Stealing Writing Time - Where to Find Time When You Don’t Have Any Extra

Stealing Time - Where to Find Time When You Don’t Have Any Extra

Guest Post by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

I know you can’t really steal time. In fact, if you could, I would steal it, put it in some big boxes up in my attic, then pull a little out on busy days.

My life consists of a full-time job, a husband, two small kids, and writing. I should give myself the job title of “round-the-clock juggler.” And I know I’m not alone.

Since writing is such an important part of my life, I have to find ways to make it priority without ignoring responsibilities. In an ideal world, I’d write 6 hours a day, uninterrupted. But since that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future, I improvise by stealing time where I can.

Waiting Time

Wait for the right time to steal. Instead of getting frustrated that the doctor is running 20 minutes late, you can be thankful for the bonus writing time, if you prepare ahead of time. No matter what your lot in life, I know you have waiting time—at doctor’s offices, pick-up times for kids’ practices, when you’re getting your hair colored. I always carry a bag with a current project. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get big chunks of writing time while I’m waiting. However, these are great times to edit or brainstorm.

Planning Time

Stealing doesn’t always involve the act itself. Sometimes you have to plan to steal. Since I spend some of my waking hours cooking, doing dishes, or cleaning (though I swear I do the bare minimum), sometimes those mundane tasks are good planning time. While it’s not always intentional, these are times I work out writing problems in my brain. That plot issue I can’t fix while staring at the computer screen will often occur to me while I’m chopping an onion.

Other people find walking or gardening good tasks that work the body and loosen the writing brain.

Then when you actually get screen time, you can pound out the problem.

Wee Hours

People don’t usually steal in broad daylight. I write best when the rest of the world is asleep, or at least the people in my little world are asleep. Some people are late night writers. I’m an early morning writer. Even an hour before the rest of the house gets up can provide me with prime writing time. An hour a day adds up.

Plan Your Escape

If you are going to steal, you have to have a getaway plan. While, you might not be able to escape very often, even once a month is great. Plan a time to go to a coffee shop or a local library for a few hours. But plan ahead. Know before you leave exactly what the task is at hand. If you don’t know, you are liable to surf the internet instead of tackling those chapter revisions.

Stealing time happens in small increments. If you can figure out a way to grab ten minutes here, half-hour there, a couple of hours on a weekend, then you will make progress in your writing. Don’t wait until you can steal a whole weekend for your writing. Start now—chipping away at the moments you can find in the life you already have. 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins steals time to write in between her day job and her life with her family. She has an M.A. and and M.F.A. in children’s literature from Hollins University and blogs about making time to write at:


Building a Writer’s Portfolio
Freelance Writing Work – The Possibilities
How to Write a Novel – Start with a Novel Outline

The Tent Pole Structure

The tent pole structure described by Linda Sue Park during one of her presentations at the Highlights Foundation Workshop, Books that Rise Above, is the focus of part three in this series.

Here's how Linda Sue explained being immediate and providing back story at the same time, a process she describes as the Tent Pole Structure. Begin by placing your finger at the bottom of the tent pole and tracing it to the top. That's the the action and dialogue, the backbone of your story. While proceeding upward go back and forth, leaking your back story in dribs and drabs.The base of the tent pole where you first placed your finger is the middle of your story, the strongest part. That's where your story begins. It's how you hook your reader. Action and dialogue move your story forward. But what does Linda Sue mean by back story?

Find the back story in a conversation Amy and Dan are having in Chapter 1 of Linda Sue's book, The 39 Clues: Storm Warning:

                "Jamaica was the last place anyone ever saw or heard of her," Amy said.
                She had already researched Ann Bonny online. "So that's where we should
                start looking."
                "But--" Dan stopped, trying desperately to think of a way around Amy's
                reasoning. She was good at this stuff, at seeing the big picture. He was more
                a detail guy, and right now he was very interested in one particular detail
                about the Bahamas.


Back story reveals only what is needed. It is intimate and personal. A drib of character description here, a drab of setting there.Woven seamlessly into the action and dialogue in the above excerpt are background, thought, and characterization. A lot of work gets done in few words.

Parting thoughts: Linda Sue suggested telling your story to your best friend. Get your story down then ground it. Have passion for your story and characters. What I took away: I'd heard this process called "weaving" a story in the past. I understood what that meant but hadn't mastered it. Something clicked for me during Linda Sue's explanation at the workshop. The technique suddenly became clear. I've been applying the tent pole structure ever since.

If you would like to read past posts in this series, please visit:

Part One: Two Ways to Hook and Keep Your Reader
Part Two: Nouns Need to be Concrete and Appear More than Once

For biosketches of Linda Sue Park and Patricia Lee Gauch, please visit:

Next month:  Leonard Marcus: Maurice Sendak as Storyteller and Artist

In future posts: A link to the complete list of "Books that Rise Above" will appear at the end of this series.

Sources: Park, Linda Sue. The 39 Clues: Storm Warning. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2010. Print; Photo: U.S. Military Pup Tent; Diagram by author.

Labels: Parts of speech, children's writing workshop, Highlights Foundation, writing, writing tips


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-10 year olds. Follow Linda on Facebook.  

Stake Your Claim

From time to time, we all need encouragement and recognition of our accomplishments. It gives us that extra boost to believe we are good writers and we have something to offer.

But, not all writers necessarily have that kind of support. We want people to be happy for us; our family or friends. You might not get the reactions you were hoping for.

Christina Katz, author of the best seller Writer Mama, says in her recently published e-book, Write For Regional Parenting Publications, "There is really one key person who should be happy about your writing career success and that person is you.”

There comes a time in your writing career when you have to come to terms with this truth so you don't slow down or give up. Decide to be happy with your successes even if no one else is.

Over the years, I have found times when I had to set a stake in the ground of something I knew to be true - never to waver again. And being personally happy about my successes has been one of those stakes.

This is going to look differently for each of us. But the one place where we all start, is believing you have something to offer. It means your passion should not be tampered with. Tweaked, yes. But if we find that fire being quenched because no one seems to encourage you or appreciate your successes, you will become discouraged and perhaps give up.

It took me awhile to grasp believing in myself. It seemed like arrogance, but it's not. It's simply knowing what you can do well and doing it. Once that is established, you are tied to this truth and will be firmly established.

Stake your claim to you. There are no disqualifications! If you are writing, it's because you love to write. Inside of you there is something people want to read. 

Photo credit:  cobaltfish / Foter / CC BY-SA

While homeschooling the last of her 8 children, Kathleen Moulton rediscovered her love of writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and is recently published in NextStepU. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -

Hearing Voices

Do you hear voices? You should. It is important to hear the voice of each and every character in your story.
            Each character is an individual, and as an individual speaks, thinks, and acts differently from the other characters. After all, that is what gives them individuality, makes them their own person. Otherwise, they would all sound alike, flat and boring. It is up to you as the author and their creator to bring your characters to live and give them substance. In other words, you have the duty to your readers to make your characters sound like real people.
            How do you breathe life into a character? First I would suggest taking note of the people around you, the ones you know and don’t know. Watch them for gestures, facial expressions, favorite words they use frequently. Do they sigh frequently as they talk? Do they have a habit of laughing at times that do not call for laughter? Do they frown a lot or have a twitch? Is there a favorite word or phrase they interject often such as “oh,gosh” or “good gosh a mighty?” Does the person have a quick temper or is he/she a mouse?
            Next get your character profiles for each character and study them. Once you have an idea of your character’s personality and background, you need to figure out how you can reflect the character’s personality, education, social background, birth place, gender, and even job-related way of talking. Have their grammar match education and slang match age and lifestyle.
            Don’t forget dialect. This could reflect the area of the country from which the character comes. Foods they eat can show where they were raised or simply show an idiosyncrasy. Be careful, though, not to overdo dialect. It could cause your reader to stop reading your book.
            Be sure to match all the elements to your character. Body language (yes, it is an unspoken voice), thoughts, and speech should all match. Otherwise you could give your reader the impression your character has multiple personalities!
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

Memes and Themes

The young delight in everything new...and then think they know it all. We oldies delight in finding newer and newer words and concepts and realize we shall never know it all.

Writers are constantly bombarded with new must-have technology to turn them into instant best sellers. I just received a marketing offer for a software meme generator. Yes, I had a vague idea what a meme was. After all the word was first coined in 1976 and hit the dictionaries from 2000 onward. 

The definition of the original meaning from the Oxford dictionary is: an element of a culture or system of behaviour (English spelling) passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.

Now of course in marketing terms it refers to images, videos,quotations, humorous or inspirational, that are copied and spread rapidly across the Internet.

Marketing with Memes

I'm always looking for ideas to market my non-existent book. The meme idea is great--we all love and share these iconic images on social networking sites but let's be honest, here. How likely is the normal book cover to go viral? And if it does, are Internet users just going to share the picture rather than reading the book?

Would a better idea be to re-caption an existing meme to build on a viral message already circulating?

Use a search engine to choose one of the many meme creator sites on the web. 


Try it out here. 

These give you many cute starter images to caption and often allow you to create your own characters. That done, how do you capture audience imagination?

Marketing with Themes

It's the funnies that seem to top the viral charts. If you can encapsulate your theme into a few words that resonate with readers, and fit it to your cover or appropriate picture, then you may have a meme.

If you have a great quotation that fits your book, then you may have a meme.

But you can create them from your photographs or stock images and caption with something like PowerPoint or Paint.  

Marketing with memes is a great idea but experiment before jumping on bandwagons and buying extra software.

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to pass on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2012.

Making Use of Unexpected Free Time

March may have roared in like a lion, but it also came with a sprained ankle! Yes, on March 1, I fell and sprained my ankle. Since I was supposed to stay off my feet to recuperate (I needed a wife, but that’s another post for a different blog), I had time on my hands. What to do? Well I could still use my laptop so I got online and did some research and writing. I also decided to wade through some of those books that I haven't read.  

How much have I accomplished? Well, not as much as I would have liked. I read one book each week. I researched my family tree, (another ongoing project) as some of it could end up in a book or article or perhaps just inspire me. I didn't write anything prolific, but I did write.

Since cabin fever had set in, I attended the March meetings of my book club and my writers group, the following week. I had to hobble around with my cane, but I managed. In between the meetings, I did some research at the local public library. It was good to be out of the house for awhile, but the going was slow.

I’m glad I was able to do something constructive during my recovery this month, but hopefully April will be better!

What did you accomplish this month? (And I bet you didn't sprain your ankle!)

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 working on her first children’s book.

Travelling an Unfamiliar Highway

Recently my husband and I travelled to Santa Maria Island, Florida.  While renting a car in Tampa, I was surprised to discover that we both could drive without an extra charge.  My husband is usually the designated car rental driver, so it’s been years since I have driven a rental car in a new city.  A friend of mine invited me to have breakfast with her in Sarasota, a 50 minute drive from the island.  I had two options to make this happen.  I could ride with her to Sarasota, but that would mean I couldn't get to the beach that day; or my second option was to drive myself in the rental car.

My mental process was something like this.
Hmm…maybe I should ride with her….I don’t know where I'm going…I don’t know all the gizmos on the car….it would be easier.

Then I stopped myself. 
Drive the car…stretch yourself….move out of your comfort zone. 

I drove the car. It turned out to be a relatively easy drive to Sarasota and my spirit was fed by the conversation along with the Spinach Eggs Benedict.  I managed to get back to the Island in time to spend the afternoon on the beach.   More important, I was willing to do something that made me a little uneasy. 

Every time we are willing to step into an unfamiliar environment, our personal world becomes a little bigger. Each time we decide not to do something because it's a little difficult and choose to stay in our comfort zone, we shrink the perimeter of our lives.  

This applies to all areas of our life. 

So what does it mean to you as a writer?  I think it is easy to find your writing niche, your writing comfort zone, and stay there.  It may be a particular genre or style.  Maybe it’s fiction, or non-fiction. Where is the territory you are afraid to explore in your writing?  For me the anxiety provoking zone is poetry.  Today, I choose to stretch my writing limits and make my writing life just a little bit bigger.

Driving down and unfamiliar highway
Not sure which way to go
Lost in a writer’s life.

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

Guest Blogging - Advantages for the Host Site

Advantages for the blog host

Last month this time, we took a look at the advantages there are for those who guest blog on other sites. Today we're looking at some of the advantages for the host site.

• Before continuing, it will probably be a good idea if you refresh your mind by reading the previous post first, as many of the advantages for the guest apply to the host as well.
In addition to those advantages, the host also gains the following:
• Increase of Knowledge: Your guest brings with him or her expertise that you don't have. This increases the value of your blog for the reader.
• Saved Time: Instead of spending hours researching a topic, by inviting a guest who is an expert on that subject, the host benefits two ways. He or she learns from the expert, and the blog gains followers who are interested in what the guest has to share. 

• New Cyber Friends:
 Hosts may even blog about the guests, giving them another topic of interest, while developing their relationships with the guests.  

If you are hosting a guest on your blog: 

• Comment on the post. After all, you wouldn't invite a guest to your home and not interact with them, now would you? Show an interest in comments from visitors as well. They're also visiting your cyber home, remember.
• Promote as suggested in the previous section. This makes sense. Not only do you want other visitors to come to your site, you want them to know the guest who is taking part on your blog. This helps to build your platform as well.
• Thank Your Guest: publicly on the post, as well as personally in an email. 

Over to you:

What sort of posts would you like a guest to post about on your site?

  • Give your answers in the comment section below, and maybe someone will offer.  

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. Shirley is also contributing author to ten other books and has published hundreds of devotions and articles 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. 

Should You Self Publish or Not

Whether to self publish or vie for traditional publishing is a question brought to the forefront because of the direction publishing is moving today. Ultimately, the author must make the final decision.

With fewer traditional publishers, more books written, and fewer readers reading books, many traditional houses aren’t willing to work with unknown authors, or don’t have a following.

Authors need a platform with followers, a book marketing plan, and more laid upon the shoulders of authors, many authors feel that self-publishing is the way to get their book into the hands of readers.
If you self publish your book, how will traditional publishers look upon your book if you decide to vie for a traditional publishing house in the future is a question only the publishing house can answer.

Experiences from some writers is that self-published books are akin to what we call vanity press books, pay and they will publish anything as Amazon found out with blatant plagiarism of many titles that Amazon published, and then had had to remove when they finally found out what some so-called authors were doing just to make sales. Amazon’s reputation was hurt, and rightly so.

Why have reviewers been complaining about the quality of self-published books? The complaints range from editing to grammar, and poor quality.

Publishing houses once employed editors to clean up these problems for authors; this is no longer the case. Self-published book editing is now the purview of the author; and authors need professional editing. Don’t rely on software like spellcheckers and grammar checkers to find the errors because they will not find subtle errors. Grammar checkers will vary depending on the individual program.

A literary agent may cost writers thousands to have their book shopped to publishers. Many authors can’t afford these costs, and opt for self-publishing.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual author how to publish their baby. First, is to hire an editor that has no interest in the book other than making sure that they edit for typos, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, redundancies,  over use of words like “and”, “or”, and “but”. Editors will notice these because they have no stake in the book other than making it the best book for the reader.

If authors such as James Paterson, David Baldacci, or Orson Scott Card want to publish a book with a traditional house, most houses will take a chance, but they are probably not willing to take a chance on previously self-published authors, or unpublished writers. Authors need to find creative ways to convince publishing houses to take a chance. One creative way is to create a well-written, well-edited book. Don’t forget a well-crafted proposal.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer, Blogger, Editor, Proofreader, Reviewer, Marketer

Thinking Outside the Box

In the past I have thought of doing things outside my writing box as wrong, not focused, or lacking talent on my part. As I get older and have so many ideas and dreams in my head, I have changed my thinking on on the subject. I now believe it is time for me to think outside the writing box and explore other ways to use my writing talent.

Here is what I mean. For me, writing for children has been my dream. I have an accepted PB manuscript but as all of us knows, that takes months and maybe years to get any notice, monetary reward, or even to hold the hard cover in your hand. What to do in the mean time becomes either a spring board for new projects or it can keep you frozen in time waiting to see what happens with "the" one project you have accepted.

The world would have you believe you need to stay within your niche to become the writer you need to be and I believe to an extent that is absolutely true. But how does one discover if they have a knack for other writing if  thinking and writing out of the box is taboo? My philosophy is that it doesn't hurt to try your hand at other things, test the water, and here is the fun part....thinking outside the box.

I will always love writing for children. I get paid more at this time to write medical and nursing material ( what I know but not what I love to write about) . BUT I am also pursuing my passion with the love of fabric and quilts, primitives and owning a shop. AND writing.

The thread holding this all together is this. I have several projects going on at the shop that include designing my own patterns, writing the story that goes with it, and making some of the projects benefit Cancer research for children. I am working on a series of patterns for kids, a teaching series that will give them the foundation to learn about sewing and making things for others. I also have some stories based on the history of the town that will be attached to fabric bundles... a take away per say for visitors even those that don't sew or quilt.

The fact is, it has been fun thinking outside of the box. I still write my stories for children and have a set schedule for submitting and sending queries but I don't feel guilty for writing other things.

What do you do to think outside of  your writing box? Is there a type of writing that you would love to try? No time like the present to give yourself permission to write something outside of your niche. It is very freeing to write what you want without regard to if it will sell or if it fits a niche. In fact, I believe it gets the creative juices flowing.

Terri Forehand writes from her home in Nashville, Indiana. She and her husband have recently open a fabric and primitive shop in the tourist town where she continues to write for children. Visit her blog at  
She also has an author website at

The Ugly Peach Tree

Last year my husband and I traveled from Phoenix to Bakersfield, Ca. While there we decided to visit a local nursery where we found an ugly peach tree. The peach tree's limbs were stunted and both issued forth from the same side of the tree. But it had blossoms and it would fit in the backseat of our car. We chose the ugly peach and brought it home.

That summer the ugly peach produced six fruits, all small but incredibly sweet. Winter came and our ugly peach was introduced to a harsher than normal winter. At some point, one of its two main limbs was broken. My husband's solution was to graft the limb and keep it in place with tape. Gray, ugly, duct tape. The ugly peach became even uglier. We laughed at its ungainly shape. We shook our heads over what would happen next. And what did happen? The broken limb of our ugly peach has bloomed.

What does this have to do with writing, you might ask. Sometimes an idea for a novel or story comes our way in an unexpected way or place. It may not be complete or even well-formed but it is there. We take it and nurse it, putting words on paper to delve deeper into its meaning. Sometimes from this idea, other ideas spring forth - for articles, for poems, or for completely different stories. Some of those may even produce award winning results or financial gains. Things happen. Sometimes the story is lost and is relegated to a drawer, but then an idea issues forth again. New thoughts occur and the work is brought out once again into the light. 

A writer friend of mine told me to never throw away my work. At first I had difficulty. My inner critic was ruthless. Some of it was so horrible, but I listened and kept all my writing, even those that for whatever reason I never finished. Years later I have often cleaned the drawer where these drafts reside, only to find a wonderful phrase, story idea and/or insight waiting for me. 

May your "ugly peach trees" survive your inner critic, may your writing blossom, and your work bear fruit.    

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

Writing - Finding the Right Critique Group

Finding the Right Critique Group

Guest Post by Linda Moore Kurth

For years I’ve thought of myself as a children’s book writer, even though my first published book was a romance. Next was a non-fiction children’s book about Keiko, the famous star of the movie, Free Willy, and after that, twelve little picture books I self-published about the Glimmer Glen Elves. All the while I’d been honing my craft, going to workshops, participating in critique groups, reading newsletters for writers and children’s books by other authors. But there was a different kind of story that kept calling to me―a story about my troubled twenty-five year marriage and the conflicting messages I received from the Christian community when I decided to end it. I would have to find a way to tell it.

I began by reviewing my journals, but after fits and starts, I realized that merely transcribing them did not a memoir make. I needed feedback to help me develop the form my story demanded. I asked two of my Facebook writer friends if they’d be willing to critique. They agreed, and I began sending off my chapters. As I suspected, the first two chapters came back with glowing remarks. The third chapter was a different story, however. One of my critique partners became very busy with her family and never did get back to me. I think my writing offered so many problems, she didn’t know where to begin. My other critiquer also had difficulties with the chapter. I tried to identify and fix these problems as I continued writing, but my lone critiquer was increasingly critical. My writing was too choppy, there was too much telling rather than showing, it felt like I was hiding something, and more.

I was bummed. Why was I finding this so much more difficult than my other writing? Despite this setback, I was compelled to tell my story. I wanted to help people walk in my shoes in a dysfunctional “Christian” marriage, and for them to question whether or not it’s right to end such a marriage, and who should judge. I wanted to help women, and men, too, identify possible dysfunction in their own marriages so they could make conscious decisions on how to proceed. But what good would it do if I wrote my story in such a way that no one would want to read it? I had to write it so that readers would stay engaged and relate to my experience.

I’d joined the Skagit Valley Writers League, and at their picnic last summer I confessed my discouragement to the chairwoman. She asked some questions, made a few suggestions, and then invited me to join her critique group. There’s a mix of genres with one other memoir, and all the members are good, active writers. Their critiques are spot on, pointing out the good parts and identifying areas that need work. We meet three weeks out of each month, and they’ve indulged me by listening to a full chapter at each meeting, although mine is longer than everyone else’s work. I enjoy critiquing my partners’ work and believe they appreciate my contribution as well. My online critiquers were happy to be “fired” and just be friends once more.

I’d found my place, and eventually I found my story’s form. But that’s a telling for a different time.

Linda Moore Kurth is currently working on her memoir, SHOULD THIS CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE BE SAVED? A Memoir of Marriage, Divorce, and Faith. She is the author of HOME OF THE HEART, a romance novel recently revised and released as an eBook, and KEIKO’S STORY: A Killer Whale Goes Home, a mid-grade non-fiction chapter book.

Web site and Blogs:
Facebook Writer’s Page:


Writing Challenges for Picture Books
Grammar Tips with Anne Duguid
Would You Make a Good Reviewer?

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Freelance Writers: What to Do While You're Waiting for Work

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

160419_boredWhether you're a new freelance writer anxious for your first assignment or a seasoned freelancer anticipating your next assignment, don't sit back and simply "wait" for work. Instead, take these steps:

1. Get at least a dozen queries, proposals, or complete manuscripts out there circulating. Many beginning freelancers tend to put "all their eggs in one basket." They finally manage to get one submission or query out, then they sit back and wait to see if it gets accepted. That's a mistake. You need to have at least a dozen things circulating at all times to increase your chances of getting new assignments or selling your manuscripts on a regular basis. Regular sales are what make a freelance writing business. Don't expect a single sale to launch your business or take your current business to the next level. Instead, strive to create a constant stream of work.

2. Keep improving your writing skills. You'll do this naturally to some degree if you get a dozen queries, proposals, or manuscripts out because you'll keep writing. And your writing skills will improve somewhat just from the quantity of writing you'll be producing since we all get better the more we write. But also take a writing course or two. And join a critique group and take an active part in the group.

Successful writers constantly work to get better and better at what they do. And they know that getting the feedback from a writing instructor and/or other published writers (as in a critique group) can be the key to finally landing assignments and getting acceptance letters.

3. Continue to network (both online and offline) with other writers and with potential clients. A critique group will give you the opportunity to network with other writers. But also join writer's groups, clubs, and other organizations. Other writers can answer questions you might have about writing and the business of writing. You'll also learn simply from observing what they do and how they do it.

Besides other writers, you also need to network with your target market - your potential clients. The people who need your writing services can't hire you until they know who you are and what you have to offer them, so get known among your target market.

Take these 3 steps while you're waiting for work and you won't be waiting long!

All the best,

suzanne-cover 016-2 Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She is a former classroom teacher and was an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature for over 8 years.

Lieurance has written over two dozen published books and her articles and stories have appeared in various magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, such as Family Fun, Instructor, New Moon for Girls, KC Weddings, The Journal of Reading, and Children's Writer to name a few. She offers a variety of coaching programs via private phone calls, teleclasses, listserv, and private email for writers who want to turn their love of writing (for children and/or adults) into a part-time or full-time career.

To learn more about Lieurance, visit her website at or

ACX Update

Last month I posted about the process of turning your print/ebook into an audio book using ACX.  I've now contracted a narrator or producer as they are actually called and she is perfect for the reading.  I've checked out her website and she looks exactly how I pictured Kelly looking so her voice and looks actually are a perfect fit for Finally Home.  I posted on my blog this past Sunday a bit about my narrator and links to her website and twitter as she has a podcast going and would like some followers. 

I will tell you  this, if you are considering putting your book(s) up as audios, the process is not a fast one because the narrators actually get offers during times they are working on projects.  If you plan on going this route, remember that the word of the day is PATIENCE.  If you don't get any auditions in the first couple of days, persevere and listen to more sample files and contact several narrators.  When contacting them asking them to audition for your book, mention what caught your attention on their sample files, tell them a little about your book and what you are looking for for the final book. 

Several folks have commented that the process has gone rather quickly for me, but in reality, I started looking for a narrator right after hearing Nina Bruhns from Entangled Publishing mention it at our local Sisters in Crime meeting, the 7th of February.  I listened to over 50 samples and contacted my top 3 choices (including the one I've actually contracted), and after getting their auditions, listened to a few more voice samples and contacted about 3 or 4 more before I actually got the audition from the producer I settled with.  By that time, I had already made a contract.  Before narrowing my choices down by genre, gender, payment type, the options were over 10,000 narrators.  When I narrowed it down by genre (teens), gender (female for obvious reasons - a male wouldn't be able to do Kelly and Emma Louise justice), and payment type (royalty split opposed to upfront payments),  I ended up with  79 voice files to listen to, but two of those were actually male (and how they slipped in there with me specifying female, I'll never know).  Of those 79, there were several samples by the same person or people, so I didn't really have 79 files to listen to.  Once I listened to the files and if something piqued my interest, I would then go to the narrator's page and check out  their other sample files and their credentials and all the other things in their profile.  Then I made contact if I liked what I saw and heard. 

I think this is a great route to go and if you  are not in the United States or probably  in North America (I think Canadians are included in the ACX process), I hope there are other platforms out there for you to get your books out as audios. 

For the release of the audiobook I've taken Finally Home off smashwords and Nook and put it in the KDP select program.  I will be offering the kindle version as a freebie on April 15 and 16 and again the end of May/first part of June (May 31-June 2).  I hope to have the audio released about the same time as my first freebie offering and hopefully more projects will be in the works by then.  I hope to get back to my state stories soon, trying to raise money via a funding campaign on IndieGoGo, to pay my illustrator so we can get the series completed in the near future, and maybe look into doing more of a series with my characters from Finally Home so there are a lot of pokers in the fire, I just need to get myself in gear and get to work.  I'm still looking for some story ideas to turn my character-driven story into a series, so if anyone would like to brainstorm some ideas for the characters, I'm open and can be reached at eeldering (@) gmail (dot) com. 

See you all in the postings - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home,  a middle grade/YA mystery very much like a Nancy Drew mystery
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series - Where will the adventure take you next?

Ms. Eldering is the award-winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series.  Her stories "Train of Clues" (available in print and as an ebook on kindle), "The Proposal" (available as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (available as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves", all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and ... themed type contests).  Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review.  She also has written several other short stories for contests including the second place winning story, "Zombies Amuck", and "La Cave".  Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet.  When she's not busy with grown children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events and festivals promoting her writing.

How Romance Writers Create the Perfect Leading Man

Creating the Perfect Leading Man
By Romantic Suspense Author Amber Lea Easton

Oh, the leading men we all lust after, the guys who get us all steamy just thinking about them, and the characters we wish would manifest in front of our eyes with the snap of our fingers.  I salivate just thinking about some of “my men” who’ve graced my imagination and the pages of my novels.  What are the ingredients that go into creating that perfect leading man in a romance novel?  (And why do I feel like I’m a witch creating the perfect spell? Ha!)

Romance heroes are usually far from perfect, regardless of their physical description.  Despite the idea of Fabio ripping his shirt off--which isn’t a bad image--the ideal man needs to be somewhat flawed to be approachable.  What do I mean by this?  Well, let me tell you.

*  Internal conflict.  Broken-hearted?  Jaded?  You bet.  We all love the tortured hero, the guy who looks like he has it all but is lonely behind closed doors, the man who’s heart is as big as his pectoral muscles, the bad boy who isn’t quite as naughty as the world makes him out to be. 
*  A gentleman.  Even in this world of independent women who get it done with sass and class, we all like a man who would lay it on the line for us and who knows how to make a woman feel like a lady.
*  Sexy.  A man can be beautiful on the outside, but not be sexy.  So what is this elusive quality called sex appeal?  When writing a leading man, it’s the subtle nuances that say “power” that equal sexy.  Yeah, that’s right.  Power. Whether it’s his self-control, his ability to stare you down, his confidence or the non-verbal cues that scream “good in bed”, sexy is a characteristic that is essential to our leading men. 
*  Secrets.  We all have a few skeletons in our closet, but our leading men have mummies entombed in their basements.  These secrets are usually tied into the aforementioned heartbreak, which makes them that much more appealing. 
*  Smart.  Who wants an idiot no matter how gorgeous he is?  Smart is sexy, I always say, and that applies to both the hero and heroine.  It’s imperative that the hero be a smart man, a leader (even if he’s in a vulnerable position in the story), a guy the reader can see in the role of “hero”. 
*  A good friend.  I’ve always said you can judge a man by the company he keeps and that goes for leading men, too.  Having secondary characters who reflect who the man is to them, how they feel about him, his loyalty to them, etcetera goes a long way in determining if he’s actually a good guy or not.  Even if the relationships are edgy, his reaction to them in the story will reveal his true nature to the readers.

All of these elements need to be in place for a leading man to take center stage in our hearts and imaginations.  Physical description pales in comparison to the character development that truly pulls at a reader’s heartstrings.  After all, when writing romance, it’s important to have the readers fall in love with your man...and no one falls in love with an empty shell. 
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she's worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry.  Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking courses on a wide variety of subjects when time allows.  Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges, but who ultimately persevere.

Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life’s twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself to be simply "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

Visit Amber at:
Twitter - @MtnMoxieGirl

You can find out more about Amber Lea Easton, Riptide and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

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