Fun Author Stories and Quotes to Brighten your Day

Have faith. Better days are ahead.
During this grit-your-teeth-and-stay-home mandate, I thought it would be fun to share a few stories from my Blog Post file for just such an occasion as COVID-19. I hope these stories and sayings brighten your day as they have mine.

Try finding an agent the Clive Cussler-Way
Author and shipwreck-explorer Clive Cussler, who recently passed away, used the $80 million of his publishing earnings to start a real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), the organization his fictional character, Dirk Pitt, spearheaded in the 22 books Cussler wrote with Pitt as his hero. “The square-jawed Pitt is forever saving the world—and beautiful women—from the schemes of evildoers, typically by retrieving lost artifacts from shipwrecks.” In real life, Cussler’s organization located some 60 shipwrecks, including “a lost Confederate ironclad and a steamship belonging to Cornelius Vanderbilt.”

What a great idea! Think up a fictional pastime for your character and then start one in real life! I'll try it!

If you’re looking for an agent, here’s an idea for you. When Cussler couldn’t interest anyone in his manuscripts, he created a bogus literary agency, and on its fake stationery that he concocted, he became an “industry veteran” about to retire, and offered his services to other agents. That’s how he found his longtime agent.

I think I’ll try that, too. Then I can retire from self-publishing!

Cussler went on to write many other works including children’s stories and nonfiction books. When asked if he would ever quit, he said in 2015, “H&^% no . . .They may find me behind the computer, just bones and cobwebs.”

That reminds me of the terrific National Geographic show Genius I watched about Albert Einstein months back,, which at the end depicted Einstein sitting up in bed, pen in hand working on a formula, only to have the pen slip out of his hand when, to the world’s great loss, met his Maker. I’ve never forgotten that scene, or the whole show for that matter, though I might wind up falling out of my chair with my fingers still attached to my keyboard.

To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym
Stephen King couldn’t fool Steve Brown, this astute bookstore clerk, writer, and fanzine publisher, when Brown read Richard Bachman’s novels. Brown had a chance to talk on the phone to the author himself when King called him to discuss what to do about his famous pseudonym.

I especially enjoyed this article because I had had the privilege of writing a biosketch of Stephen King for the library journal, Biography Today. In the early 70's, King, who had learned the basics of writing as a staff writer and editor for his high school newspaper and earned a B.S. in English at the University of Maine, had written many novels that were repeatedly rejected. While famously living in a trailer with his wife, Tabitha Spruce King, also a successful and acclaimed author, and teaching high school English, King wasn’t selling anything. He began Carrie, the story of an unpopular high-school girl who possesses a special power, “But after four pages, I thought it stank and threw it in the rubbish,” King said. “I came home later and found Tabby had taken them out and left a note. ‘Please keep going—it’s good.’ Since she’s really stingy with her praise, I did.”

In 1977, King sought to establish an additional outlet for his numerous book ideas. Under the name Richard Bachman, King wrote four books: Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man. In 1985, King called the Olsson’s Bookstore in Washington, D.C. and told Steve Brown, “This is Stephen King. Okay, you know I’m Bachman, I know I’m Bachman, what are we going to do about it? Let’s talk.” King's reason? The Brachman titles had been wallowing in relative obscurity. Brown wrote a letter to King’s agent telling him as much, and the Bachman name soon perished, King wrote, owing to “cancer of the pseudonym.”

Take heart. If you’re writing under a pseudonym, you might have better luck than Stephen King.

Inspirational Quotes from Famous Authors
To further brighten your day, I close with a few of my favorite quotes by famous authors about writing:

Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.
– Mark Twain

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
– Somerset Maugham

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
– Herman Melville

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
– Henry David Thoreau

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
– C. J. Cherryh

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs

Obituary of Clive Cussler, 1931-2020, The Week, March 13, 2020.
Biography Today, Vol. 1, 1995.
Photo: by Linda Wilson
Watch for Secret in the Stars
Coming Soon!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter, and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook. Website coming soon.

Decriptive Writing With Specificity

We strengthen all of our writing by using descriptive details: even more so with specificity.

Our goal is to grow our observation skills, both specific and general. Being observant is essential for all writers; it creates relatable writing and gives the texture of reality. So, in this we are building our descriptive muscles and research skills.

To build up our descriptive writing:
  • We use detail to express areas of importance; big picture, specific purpose, or differentiation,
  • We use words that are vibrant, essential, and focused,
  • We use metaphors, similes, and comparisons to tell the story,
  • We use sense words and articulate a picture,
  • We stay on point and write economically

Research is involved for our fiction or non-fiction projects.
Here are a few points to consider:

  • Is the setting a place you have traveled or lived? Is it from a life experience? If so, a lot of your work is done, it’s relatable because you’ve been there. You know the landscape, the business environment, the social makeup.
  • Consider writing in real time, describing the scene in such a way to bring your reader along, present for the journey. Describe what you see from where you are to develop the scene.
  • What’s the time-period, which century? Descriptions will vary according to the time; i.e. street lighting by gas lamps or bulbs, roadway construction, metropolis or rural location, east or west coastline, piper-cubs or jet stream travel.
  • Be willing to adjust your project plan as you go. Is it reachable or does it need revision?

Need ideas?
  • Use life experiences and pull short sections to launch your story,
  • Use one word prompts to free write and spark ideas,
  • Where is your favorite place? Is it a beach town, or mountain village? Start there and chose the best memory or daydream,
  • Books like “Where Do You Get Your Ideas” by Fred White, published by Writer’s Digest, could be just the thing to help launch your project.

Previous Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
1)    Make it Personable & Tangible:
2)    Make it Realistic:

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 writer’s website at:
Visit her caregiver’s website and read the Mom & Me memoir at:
Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer

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Diversify In An Ever-Changing World

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

In the last few weeks our world has gone through unimaginable changes. Many businesses have shut down and we are isolated in our homes to protect us from catching the covid-19 virus in a world-wide pandemic. Possibly your business has closed or you have been temporarily furloughed from your business. What can you do in this ever-changing world?

Years ago I recognized the temporary status of any “job.” Publishing has gone through many changes during my years in this business. One of the key action steps you can take is to diversity your income stream. Where do you earn your money? Is it one place? Then I'm encouraging you to create different ways to earn money. Another way to put it is to use an old cliche: Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

If we've learned anything in recent weeks, jobs and work can be uncertain. One of the best ways to hedge this possibility is to create different streams of income. For example, can you use your book as a springboard to create other information products that you sell online? If you want to know more details, I recommend you listen to this free interview I did with Bob Bly and look at the free Ebook with it.
Can you use your book and create an online course or membership site where you deliver content instruction and insights for your audience? I have a risk-free Simple Membership System product to give you much more detail and insight. Notice my 30 day no questions asked love it or return it guarantee.

Can you use your book to launch a personal coaching program? Your book has made you an authority and now use that influence to begin another aspect of your writing life—coaching. You will have a limited number of people but it can also create a regular stream of income for your business.

The overall key for any author is to create multiple streams of income. This article only gives a few of the possibilities. As an acquisitions editor, I repeatedly see authors focus on their royalties (or they tell me about their lack of royalties). There are many dynamics in play with a publisher receiving and paying these royalties such as the slow rate that bookstores pay publishers—which is something many authors forget. In my view, the royalty focus is the wrong focus. As an author, you can't control your royalty payment. If it comes, terrific. There are many element I mentioned in this article that you as an author can control. Seize those elements for your focus and work on them. It will yield a far greater financial result.

Every author needs to continually work at building their platform and expanding their influence. If you want or need to know more about building an author platform, get my free ebook on the topic. You can do it but it will take effort and initiative on your part. From my experience, it is not a simple one-two-three process but the journey is different for every author. Keep at it and if I can help you, just reach out to me and let me know what you need.

What action steps are you taking to diversity in this ever-changing world? Let me know in the comments below.


One of the best actions is to diversity in an ever-changing world. Get ideas and insights from this prolific editor and author.  (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to SucceedOne of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 200,000 twitter followers 

How to Make Freelance Writing Easier

Many new professional writers - who have recently moved from writing exactly what they want to write and are now writing according to publishers' or clients' guidelines – become frustrated when it seems to take so much time to actually get so little writing done.

They begin to wonder if the freelance writing life is really the life for them.

If this is the way you're feeling right now, there are a couple of things you can do to lessen your frustration and make freelance writing a bit easier.

First, relax a little.

You're probably working in a tense state of mind.

And it's hard to be creative when you're tense.

Don't take your work so seriously.

Decide to have a little fun with your writing today, no matter what you'll be writing.

Second, take a look at the way you work best.

Not every writer can easily switch from working on one project to another – especially if every project is very different.

Group similar projects together so you can work on them on the same days.

You won't have to switch back and forth so much during the day, so you shouldn't get so tense.

And now, perhaps more than ever, as we are stuck in our homes during the Coronavirus pandemic, it's important to set up a regular work schedule each week.

Without one, distractions can take over your day before you realize it.

Next, create a few daily rituals that make writing become more of a habit you naturally fall into every day.

Something as simple as turning on the radio – so music plays softly in the background – can trigger your brain that it's time to start writing if you make the music part of your daily writing ritual.

Finally, decide to have a wonderful writing day today.

Set your intention for the writing to flow, as you work in a calm, relaxed state of mind.

Try it!

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

5 Networking Goals You Can Pursue from Home

networking goals
Personal and professional goals work together.

Improve your professional life, and you will be happier in your personal life. Set and pursue goals for yourself, your relationships, and your home. The positive changes you make will impact your career.

One goal that fits into both categories is networking. When you attend events - online or in real life, personal and professional - you meet new people. When you increase your circle, you have connections to additional resources, prospects, and community.

The people you meet may not be your ideal client or resource. However, they know others, which gives you greater access to the things and people you do need. Plus, you have more people to connect to your community.

You may be stuck inside - sheltering at home - but you can still spend time networking.

Here are 5 networking goals you can set and achieve from home.

1. Refresh Your Social Media Profiles. Your online persona is many people's first impression of you. Set aside time to review and refresh your social media profiles.

Start with LinkedIn, as that is the primary network for business - and the first place most people look for you after you meet. Make sure all of your experience is up-to-date, add multimedia to your summary and work sections, and update your profile pic and banner image.

While you are at it, take a look at your pictures and short bios for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

2. Join Groups. ... and Interact. There are groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even more niche media sites. Find your people, join groups, and engage. Remember, these are networking opportunity, so you are not there to promote or sell. (Most groups have rules against it.) Introduce yourself, ask and answer questions, reply to posts, and meet new people.

3. Find Events and Attend Them. With the world at large staying in, many people are creating online opportunities to connect with friends and make new ones.

Look for Twitter chats, Facebook and Instagram Live interviews, and Zoom mixers. Ask your friends for recommendations or do a search for online events in your niche. You can also check local libraries and bookstores, chambers of commerce, and live meetup groups to see what online events they have planned.

In real life, I would recommend attending one event per week. Since there is no commute time, why not try two? Aim for one personal networking experience per week, and one professional. These could be fitness, book clubs, mixers, workshops, whatever suits your interests and personality.

4. Connect. At online events and through groups, you are bound to meet like minds. Start by following their professional profiles on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check out their websites and blogs; make sure they are legit.

Then, connect with those whose values, interest, and personality align with yours. Find them on LinkedIn, write a personal note, and connect. Be sure to mention how you met, so they connect the dots.

5. Follow Up. Once you develop a rapport with someone, take the conversation up a notch. Send an email, invite them for virtual coffee, or send them links to other events. You never know what path a relationship will take. As you would in real life, start by getting to know one another, and then see where the conversation goes. You never know when - or how - you might meet a new referral partner, prospect, or friend.

Treat networking from home the same way you would off-line networking. Find new opportunities, meet new people, and learn new things. And have fun!

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What tips do you have for networking from home? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Read last month's post on 5 things you can do when you are stuck inside.

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Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses 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: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChat Live on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Forget Book Sales: Think Career Building

 It Isn't About Book Sales: It's About Career Building

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Adapted from the multi award-winning flagship book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of
books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter, Third Edition

In a writer's world sharing is sometimes as important as the creative aspect of building a book. The trouble is sharing—for many—translates into selling books. Of course, we all want to do that, but we tend to lose sight of the fact that we will eventually sell a whole lot more books and, in doing so, share with a whole lot more people, if we concentrate on building our careers. Indeed, for some authors with nonfiction books based on their businesses and professions, the whole purpose of the book is to increase credibility and exposure for themselves and careers. 

What many authors think of when they think of book sales is the kind of hardsell that most would rather eschew. When they decide to do it anyway because they know they should, they may skip learning something about marketing first and their efforts backfire on them. I have a motto: “Never say, buy my book.” Keep reading for better ways to market your book and yourself.

Here's the surprise. Marketing—marketing anything—isn't about selling. Marketing a book is about finding the people who will benefit and appreciate what the author has to share and then letting those people know how they will benefit (or avoid problems) by reading it.. And there is a lot of writing that goes along with it and that's what we do. And there is real pleasure in seeing our marketing efforts succeed and seeing our careers build as we do more of it and learn more about it. Here are some ideas of giving-sharing kinds of marketing from my Frugal Book Promoter. Each may be used as a part of a launch campaign or to nudge exposure for books that have been around a while.

§  Meet new readers by running a contest on your website, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors to share their books; many will donate one to you in trade for the exposure. Watch the 99 Cent Stores for suitable favors to go with them.

Hint: Any promotion you do including a contest is more powerful when you call on your friends to tell their blog visitors or Facebook pals about it.

    Barter your books or your services for exposure on other authors’ websites. Other authors tend to understand your need to build your career and to sell your books. You'll make long lasting friends doing it.
   Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Students can become valued friends and fellow writers. Publicizing the classes is easy and free and helps build your author-name recognition. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. Use your teaching experience in your media kit to show you have presentation skills.
   Send notes to your friends and readers asking them to recommend your book to others. Or offer them a perk like free shipping, gift wrap, or small gift if they purchase your book for a friend. That’s an ideal way to use those contact lists—the ones I show you how to build in The Frugal Book Promoter—and to let personal friends share in your exciting publishing adventure.
    Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) can be networking experiences. Read that word "networking" as "making friends who want to work with you." Check the guidelines for the free review service blog I started to help fellow authors extend the life of their favorite reviews. It's at
   Connect and reconnect. Subscribe to new blogs and newsletters to get new ideas, new opinions. Start reading the ones you once subscribed to again. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book. Offer to help them with guest articles and blogs. Enter their contests. Communicate on their forums.

    When you ship signed copies of your book, include a coupon for the purchase of another copy for a friend—signed and dedicated—or for one of your other books. Some distributors insert fliers or coupons into your books when they ship them for a small fee.

   Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. She puts a coupon for your book in her shipments; you do the same for her in yours.

    Be sure your Amazon buy pages amplify the effects of their logarithms and utilized the benefits they offer through AuthorCentral. 

    Explore the opportunities for speaking on cruise ships. Many have cut back on the number of speakers they use, but your area of expertise may be perfect for one of them. I tried it, but found ship politics a drawback. Still many authors like Allyn Evans who holds top honors in Toastmasters and Erica Miner have used these venues successfully. Do know, however, that you need a knockout platform including speaking credits.

    I call reviews forever-reviews because they hang around forever. And because they are forever useful even when a book that is aging. In fact, I think they are so important to your career that I wrote an entire book on how to get them, how to manage them on places like Amazon, and how to utilize them…well, forever. It is, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for more than a decade. Her marketing plan for the second book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success won the Next Generation Millennium Award for Marketing. The just-released third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, published by Modern History Press, is New! Expanded! Updated! Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction books have been honored by the likes of Writer’s Digest, USA Book News Award, the Irwin award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards and more. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry. Each of them helped her learn more about maximizing marketing efforts for different writers, different titles. Learn more at


Writing - Getting Past the Gatekeeper

How Do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeeper?

Just about every author knows about the "gatekeeper." The dreaded acquisitions editor who decides if your manuscript is worthy of her attention and the publishing house's backing. In other words, the editor who decides if your manuscript is worthy of a publishing contract.

To make sure your ‘good’ story becomes a 'worthy' story, the Writer’s Digest article, "7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great," gives excellent tips on just what it takes to create a 'worthy' story.

The author of the article, Elizabeth Sims, explains that "there are subtle differences between fiction that’s passable and fiction that pops—fiction that shows that you know what you’re doing."

So what are those 7 strategies or tips?

1. Well, the first tip mentioned is the five senses. Sims says writers have to go beyond what is expected. Editors and agents want more. "They want physical business that deepens not just your setting, but your characterizations."

2. Next on the list is the use of idiosyncrasies. Each of us has some idiosyncrasy, some weirdness, some form of irrational behavior that makes us unique and interesting. Using those characteristics deepens and broadens your characters.

3. Third up is realism. Sims says, "Forget about being pretty." Write it as it is. Don't worry about it being raw or dark or unpopular. Don’t go for the popular or expected, make it real.

4. The fourth on the list is to write without 'dumbing' down. Readers are savvy and most are educated. They don't want to be written down to, to be told what to think and when. Let them fill in the empty spaces.

5. Fifth on the list is to keep it focused and moving forward. I've read a number of manuscripts that had 'pausing' information - content that wasn't needed in the story and that would make the reader pause, wondering why it was in there. Causing a reader to pause while reading is never a good thing. Pausing causes distraction, which may keep the reader from turning the next page.

6. Next up is the use of laughter. Wit and understated humor goes a long way in increasing engagement in a story. And, even if your novel is on the serious side, there will be moments in it that you can lighten it up a bit of subtle humor.

7. The final tip is to "make them cry." Sims aptly notes that, "Lots of books make readers laugh and lots make readers cry, but when readers laugh and cry while reading the same book, they remember it."

The gatekeepers have keen eyes, looking for weaknesses in your manuscript. Use these seven tips to help get pass those gatekeepers.

To read the Writer's Digest article, click the link:
7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great

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

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

You can follow Karen at: LinkedIn and Twitter 

And, be sure to check out Karen's middle-grade fantasy adventure, Walking Through Walls.


Writing Possibilities Abound - If You Persevere

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