. These are the keepers of timelines as well as rules of the land. I keep world maps and alternative calendars, too.

My problem is I only think of my story bible when I need the information. So, that info is rarely in the bible. I have to hunt it down in the text, and only then do I add it to the bible. Let's just say that can be a bit time consuming.

So, this time I'm going to keep a file on the world, and I'm going to add things like place descriptions as they come up. Of course I say I'm going to do this every time, so perhaps I need some sort of plan. Like one day a week I spend just updating the story bible. Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Do you keep a story bible for all your works? How do you update it?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dear “My Writing Sucks!” Writer

Dear “My Writing Sucks!” Writer,

“My writing sucks!” This is a statement many writers say at every stage of writing (first draft, last draft, every editing round, before and after critiques). We say this because we expect perfection. We want our stories to be golden right from the start, but that never happens, and that’s fine. Actually, that’s great! You want to be able to make your story better as you go.

The fact is, every writer thinks their writing is crap. It’s normal. We read amazing published books by best-sellers and compare their skill to ours. We can’t help it, can we? These authors are the ones we admire, so it’s easy to feel that our writing is inadequate next to theirs.

But these authors go through this same thing. They can think their writing sucks, too! And they have! The only difference is they have professional, top-of-the-line editors to help them. Once they’re done, their book is the gem that we later buy, read, and praise.

The same is true of your book. Once you’re done perfecting it, it is the gem that readers and other writers praise.

So remember, you may hate your work-in-progress now. You may think your writing is crap, but it won’t stay that way for long, will it? Not if you’re determined.

Grab your determination and turn your crappy writing to gold!

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Dear “I’m the Worst Writer Ever!” Writer

Dear “I’m the Worst Writer Ever!” Writer,

I can guarantee you that every writer has said they're the worst writer ever at least once. More likely, several times. Even New York Times Best-Sellers have said this at one time or another. I’m sure some of them still do. When best-sellers can think their writing is crap, aren’t we in good company?

I used to have these thoughts whenever I read a really good, vividly written book. I’d sit there with the book in my hands, my jaw unhinged, and I’d be thinking, I don’t write like this. Over time, as I grew as a writer, I stopped having these thoughts. I came to realize I don’t need to write like the authors I admired, because I write like myself, and that is good enough.

You don’t need to be like anyone else or write like anyone else. You are enough. Your writing is enough.

There are some things you can do to help your confidence, though:

1. Take a writing improvement course or a writing class at your local college. Universal Class offers online courses. You can take as many as you want with a one-year subscription that costs $189. They have writing and grammar courses.

2. Go to writing workshops or seminars. Many can be found online.

3. Read books on the writing craft.

4. Join writing groups. This could be critique groups or organizations like Romance Writers of America.

Daily mantras for you to say to yourself:

- I am a good writer. 
- I may not write like [name of your favorite author], but I write like [your name].
- My words mean something. 
- My books will get published because God gave me this passion and these story ideas for a reason.

Believe these mantras with every fiber of your being, send it out to the universe, and they will happen.

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Death Chant, New Release

Ho Boy, This is definitely worth notice.

When her mentor disappears, Winter follows his trail to the Pacific Northwest, where the untamed wilderness is beautiful…and hides deadly secrets.
Anthropologist Winter Barstow knows nothing of her past or ethnic heritage and tells herself it doesn’t matter. Everything changes when Doc, her mentor, sends her an authentic ceremonial wolf mask from Olympic National Forest. The mask calls to her in ways she can’t understand or explain.
Then Doc disappears. Determined to find him and discover the mask’s origin, she travels to the mysterious, awe-inspiring forest where she’s confronted by Native American ranger Jay Raven, who has no love for Doc.
The deeper Winter digs into her mentor’s disappearance, the more alarming things become. She begins to hear a mysterious wolf’s howl…even when no one else does.
Jay warns Winter to leave, but she owes Doc and herself the truth.

And even though it goes against everything he has promised his tribe’s elders, Jay can’t walk away from Winter. Not only has a spirit wolf reached out to her, but he also suspects she’s in terrible danger…and his growing feelings for her are too strong to ignore.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Chant-Vella-Munn-ebook/dp/B01K4VZTKK

Vella Munn writes because the voices in her head demand it. She has had at least 60 titles published both under her own name and several pen names. A dedicated hermit and shopping loather, she's married with two sons and four grandchildren. She's owned by two rescue dogs. 

Death Chant was one of her absolute favorite books to write in large part because she was able to mentally transport herself to the amazing and mystical Olympic National Forest in Washington state. 

Also, her heroine Winter Barstow had long been demanding that her story be told.

Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/Vella-Munn-Author-788044174656126/
No, he wasn’t Christmas morning excited. More like overwhelmed. Scared. Out of his element.
Scared? Damn it, she didn’t want that for him.
Doc was right. She owed him a great deal. Alone in the world, yearning to belong, to understand, she’d snuck into his lecture hall. Instead of kicking her out, he’d seen through her emotional shields to the hungry-for-knowledge teen she’d been. Once he’d won her trust—no easy task—he’d helped her get several scholarships, a part-time job on campus, a roof over her head. A reason for existing.
She called him, but the phone went right to voice mail. Swayed by his cautions, she didn’t leave a message. 
When Doc had been preparing to leave, he’d made sure she had several ways of getting in touch with him, including the number for Potlatch, the employee-only park camp where he had his field office. She punched in the Potlatch number. As she waited for someone to answer, she debated how to best frame her reason for calling. Doc and she worked for the same California university system, albeit far from the same place in the pecking order. She could—
“Potlatch. Ranger Jay Raven speaking.”
She couldn’t remember Doc mentioning anyone named Raven. “I’m trying to reach Dr. Anthony Gilsdorf.”
Silence. That was odd. Had they been disconnected? “Can you hear me?” she asked. “I’m trying—”
“I heard you.”
Thrown off balance by what might be the man’s hostility, she struggled to concentrate. Jay Raven hadn’t said whether or not he knew Doc, but what if he did and the relationship wasn’t friendly? Doc had been disappointed by the local Native Americans’ refusal to help him. Much as she wanted to tell the man about everything Doc had done for her, now wasn’t the time. It never would be.
“Is he there? I tried his cell phone but—“
“I haven’t seen him for several days, maybe a week. Maybe try back later.”
“Wait,” she blurted. “Don’t hang up. When did you last see him? Where was it?”
The man hesitated, as if finally hearing the desperation in her tone. “Here. It might have been when he was talking to our budget officer, Michael Simpson. That was three or four days ago.”
“How do I get in touch with him? He’s not answering his cell.”
“His cell is the only thing I can think of. Who are you?”
Doc might not have told anyone there about their close relationship. As long as she remained an unknown female caller, Jay Raven would have no way of connecting her to the wolf mask—if he even knew it was missing. He couldn’t track her.
Track her? Where had that thought come from? Damn it, she needed to get a handle on herself. Between the compelling artifact commanding her living room and her concern for Doc, she wasn’t at her best. She needed to think.
“We’re concerned about him. He was supposed to check in this afternoon,” she lied.
“Was he? Look, I don’t have any more contact with him than necessary.”
“Why not?” she demanded.
“Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but Dr. Gilsdorf’s relationship with my people is somewhat strained.”
“Your people?”
“The Hoh. We leave him pretty much alone. If he’s gone missing—“
“He has gone missing.” So she’d been right about the ranger’s heritage. 
“I’m afraid he has.” His voice softened. “My understanding is Dr. Gilsdorf had several meetings with the budget officer and park historian. They might be able to help.”
“I’d appreciate the suggestion. Doc is staying at Potlatch, isn’t he?”
“When he isn’t camping in the forest.”
Which was a lot of the time. “Would you mind leaving a note at his place for him to call me?”
“Not at all. Who should I tell him this is?”
“I’m Winter. Winter Barstow.”
He paused. “Interesting name. I imagine you’ve been told that before.”
“Yes, I have.”
“My compliments to your parents.”
Unfortunately, my parents had nothing to do with it. “I could say the same about yours. It’s unique.”
He chuckled. “Not many people are named after two different birds.”
Listening to him, she realized she’d actually relaxed for a moment. She wanted to thank him but didn’t know how to begin. “You will tell him I’m trying to reach him, won’t you?”
“Of course.” After giving her the numbers for the budget officer and historian, he told her he’d been impressed by Doc’s hiking gear and hung up. Losing the connection left her feeling cut off from not just Doc, but so much of what mattered to him. 
Jay Raven was Native American. That meant they had everything and yet nothing in common. 

Death Chant is out today!! Check it out.