Back to School Countdown

Back to School Countdown

By Karen Cioffi

Five, four, three, two…yup, it’s that time of year again, rising early, getting to school on time, homework, tests…yuck!

But you know, it’s not really that bad. If you’re prepared and get into the right mindset, that’s half the battle. Everything we have to do in life and come up against in life gives us two options: (1) put a positive or good spin on it, (2) dread it.

Since you have to do it anyway, you might as well opt for Option #1.

To get you started in the right direction, here is a list to help you get in gear for, “school time, school time, good ole golden rule time.”

The Do List:

1. Many teachers have lists of what you will need for your upcoming school year. Try to find out if your new teacher has one and how you can get a hold of it.

2. To avoid needed school items being sold out; have Mom or Dad let you do your shopping early.

3. Make sure to get the items that are actually listed. If the list says “one red pen” don’t come to class with a green or purple one.

4. At least a week before school starts, go to bed at the time you normally would on school nights. This will give your body a chance to get accustomed to waking and eating breakfast early. If you do this, your body and mind won’t scream at you that first school day morning, “Hey, are you crazy? Only roosters are up at this time!”

5. A week before that inevitable morning, start a new mantra (saying): “I will listen to my teacher. I will listen to my teacher. I will listen to my teacher.” You can say this 100 to 1000 times a day. Another useful mantra is: “I will be respectful to my teacher and classmates. I will be respectful to my teacher and classmates. I will be respectful to my teacher and classmates.” Either of these two mantras is fine.

6. Make sure to get to school on time and obey your school and classroom rules. Practice Rule #5 so this won’t be a problem.

7. If you are required to have your classroom items in class the first week of school – have them there the first week…having them at home doesn’t cut it. You have to actually bring them to class.

8. What about the reading you were to do over the summer? Did you do it? Well, if you didn’t, start today. It’s better to read a least one book than none. Did you know that anything you want to be, an astronaut, a doctor, a firefighter, a superhero, all require reading. Okay, not the superhero, that jut takes a good imagination.

These 8 Dos should give you a jump start on a smooth new school year.

Now for the Don’t List:

1. Don’t ignore the ‘Do list’ above!

To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars - signup for The Writing World newsletter on the right top sidebar!

Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer
Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012

Back to School Basics for Teachers

Back to School Basics for Teachers

By Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman

Well, so much for summer break. The teaching grind is just around the corner. Yeah, yeah, two months off isn’t long enough, but hey, it’s pretty good.

So, now it’s time to start getting in gear to go back to the professional attire and mindset, early morning rising, and don’t forget to get your bladder in shape so that one daily visit to the rest room will be enough.

Okay, let’s go down the checklist for the things you’ll need to get prepared for the inevitable day:

1. Don’t forget to wait until the last minute to get your teacher supplies at the teacher store so you’ll have time to make an hour worth of phone calls while you’re waiting on line, because all the other teachers waited for the last minute also.

2.  Get started writing your lesson plans for the first couple of weeks, but don’t get too attached to them, because you know they’ll change once you get in the swing of things.

3. Remember to agonize over picking that first day’s book that you’ll read to your class. Of course, they will be absolutely enthralled and give you 100% of their attention – they’ve been waiting all summer to have this book read to them.

4. Create a new schedule plan. No more beach days; no more waking up at 10am or later; no more having the use of a restroom ANY time of the day; no more use of the phone anytime of the day; no more eating whenever you want; and no more peace and quiet.

5. Start working today to get your body and mind prepared for 30 or so restless kids with different personalities, strengths and weakness; for 30 or so sets of parents with different personalities; for the school administration, and for your co-workers. Start building your strength, stamina, and inner resilience – you’re going to need it.

6. Get your mindset in order. Repeat the following mantra 100 – 1000 times a day:
My days in class will be productive and calm; my students will not affect my well-being; I will remember my teaching skills; my students are great and I love them; my students enjoy learning; all my students will pass the State tests with flying colors; my students’ parents are wonderful as is my school administration.

7. Calm your nerves. You will be able to teach again; you will be able to get back into your professional mode; you will be able to concentrate on what you’re doing.

8. Watch those late nights. Be sure to start at least a week before school and go to bed at a reasonable hour. You will definitely need your rest.

9. Mark the calendar: 180 working days to go until next summer’s vacation – let the countdown begin!

To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars - signup for The Writing World newsletter on the right top sidebar!
Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer
Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012


Money in Words

In the smoky confines of the Royal Canadian Legion, my newspaper editor scrawled a few words on a paper napkin with a black Sharpie. He then slid the napkin across the table and folded his hands on his lap.

"There's no money in words!" the black letters announced.

As much as I wanted to argue the point--due, in no small part, to the warming beer in my hand--I had to agree with his assessment, at least in part.

Writing is sometimes referred to as a thankless task. On that point I will disagree. There is generally more than enough gratitude and appreciation to go around. It's the money that's in short supply.

There seems to be a misconception among non-writers that words throw themselves against the page in the perfect sequence without any effort on the part of the writer. Writing is easy. If you're good enough, and fast enough, you can dash off 500 words in 15 minutes and make the $5 fee seem reasonable.

If you think earning $5 for 500 words is ludicrous, you're right. But try telling that to prospective clients. There's more than enough of them out there, hanging out on sites like Guru where freelances bid on work and hope the clients place more value on quality than on the lowest bid.

I'm not knocking Guru or any other job site. In fact, I just renewed my Guru membership, and I will keep on bidding. I just won't be telling prospective clients what I think of their budgets anymore. (I did that once and got a rather stern warning from the site administrators. My comments, as it happens, were deemed "derogatory" under the Terms of Service.)

The key to bidding on work is to have a realistic view of your abilities. Can you work within the client's budget and still earn a respectable wage? You might be a slow, meticulous writer but a super-fast editor or proofreader.

Your also have to practice the fine art of negotiation. Is the client willing to combine a smaller up front fee with a percentage of earnings? Include that idea as part of your proposal. If the client is still interested, you have some room to maneuver, whereas a straight forward bid within budget would have left you stuck at a lower than acceptable price tag.

I won't tell you what to charge for the work you do. That's up to you, your clients, and whatever the market will bear. Just don't give it away. And remember that your price tag should grow in tandem with your experience.

So my editor was, as I say, partially right. There's no money in words--unless you're willing to fight for what you deserve.


Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.


Set Your Intention Each Day

Each day upon awakening, ask yourself.  “What is my intention for the day?”  This is really just another way of asking yourself “What do I want for myself and what am I willing to allow into my life?” Examples of daily intentions are “Today I intend to write at least 500 words” or “ My intention today is to extend kindness to every person that I encounter.” Most people give very little thought to their daily desires. Chaotic, overscheduled lives often cause us to live in an unconscious way.  As a result, we wind up creating lives that cause dissatisfaction and inner turmoil by default. Intention is a powerful tool that will help you manifest your heart’s desire and accomplish your writing goals, one day at a time. You may find that once you begin setting an intention each day, you feel the need to make drastic life changes related to your job, relationship status or family life. Or perhaps the only things will change is the way you view life and your new found sense of joy. Declaring a daily intention will help you clarify your values and determine what will truly bring you happiness. In addition, your awareness will shift and you will attract the people, experiences and things that you want into your life.

Aileen McCabe-Maucher is the author of the book "The Inner Peace Diet" which was published by Penguin Books and released in December 2008. Aileen is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. Aileen has worked for over fifteen years as a licensed psychotherapist and registered nurse providing individual and group counseling to a diverse client population. She is a graduate of West Chester University, Widener University, University of Delaware, and The Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia at Bryn Mawr College. Aileen completed her yoga teacher training at Leela Mata's Peaceful Valley Ashram. She is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and writing her third book.

For your free copy of Aileen's 7 day "Inner Peace Diet", please visit today.

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

No matter where we are in our writing career, we all need encouragement. It's amazing how a simple gesture - a hand on your shoulder, a smile, or a few words can make all the difference.


Whether you are a successful, accomplished author or you're working on your very first book, let these inspirational quotes give you the encouragement we all need at one time or another:

"I dwell in possibility."
- Emily Dickenson

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." 
- George Eliot

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” 
- Agatha Christie

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” 
 - Stephen King

“Self-trust is the first secret of success."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I like good strong words that mean something."
- Louisa May Alcott

 "If you do not hear music in your words, you have put too much thought into your writing and not enough heart."
- Terry Brooks
“You have to protect your writing time. You have to protect it to the death."
- William Goldman

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world."
- Tom Clancy
"If you start with a bang, you won't end with a whimper."
- T.S. Eliot

 "In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write."
  - Pearl S. Buck

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." 
-William Wadsworth


Kathleen Moulton is a member of the Working Writer’s Club and monthly contributor to Heartbeat the Magazine. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope at When It Hurts –

Article photo credit: Î’ethan / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Compliment Vs. Complement

There is no one as bad as I am about getting words mixed up. Lie vs. lay is one of my biggest errors. I don't know why but it is. The point is I really have no room to criticize others, but there is still two words that really bug me when I see them misused, and I have been seeing it more and more. Those words are compliment and complement.

They have been misused in books, journals, sales flyers that stores put in the newspapers, and I've seen it on billboards. Being one of those crazy people who actually owns a dictionary, I looked up both words to find the following definitions:

Compliment--An action showing praise and respect.

Complement--That which serves to complete; the full number required.

Our readers expect writers to know what they are doing, and that applies to not only our writing but our spelling and grammar. So we must be aware of our spelling and meaning of words along with all the other aspects of writing.

Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                             Sarah's Secret
Member of: Sisters In Crime
                   Writers on the Move

To Be or Not To Be--A Self-Published Author

How To Publish A Book?

Just under a week ago, Bob Medak wrote an interesting article for Writers on the Move discussing when is the best time to build an author platform. But the last line stopped me in amazement.

"Authors," he wrote, " should have their book published the way they wrote it."

To my surprise, no one even queried the statement, far less took him to task. But as a judge for the recent Global e-Book awards and member of an enthusiastic Kindle publishing group, I have to disagree or at least urge caution on any author thinking of going it alone.

So many potentially good books cannot achieve the success their authors deserve because 
  • poor editing leaves muddled sentences, glaring grammatical mistakes and confused plot lines.
  • poor formatting renders books irritatingly untidy and difficult to read
  • poor spelling and proofreading stop the reader from concentrating on the story or information provided.
  • the cover does not have sales appeal.
A reader who is disappointed in the presentation of a book will not buy from the same author again in a hurry.

Advantages of Self-Publishing

  • Publish the book the way you, the author, wrote it--but please employ an editor and proofreader.
  • Have the last word in the design of your own cover--but consult a good graphic designer or at least visit a site like The Book Designer.
 The designers' comments here on the great range of book covers submitted for awards are helpful and informative and teach what makes a cover attractive to buyers.
  • Check and recheck your formatting till it is absolutely perfect.
  • You have complete control over your own work. 
  • You can publish as fast or as slowly as you like. You make your own deadlines.
  •  You have the joy of learning all the ins and outs of the business.

Advantages of Traditional Publishing
  •  The editors, proofreader and cover designer will be provided. They are professionals and will advise on what sells.
  •   The formatting will be handled by someone who knows the job and the pitfalls.
  •  A good publisher, editor, cover designer will listen.
  •  You will have more time for writing. 
There is of course the downside.
  • The length of time between contract signing and publication date.
  • Less income as you have effectively outsourced the work of publication.
  •  You may not have the book published the way you wrote it but then and again it might just be a smidgeon better. 

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

What I Did This Summer: Learning Opportunities in Writing

It’s a good idea to always be on the look-out to learn all you can about writing. I recently found a few things that helped and I would like to share them with you today.

In my efforts to improve my writing abilities and learn more about the field, I have been busy this summer, making use of classes, workshops and conferences. Last month, I told you about a two-week class on writing children’s books, with the help of a coach (Suzanne Lieurance of the Working Writers Club) and a software program (How to Write a Children’s Book in 14 Days (or Less!) by Mel McIntyre). If you missed my July post, you can find it here: I’m still working on my do-over efforts.

In July, I attended an in-person one-day picture book workshop taught by Liz Garton Scanlon,  We studied the form and craft of picture books. The author of four picture books, Liz shared her expertise with us, discussing conflict, characterization, setting, language, revision, and other aspects of writing a great picture book. 

If you are able, going to a workshop, class or conference in-person is a great way to learn as well as network. I realize attending a writing event in-person may cost more, but it’s worth it. If you don’t know where to look or haven’t had luck at finding a writing event in your area, you can read more about that in my March post, How to Find Writing Workshops, Seminars and Conferences in Smaller Markets,

This month, I attended a free online writing conference, WriteOnCon, For two days, authors, agents, and editors shared their knowledge, answered questions, critiqued and gave away prizes. The day before the conference, attendees could submit queries, pitches and the first 100 words of their manuscripts for critiquing. If you missed it, this year’s WriteOnCon, as well as the 2010 and 2011 conferences, are archived on their website, (Another free online writing event, the Muse Online Writers Conference, is held every October. You will find more information at their website,

I haven’t written as much as I would have liked this summer, but I have been fortunate to meet other writers and gain insight from industry professionals. What have you done this summer to learn more about writing and to improve your skills?

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

Writing Tip: Different Ways to Take Notes on the Go

Different Ways to Take Notes on the Go

Guest Post by Heather Smith

Every writer can attest to the fact that inspiration can strike at any time, paying no heed to whether it’s convenient for you or not. More frustrating than that is when you are suddenly struck with an idea, and not just any idea but the best idea, but you are out and about with no way to jot said idea down. “I’ll remember”, you think, but in reality by the time you get home and try to put pen to paper the idea has long since been erased from your memory, with only the vague edges of it flitting in and out of your brain, taunting you. It is times like this that remind us how essential it is to have a fast and easy way to jot down notes or ideas at any given moment, and these four ways will appeal to every type of writer out there:

1.    The classic notepad – If you’re into the old school approach to taking notes, then keeping a small notepad and pen with you at all times is essential. While some people may scoff at this pen and paper approach, there is something whimsical about whipping out your notepad at any given second and taking down a few words of inspiration.

2.    Voice Recording – Sometimes it’s easier to talk out ideas than it is to write them down, and this is where a voice recording device comes in quite handy. You may look a little strange walking around talking to yourself, but it’s likely that you’re not going to forget anything that way either. And being able to go back and listen through your ideas over and over again can help spark creativity in a way that a text note might not be able to do.

3.    An email draft – When you’re tied up at work, running errands, or you’re out socializing with friends and you have no way to preserve an idea then it might be easiest to just open an email draft and type out a few key points. Then you can save it to your drafts or email it to yourself without any worry of losing the spark of creativity.

4.    Evernote – If you’re like most people these days with your phone being an essential part of your person at all times of the day then the Evernote app can come in quite handy. Evernote allows you to jot down notes or talk them out and record them, take photos, and craft monster to-do lists, and then syncs the content with all of your devices.  Added bonus: it’s free.

You aren’t always going to be able to sit down and write when an idea sparks your creativity, but you can be prepared to take down some notes in any given situation as long as you’re prepared. Find a note-taking solution that works for you that way you’re never caught off guard when writing creativity strikes. With each of these options appealing to a different type of writer you’re sure to find one that fits you and your style. 

Author Bio: Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to nannies by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at]

Don't forget to sign up for The Writing World, top right sidebar. Get weekly tips and guidance, plus updates on free webinars, and TWO FREE ebooks!

Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Marketer
Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012

Find Karen’s eBooks on writing and marketing at: (see the sidebar for titles)

Karen Cioffi Professional Writing Services

Getting Back on Track from a Writing Vacation

Has your writing taken a summer vacation?  My critique group took a hiatus during the summer and so did my writing life.  I needed the break.  Spending time gardening, camping with friends and cooking over a fire was just what this writer needed.    But now I need to refocus. 

Did the hiccups of a summer routine interrupt your writing?  Maybe you took a vacation or have been playing solitaire way to much.  If so, here are four steps to get back on track.

  1. Connect with your critique group or writing support system—My critique group met tonight.  It’s only been two months since we last met, but it was like meeting long lost friends.  We mostly spent the time talking about our summer and how we feel about our writing at this juncture.  We set a date in September to begin are bi-weekly meetings.  Just connecting with this group, starts my creative juices flowing. 
  2. Identify small action steps – Select one writing project and dissect it into manageable pieces to get you started.  This is especially important if you are feeling overwhelmed. 
  3.  Mind-map your writing life—In the last Writers On the Move blog post, Shirley Corder discusses mind-mapping as a way to stimulate the right brain.   For me, mind mapping my writing life is especially helpful when I have been disconnected from my writing.    I use the program Freeplane and identify the progress and next step for each of my writing projects.  Freeplane provides a visual map for my small action steps. 
  4. Commit to a time to write – For the last few years, I had the luxury to be able to write for long blocks of time.  With a new job, I now have to squeeze writing into my life.  My plan is to write four mornings a week, before I start my day.   I’ll start my day by putting my goals first.

Have you slacked off this summer?  If so, how do you plan to reconnect with your writing life?

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist. For more information check out   or folllow her at: 

D. Renee Bagby Presents YA First Chapters: Relocated by Margaret Fieland

D. Renee Bagby Presents YA First Chapters: Relocated by Margaret Fieland: Relocated by Margaret Fieland MuseItUp Publishing eBook ISBN: 978-1-77127-111-0 When Keth's dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he d...

Right-Brain / Left-Brain - Which Controls Your Writing?

Right-Brain - Left-Brain

Which Controls Your Writing?

In 1981, Roger Wolcott Sperry--a neuropsychologist and neurobiologist, together with two others, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the split-brain theory. Extensive research has shown that where we both make use of both right-brain and left-brain ability, we all tend to favour one or the other.

This can show up way back in early childhood, where one child may be logical and well-organised, while the other is a disorganised dreamer. In a family of logical people, there can be pressure on the one child who is predominantly right-brain in his approach to life, to conform to his family and society's mainly left-brained approach. Where obviously the dreamer has to be able to fit into the (usually) organised world where he lives, his brain preference should nevertheless be encouraged.

One of our three children fits this category exactly. He was the dreamer of the family. While everyone else in the class tackled their maths assignment, he stared out the window. He spent several long stretches in bed, due to a couple of unusual illnesses. During his first attack of Rheumatic Fever, he spent nine months in bed. Yet we never had a problem with boredom. He always found new, creative ways to entertain himself.

Without going into complicated explanations, it is sufficient to say that the left-brain is responsible for logic. It is analytical, fact-based, and organised. The right-brain on the other hand is emotional, intuitive and creative. 

Writers need the left-brain approach, to be able to turn out manuscripts that readers can understand. But without the right-brain, their work is likely to be dry and uninteresting. So when you're looking for a more creative approach to a story or an article, look for ways to switch your brain into "right-brain" mode.

The traditional methods of making a list, or writing down ideas one after the other, rely on the left brain, using a linear method. These emphasise logic and order which can prevent the flow of way-out ideas. 

Put On Your Thinking Cap . . . and other safer ideas.

For years, parents and teachers have been urging their young charges to "Put on your thinking cap." It would appear that scientists have actually developed a “thinking cap”. This zaps the brain with electricity, thus suppressing the left side of the brain, and allowing the right brain to develop. (I've searched for an available photograph to share with you, but without success. You'll have to imagine it for yourself.) I admit I don't like this idea one bit, but I've found a few other ways to stimulate the right brain, without having to light up your eyes.

Here are six ways to put your right brain to work.

1. Create a mind-map. The old way of coming up with a list of ideas was to do just that: Make a list. A far more creative method is to get your right brain to do the work as you create a mind-map. See here for detailed instructions.

2. Sing. Singing is a right brain activity. So if you sing your ideas out loud, you are encouraging your right brain to get involved, which may bring some creative ideas to the fore. (It'll probably bring some strange looks to the fore as well, so I suggest you do this on your own!)

3. Listen to music. Students through the years have tried to convince their parents that listening to music helps them to concentrate. It actually involves their right brain, thus making them more open to new ideas. Experts advocate Mozart for this, but probably any music will work. The trick will be to find something which allows your brain to work, and not shut down because of the sheer volume.

4. Play music. If you play an instrument, think about the issue you want to explore, then sit down at the piano or pick up your guitar, and allow your mind to wander.

5. Draw. Drawing relies completely on the right brain. You might want to draw the problem area, or just doodle on a piece of paper or a chalkboard. As you draw, picture the issue you're wanting to explore, and you may find new ideas filtering into your mind.

6. Write. Without doubt, this is the best way for a writer to increase activity in his/her right brain.
  • Establish a regular routine of writing. This trains your right brain to be in charge and not allow the left brain to take over and produce excuses for not writing.
  • Write through writer's block. Pull out a fresh piece of paper, or open a new document in Word, and write freely without lifting your pen. If you're a reasonably fast typist you can do the same on your computer. Another name for this is stream of consciousness.
  • Write with your non-dominant hand, or even with both hands at once. You probably won't be able to read it back, but it will give your right brain a chance to explore all it likes, as your left brain cannot interfere with this exercise.
How about you? What do you do to kick-start that right-brain into coming up with fresh, creative idea? Please share your suggestions in the comment section below.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives a short walk from the seaside in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, launching on October 1, or available now for pre-order at or at Barnes & Shirley is also contributing author to ten other books and has published hundreds of devotions internationally. 

Visit Shirley on her website to inspire and encourage writers, or on Rise and Soar, her website for encouraging those on the cancer journey. Follow her on Twitter or "like" her Author's page on Facebook. 

When it the best time to build an author platform?

There seems to be differing opinions about when or even if authors need a platform.

I cannot stress enough that with today’s digital world, the state of publishing, and the number of books written per year, the time to build a platform is before you begin writing your book.

Disagree if you wish, but publishers ask authors about their following, promotion, and willingness in helping market their book.

How do authors accomplish this? By the use of platforms, such as blogs, websites, social and network marketing, book signings, and the author finding bookstore shelf space on their own.

Publishing is no longer, as it was in the past. It is up to the author to be a publicist, marketer, and promoter for their book; or hire someone for all of this. Hiring someone is the easy way out for authors, but also expensive. Most authors cannot afford the cost of an agent, publicist, salesperson, and marketer, which would run thousands of dollars.

This leaves the author to do it all. Build a blog about your book project keeping the potential reader up to date with how the book is advancing. Build an authors page, use social media, make regular updates, and make a trailer for your book.

I may repeat this information, but it is only to stress that in today’s publishing environment, more is up to the author than ever before in publishing.

Many authors are opting to self-publish for more control over price and format. The author’s ability to create digital books for readers, and having their book edited by publishers in ways that go against ways the author intended the book. There have been title changes in publishing houses, changes from book to movie, and more.

Authors should have their book published the way they wrote it.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor/Reviewer/Marketer

Enhanced by Zemanta

If You Are a Writer, Do You Set Boundaries?

Setting boundaries is one of the most difficult tasks for me personally and I am betting it can be difficult for others striving to become published writers too. At this time I continue to work 60 hours every two weeks as a critical care nurse while trying to balance and build my writing career. I know other writers who must also supplement what they really want to do with what really pays the bills.

I know that I have to set boundaries with family, friends, and my employer, but I also need to set boundaries for myself so I avoid distractions like television, social media, and other activities that do not move my writing forward.

What about when you finally get a really good paying writing gig but it isn't exactly what you want to write about and there isn't time in your schedule to fit it in and do a good job? That is happening to me right now. It is good that I have clients contacting me but boy sometimes I don't feel ready.

This is what I am learning from this newest writing saga.
  • Think about the time it will take to do the job and be realistic and honest about your ability to finish it.
  • Be willing to miss activities, family time, and tolerate a less than spotless home. If you cannot do these things the assignment might not be right for your present situation.
  • Be honest with the employer and be flexible if they are willing to do the same. If you know in your heart that you cannot do the employer a great service, it may be better to decline with  grace and leave your contact information for a later project.
The pay rate and timing for reimbursement for services is slow in coming, for most of the clients I work with it seems to be 30 to 45 days or longer allowing for revisions and final acceptances. This can be a long time for those who still need money on a more regular basis. It can be a writing goal to put money aside for these long times between paydays but in the mean time many of us keep our day jobs.

Writing is something we must to do as authors.... so to make life less stressful we can learn to set and abide by boundaries, be disciplined in using the time we have to be productive, and to also take time to relax and refresh. If we can manage all of these ideas it may just mean that we are writers.

The Write Setting

A few weeks ago, I found myself able to getaway from the heat of Phoenix, Arizona and dashed to Lake Tahoe for a restful weekend. For me, restful means fun-filled days of long hikes. This photo was taken high above the Echo Lakes. Lovely.

Coming out from our extended walk via a boat, we passed a nice little island, where a cute cottage nestled with a deck that extended all the way to the lake. A beautiful golden retriever sat at the edge, guarding his master, a women who sat writing. Oh, the writer's life.

Since that moment I haven't been able to get that woman out of my mind. Imagine a setting like that in which to write. Yet, when I consider where my writing really gets done, I must admit it isn't when I'm in that type of environment. Often my husband and I have secreted away, he to fish and me to write in some wilderness area. I always go with such good intentions, but never seem to be able to concentrate - to work. The muse escapes me.

I've heard others speak about how invigorating it is to write in coffee shops. While I love the interplay of people surrounding me, my muse is always AWOL there, too. I generally gravitate to coffee shops when my work is in the editing stages - a time when my creativity isn't quite as crucial.

No, for me, the best writing has always been done in my office. A room of rich rose color that stimulates, but not so much that I can't focus. A place where my special things are nearby if I need them, but have become a part of the background, so they don't intrude.

I have tried many other places to find my muse: a hammock, a bathtub, a chair by the pool. While thoughts come to me in those moments, the words are elusive when I attempt to write from them. So I figure I may be like so many others, sentenced to a desk and chair in a room, sitting alone writing. A place where my muse has settled in and will talk to me.

Where do you find the muse?


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and Young Adult Science Fiction. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with her coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

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. 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 at or on Facebook

Social Media Networking: Be an Active Participant with Relevant News, Articles, and Assistance

Social Media Networking: Be an Active Participant with Relevant News, Articles, and Assistance

By Donna M. McDine

I haven’t forgotten my promise from my last post to discuss LinkedIn, but like many things my inner thoughts have taken over and my conscious is beating the heck out of my mind to chat about the importance of personal participation in social media networking.

The success for any type of social media networking is active participation. Yes, technology allows us to become automated in just about every aspect of postings through cyberspace. The convenience of scheduling blog posts to Twitter, then to Facebook, then to LinkedIn is a great time save, but we must set a daily reminder to become engaged personally in our social networking.

I admit with a red face I’ve been guilty of allowing my automation take over and have become absent as a live person via my social networking. I have given myself the good old slap upside the head and no longer will I allow myself to become the absentee marketer.

As of late, I’ve downloaded the Twitter application (app) to my Droid phone, providing me the opportunity while waiting for my daughter to come out of basketball practice or religion to engage with fellow Tweeters. This is proven to be a successful way of engaging for me and have connected with current and new colleagues, potential clients in the children’s publishing industry, and for those seeking out assistance with their social media campaigns. Twitter works perfectly on the Droid phone because of the rolling screen of Tweets. Thanks Twitter, for keeping tweets to 140 characters!

Luckily my family gave me an iPad several years ago and I’ve downloaded the Facebook and Twitter apps to further engage with others. I personally like the Facebook app on the iPad since it’s a much larger screen than my Droid phone.

Mind you, I do try to keep my personal social interaction down to 30 minutes per day so I’m not spending the majority of my time away from my valuable writing, editing, Author PR Services time, and of course my family.

Key attributes in becoming an active social media networker:

Share relevant information to followers, friends, and colleagues (whatever the specific social media network calls them). If you are a children’s book author share… the latest publishing industry news you’ve read about, your latest magazine article publication or book release, children’s book fair events, children’s book conferences (such as SCBWI by region), your experience in conducting school visits, etc. The list is endless. Important to note, don’t make it all about you. Shout out the successes of your colleagues.

Engage in online chats through social media networks. For example, on Facebook search groups you are interested in joining… such as, teachers, librarians, parents, schools. Participation is imperative, so I strongly suggest you do not join more than 1-2 groups per social media network you are a member of.

Offer tips and assistance from your expert standpoint. When a particular topic is being discussed and you have experience in said topic, join in the conversation and engage. You will be pleased and amazed on how much people appreciate your feedback and they will remember that in the future. You will eventually be known as the go to person in your field of expertise, which often times leads to much more than you ever provided.

Don’t fall into the “it’s all about me attitude.” This is a sure fire way to turn people off. Don’t chat about your specific book or product unless the conversation specifically lends to it.

Once you join a group on most of the social media networks you are able to set an email option to be reminded of the latest discussions in the group so you remember to participate. You can also set a reminder through your To Do/Tasks option in your email. I utilize Outlook for my email and I’m constantly updating and checking off my To Do/Tasks list, which by the way gives me great satisfaction in checking off the latest item. Yep, I’m a list person and love to see the list of checked off tasks! I tell my girls all the time, if it’s not on my list it won’t get done.

Happy networking and remember don’t overload yourself!

BIO: Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author. Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has four more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, A Sandy Grave, and Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids and owner of Author PR Services from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI. Visit

Include Diversity in Your Characters

Using Your Author Platform for Change Contributed by Margot Conor Authors have a powerful platform to challenge established role models and ...