Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why the Beginning of Your Novel Is Important

Since January is the month of “beginnings” on The Blood Red Pencil, let’s talk about the first lines and/or the first few pages of your novel. Agents claim they can tell if a book is worth representing from reading the first five pages, and they can and do accept or reject representation based on those pages. I know readers who would ditch a book if they’re not enthralled right away. I give it more time if the writing appeals to me.

It helps to have an outstanding first line. I’ve had a first line in my head for years, but I’ve never been able to come up with a story to go with it. Julia Spencer-Fleming’s first sentence in In the Bleak Midwinter is a gem: “It was one hell of a night to throw out a baby.” Now really, doesn’t that make you want to keep reading?

There are some first lines that stick in your mind even though the book fades from popularity. Here’s a link of 100 of the best first lines: http://americanbookreview.org/100BestLines.asp You'll probably recognize many of them.


What do you expect from the first five pages of a novel? Literary agent Noah Lukeman wrote a book titled, you guessed it, The First Five Pages. I bought it, and it makes some great points. First and foremost, he judges whether the book is “technically accomplished enough to merit a serious artistic evaluation to begin with.” He says agents want to get through their slush pile, and they’ll do anything to eliminate a book for any reason. That’s disheartening because I’m sure many a gem has been overlooked, maybe forever.


Lukeman also says that even if the first pages are terrible, he might check a random section in the middle and at the end to see if the book is terrible throughout. I think that’s a great idea. The three strike option gives an author a better shot of an agent reading her book.

A “suggestion” in producing a salable mystery is to have the murder as close to the beginning as possible. This risks creating a slew of books that start out with similar opening scenes. For amateur sleuths, our character trips, falls, or finds a dead body almost immediately. For police procedurals, the crime might take a little more time, but it’s still early on.

Conflict is another early page grabber. Romantic suspense usually has the two protagonists at each other’s throats right off the bat. Bet on it. An agent might never know how long the conflict continues if those first five pages aren’t well written. If it goes on too long, readers like me might shut the book because of the contrived back and forth tension.

Both of these “rules” can produce formulaic books. There’s a saying that rules are made to be broken. Big name authors can get away with more than a lesser-known writer. I break both rules in my novel, Murder Déjà Vu. The two main characters’ conflict lasts about an hour. They like each other―gasp―right away. To take the abomination one step further, the murder doesn’t occur until the end of the sixth chapter, page thirty. Double gasp. There’s a reason why it works. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.


The high rate of manuscript refusals among agents is one of the reasons self-publishing came into existence. First, a number of vanity presses promised authors publication “for a small fee,” which turned out not to be small at all. Writers got conned and lost money when those presses didn’t follow through on their promises.

Enter Amazon.

Self-publishing had been around for a while, but it took Amazon to make it an easy and profitable platform for novelists. A writer’s investment consists of a good editor, formatter, and cover artist. The actual publishing is free, and the reward is between a 35 and 70% royalty, along with other benefits. Their “Look Inside” feature gives readers the chance to read those first five pages and more to judge whether they want to commit to the whole book. That makes the beginning of your book even more important. But don't forget the rest of the book. A reader can just as easily stop reading halfway through if you slack off. The beginning is only the beginning.


Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Writing Workshops January & February 2018

Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long workshop, writing related events are a good way of communing with other writers, networking, and getting your name out there. In some instances you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company.

If you are looking for a critique group or want to form one, a local conference is a good place to meet potential groups or members.

Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should chose an event that speaks to your needs and desires.

The following is a list of writer's workshops and conferences that occur January through March 2018. Some of them have already passed but you could earmark them for next year. Click on the links provided for more information.

January 2, 2018 The 25th Annual Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway in New Jersey http://wintergetaway.com/

January 4 - 14, 2018 The Pacific University Residency Writers Conference in Seaside, Oregon https://www.pacificu.edu/masters-fine-arts-writing/residency-writers-conference

January 6 - 12, 2018 Stanley Hotel Writer's Residential Component at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado https://www.colorado.edu/winter/horror-fiction-writing

January 13-20, 2018 14th Annual Writers In Paradise Conference, Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida 
http://www.writersinparadise.com/

January 15-19, 2018 Key West Literary Seminar and Writers' Workshop Program, Key West, Florida
http://www.kwls.org/writers_workshops/

January 19-21, 2018 Calliope Writing Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah,
http://calliopewritingcoach.com/#cwc

January 27, 2018 The Agile Writer Conference, Holiday Inn at the Richmond International Airport, Richmond, Virginia, http://awcon.org/

January 31 to February 3, 2018 Superstars Writing Seminars, Colorado Springs, Colorado http://superstarswriting.com/

February 2 - 4, 2018 Writeaway by the River Workshop, Camden, North Carolina https://www.writeaways.com/writeaway-by-the-river/

February 3, 2018 Murder in the Magic City, Homewood Library, Birmingham, Alabama http://www.mmcmysteryconference.com/

February 3, 2018 American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) Annual Conference, Austin, Texashttp://asja.org/For-Writers/ASJA-Conferences-and-Events/ASJA-Austin-2018

February 8-11,2018 Writers Studio at UCLA Extension, UCLA, California,
http://writers.uclaextension.edu/writers-studio/

February 10, 2018 Doxacon (Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy), Seattle, Washington
http://www.doxacon.org/seattle.html

February 14-18, 2018 San Miguel Writers' Conference & Literary Festival, San Miguel, Mexico https://sanmiguelwritersconference.org

February 15-17, 2018 Life, the Universe and Everything Conference, Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, Provo, Utah
http://ltue.net/


February 15-18, 2018 San Francisco Writers Conference, InterContinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco, California https://sfwriters.org/

February 16-18, 2018 Southern California Writers Conference, San Diego, California http://writersconference.com/sd/

February 22-25, 2018 Coastal Magic Convention, Urban Paranormal, Fantasy, & Romance Daytona Beach, Florida
http://coastalmagicconvention.com/

February 23-25, 2018 West Coast Writers Conference, Los Angeles, CA
http://www.wcwriters.com/genrela/index.html

February 24, 2018 Hampton Roads Traveling Pen Writers Workshop Stand Out Online with Key Marketing Strategies, Virginia Beach Tidewater Community College Campus http://www.hamptonroadswriters.org/tps2018.php

February 25 - March 1, 2018 Algonkian Writer Conference Author Mentor Workshop, St. Augustine, Florida
http://algonkianconferences.com/StAugustineAuthorMentorNovelWorkshop/

Further reading on finding the right conference and why you should attend:

An Ambivert Walks Into a Writing Workshop

Five Unique Marketing Opportunities

Readers and Writers Pressing Flesh

Agents and Conferences

Ten Ways To Get The Most From Writers Conferences





Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.



Thursday, January 18, 2018

List of Writing Workshops Requiring Early Registration

Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long workshop, writing related events are a good way of communing with other writers, networking, and getting your name out there. In some instances you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company.

If you are looking for a critique group or want to form one, a local conference is a good place to meet potential groups or members.

Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should chose an event that speaks to your needs and desires.

The following is a list of conferences in the U.S. (and one in Canada) that require early registration/application.

February 22-23, 2018 Dynamic Women Network, Canyon Gate Country Club, Las Vegas, Nevada, registration begins January 2018
https://dynamicwomennetwork.wildapricot.org/Las-Vegas-Summit 


April 26-29, 2018 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Colorado Springs Marriott, Colorado Springs, Colorado, registration is January-March, 2018 
https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/

May 13 - 20, 2018 Longleaf Writers' Conference,  Seaside, Florida, 
Application due by March 15, 2018
https://www.awpwriter.org/wcc/wcc_entry_view/1249/longleaf_writers_conference_seaside_florida_formerly_seaside_wc


May 31 to June 4, 2018 Bear River Writers' Conference, Boyne City, Michigan, Registration begins February 5, 2018
https://lsa.umich.edu/bearriver/conference-information.html 


June 4 to July 13, 2018 Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire. Early action deadline is January 31, 2018, regular registration opens April 7, 2018
http://www.odysseyworkshop.org/ 

June 17-23, 2018 Colgate Writers’ Conference, Hamilton, New York, registration deadline is April 13, 2018
https://www.colgate.edu/community/conference-services-and-summer-programs/adult-programs/colgate-writers-conference 


June 18-24, 2018 Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, Bemidji State University, Minnesota, registration begins January 10, 2018
http://www.northwoodswriters.org/

June 28-30, 2018 The 27th Jackson Hole Writers Conference, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, registration began November 15, 2017
http://jacksonholewritersconference.com/ 


July 2-27, 2018 New York State Summer Writers Institute, Skidmore College, New York, registration begins May 1, 2018
https://www.skidmore.edu/summerwriters/  

July 2-6, 2018 Writers Week at Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, Idyllwild, California, adult Registration Opens February 1, 2018
https://www.idyllwildarts.org/summer/adultarts/writersweek/


July 8-15, 2018 Squaw Valley Writer's Conference,  Squaw Valley, California, application deadline March 28, 2018
https://communityofwriters.org/workshops/writers-workshops/ 

July 22-29, 2018 Juniper Institute for Young Writers, for high school students finishing grades 9, 10 or 11, Amherst, Massachusettes
Registration begins January 1 and ends May 15, 2018
https://www.umass.edu/juniperyoungwriters/ 


August 2-4, 2018 Mendocino Coast Publishing Boot Camp, Mendocino,
California, registration begins March 1, 2018
http://mcwc.org/ 

August 2-5, 2018 GenCon Gaming Convention, Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, registration begins January 1, 2018, housing registration begins February 1, 2018
https://www.gencon.com/ 

August 13-19, 2018 Postgraduate Writers' Conference,  Vermont College of Fine Arts, Vermont, registration Begins 1/16/2018
http://vcfa.edu/writing/pwc 

August 15-25, 2018 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Middlebury, Vermont,
Registration begins January 1, 2018
http://www.middlebury.edu/bread-loaf-conferences 

August 23-26, 2018 Killer Nashville, Franklin, Tennessee, registration starts January 1, 2018
https://killernashville.com/


September 6-9 Boucheron World Mystery Convention, St. Petersburg, Florida, registration begins January 1, 2018
https://www.bouchercon2018.com/ 

October 19-21, 2018 Surry International Writers Conference, Surry, British Columbia, Canada, registration begins June 1, 2018
https://www.siwc.ca/ 

November 5-11, 2018 Kauai Writers Conference, Kuai Marriott Resort,  Kalapaki Bay, Lihue, Kauai, registration begins January 1, 2018
http://www.kauaiwritersconference.com/ 

Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artists-in-Residence Program, three week Residency Program, New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Residency #170 Sunday, June 24, 2018 - Saturday, July 14, 2018
Application Deadline: Sunday 01/21/2018

Residency #171 Sunday, October 14, 2018 - Saturday, November 03, 2018
Application Deadline: Sunday 05/13/2018

http://atlanticcenterforthearts.org/residencies/about-the-master-artist-in-residence-program/

A 2018 date has not yet been set for Deadly Ink, New Jersey
https://deadly-ink.com/ 

And two conferences are skipping ahead to 2019:

2019 (TBA) California Dreamin' Writers' Conference, Brea, California
https://caldreaminwriters.com/

2019  (TBA) Historical Novel Society Conference, Portland, Oregon
http://hns-conference.org/

Further reading on finding the right conference and why you should attend:

An Ambivert Walks Into a Writing Workshop

Five Unique Marketing Opportunities

Readers and Writers Pressing Flesh

Agents and Conferences

Ten Ways To Get The Most From Writers Conferences





Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.




Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Whopper of a Change

New year. New beginnings. And a whole new lifestyle for me. I am moving from the place where I have lived for the past 16 years. The last home I shared with my husband. The little plot of land fondly called Grandma's Ranch where I happily played farmer for those past 16 years. Many wonderful friends. And my beloved Winnsboro Center for the Arts where I found new expressions of art on stage and with a paintbrush.


Many things have prompted this drastic change in my life, the major one being chronic health issues that demand specialists that are 100 miles away. The drive for appointments is, well, always a challenge.

Then there's the fact that I live alone, except for my dog and my four cats, but they are not much help in an emergency.

I have amazing friends and neighbors, who have been so helpful and supportive for the past few years, but last August I realized that it was not fair to keep relying on them when an animal got sick or a tree came down on a fence. It was clear that I could no longer take care of the property, so I made the tough decision to sell and move closer to my kids. They have made it abundantly clear that I can rely on them all the time.



So, why am I posting this here on The Blood Red Pencil? What does my little saga have to do with writing?

Change, big or small, can be fodder for a new story, or something you assign to a character in an existing story, and see how the change affects him or her.

Or you can reflect on all the ramifications of that change and examine the emotions that are created, and those emotions can also be assigned to a character.

How would your character feel when walking away from the home she shared with her husband? A home where they were so happy?

How different would it be if they did not have a happy relationship?

How would your character feel leaving a community where she was well-known and much loved to go to a place where she did not know anybody? What kind of character is this? One who is strong and resilient, or one who is scared and uncertain? Would she boldly go forward, or leave heel marks between her old home and the new one?

Now switch gender and look at a major change from a male perspective. Would he spend time considering all the emotional ramifications of the change? Would he be the first one to suggest "goodbye" rituals to mark this significant time? Or would he simply be more focused on the logistics? Would he be more pragmatic about it all?

For the most part, women enter into openly acknowledging and discussing the emotional effects of a significant change more easily and more quickly than men, so we have to be aware of those differences when trying to write cross gender. It will be the subtle things that make it real, which is what I used to tell my Young Players at the art center who were playing cross gender. So we owe it to our readers to make sure we are making it real.

How do you deal with change? Is it easy for you? I have a friend who said she would cheerfully sell her place and her horses and move on to something new and exciting with her husband. She does not put down deep roots. I do. Mine go very deep, which is maybe why I have such an affinity with trees.

If you would care to read a little more of my personal reflection on this move, I wrote about it HERE on my blog. And the next time I post a story here on the blog, it will be from my new home.
Maryann Miller is a novelist, editor, and sometimes an actress. She has written a number of mysteries, including the critically-acclaimed Season Mystery Series that debuted with Open Season. Information about her books and her editing rates is available on her website.  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Literary Journeys from Humble Beginnings

Writing projects often follow similar journeys. They begin with a concept and travel through studies and/or interviews, news reports, outlines, character sketches, multiple drafts, self-edits, rewrites, more self-edits, professional edits, more rewrites, intense proofreadings, corrections, interior layout, cover design, and the list goes on. After publication the work continues—it's called marketing. Even big publishing houses may require authors to do a portion of if not all their own sales work.

Let's explore those "humble beginnings." How does humility play into writing a book? All sorts of people from myriad backgrounds want to become authors. They have a story to tell, whether it be fiction, non-fiction, perhaps even poetry—and all must start in the same humble place, pen and paper in hand, at the keyboard, dictating to a secretary or recording device, or employing a ghost writer.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a team to write and publish a good book. This is not a solo trip. "Humble beginnings" acknowledges our need to rely on a variety of professionals and resources: historical material, research done by others, editors, interior and cover designers, printers and/or publishers, and marketers. Networking with a variety of writers and industry professionals also helps us understand we are not a self-supporting island. Valuable lessons can be gleaned from those who've been there, done that; so it makes good business sense to listen and learn. We can always modify those lessons to fit our circumstances, but no need to think we must re-create the wheel.

Another aspect of humility travels throughout our careers. For example, stories abound regarding celebrities who come across onscreen (or on television) as friendly, down-to-earth people, yet in person they are jerks to the fans who made them popular and contributed significantly to their enormous paychecks. What's the lesson here?

Writers, too, have fans—our readers. We connect with them through our characters and our stories. Walk in the shoes of a reader for a moment. How often have you been touched by a character or a situation in a book? Suppose you wrote the book. How would you respond to those who may approach you via your website or at a book signing? 

Many authors are introverts who thrive in the solitude of their writing spaces. Yet readers may have questions or comments they want to share. We need those readers to buy our books and recommend them to friends, especially if we hope to make writing our career. How can we accomplish this within reasonable proximity to our comfort zones?

Other ways to begin a connection with readers include personal letters to them at the beginning (or end) of your story and questions for book clubs. Even if your reader doesn't belong to a book club, thought provoking questions help cement the story and characters in the mind and heart and may even inspire a second read or a recommendation of the book to a another reader.

Blogs such as Blood Red Pencil are great ways to create two-way conversations. In fact, writers often include blogs on their websites. The beauty of a blog is that it's in written form—the form most comfortable for many writers—and it doesn't require face-to-face encounters. Blogs also allow us to reach out to others who want to begin their own writing journeys. We can encourage them, share pointers, and suggest resources, all the while maintaining a degree of the privacy in which we function best.

How do you feel about your fan base? Have you ever been contacted by a reader? Do you interact with those who read your books? What has been your literary journey from humble beginnings?


Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing. She also helps new and not-so-new authors improve their literary skills through posts on Blood Red Pencil and private mentoring. You can contact her through her website, LSLaneBooks.com

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Keeping a Series Fresh

For everyone on the planet, 2018 marks a new year, a new beginning. For writers, it marks another year to produce a book for publication. I haven’t published a new novel since September of 2015. I reached 35,000 words on one, decided I didn’t believe the premise, and gave up, though I think it has future possibilities with a little more thought. I did write The Last Heist, a novella for the anthology, Lowcountry Crime, but that was it.

Today, January 9th, I'm publishing The Scent of Murder, the fourth book in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, my ninth suspense novel, and my twelfth book overall, including erotic romance books written under a pseudonym. 

When I published Backlash, the third book in the series, I thought it was the most difficult book I’d written, not because it was a hard book to write, but because I didn’t want the series to diminish in quality.

We’ve all read reviews of books deep into a series that suggest the author should move on, that s/he had written the best of the books and now the characters, story, and suspense have become tired and repetitive. A few writers have been able to pull off  a long series and keep readers engaged, but it's not easy to keep the plots and characters fresh? I thought about how to make the fourth book as good or better than the third book. Here are the answers that work for me.

Characters.
Characters.
Characters.

How many times have you read that the characters in a book were unlikeable? It takes an amazing plot to overcome that. I’ve stopped reading books because I didn’t care what happened to the main character. DIDN’T CARE! I want my characters to be likeable. Damaged, maybe, but I want the reader to care about them enough to follow them into subsequent books.

Developing relationships in a series is essential. My lead series characters meet in the first book, Mind Games. I personally don’t like cat and mouse games for too long in a romantic relationship. A little tension in the beginning is fine, but their constant back and forth irritability is annoying, and if a writer keeps that going in subsequent books, especially stand-alones, readers know what to expect, and the books become formulaic. Characters grow to like each other; get on with the story and quit messing around with their hot and cold emotions, especially in a suspense/thriller.

I had posed a question to writer friends if a series character always needs to be in danger at the end of every suspense/thriller. The answer was a resounding YES! How many times can a writer make that fresh? Different dangers, different rescues, different, different, different. It’s a terrific challenge to keep the reader alert and engaged. Of course, he or she is rescued unless you want to end the series, but how it’s pulled off is crucial.

Secondary characters in a series—the ones in every book—should be as developed as you can make them short of having them take over the story. As the series develops, so should they. Readers get to know them, like them, see their different personalities. In some cases, a secondary character can be the story, and that’s okay. Think John Sandford’s character Virgil Flowers in the Prey series becoming his own series. Why? Because he was interesting and well developed.

In The Scent of Murder, I introduce a ten-year-old boy and thought long and hard about whether to keep him as an ongoing character in the series. I didn't decide until the end of the book.

Then, of course, there's the plot, or in the case of this book, two plots that have nothing to do with each other. Could I switch from one plot to the other without jarring the reader? That was the question I asked beta readers. One plot also takes Diana, a retired psychic entertainer, into another realm of her otherworldly gift. It was tricky and risky. I’m sure my readers will let me know if I succeeded or if I opted for sensationalism and failed.

Because I have two plots, I have multiple villains. Remember characters, characters, characters? Even though villains appear in only one book (unless s/he is a recurring villain - think Professor Moriarty), they should be as well developed as the main characters. Writers can make them nasty, irredeemable, or sympathetic. I’ve written them all, but they must be memorable.

To celebrate the publication of The Scent of Murder, I’m giving away the ebook of Mind Games, the first book in the series, January 11~14 on Amazon, and I’ll be interviewed on the Writers Who Kill blog on January 13th. www.writerswhokill.blogspot.com

Happy writing. Oh, and happy reading too.


Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Every Month Can be a New Beginning

Image by Andre Chinn
We tend to make yearly resolutions or goals, setting our desires down in a tidy list that acts like a straight jacket, holding us to the promises of January 1st no matter what happens in February or July or November. Failure to meet one or more of those goals in a timely manner leads to discouragement and perhaps giving up on the resolution for the rest of the year.

That’s the part that doesn’t make sense: for the rest of the year. If we break our lists down into monthly achievable segments which can be revisited and revised as we go, we have a better chance of success.

It often takes only a month to feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks we’ve put on our To Do lists, the word count goals we didn’t achieve even in month one, or the weight we swore we’d lose but did not even come close.

That’s when it’s time to begin again.

If we mess up in January, we can do better in February. Rewrite the goals or resolutions. Aim for achievable and specific. Learn how to prioritize by day, week, month, and year.

There are resources and tools to help. One of the books I found to be most instructive and insightful is Colleen M. Story’s Overwhelmed Writer Rescue: Boost Productivity, Improve Time Management, and Replenish the Creator Within, available in ebook and trade paperback.

Here are some of the comments about this book I posted on my own blog in September:

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue is for those of us who have problems related to procrastination, balancing writing time with work and family, or prioritizing projects. We need to learn why we’re struggling and what we can do about it. In chapters on increasing productivity, outwitting productivity saboteurs, and motivation, Story provides exercises and quizzes to help the writer identify roadblocks and develop new methods to manage time and get organized.

The author also tells us a little flexibility and a lot of grit are the writer’s best tools for pulling us out of the quicksand and getting our feet on solid writing ground.

By reading Overwhelmed Writer Rescue and answering the questions, I’ve recognized (1) how much time I waste and how I waste it, (2) how perfectionism is holding me back, and (3) how a To Do List can be tamed with proper organization and careful prioritization.

This book is highly recommended for anyone who’s having difficulty finding time to write or suffering from severe attacks of procrastination even when the time is available and waiting.

If that’s not enough to get you going, here’s another new tool available, this one especially for those who self-publish or plan to self-publish in 2018. Corinne O’Flynn developed the 2018 Publishing Planner to keep her on track with her aggressive writing and publishing schedule. The first part is a Monthly Activity Planner & Tracker with each month on two facing pages, useful for any writer to track everything that needs to be done and when to do it. Part two of the planner is for Launch Planning and Tracking, laying out the specific requirements and timeline hints for the publish-it-yourself writer. You can see small versions of the pages at AuthorProductivity (tools for organizing your writing life). The planner is available through Lulu.com.

One more helpful tool if you’re interested in word count goals and tracking is an Excel spreadsheet developed by Svenja Gosen. Svenja takes donations for the spreadsheet, but writers may download it first at no cost to see if it will be useful.

We’ve set those goals or made our list of resolutions and faced January with courage and determination. Some of us will succeed brilliantly and need no adjustments when February shows up. Others will find the plan didn’t go so well.

Take a look at Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. Refuse to be discouraged. Don't give up. Tweak the goals, trim the resolutions, and find a new diet plan. Every month can be a new beginning.


Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017).

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was recently interviewed for a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcast that you can find at the RMFW website.

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