Category Archives: For Writers

Formatting for submission

When I had my first shiny draft ready for submission to my dream publisher, I cruised over to their website and clicked on their submission page. “These are the submission guidelines for all writers seeking publication.”

And the list was extensive.

I perused the list and finally about three quarters of the way down the page, they listed submission guidelines that I thankfully read. They wanted a .doc file and suggested including your contact information not only in your email, but also in the document. They wanted manuscripts formatted in traditional format. If we didn’t know what that was, we were told to Google it.

Google I did. I found William Shunn’s Manuscript formatting. Not only did he give the information, he did so by writing it in a document so you could actually SEE what he was talking about. Excellent!

I set up a Word document that was correctly formatted and saved it as a template. I use that for each short story I write.

How to format your manuscript: 

  1. In the upper left hand corner:
    1. Your legal name (what they would use to pay you)
    2. Address
    3. phone number
    4. email address
    5. Approximate word count
  2. Your title should be centered and begin half way down the first page.
  3. Your by line is also centered and should be beneath your title. This is where you put your pen name if using one.
  4.  Your story begins two double spaced lines under the by line.
  5. Your story should be double spaced.
  6. Use 12 point Times New Roman, Palatino or Garamond fonts
  7. Single space after a period.
  8. Do not tab indent. Use the .25 indent feature in Word.
  9. Double space
  10. 1.25 margins all around
  11. Include a header or footer with your name, title and page number.
  12. Do not use extra lines between paragraphs.
  13. Left justify the document.

If you would like your own copy of my document, you can download my Formatted Submission Template


To Review or not to review

I find myself in a very precarious situation. As a writer, I know how crushing a bad review can be. One not great review can crush your will to write, sometimes for a very long time. Negative feedback from not only a reader, but a writing partner in the past has made me leery to write emotion into my scenes and it shows in my work. Even to this day almost ten years later.

I love to read. I learned to read when I was four years old and I’ve been reading books ever since. Every reading competition we did in elementary school, I was in the top five. I have read a lot of books.

Something I consider a coup de grace, may be someone else’s Sistine Chapel. As a writer myself, I want to write reviews I wouldn’t mind getting. The last thing I want to do is write a less than stellar review for an author whose book I’ve agreed to read. The author has put blood, sweat and tears out on the line and put out this work they have cried over.

And here I come to shit all over it.

If you are in the same situation I am in, have a few sites I found helpful:

After a bit of review, I am going to write my review like I write every review I have ever done: with honesty and tact. I just cross my fingers and pray that the author in question doesn’t take anything personally.

Self Marketing for Writers: Facebook Release Party

When my first book, The Layover, came out in February of 2014, it was a complete shock and surprise. I’d spent endless hours learning better writing techniques and figuring out my personal brand and how to set myself up as a genuine interesting person. I always figured I’d learn marketing when my first book was written and sent out for submission.

I never expect a short story for an anthology to become my first book.

The publisher expected me to market. I had no idea how to market a book. I frantically searched Google and found next to nothing of interest or value. Most sites suggested hiring someone for marketing. I hadn’t saved any money for promotion and I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money in the first place. I was overwhelmed. Thankfully my writing buddies H.C. Brown and Bobbi Romans walked me through some of the tricks they use. I had a place to start.

Release Party on Facebook

 Facebook parties are fairly simple if you have enough traffic. The important thing is to create enough buzz before the event so your friends and friend’s friends can join in.

  1. Pick a date and time frame. Make sure your friends know when the party is and remind them. If they’re anything like me, I’ll forget and won’t be on. I chose a three to four hour party. That’s enough time to post teasers about your book, a little bit about yourself for those who may not know you, and have some fun games.
  2. Get your stuff together. Make sure you have your information ready to go. I dropped them into a word document to cut and paste into the party page. You’ll need this information for your press release anyway, so it kills a couple of birds with one stone.
    1. Book cover
    2. Book blurb
    3. Your author blurb as an introduction for who you are and what you do
    4. Social media information such as your twitter feed and website link
    5. Excerpts in various flavors. I picked one kind of vanilla, one that suggests things with a PG13 rating and then one on the hotter side.
    6. Snippets: little bits of your story to hook the reader all on a handy little image. Visuals go a long way.
    7. Book buy links. This is important! If people can’t buy the book you’re feeding them, the party isn’t going to do its job.
    8. Conversation starters! Have questions to ask your audience not only about your book, but about the subject matter within. Engage with them and talk about their favorite books or characters.
  3. Giveaways. Everybody likes to win something. I chose to ask questions based from my books and whomever got the answer first, got something fun. I did a couple of $5 Amazon gift cards and an original art piece done by a good friend of mine. I only asked a few questions and gave fifteen to thirty minutes for responses. You can pick up related items at your favorite store. For my Steampunk story releasing later this year, I am making a handmade item to give away. Let your imagination go!
  4. Author Swag. It can be something simple like a business card from VistaPrint or a handmade Author trading card like the Artist trading cards.
  5. Create your page. Go to facebook and create an event page. You have your date, time and what you’re doing this for. Fill in the form and create the page! Then invite people. Tell them to invite people.
  6. Drop teasers. This is the fun part. In the time leading up to the release, drop one-liners. Post teasers. Do a Rafflecopter giveaway and announce the winner during the Facebook party. Let people enter once a day by tweeting about your facebook party.

If you do any blog spot trades or or guest posts anywhere, link to your release party and rafflecopter giveaway.

If you would like to hire someone to help you promote, I recommend:

Writer’s Block Party: Divide and Conquer


Life of a Writer by Seetheduck on Deviantart

Ah, writer’s block! The harbinger of death for writers, poets and authors.

No writer or author in my small sample has escaped the clutches of their best frienemy. You sit in front of a blank document rather it be Word, Open Office or Scrivener and stare at the screen. You want to write. You need to write. Nothing is coming. Not even the repulsive drivel you’ll later delete or edit away. Not a single word enters your brain. Every attempt wafts like smoke through the empty chasm of your mind, arid like the Mohave and complete with tumbleweeds.

And those stupid weeds don’t give you a damned bit of help, either.

The longer you stymie in the Block, the more locked down your brain becomes. You have to write. But you can’t write. But you need to write! But nothing comes out! No ideas. WHAT DO I DO!?

You browse Twitter. You filter through Facebook. You find something to occupy your mind while you sit in front of the computer screen. You get distracted, but you can’t wander off and go do something else because you’ll never get anything written.

And so it begins and ends. Day after day. Everyone else comes up with something. But you? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Things that work for me?

Browse various publisher’s calls for submission. I’m not talking just the genre they’re looking for, but the short stories they are looking at. Sometimes the prompts they give will spark an idea. Check out Red Moon Press. Their descriptions of what they’re looking for can sometimes spark an idea. Can’t write short stories? That’s fine. Maybe it will give you a book idea. How about Carina Press? Or my personal favorite Jupiter Gardens Press. I’ve always had good luck with Circlet Press as well. Sometimes the ideas just leap right out of the page and smack you in the face like a tiny dwarf ninja.

Didn’t work for ya?

Why not try putting down the keyboard and coffee and picking up a good book to read. Grab an old favorite and read it again. Pick up that book your great aunt Linda has been shoving in your face every holiday dinner since 2006. Peruse book blog sites and see what the reviewers pick as a decent read. Read some good fanfiction. Or other good fanfiction. Or some really terrible fanfiction. Nothing gets me cranked up faster than reading something horrible and thinking “I could do better than this”.

Not yet?

Watch a movie.  I have a thing for From Paris with Love, Sin City and Bunraku. All of them give me ideas.

Nope. Okay. Here’s the big kicker.

A lot of the time, I’m so busy on social media that I can’t write or get ideas. I refresh Twitter every time I see there are new posts available. I read and read and click links and post in the #amwriting tag. I respond to people there. All in all, these are good things. But not while you’re writing. While you’re focused on everyone else and what they’re doing, you’re distracting yourself from your work. This is good when you’re on overload. But when it comes down to time to write again, close the window. Do it. Stop reading Twitter. Stop browsing Facebook. The great thing about social media is it will be there when you get back to it. It’s out there in cyberspace. Put it down, set a timer and write for ten minutes. It helps.

And now that I’ve just told you to close social media, it can also help. I chat with friends in a chat room. We do power hours. The same can be done on Twitter. Just as long as they aren’t distracting you, it can be a big help just having someone else to sit with you and share the burden of block.

Did any of these help you? Do you have something I didn’t list? Please put it in the comments. There are times when I can’t break the block with the things I do. I could use your suggestion, too.


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Photo courtesy of Seetheduck on Deviantart

Research stumble: Reasons I’m not Writing

It’s strange how information on a particular character until you try to describe a chest that won’t be important until much later in the storyline and you realize the information contained is extremely important. So you start to research one little thing.

Hm. When would the character have owned this item?

Google search: Vlad the Impaler

So Vlad III lived from 1431 to 1476. Okay, cool. That gives me a time frame. *continues to read about Vlad because, hey! Pretty notorious historical figure*

So Vlad II was the original Dracul. What the hell is this Order of the Dragon shit? *click link and continue reading about Vlad III*

Yeah, yeah, impaling enemies. Blahblah. Whatever. What else do you know about him? The guy impaled people. Fine. Pikes, war, whatever, I got it. The guy had wives. What about kids? Where are his kids?

Google search: Did Vlad III have any children? *clicks a link I think is about the royals* Whaaat? Okay, whatever. I’m probably related to some weird ass historical figures by association, too. Whatever. Google, you failed me.  *clicks link for Yahoo answers because it’s the only one that looks promising*

Of course none of the links work. However, I’m taking what is said as factual-ish. Good enough for me. So Vlad had a kid who spent his life with the Diocese and then died of some unknown mortal disease. What the hell is a Diocese? Hmmm… promising. More religion. Okay, Catholics. Damn. He died when he was like ten. Death faked maybe? That could work.

Was Vlad III an only child? *goes back to Wikipedia* Yup. Two older, one younger. Lets go look into the brothers, shall we?

*proceeds to click through the entire family line and read up on them*

What the everloving fuck. These people bounced all over the damned throne. *follows the proceeded by and succeeded by* Hey, this is kinda cool. Vlad III’s brother was killed by a guy named Dimitrije which is really damned close to Dimitri. He could have changed the name to something simple. Maybe he took that name when his death was faked? Maybe he was the one who killed his uncle? Nah. Too Shakespearean.

So let’s go research Daddy dearest. What’s up with that?

Huh. They’re somehow tied in with Bathory. Didn’t know that. Yeah, yeah, stop telling me about the dragon bit. I knew it meant dragon. Didn’t know it was from the Or– oh, yeah.

*goes back to the Order of the Dragon*

What the fuck is this all about? Okay, some guy wanted to gather allies for Hungary. Sounds like a bunch of knob polishing to me. So this is some kind of religious order? Okay. So Catholic. Roman Catholic or another type of Catholic? Lutherans weren’t around yet.

*proceeds to delve into the history of Catholicism in 1400s* *great Western schism*

Okay, so around the time the Vlads and Kin are fighting over that stupid throne, there’s a whole upheaval of the Catholic church because one asshole had to break tradition with Rome and move somewhere in France? It’s all Catholic. WTF. Wait, no. Vlad II ruled after that whole clusterfuck was over. Okay so why was the order of the Dragon formed if that whole thing calmed down before that? Ah. It went on through the 1600s. That might explain that. Wait.

What does this have to do with anything again? So they were Catholic. That means the character would be Catholic. Probably Roman Catholic. What exactly do Roman Catholics believe. Might make changes in the character.

Google search: beliefs of Catholics *clicks and reads a couple dozen links before really reading this one*

What the hell? I was raised Lutheran and they’re Protestant. We don’t believe any of this shit. Okay, the whole body and blood of Christ eating thing still REALLY creeps me out. Seriously. *retch* Okay, so I learned my familial religion is close to Catholicism. Got it.

Google search: Romanian burial customs *find nothing I’m looking for*

Wikipedia, don’t fail me now! Google Search: Sarcophagus

I need to know where they were used other than Egypt. Rome, Britian, US. Hm, Istanbul is getting closer. Okay, they’re made of Alabaster. Would that be available? What IS alabaster anyway? I know it means white. Okay, so it’s almost white. Cool. That would work for what I want. Soft stone, essentially. Ah! That’s why it’s in the basement! It won’t stand up to being outdoors. The weather would erode it! Cool.

They were Catholic. Let’s look for Early Christian Sarcophagus

Okay, let’s just go for the search: Sarcophagus in Romania

Hot damn! I got a result. Good enough for me. Oh goddamnit, that’s the crypt for Corvinus! He was neck deep with Vlad. Okay, well, what about we try again?

Balasa Cantacuzin

Good enough for me! She’s Romanian! She has a sarcophagus! Now I can just sit down and write something about this stupid box in the basement!

And then instead of writing about the stupid sarcophagus I was researching this WHOLE TIME, I came to make a blog post about it.


Why writing every day is bullshit

This article comes to us from B.C. Kowalski, science fiction and fantasy author.
While I write every day, sometimes it is a few words, sometimes it is a lot of words. Sometimes I don’t write and I go watch television.

B.C. Kowalski

writing advice, burnout, indie publishingI’m sure I’m going to get a lot of flack for this one. I don’t care. There’s something I see being posted a lot, and it ticks me off. So I have no problem sounding off on the topic.

Write every day. Every single day. You will not be a success if you don’t write every day. You will fail. Just do it. Write every day. Do it.


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My Awesome Ideas Book

As I was cleaning out my bin of crap (I have a catch-all three drawer thing in my kitchen where I write), I realized tonight I have a complete stationary problem. I have an entire pencil pouch full of highlighters. Another holds my sharpie markers. I have a third for colored pens and another for drawing pencils and erasers.

In among this I also found a huge amount of sticky notes. I have seventeen different packs of sticky notes in various sizes and colors.

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Over the years I’ve bought a LOT of journals. Some of them have cool sayings. Some of them were made of pressed paper. Others had gilded edges or leather covers. I have kept them and never done anything with them because nothing I can think of to do with them is cool enough and I feel like I would be wasting them. I buy them, I keep them and they sit and collect dust.

That is, until this one:

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I picked this up on clearance during a late night run to WalMart. I thought I could fill it with all the story ideas I have running around in different binders. I could put the storyboards I’ve done into it and have everything all in once place. I brought it home, opened it up and then the inevitable happened.

I froze. I couldn’t write anything in it because then it would be ruined and I wouldn’t have it forever AND be able to keep all my notes in it. Once it was full, it was full. There was no way to organize thoughts and once it was on the page, it was there. I couldn’t move it around or change anything.

Permanent. And unacceptable.

Well, until I could convince myself to write in the pages, I would take the stack of sticky notes I’d been storyboarding on and tuck them safely inside on the first page. I could go back for them later.

And that was when it hit me. I didn’t have to write on the pages at all! I could write on STICKY NOTES and TACK THEM TO THE PAGES!

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If an idea needed moved, I would move the note. If I got more information about book promotion, I could shift all my ideas down a page. If I screwed something up, I could pull it off the page, throw out the sticky note and write a new one. My journal destroying days were over! No longer would I have to watch a beautiful journal sit on the shelf unused!

It has been really handy. The inside cover has my Scrivener key, my Vent info for guild chat and the password to the WiFi that I am constantly losing. I have information about recent things I need to keep a hand on, like my doctor’s info and my sales info for DoTerra. Then there’s information about my Flight Rising account, what armor I was working on for my World of Warcraft Warrior (that is probably seriously outdated at this point) and promotion efforts for books. I have useful email addresses like the people I send beta reads to and my crit partners. I have blog entry ideas and submission calls I want to submit for. And then there are the pages shown above.

The image above is what my storyboards look like. I have questions from my editor on a little arrow. I have research about the story on sticky notes. Little plot ideas are tucked in on tiny notes. Big plot points are on the larger notes. Right now they’re all spread out. I get an idea, I jot it down, slap it on the page and worry about the rest later. I can spread it out over other pages or I can keep it all on one.

I have at least one page for each story I’m plotting or writing.

Now I can have my journal and use it, too.

Etymology, Promotion and Repetition

I have been researching as of late. I’ve been looking up what makes a steam powered engine function. I found the layout of Victorian era ships. I’ve been learning about Victorian vernacular. I learned about esophageal cancer thanks to my dad being diagnosed with that very disease.

I have been having a grand ol’ time looking up the meanings behind words at the Online Etymology Dictionary. Have a phrase you want to use? Don’t know when it originated? No problem. Plug it in and look it up! I can imagine it would be great for period pieces.

Something else I found useful was the Word Frequency Counter. It’s a free website you plug your work into and it checks for repetition. Extremely helpful for me since I have a bad habit of using “it”. I use Autocrit for a similar function.

I have also been researching book promotion and what I can do to get myself out there.

I never thought I would have a book released this early or that I would have sold twenty-four copies of that book in the first year it was released. I felt terrible that this publisher took a chance on putting my story out as a novella as I stood with my pants around my ankles holding a burlap sack. I scrambled to find ways to promote that book.

I found this gem today and, given book trailers are taking off, I wanted to both save for posterity and share with others. Ellis Shuman takes us through making a book trailer in under an hour and all for free. He gives helpful tips as well. Definitely saving this for later as I’m hoping to  have a book out by the end of this year.

Another article I found useful that was linked to me on facebook was 7 Reasons why Writers Need to Start using Video for Book Promotion and the article made a LOT of sense. While I am nervous about actually putting myself out there (especially since my voice is irritating to listen to), I figure what the hell. It can’t hurt anything and as I have very little money to travel, it could help me connect to my readers. I’m all about trying new things, especially things I can do at home and for free.

Hopefully this helps someone else who feels tossed into promoting their writing. Thankfully I have a support network in a lot of the people who will be reading this blog. Do you have suggestions for promotion? Want to help a fellow writer out? Drop your suggestions in the comments and be sure to link back to your blog!

Obscure Colour Words

My girlfriend often sends along writing advice she finds on Tumblr. I have a Tumblr account, but it’s usually to reblog things like cute kittens and wiggling foxes. While I reblog writing advice on my Tumblr, it makes it really hard to find it later. Anyone who reads this blog might just see advice on writing and, to be honest, I think it’s a good thing. Anyone who reads, I believe, will eventually attempt a novel.

What I might do is make another blog simply for writing advice and keep this blog for important updates (pffft hahahaha) and save the other. For now, however, I think this is interesting enough to share.

Obscure Color Words

  • albicant: whitish; becoming white
  • amaranthine: immortal; undying; deep purple-red colour
  • aubergine: eggplant; a dark purple colour
  • azure: light or sky blue; the heraldic colour blue
  • celadon: pale green; pale green glazed pottery
  • cerulean: sky-blue; dark blue; sea-green
  • chartreuse: yellow-green colour
  • cinnabar: red crystalline mercuric sulfide pigment; deep red or scarlet colour
  • citrine: dark greenish-yellow
  • eburnean: of or like ivory; ivory-coloured
  • erythraean: reddish colour
  • flavescent: yellowish or turning yellow
  • greige: of a grey-beige colour
  • haematic: blood coloured
  • heliotrope: purplish hue; purplish-flowered plant; ancient sundial; signalling mirror
  • hoary: pale silver-grey colour; grey with age
  • isabelline: greyish yellow
  • jacinthe: orange colour
  • kermes: brilliant red colour; a red dye derived from insects
  • lovat: grey-green; blue-green
  • madder: red dye made from brazil wood; a reddish or red-orange colour
  • mauve: light bluish purple
  • mazarine: rich blue or reddish-blue colour
  • russet: reddish brown
  • sable: black; dark; of a black colour in heraldry
  • saffron: orange-yellow
  • sarcoline: flesh-coloured
  • smaragdine: emerald green
  • tilleul: pale yellowish-green
  • titian: red-gold, reddish brown
  • vermilion: bright red
  • virid: green
  • viridian: chrome green
  • xanthic: yellow
  • zinnober: chrome green

Five ways to cope with a bad review

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