Category Archives: Aspiring Writers

How a Potato Launched My Writing Career

[One of my favorite posts from 2015]

Everyone knows that potatoes have eyes—those little dimples on the skin that sprout potato plantlings—but did you know that potatoes have legs?

I remember a sunny Saturday morning when I was a kid watching my mom peel potatoes at the kitchen sink. As the sharp peeler scraped the potatoes bare, I saw Mom dig out tiny, green bumps.

“Are those warts?” I asked.

“No, they’re eyes,” said Mom.

“How come potatoes have eyes?”

“Because little potato plants grow from the eyes,” she said.

“You’re cutting off the babies? You’re killing them!”

Just then, I’d realized that a potato was a living thing, a mother with babies sprouting from her eyes! (How weird was that?) And my mom was ripping the skin off that mother potato, digging the babies out of her eyes, and throwing them away like garbage. Then she cut that mother potato into pieces and boiled her in water.

Oh, the agony of it all!
The inhumanity!

Was I being a bit dramatic?

Yes.

Did Mom suggest that I go outside and play?

She did.

But, instead I went to my room, and I wrote a story about that potato sprouting legs and running away from my evil mother. With my limited knowledge of how to put words onto paper I wrote:

POTATO LEGS

Mom try to kill her
She run away
Run Potato Legs run.
The end.        

And that’s how my writing career began. Many more stories followed “Potato Legs” and today I can’t think of any better activity than to write.

Every writer has that one eureka moment that sparks his or her need to write.

Sometimes it’s a what-if question that begs to be answered. (What if potatoes had legs?)

Other times, a tragedy needs to bleed out shedding its anger and grief. (Dave Pelzer’s “A Child Called It” comes to mind.)

The need to write might come from reading a poorly written book. (“I could write better than that!”)

Or from the desire to be heard. (Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”)

But most often, inspiration comes from encouragement. (“Hey! You should write a book!”)

How about you?
When was your eureka moment?
Why do you write?

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Uncategorized, Why write?, writing, Writing goals

5 Tips to Help You Get Published

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The question I’m most often asked is: Can you help me to get published? If you mean can I connect you with specific publishers, editors or agents to help you get published, my answer is no. But I can give you five quick tips that might help.

1, Do you need an agent? The short answer is it depends.

Whether or not you need an agent depends on what you are trying to sell to a publisher. If you hope to publish your work with a well-known trade book publisher (The “Big 5” in the U.S. are Hachette Book Group, Harper-Collins, Macmillan, Penguin/Random House, Simon & Schuster) then you definitely need an agent; but, if you are aiming for a small or niche publisher, you might not need one.

Most publishers post guidelines for submissions on their web pages. If a publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, you may only approach them through an agent. WritersMarket.com is the best tool for finding publishers and their guidelines. (Subscribe online for $5.99/month and cancel any time.)

2. Fiction and nonfiction have different paths to publication.

31d444fc17ab9e199629f67ac4dd9cb3d1b71875_hqAn agent will often want to see a complete manuscript for a work of fiction or a memoir, but for most nonfiction works, a book proposal will be enough. Before you pitch either to an agent, make sure that you are submitting your best work. If you aren’t familiar with writing a solid, convincing book proposal, then learn to write one before you approach an agent. I can’t stress enough how important this is!

Research agents to find which accept the kind of work you are submitting. A good place to start is PublishersMarketplace.com. (Subscription: $25/month, no long-term commitment.)

3. Be meticulous when preparing your submission.

Depending on
* what you are submitting,
* the publisher’s guidelines
* and an agent’s requirements,
you might be asked for any of the following: a query letter, a book proposal, a synopsis and sample chapters. Again—if you aren’t proficient in writing a query letter, proposal and synopsis, learn to do so! These items are KEY to getting your book published.

4. Self-publishing is an option.

Woman holding traditional book and e-book readerOnline services exist that make it relatively easy and inexpensive for authors to self-publish their books and make them available as e-books and also paperbacks. Some of the more popular services are Amazon KDP, PronounDraft2Digital, and CreateSpace.

Self-publishing allows you to make all the decisions. You are not only the author, but also your editor and marketing manager.

5. Getting published takes work—long, hard work! My most important tip is DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t rush. Plan your path to publication.

In my opinion, one of the best starting points for researching how to get published is Jane Friedman’s blog. (I often repost her articles on my Facebook author page.) Jane’s site is a goldmine of detailed information. I suggest making it your starting point. Go there, and spend time reading and learning about the business of publishing.

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles
and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, Writing goals, Writing Tips

Transitioning Your Writing from Hobby to Career—the Cold, Hard Truth

highres_244142317Is fear stopping you from turning your writing hobby into a career? Then it’s time to put on your big girl or big boy pants and stop being afraid. Accept the cold, hard truth that the transition won’t be easy—then muster your confidence and say, “But I can do it!”

A writing career is a journey. There will be mountains, valleys, and exhilarating straightaways. It’s frustrating, wildly fulfilling, exciting, and frightening.

The transition will take time. Many would-be authors fail because they rush to submit their work before it’s ready. Don’t send your first manuscript to an agent or editor until you’ve done the research. Discover what it takes to get published. Be patient.

Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writer’s Digest, has an excellent web page for writers. Read her blog post: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published.

Writing is a craft to be learned. Read about writing. Here are five books to get you started:

  • Stephen King’s On Writing
  • William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style
  • Annie Dillard. The Writing Life
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser

While you learn the craft also read books in the genre in which you want to write. Study how the authors’ work reflects what you’ve learned.

Visit New York Times best-selling author, Nicholas Sparks’ (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe) web page where he offers advice about the craft and business of writing.

imagesWriting is a craft developed through practice. There are always ways to improve your writing… always better ways to say something. Whenever you edit and rewrite, you practice the craft. To transition from a hobby writer to a professional you need to realize that editing and rewriting (a lot!) is essential.

Accept that you will fail. The first time you get negative feedback. The first rejection letter. The first bad review. Expect it. Deal with it. Don’t dwell on it. Professional writers learn to live with rejection.

“Rejection has value. It teaches us when our work or our skill set is not good enough and must be made better . . . Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” – Chuck Wendig, author of Star Wars: Aftermath

1173079_165591560470377_584163750_nDon’t quit your day job. Whether you want to be a multi-book novelist or a freelance writer, understand that building a career takes time. Plan to spend a specific amount of time every day working toward your goal. Remember—slow and steady wins the race.

It won’t be easy. That’s the cold, hard truth.
But—can you do it?
YES! YES, YOU CAN!!

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Are you on Facebook? Check out my page where I post daily articles and inspiration for writers.
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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Movtivation, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, writing, Writing craft, Writing goals, Writing Tips