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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...