Wednesday, May 25, 2016

More ABCs for New Writers; P - T

P is for polishing.

Proofreading would work here, but that goes without saying. Polishing is just what it implies - you are making your piece shine.

Take a step away from your writing for a couple of hours or more. When you go back to it you will see it from a different angle and polish the smudges. You will rearrange a sentence that didn't feel right. A fresh ending will pop into your head. Do this a few times before submitting your article or manuscript. 

Q is for query letter.

New writers will learn new words in the writing business. Query letter is one of them.

A query letter is written to an editor or agent to consider your idea for a book or magazine article you have written (or are writing). It is a sales pitch and should be written well. 

First and foremost, personalizing your query letter goes a long way. It's not about you. It's about them. Show you care by serving the needs of who you are writing for.  

Your query letter will provide a short summary of what your book or article is about. It should hook the editor or agent so they will want more. The summary of your book will ultimately make or break your chances of landing the agent.

R is for rejection.

It is discouraging to get a rejection letter when you have invested so much time on a piece.

Rejection is common to all writers.

I get discouraged easily but I have grown through handling the defeat from rejection letters. You either work through it or you give up.

Never give up!

Do you know the number of famous authors who were rejected? When I learned the author of The Help was rejected 60 times over the course of 3 1/2 years before her book became a best seller, I realized maybe it will be the next time for me.

S is for success.

You will be successful if you don't give up and commit to follow through with your writing goals. If you get off track (and we all do), just get back on.

It is so rewarding to receive a phone call or acceptance letter for your submission. The paycheck that follows is even more rewarding.

Keep going at whatever you love to write. Learn all you can. You will be successful but it will take time.

T is for target audience.

Once you have narrowed down what you like to write and what you are good at writing, it is time to figure out target audience is.

I really like this simple description of what a target audience is:
"One of the biggest mistakes ... is trying to appeal to everyone. Think about the game of darts: You have to aim in order to hit the board. (If you let your darts go without aiming them, you probably won’t be very popular.) If you hit the board, you score. And if your aim is very good and you hit the bull’s eye, even better!"
Some questions to ask yourself: 
  • Who will be interested in what you write?
  • Who will benefit?
  • What age group will be reading your writing?
  • What problem do you have the solution for?
There is plenty of online resources to help you further research and identify your target audience. 

Next month More ABCs for New Writers U - Z.

Image courtesy of Vlado at


After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How To Catch An Editor's Attention

By W. Terry Whalin

Do you feel like you are pitching your book projects into a black hole with little or no response? As a writer and now an editor in the publishing business, I'm aware of my own responsibility to be communicating with others via email or phone. As an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, we acknowledge every submission with a letter in the mail. This simple act distinguishes us from others which never respond. Then I follow-up with a detailed conversation on the phone to see if their book idea is a good fit for our publishing program. Sometimes the concept is a fit and other times it does not and I wish the author well—but at least they caught my attention and were heard.

Being an acquisitions editor or a literary agent is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. A lot of information is coming my direction. My task is to sort through it and find the best authors and best submissions for our publisher. Some publishing insiders have estimated that at any given time there are over a million ideas in circulation. Each of us have a limited amount of time to read and respond to your pitch. 

Today I want to give you four ways to catch an editor's attention with your book.

1. Craft An Excellent Book Proposal. During the course of my years in publishing, I've written two book proposals which received a six-figure advance. As an editor, I was frustrated with the missing information inside the pitches and proposals I received. 

To help writers be more successful at their submissions and to help the industry receive better material, I wrote Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. The book has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews and has helped writers find an agent, get a large advance and much more. Yet don't get it on Amazon. In recent months I purchased all the remaining copies, slashed the price from $15 to $8 and created a series of extra bonuses. Get the book directly from me (follow the link). No matter what type of book you are writing and even if you are going to self-publish, you need a business plan and a proposal.

2. Be An Expert in Your Target Market. Whatever you are writing, publishing professionals are looking for experts. Do you speak on your topic? Do you write for magazines on this topic? Do you blog or Tweet or have other connections to show that you are an expert. If not, begin today because it will make a difference.

3.  Be Building Your Platform. Editors and agents are looking for authors who can reach their readers. Inside publishing, this connection is called a platform. The truth is everyone begins with a small platform. Their email list is small and their number of Twitter followers is small—but with consistent work, you can build your presence.  Check out my free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas For Every Author, and then apply these ideas to your writing life.

4. Be Persistent. As a writer, keep growing and learning your craft but also continue knocking on doors and trying new venues and making new connections. As the author, you have the greatest passion for your book and your topic. You never know which door or opportunity will be the tipping point for your own success—especially if you aren't knocking.

From my experience, there are no overnight successes in publishing. There are talented writers who have been in the trenches writing to find the right opportunity. It's out there for you but only if you are continually looking for it. If I can help you in this journey, let me know.


Four Keys for Every Author or Would-Be Author from An Editor (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. A former magazine editor, Terry has written for more than 50 publications. His blog on The Writing Life has over 1300 entries. He lives in Colorado. You can follow Terry on Twitter at:

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Scrivener - The Novelist's Friend

A few years ago I was introduced to a 'New' program. By then I had several novels under my belt, one had been written by hand, another in Word Perfect, a few in Word. When someone suggested Scrivener, I wasn't necessarily sure what I thought. 

For one thing, there is a learning curve. Did I really want to begin to learn a new program 'just' to write my next novel? Would the learning curve eventually pay off in rewards that I currently didn't understand? Well, the simple answer is, yes.

Reasons to consider Scrivener:

1. Plotting
    • Plotting with Scrivener is a dream! There is no other way to say it. Notecards can be written in the program and then that information is transferred to the area where text is written. This allows me to plot several chapters and then easily take the notes with me into the text writing area and write while viewing my notes.

2. Organizing
    • I tend to write from several character's perspectives. Scrivener helps me to color coordinate which character I'm writing from and allows me at a glance to see where I should go next, or if I'm spending too much time in one character's head.
    • I am also one who likes to research and gather information for my novels. This information I used to find and print and keep in folders - lots and lots of folders. Scrivener allows me to utilize a section of the program to keep all those files and all that information and then lets me write and view the research at the same time - meaning I'm not having to flip from screen to screen to get information and check to make sure I'm getting it right, and I don't have to be connected to the internet to access files, or drag them with me when traveling.

3. Goals
    • Perhaps one of my favorite things is setting up my goals. Why? I'm a goal oriented person and having a bell let me know that I've reached my goal of word count brings me great pleasure. It also keeps me focused on the end goal of total word count for my novels. 
4. Bonus Help
    • Name Generator: I always have difficulties with this and so having a name generator is a bit of fun
    • Word Use: Also an issue I have. I come up with a great word and then I use it and use it and use it. Scrivener will call me on it. The program lets me me know how often I use words, which is great for finding weak verbs, but also great for finding the unusual word used several times as well.
    • Multiple formats: Want to write a comic book, the format is there. How about a play? Yep, it's covered too. 
So, while I realize for you it might also mean a learning curve, I recommend giving it a try. 

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

3 Actionable Ways to Edit Text on a Budget

Guest Post by Andrew Howe

No matter how experienced you are, you might spend some time editing and proofreading your text before publishing it. And as a writer, you would agree that if the writing process takes time, the editing process needs even more efforts. To edit texts well, you need to be attentive and skilled which is not so easy, so some writers would rather turn to editors.


Hiring professional editors is expensive, so if you're on a tight budget, you'd better learn how to edit texts without spending much money. And there are four actionable ways how to do it.

1. Use Free Tools

The most common way to check your article is to use online tools that can highlight stylistic and grammar mistakes so that you can correct them. As the technological progress is developing daily, the number of tools is growing, too.

No better feeling can be found than finding useful tools that are free of charge, especially if you don't have money to spend on online editors.

Here are some free tools to edit your chunks:

•    Hemingway
•    Grammarly
•    AdverbLess
•    ProWritingAid
•    AutoCrit 

Once you find tools that work for you, start using them, but never stop exploring the Internet in order to find new useful tools to edit your writing.

2. Collaborate with Other Writers

Even if you give your text time, double check it, and use all the editing techniques you know, making your text perfect is a hard thing to do as you perceive the information in a different way.

To have a fresh look at the text, you'd better share it with another writer. Once your colleague gives you feedback, you can analyze your piece from a different angle.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Although begging your colleagues isn't good, you can collaborate with them in order to take advantage of it for both of you: exchange articles to edit, give feedback, or highlight chunks that should be proofread.

3. Enhance Your Editing Skills

If you're good at editing, that's great. If you keep developing your editing skills, that's even better! It goes without saying that even a professional editor can make some mistakes or typos. But, the more you train, the better your results are. Thus, pay attention to ways how to enhance your editing skills right from your home (or wherever you have the Internet connection):

•    MOOCs. Enrolling in online courses from the world-best universities is a good way to improve skills. As the variety of MOOCs is big on the web, the number of courses for writers is growing rapidly, so you can sign up for courses to learn self-editing techniques.

•    Learning from gurus. Surfing the Internet, you come across different writers and bloggers who are successful. Most of them share their tricks and tips, so reading their articles can give you insights.

•    Practice. There is nothing better than practicing. Once you have some free time, dig into your drafts and try to edit them. Every time you come back to your article, you can find some things to work on: find a better word, change some sentences, or include a new example. Practice is the key to editing success!

While you're learning editing skills, write down new tips and techniques so to remember them. Once your skills are advanced, you can craft better text from scratch.

A well-written article will not only grab, but it will also hold your audience's attention, thus polishing your writing skills is a crucial task for writers who want to stand out in their niche.

The truth is, it's nearly impossible to write an outstanding piece without spending time on editing and proofreading it. So, to save time and money, use the above-mentioned strategies. They'll help you learn how to become a better editor.

Do you have editing tips you’d like to share?

Andrew Howe is a student who loves learning something new! Being fond of writing, he has crafted AdverbLess, a  tool to help people eradicate adverbs in their proses to make it stronger. Contact Andrew via mail:


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Pros and Cons of Outlining Your Novel
A Critical Skill for Every Writer

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why Specialize as a Writer

Many people who start out offering writing services try to write anything and everything for anyone and everyone.

They figure they need to do this to get work.

But when I coach new writers, I usually advise them to specialize (right from the start) in at least a couple of areas.

Here’s why:

• You’ll get better and better at what you do.

When you do something over and over again you naturally get better at it.

Not only that – it gets easier to do it each time you do it because there isn't a constant learning curve as there is with something new each time.

This means it will eventually take you less time to do this type of writing, which means you will naturally make more money because you will be able to take on more work.

• You can charge more for your services.

If you’re really good at something, you can charge more for it, which is another great reason to specialize.

You will be able to work quickly AND charge premium rates for your services.

• Clients will come to you.

When you specialize, you become known as an expert in the areas you specialize in.

And when you're an expert people seek you out because, generally, people want to hire experts.

That means you won't need to spend as much time marketing yourself and your writing services since clients will often find you (provided you have a website or other listing for your business).

People will come to you for other things besides writing, too.

For example, you will have opportunities to speak about what you know or even to teach what you know to others.

These opportunities can provide additional streams of income, which is another nice perk to specializing.

• It’s easier to market and brand yourself.

When you specialize in just a few areas, people know what to expect from you.

And you know what to offer potential clients.

Again, you are the expert in those areas.

You can market these types of services and use them to brand yourself as a writer.

• You can focus on doing only the types of writing you really love to do.

Perhaps the best perk of specializing is that you can focus on doing only the types of writing you really love to do.

If you hate writing press releases, for example, don't specialize in that type of writing and don't even offer it as one of your writing services.

That way, people won't come to you when they need someone to write a press release.

They'll only come to you when they need the type of materials you love to write.

As you can see, there are all sorts of reasons to specialize as a writer.

If you haven't done this yet, start thinking about the types of writing you really love to do, then decide to specialize in this areas.

Try it!

For more tips about specializing, register for this online writers'workshop, presented by Nancy I. Sanders, called Specialize: The Time is Now.

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

For more short writing tips, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

5 Pursuits to Inspire Creativity

When was the last time you stepped away from the computer and got creative? If you have to think about it, then it has been too long.

A regular dose of creativity will keep the inspiration flowing, when it's time to put pen to paper.

Here are 5 things you can (that aren't writing) to spark your creativity,

1. Make Art. Draw, sketch, doodle. Paint, papier-mâché, crochet. Design a tree-house. Or build one. Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, step out of your creative comfort zone and make something. As your hands are occupied, allow your mind to wander. You could solve a creative problem or imagine something new.

2. Get Outside. There are plenty of things outside that inspire creativity - you just need to open your eyes and look around. Go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. Or plant and tend to a garden. Fresh air is invigorating, not to mention healthy. 

3. Go Dancing. There are social, physical, and mental benefits to going out dancing. And I certainly recommend it. However, you can get the latter two without leaving your home. Schedule a daily dance break. Set an alarm, and when it goes off, put on your favorite radio station or song, turn up the volume, and dance.

4. Cook or Bake. Cooking and baking are two of the most creative things you can do. And, as a bonus, you get eat the fruits of your labor. Whether you follow a recipe (which you have to do to some extent when you bake although decorations are up for grabs) or create as you go, remember to have fun.

5. Have an Adventure. Enjoy the creativity of others. Take a field trip to a museum or art gallery, go to a booksigning, or see a show. Support other artists. At least for me, nothing is more inspiring that seeing and appreciating the creative work of others. 

A few months ago, I shared some tips on how to get unstuck when writing. Well, you don't need to find yourself at a loss for words as an excuse to get creative. You can't avoid getting stuck all the time, but you can decrease the likelihood.

Schedule (yes, schedule) time to be creative to remain inspired as much as possible. 

What creative things do you pursue in addition to writing? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Proofreading Tip--from Psychology

I ran across this interesting video from Bite Size Psych.  It's about a 3-question test given to college students--many of whom miss at least one of the questions.  The test reveals cognitive bias, that quick conclusion-making that can sometimes lead us astray.  And it's exactly the type of thing that makes it difficult to spot typos in our own work.

Studies seem to show that students do better on tests when...get this...the font is hard to read.  It slows down the brain's processing, giving you time to really think instead of simply jumping to the easiest conclusion.

So, the brilliant proofreading tip:  when you're ready to do that final proof, change the font on your document to something unusual and hard to read.  You'll find more errors.

Just don't forget to change it back.

Check out the full video here:  The Simple Riddle that More than 50% of Harvard Students Got Wrong

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at