Category Archives: Aspiring Writers

Is Getting Published a Matter of Luck?


Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here, and along with it comes wishes for luck. Maybe you’ll buy a  lottery ticket hoping to win the big prize. Maybe you’ll find a rogue and lucky four-leaf clover tucked among the shamrock plants at the garden center. Or maybe you’ll send your query letters out on March 17th wishing for luck to get your book published.

But what is luck really?
The Oxford English dictionary says luck is:

Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Are you relying on luck to get published? If so, you’re playing an endless game of wishing and hoping. Luck is something outside your control. It’s the toss of a coin at the beginning of a football game.

Let me suggest something better. FAITH.
Oxford defines faith as:

Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

That sounds better than luck, doesn’t it? And better yet—Faith is something within your control. You can control how much faith you have in your writing skills, and you can control your confidence in your ability to learn. How? By thinking positively and by trusting God to lead you.

sb5ciWell-known authors have relied on the power of faith. E.B. White, winner of many awards including the National Medal for Literature, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

In the introduction to the tenth anniversary edition of her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron writes: “Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance—often visible to us, but invisible to those around us. Difficult as it is to remember, it is our work that creates the market, not the market that creates our work. Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it.”
This applies not only to artists, but also to writers and anyone else engaging in something creative.

Every word. Every sentence. Every paragraph
is an act of faith.

imagesSo, on this Saint Patrick’s Day I don’t wish you luck! Instead, I pray that you embrace the power of faith.

You have it in your heart to write. Add to that, faith in your God-given ability and confidence in yourself. Keep moving toward your goals. Stop wishing and hoping. Just believe.



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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Inspiration, motivation, St. Patrick's Day, Uncategorized

Five Rejected Books that Survived and Thrived

Thoughts of Labor Day merge with the idea that writing is hard work. Some writers found rejection too hard to handle and quit. Others kept going, believing in their talent. Thank goodness they did; otherwise we might have missed these stories that not only survived, but thrived:


carrie-book-cover-650x1024Stephen King had his first book Carrie rejected 30 times until Doubleday offered him a $2500 advance. Carrie launched King’s career and, like many of his novels, it was made into a feature film.


Have you seen the film “The Help” based on Kathryn Stockett’s book?  Before it became the popular film that movie goers flocked to see, The Help received 60 rejections. After Amy Einhorn Books bought it, Stockett’s novel made the New York Times bestseller list, stayed there for 100 weeks and, so far, has sold over 7million copies.

mashWhen you hear the word “MASH” you likely associate it with the popular television series. The original M*A*S*H, the book written by Richard Hooker, was rejected 21 times. Finally, after many revisions and help from journalist W.C. Heinz, Hooker’s book was published, and four years later MASH showed up on TV screens all across America—the rest is history.


Another languishing manuscript that became famous is the bestselling science fiction novel, Dune. Frank Herbert‘s story received 23 rejections before Chilton Books (a company best known for publishing automotive manuals) picked it up. Dune has sold more than 20 million copies, won numerous literary awards and, of course, made it to the big screen.

wrinkleMadeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time was turned down by 26 publishers who decided the story was too deep for young readers. Farrar, Straus & Giroux finally published the story as a young adult novel, not certain if it belonged there or as a book for adults. Not to worry, both children and adults loved the book! Since then, more than 10 million copies have sold. A Wrinkle in Time won the coveted Newbery Medal and most recently the story was released as a feature film starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

So, on this Labor Day when your thoughts turn to work and a well deserved rest remember this:

Don’t rest too long!
Don’t allow your work in progress languish,
and most important NEVER give up.

Yours might be the next novel to one day make it to the big screen.


I’m taking a couple weeks off from blogging to relax, enjoy the lake and the north woods, and recharge my idea bank. I wish you all a restful Labor Day, and I’ll see you back here soon.


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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Books and Libraries, Dealing With Rejection, Encouragement, Inspiration, Labor Day, motivation, Uncategorized

Three Idioms and a Proverb Guaranteed to Help You Become a Published Author


Listen to every-day-speak, and you’ll hear idioms here, there and everywhere. Yes, idioms are a dime a dozen, and so are proverbs—those little sayings that give advice.

Here are three idioms and a proverb that when put into action can help you become a published author.

In a dream world (idiom)

dreambookIn a dream world, you imagine yourself a published author, and a famous one! Your books are number one on the best-seller lists. You travel the world doing book signings . . . .

But for a dream to become reality, even for that first book to get published, you need to step out of your dream world and into the real world. You will never become a published author by dreaming. It takes work—hard work. So, wake up! Get busy.

Look before you leap. (proverb)

lookYou’ve written a book. Now what? Before you send your manuscript to anyone, learn about how to submit to a publisher or agent. Do your homework and know what you’re doing. Another proverb knowledge is power can lead to another idiom getting your foot in the door.

 Carry the ball (idiom)

11472207-question-wordsCongratulations, you’ve successfully submitted your manuscript and someone is interested in publishing it. Your agent or editor has asked for revisions. Now, it’s up to you to carry the ball. You might think every word you wrote is perfectly right. But remember—agents and editors have reviewed hundreds, even thousands, of manuscripts and they know what makes a good story even better. Another idiom: don’t drop the ball. Instead carry it and work with your agent and editor. A good working relationship is another key to becoming a published author.

It’s about time (idiom)

Time-and-BookThe publishing industry is time driven. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines. All parts fit together like a puzzle. Those final pieces printing the book and shipping it to stores are scheduled well in advance. When deadlines are missed, printing and shipping dates are in jeopardy. Time is money in publishing, and money is lost when books aren’t printed and shipped on time. You can have tons of writing talent, but if you are lazy about deadlines, your first published book might be your last.

Does your plan to become a published author have more holes than Swiss cheese? If you answered yes, then memorize these little bits of wisdom and act on them.

Your pipe dream might turn out to be—
a dream come true.


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Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Inspiration, motivation, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility, Writing goals