Friday, September 17, 2021

Read Well, Creative Writing Resources

Read Well, Creative Writing Resources by Deborah Lyn Stanley

When we read well, we write well. I list a few good Creating Writing books below.
Standout subjects include; plot and story structure, developing creative ideas, the flow of narrative, dialogue, and character development.

1.    Ready, Set, Write: a Guide to Creative Writing by Melissa Donovan

2.    Writing the Wave by Elizabeth Ayres

3.    Telling True Stories: Nonfiction Writer’s Guide–Multiple Contributors, edited by Mark Kramer, Wendy Call

4.    Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

      “Plot & Structure, Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish,” is 234 power packed pages in 14 chapters and 2 appendices.  

The introduction lays out a fine tuned strategy for learning to write fiction.
What it takes to Learn Plot: Become your own plotting coach. Get Motivated:
1.    Write a statement of purpose, one that gets you excited, and print it. Put it where you can see it every day. Come up with your own visual motivation. Inspirational words taped to your computer, or maybe a photo.
2.    Try Stuff—try out what you learn, see if you get it, try some more. Take time to digest and apply what you learn about plot & structure to your own writing.
3.    Stay loose—A tense brain freezes creativity. The guidelines in this book give you material to work with techniques that can help you.
4.    “First get it written, then get it right.”
5.    Set a quota—Writing is how we learn to write. Write daily – by a certain number of words or for a period of time.
6.    Don’t give up—the difference between a successful writer and an unsuccessful one is persistence. Keep writing.

The author: James Scott Bell developed the LOCK system, a simple set of foundational principles for the writers and his success:
L = Lead Character
O = Objective (A want, A desire, driving force - Will the lead realize her objective?)
C = Confrontation (obstacles in the way)
K = Knockout
The author’s intent is to share his writing gems to strengthen all writers for a lasting career of productivity and publication.


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   

Visit her caregiver’s website:
Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love



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Monday, September 13, 2021

Guesting 101: How to Be a Good Guest on a Blog, Podcast, or Video Show

Writers must be promoters. After all, how else are new readers going to find us? 

One of the best ways to get introduced to new audiences is to be a guest for other writers. This could be a blog interview, guest post, podcast, or video show (pre-recorded or live). Traditional media is good too, but that's another article altogether. They introduce you to their community and vice versa.

Many people use guest appearances to get referrals for other guesting opportunities. Finish a show and ask the host if they have any recommendations or intros for you. The key to leverage that strategy is to be a good guest.

Here are Tips for Being a Good Guest ... and Tips for Hosts too

For Hosts: 
- Set Expectations. Send instructions - specs on your needs/what your guest can expect - ahead of time. Send connection requests on Facebook and LinkedIn. Ask for their short bio, headshot, and social media profile links (and follow their accounts). This will make compiling posts and sharing easier. 

For Guests:
- Follow the Instructions. This includes requests for your profile and social media info, as well as word count and deadlines. Also, if you are being recorded, be early, especially if it's a live broadcast. Follow your host's social media accounts, comment on posts; be an active member of their community.

For Hosts:
- Send a Calendar Invite. This is essential for audio or video recording appointments, especially live shows. However, you can send an invite as a reminder for the due date of a guest post or interview. 

For Guests: 
- Test Your Tech. Super-important for recording is to have good lighting, a nice background, and earbuds or a microphone (there's too much external noise when you use the computer speakers). 

For Hosts: 
- Make the Content Easy to Share. Send links for live events to your guests beforehand, so they can pass them along to their communities. That way, their people can watch in real-time. Also, send links - with custom images - to your guests after their blog post, podcast, or video interview goes up. 

For Guests:
- Share the Content. Also, keep an eye out for comments and respond to them.

For Hosts:
- Thank your Guests. Let them know you appreciate their time.  

For Guests: 
- Thank your Hosts. Let them know you appreciate their time. Also, if it's a podcast, leave a positive, thoughtful review.  

For Hosts and Guests: 
- Continue the Relationship. Stay in touch. Continue to comment on each others' posts. Ask how you can support each other. Suggest a blog or show swap. And see if they know of any good fits for your blog or show, as well as recommendations or introductions for you. 

* * *

I host the Sunday night #GoalChat Twitter chat, Monday #GoalChatLive show (broadcast on Facebook and LinkedIn), and Thursday Podcast, called The D*E*B Show (which is the podcast version of my Live). I do blog posts recaps of each ep - along with links to my guests' websites and information they mention. It's a lot of work, but the idea is to create content that benefits everyone.

You want any guest relationship to be win-win.  

One thing is certain: All guests leave an impression. It's up to you what that impression is, so make it a good one.  

* * *

What's your best tip for being a good guest? Please share in the comments.

* * *

If you need some help setting and achieving your goals, please reach out!

* * *

Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Writing Controversial Topics

Mindy Lawrence

Controversial topics abound these days covering religion, race, politics, social issues, and gender/sexual issues. As writers, we deal with these spiny topics, trying to be as neutral as possible but still getting the point across. There are ways to succeed in writing about hot-button issues and the controversial successfully. Here are some pointers.

·         Write with utmost care:

·         Research your topic well from ALL angles.

·         Don’t belittle the “other side.”

·         Stay away from vehement words so often seen on Facebook or Twitter.

·         Write FACTS, not half-truths or propaganda. Do your research.

·         Write to pass on information helpful to ALL of your readers.

·         Check your writing for clich├ęs, prejudicial comments, and other no-nos.

·         If you are making a specific point, check out all of the info and research you’ve done on the topic to make SURE you are accurate.

·         Check YOURSELF to see if you can write honestly about the topic.

Although this is mainly for nonfiction writers, it doesn’t hurt ALL writers to consider these suggestions.

Ruth Seaber, Department Chair & Associate Professor of English at Mineral Area College in Park Hills, Missouri, gives these suggestions for writers dealing with controversial topics:

·         I would differentiate “Truth” from facts. Because of the very nature of a controversial subject, “Truth” is a matter of interpretation.

·         (Writers should) Stay away from subjects they can’t write objectively about. They’ll know these subjects when they encounter intense emotional reactions when researching the opposing view.

·         First and foremost ask a question and research the answer. Don’t look for or cherry pick arguments or “evidence” to support one’s pre-existing opinion. That is, don’t have an opinion going in—find out the facts first. At the very least, check to be sure the facts you’ve recited since 1975 are still verifiable. New evidence does come about.

·         I advise writers to know the lenses through which they view the world, which helps them spot their own biases.

·         Distinguish between controversial and hot button issues. A controversial topic is any topic about which people disagree, upon which two cases can be made. A hot button issue is an extremely controversial or divisive issue. Controversial —we need a new shopping center in XYZ township. Hot button —we need a homeless shelter in a residential neighborhood in Clayton, Missouri.

Caroline Giammanco, author of Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit, Inside the Death Fences, and Into the Night, is no stranger to controversial writing. She’s written about the Missouri prison system with great skill. She says:

“Just be honest and don’t fabricate details just to make it sound more exciting. If it’s controversial, it will be exciting enough.”


Writing about Controversial Topics, Michael Gallant


Writing Controversial Topics, Scott Kuttner


How to Write about Controversial Subjects, Iain Broome


Grasping Both Sides: The Challenge, T. Statman


Mindy Lawrence is a writer, ghost blogger, and artist based in Farmington, Missouri. She worked for the State of Missouri for over 24 years and moved to Farmington in 2020. She proofed the Sharing with Writers newsletter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and wrote “An Itty-Bitty Column on Writing” there for ten years. She has been published in Writers Digest magazine and interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered.



Sunday, September 5, 2021

Personal Essays: A New-Found Interest in the Time of Covid

Exploring Personal Essays
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Do you subscribe to Writers’ Digest’s newsletter? Once upon a time—maybe as far back as the 50s or 60s—that magazine got delivered to my mailbox. When I was living in New York City, I didn’t miss an issue because I could pick it up at the corner newsstands. Today, though I don’t always open their mail, it is comforting to see it in my e-mail box. Since I started writing to publish, it has occasionally served me well.  Their magazine named my SharingwithWriters blog to their 101 Best Websites list one year. My move-loved poetry book, Imperfect Echoes, earned an honorable mention in one of their contests. I keep reading it (and entering contests)  to keep up with the industry I love.
Recently I noticed an essay contest. I don’t remember ever seeing a RD essay contest! And then I noticed they were offering a webinar on writing personal essays. That was new to me in the context of creative writing, too, though I started writing as a journalist as was surely familiar with them. And then I ran across this letter I recently sent to my grandkids who live in Colorado accompanied by a very heavy box of Childcraft books. (It went book rate, of course!)
 It occurred to me that my #WritersontheMove audience might enjoy my little trip back to my childhood and maybe even tell me how I might change it to become a “personal essay.” You know, what it needs to become a personal essay.  


Literature in the Time of Covid
To Travis, Sarah, Lance, James, and Alexa:
Lance, (my husband, your Papa Lance) is on a book-buying, book-sharing roll. Perhaps because he is more or less glued to his computer in this time of Covid-19, that is to say, glued to for shopping and entertainment. Perhaps it is because we are cloistered and therefore keep finding nooks and crannies in the house we’ve lived in for fifty-three years that beg to be tidied and—maybe—decide some of our treasures would be better off given to another generation. Naturally, many of those are…well, books!
That brings me to Childcraft. It strikes me as the perfect thing to have around the house during our Covid isolation. After all, it served my brother and me quite well before we had what we now call TV!
It is a series of twelve encyclopedia-size books covering everything from nursery rhymes to child psychology, meant—I assumed—for my mom and dad. I had two favorites. The one full of fairy tales—everything from Grimm to Hans Christian Anderson. They were illustrated with drawing that were colored almost as if they had been painted in pastels. Quite different from the full color children’s books you have today.
There were two other books, big and flat. Just large enough to act as a base for all the others to sit on in our bookcase.  They were full of “real” stuff like industrial machines, musical instruments, and African animals. They were more like our real color photographs of today, too.
These books are copyrighted 1945. Your Grandma Birdie bought them from a door-to-door salesman—maybe the same one who sold things like encyclopedias back in those days. I was in the 3rd or 4th grade when they had little money, but she managed by paying a little each month. She called payments like that “will call.”  
These books did not molder away on a shelf. She read them to my brother and me often. We also played games using the intaglio imprints on the covers that illustrated what was within each volume. She had us cover our eyes and she would put her hand over one of the images and we were to tell her which one she was hiding. It was a little like playing peek-a-boo. Who was hiding, Jack-Be-Nimble or Little Miss Muffet?
I followed her example with our children and perhaps with our grandson, Travis, (your dad) who was often at our house. That Childcraft set probably made fifteen moves with us, from state to state, as our lives changed. When you open the box, you will see they have been well (lovingly!) used, but they are still in good shape, made of sturdy materials, slick paper, solid printing as books were made in those days when publishing was treasured, publishing was king, publishing didn’t think so much about its bottom line as about the value of books.
We had libraries back then, of course, but Childcraft was our own library. We didn’t have to hike through the snow of winter or the heat of summer to find something great to read. Our library was to be used, to be read, to be saved and now to be passed along to the third generation.
Great Grandma Carolyn
More About the Contributor:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson was an instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers Program for nearly a decade. She believes in contests and reading literary journals as excellent ways to learn more about craft and branding writing careers. Her favorite awards are Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment given by members of the California Legislature, “San Gabriel Valley Women Who Make Life Happen” given by the Pasadena Weekly, and an award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing given by Glendale’s Character and Ethics Committee. She has been publishing poetry and fiction for years and loves passing along the tricks of the trade she learned from marketing those so-called hard-to-promote genres with her acclaimed HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.
Carolyn is a frequent contributor to Karen Cioffi’s respected #WritersontheMove blog. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

4 Reasons Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book May Be Your Best Option


 To traditionally publish or self-publish?

That's a question just about every author thinks about. Well, if you're a children's writer, self-publishing may be a good choice.

Here are the reasons why.

1. You know it’s getting more and more difficult to get signed on with a traditional publishing house or literary agent.

Publishers are businesses. They want as sure a thing as possible to ensure a profit on their investment. Unagented authors or authors without a huge social following don’t stand a chance.

In an article at Huffington Post, the author noted, “Nowadays, most publishing houses only read manuscripts submitted by agents. Finding a literary agent is as difficult as finding a publisher, unless you are a celebrity, of course.” (1)

You know the odds – they’re super-slim. So, instead of spending lots of time and effort on research and submissions that could go on for years without any results, you’d rather invest in you.

If you believe in your story, go for it.

Keep in mind here, although you’re bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional publishing, you still need a quality story. Self-publishing isn’t a free pass.

2. You really, really, really, want to be author of a children’s book.

If this is what you really want, then go for it.
There are a couple of things to do first though:

A. Have a GOOD story. This means the story, structure, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and so on.
Please take the time to do it right, even if you have to get it ghostwritten.

B. Have GOOD illustrations. If it’s for a picture book or chapter book, get decent illustrations. Don’t self-publish a substandard book. Be proud to be the author of that book.

You don’t have to break the bank, but you will need to make an investment for quality. I know illustrators who do good work and charge $80-$100 per interior illustration.

Know what your expenses will be before jumping in. If you’re budget’s willing, go for it.

3. You know the chances of becoming rich or famous are slim to none.

In an article at Jane, author Brent Hartinger said, “I actually think it’s easier to land a traditional deal right now, especially in children’s books, than it is to successfully self-publish.” (2)

Going into something realistically helps you avoid major let down. The market is oversaturated, so keep your expectations in check.

If your purpose for a book is to share something or say something then by all means go for it. But again, keep your expectations in check.

If your purpose is to write a story for the children in your life, go for it.

Maybe there’s a story in your family that’s been passed down from your great grandfather and you want to get it in a book. Again, go for it.

There are lots of reasons people may want to write a children’s book and not expect it to be more than they intended.

Whatever your purpose, if you’re going to write and publish a children’s book or any book for that matter, please create a quality product. Don’t add to the inferior books that are being self-published. Publish a book you’ll be proud of.

4. You have a middle grade or young adult story.

Middle grade and young adult stories done usually include illustrations, although middle grade might have a sketch at the beginning of each chapter. Because of this, they’re less expensive to self-publish.

As with any type of book, you do want a quality book cover and back cover. And, you want the interior design done right. You can get this done with self-publishing services.

Helpful sites to get your story published:

Services that will take your Word document or PDF and format it for upload to sites like Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, Ingram Spark, and so on, include:

– Word-2-Kindle

Some of these services will format your manuscript and upload it for publication and distribution. Some will only format it. Some only do ebooks. You’ll have to review their services.

You can also do some research for self-publishing services over at:

If you want a bigger pond to fish from, you might do some research and hire someone on Upwork or Fiverr to design and format your book for uploading.

If you have experience self-publishing a children’s book, it’d be great if you’d share some tidbits of advice or services you found helpful.


This article was originally published at:


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Karen’s children’s books include Walking Through Walls and The Case of the Stranded Bear. She also has a DIY book, How to Write Children’s Fiction Books. You can check them out at: If you need help with your children’s story, visit:



How to Make Painful Edition Changes Into Pure Publishing Gold

Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus

Vanity Presses - Authors Beware



Sunday, August 29, 2021

How to Write Vivid Scenes: Connecting Scenes

Check out Chris's Haunted Series:
The Ghost on the Stairs, The Knight in the Shadows,
The Riverboat Phantom,
and The Ghost Miner's Treasure

We welcome prolific author for children and adults, and editor, Chris Eboch, who has graciously agreed to share her three-part series of How to Write Vivid Scenes, from her book Advanced Plotting. Part 1 appeared last month: How to Write Vivid Scenes, Part 1. This month we present Part 2, and next month: How to Write Vivid Scenes: Cause and Effect.

Each Scene is a Mini-story with its Own Climax

Each scene should lead to the next and drive the story forward, so all scenes connect and ultimately drive toward the final story climax. 

A work of fiction has one big story question — essentially, will this main character achieve his or her goal? For example, in my children’s historical fiction novel The Eyes of Pharaoh, the main character hunts for her missing friend. The story question is, “Will Seshta find Reya?” In The Well of Sacrifice, the story question is, “Will Eveningstar be able to save her city and herself from the evil high priest?” 

In Desert Gold (written as Kris Bock), the big story question is, “Will Erin find the treasure before the bad guys do?” There may also be secondary questions, such as, “Will Erin find love with the sexy helicopter pilot?” but one main question drives the plot.

Throughout the work of fiction, the main character works toward that story goal during a series of scenes, each of which has a shorter-term scene goal. For example, in Erin’s attempt to find the treasure, she and her best friend Camie must get out to the desert without the bad guys following; they must find a petroglyph map; and they must locate the cave. 

You should be able to express each scene goal as a clear, specific question, such as, “Will Erin and Camie get out of town without being followed?” If you can’t figure out your main character’s goal in a scene, you may have an unnecessary scene or a character who is behaving in an unnatural way.

Yes, No, Maybe

Scene questions can be answered in four ways: Yes, No, Yes but…, and No and furthermore…. 

If the answer is “Yes,” then the character has achieved his or her scene goal and you have a happy character. That’s fine if we already know that the character has more challenges ahead, but you should still end the chapter with the character looking toward the next goal, to maintain tension and reader interest. Truly happy scene endings usually don’t have much conflict, so save that for the last scene.

If the answer to the scene question is “No,” then the character has to try something else to achieve that goal. That provides conflict, but it’s essentially the same conflict you already had. Too many examples of the character trying and failing to achieve the same goal, with no change, will get dull.

An answer of “Yes, but…” provides a twist to increase tension. Maybe a character can get what she wants, but with strings attached. This forces the character to choose between two things important to her or to make a moral choice, a great source of conflict. Or maybe she achieves her goal but it turns out to make things worse or add new complications. For example, in Desert Gold, the bad guys show up in the desert while Erin and Camie are looking for the lost treasure cave. The scene question becomes, “Will Erin escape?” This is answered with, “Yes, but they’ve captured Camie,” which leads to a new set of problems.

“No, and furthermore…” is another strong option because it adds additional hurdles — time is running out or your character has a new obstacle. It makes the situation worse, which creates even greater conflict. In my current work in progress, tentatively titled Whispers in the Dark (written as Kris Bock), one scene question is, “Will Kylie be able to notify the police in time to stop the criminals from escaping?” When this is answered with, “No, and furthermore they come back and capture her,” the stakes are increased dramatically.

One way or another, the scene should end with a clear answer to the original question. Ideally that answer makes things worse. The next scene should open with a new specific scene goal (or occasionally the same one repeated) and probably a review of the main story goal. Here’s an example from The Eyes of Pharaoh:

Scene question: “Will Seshta find Reya at the army barracks?”

Answer: “No, and furthermore, she thinks the general lied to her, so Reya may be in danger.”

Next scene: “Can Seshta spy on the general to find out the truth, which may lead her to Reya?”

Over the course of a novel, each end-of-scene failure should get the main character into worse trouble, leading to a dramatic final struggle. 

Next time: Cause and Effect

Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. This essay is adapted from Advanced Plotting, available for the Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback. Chris is the also the author of You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Learn more at or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Writers: Let Mistakes Be Your Teachers

Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery
was self-published in June, 2020

By Linda Wilson

Three mistakes—whoppers, and very painful, I might add—stand out in my writing career, all the rest are small (and many!)

Mistake #1: Taking on more work than I could handle. Back when my daughters were growing up, both in their 30’s now, I landed a terrific job as a writer for a well-known library journal. I had left teaching elementary school for a while and had made the big time! Our subjects were short biographies, called by the journal “biosketches,” about famous people. The editor gave me my pick of subjects and any number of sketches I wanted to write. Up to that point, I had experience writing newspaper articles, period. Not to worry! One of the other writers advised me that my sketches needed to be conversational as well as factual.

I started out with only one or two, with 2-3 weeks to research and write. A research assistant sent me articles and information, but the perfectionist in me decided that wasn’t enough. So, while my husband was at work and my daughters were in school, I did more research in the library. My subjects were such interesting personalities as Stephen King, Troy Aikman, and William Shatner.

The extra research paid off. My sketches were tight with information, and friendly. The editor was pleased.  

Piece of cake. I decided to take on more, 3-4 sketches at a time. That’s when I hit the wall. I didn’t realize the time crunch I was getting myself into while volunteering at my daughters’ school, being a girl scout leader, and more. I missed a deadline, and I was toast.

Lesson Learned: Take on only what you’re sure you can handle.

Mistake #2: Signing up with a Vanity Press without doing a search for complaints. According to Wikipedia, “a vanity press or vanity publisher, sometimes also subsidy publisher, is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published.”

About two years ago, I chose a publisher that I’d been following, sold by the way the company presented itself on their website and in phone conversations I had with the company rep. I loved the packages they offered, which included everything under the sun that I would need.

My husband and I lived in a small town at the time. I didn’t have the advantage of a critique group or contact with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s chapter as I do now, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I joked that my package—the Ultimate, mind you, promising the moon—was my “Harley,” a gift from my husband a few years after he bought his dream Harley. I would buy my dream: a way to publish my book with the help I believed I needed.

Now, after finding help in critique groups with my fellow SCBWI-NM authors, and information from the SCBWI organization itself, I see how misguided I had been. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As luck would have it, just days before my book—my first, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a ghost story for 7-to-10-year-olds—was to be published, I read a book that changed everything: 10 Publishing Myths, by W. Terry Whalin. I had barely turned the first few pages before a feeling of dread crept into my soul. In Chapter One: “Myth One: I Will Make a Lot of Money Writing My Book.” Of course, I understood that. But in this chapter, Whalin makes the case that “to be a best seller, the book needs broad distribution to online plus brick-and-mortar bookstores who report their sales to a bestseller list. Balboa Press [a press that he uses as an example] is online and their books are not sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores.” This was not the case with my company, I assured myself. Whalin goes on to say that the overall production of these books is not good quality. Not mine. I'd already seen the cover and had worked closely with the artist. My book was beautiful. Whalin hoped this author didn’t spend a lot of money to produce her book.

Well, I did spend a lot of money. Harley's are expensive! As my alarm grew, I turned to the next page, where Whalin suggests doing a Google search to check out potential publishers, by typing "Publisher’s name + complaints." I did that and was in for the shock of my life. Not only were there a substantial number of complaints against my publisher, but these complaints were made by twenty-nine authors who had published with my company and created a revolt on a private Facebook page. Why? Not one of the twenty-nine had received one royalty check. Not one. Today many more authors have joined the group, an attorney has gotten involved, and the owner is facing several lawsuits. 

I spent two taxing days and sleepless nights reading the authors’ experiences, sent an email to one of them, and he invited me to join the group and tell them about my experience. The group welcomed me, and in their posts, I found the help I needed to obtain my files from the company and proceed to self-publishing my book.

My caveat: I was lucky. I already had possession of my files which were print-ready and easy to publish on KDP. Some others are still battling to obtain their files and as a result, are unable to publish their books.

Lesson Learned: Before doing business with anyone, do a Google search to see if there are any complaints against them.

Mistake #3: Being out of touch with my calendar. Recently, I entered a picture book manuscript in a contest, and it won an award—first, second, or third to be announced at a later date. I wrote to everyone I could think of with the news, then read the fine print. The manuscript had to be unpublished. I forgot that tiny fact when the illustrator finished her work. I went ahead and published the book on Amazon as soon as I could. 

Lesson Learned: Make sure you write down your important dates on your calendar. If I had written the date the announcement was to be made about the contest, I would have waited to publish the book and received the award. Instead, I had to disqualify myself and the award went to someone else.

Ultimate Lessons Learned: It’s become natural for me to know how much work to take on now. I check the companies I work with on Google, and am making it as a self-published author. As for the contest? I’m determined to win an award with the same contest next year. It’s taken me about a week to come up with an idea. Soon, I will begin work on it and when the contest opens, I will enter it and put the important dates on my calendar. This experience has also encouraged me to search out other contests which I plan on submitting to. Who knows? Maybe I will win another contest.  

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her  books, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, and A Packrat's Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift, are available on Amazon, Publishing credits include biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; PocketsHopscotch; and an article accepted by Highlights for ChildrenSecret in the Mist, the second in the Abi Wunder series, is coming soon. Follow Linda at

Read Well, Creative Writing Resources

Read Well, Creative Writing Resources by Deborah Lyn Stanley When we read well, we write well. I list a few good Creating Writing books belo...