Tuesday Tip


tip#1There are a lot of things to consider when you start writing a book: Who will be your agent? Who will design your cover? Who will publish it? But before all of those things, you must decide who will read it.

The decision is yours whether or not to let anyone read your book before it is released, but I believe the best books are those that have had an extra pair of eyes on them, or two or three. I believe the rule of thumb is to have 3 or 4 people read your book (at least one of those should be an editor). You may ask, why not make them wait until it’s finished? Because other people can alert you to problems with your writing such as grammar, spelling, plot, characters, etc. They can identify your strengths as well.

When do you let people read your work

I know a lot of writers who don’t let others read their book until it’s considered “done.” To be honest, I think it’s more beneficial to send a rough draft to them so they can spot plot holes and major character issues before you’ve wasted hours on grammar and re-writes.

How rough is too rough? The term “rough draft” is relative–like the word “pretty.” A lot of people call the first draft the rough draft. I prefer the term “throw away draft” that someone coined on their blog.

This is what many call the first draft. This is your writing when it first crawls out of the primordial ooze, before it gets fully-developed legs and loses its gills. I think this is too rough to send to readers. My suggestion is to revise it once or twice so that you can give them an accurate representation of your writing style, voice, the story, and the plot.

If a draft is too rough, your reader will get so hung up and slowed down by sentence fragments and unfinished thoughts and scenes, they won’t even be able to tackle your big picture. On the flip side, don’t wait until it’s too far along, or you might not be able to make the suggested revisions because you’ve spent so much time on each scene, you won’t be willing to change them. It’s easier to make changes while something is still being developed.

Example: The Lord of the Rings

In early drafts Aragorn was a hobbit and his name was something stupid like Trotter or Fosco. After it was read by another pair of eyes (the editor, or whoever he was), Tolkien agreed that there were too many hobbits in the story. Aragorn was eventually changed to a man and the rest is history.

Characteristics of a good reader

Now that you’ve agreed to let people read it, you must decide who those people should be. Beta readers, critique partners, and experienced writers and editors make the best readers, but what about friends, co-workers, and family? It might be tempting to let everyone you know read it, but you don’t want just anyone and everyone reading your writing. Choose wisely. It’s less of a time waste to find good and bad readers than to sift through good and bad suggestions.

Your readers should possess these traits

  • They should be your target audience
  • Their goal should be to help your writing
  • They should be objective
  • They can criticize constructively
  • They are regular readers
  • They are honest
  • They have good communication skills

Family failures

So looking at this list, it may surprise you that you are more likely to find a good, reliable reader in a complete stranger than your own family. If you think your loved ones don’t lie to you, wait until you hand them a snippet of your writing. Their best and worst qualities will come out. Here’s how:

  • They take it personally
  • They are not constructive
  • They are biased
  • They sugar coat
  • They make it about them and not about your writing
  • They are either upset because they think you wrote about them or because you left them out
  • They are not your target audience
  • They will look for hidden context

Really the list goes on. The only relative I let read my writing is my sister, and I often make the mistake of giving her too much context before reading. Because she is familiar with the plot and characters, she is not technically a fresh pair of eyes. But she is as objective as family can be, and her goal is to improve my story and my writing, not to spare my feelings or make me feel good. Believe me, I don’t come away unscathed by her criticism. I have a bag I put over my head that I drew a meme face on to hide my expression when she critiques. The faces I make behind the bag are much worse.


Where can you find good readers

  • writing groups
  • twitter and other social media sites
  • seminars
  • referrals from other writers you know
  • Google (when all else fails)

Some will be happy to read for free, but be prepared to pay a little for good readers, or you can offer a free download of your book upon release. Gift cards are also nice. Sometimes the only payment expected is for you to return the favor.

So before you design your fancy cover, before you send out queries to agents, put your feelers out for readers. When you are ready for feedback, keep the qualifications in mind. Don’t waste your time with bad readers who will do nothing but offer bad advice. Find people you know will help you polish your work.

Free Fuel Day!


No, not that kind of fuel–writing fuel. You know, coffee!!! You’ll still have to pay today to fill up your car’s tank, but you’ll pay little or nothing to fill up your writer’s tank, because it’s National Coffee Day!


For an entire week, in honor of National Coffee Day, McDonald’s has been giving away free coffee. Today is the last day. Anyone who has had McDonald’s coffee knows it’s not the best. Hell, it might even be the worst. Some days it’s good, some days it’s bad, but hey, it’s free. I’m sure Starbucks will be giving out samples as well, so I’ll be bouncing all over town to get specials–not to mention bouncing off the walls.

Why celebrate coffee? Same reason we celebrate Mother’s day or Administrative Professionals’ Day, to thank this awesome beverage for all it does 365 days a year. It keeps us awake, alert, and ready to write. Thank you, coffee for giving me that kick in the brain I need every morning and every evening.

Right now, I’m enjoying a dollar latte from Coffee Junkeez. Check out your local businesses to see if they are offering free or discounted coffee.

The First Glimpse of Lothlorien, Some History, and Some Doubts


In honor of Tolkien week, I wanted to share this post. If you’re a Tolkien fan, like me, check out this blog.

It's a Dangerous Business, Frodo

Our passage today takes us from the Fellowship’s resting spot in a dell a couple of miles outside Moria, nearly to their camp for the night much closer to Lothlorien (but not quite there). They had to continue to put some distance between themselves and the Orcs, Trolls and Balrog, and so continued walking after nightfall.

We start with Legolas and Aragorn fawning over Lothorien. Gimli expresses a doubt that any Elves still live there, and Legolas seems oddly unsure himself.

‘It is long since any of my own folk journeyed hither back to the land whence we wandered in ages long ago,’ said Legolas, ‘but we hear that Lorien is not yet deserted, for there is a secret power here that holds evil from the land.”

Since Tolkien was basically making this up as he went, he had no prior conception of the Mirkwood Elves originating in Lothorien. In…

View original post 1,096 more words

Thanks For Following


200 followers! I feel like Frodo!

I want to thank all of you who follow me, because today, I have gained  200 followers on both Twitter and WordPress. That’s right, they both got 200 followers on the same day. That’s saying no one unfollows me in the next minute–you know how Twitter can fluctuate like the stock market.

I can’t help noticing how similar this is to the photo above.

My goal was to have 200 followers by the beginning of January. Thanks to all of you, I’ve reached that milestone roughly three months early. So now, I’ll be shooting for 300 by the start of 2015. I love reaching goals and getting to set higher ones. Thank you all for pushing the bar higher. I appreciate all of your follows, likes, and comments.

Tuesday Tip



I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers I follow have been selected for a blog hop where they describe their writing spaces. This is the best blog hop, hands down. Getting to see where writers work is like going to Disney World to see where the “magic” happens, i.e., one artist lazily doodling while the others are on coffee break. I couldn’t help but notice although they all wrote in different places, they all seemed to have similar tools of the trade. I’m still creating my own writing area. I’ve got one room to work with and I don’t have a lot of room for furniture, so I’ve got to make every square inch count. If you’re like me, have no fear, here are some tips for creating your perfect writing place.

Location, Location, Location

A good writer can write anywhere, but let’s face it, some places are more inspiring than others. A lot of us have our best brainstorming sessions in the bathroom, but I don’t recommend setting up shop there. When looking for a location, consider the following:

1. The view

This is important. When you’re brainstorming or just staring off, what do you want in front of you? Do you want a view out of a window, or are windows totally distracting to you? Do you like staring at a blank wall or would this drive you crazy?

2. Noise level

A lot of writers are sensitive to noise. What noise we do allow, we like to control. I like writing to music but not to screaming kids or blaring television. When choosing a room, consider the noises you won’t be able to control, like a room beside a washing machine, water heater, refrigerator, or anything else that grumbles, rattles, and groans. You should avoid rooms that are too close to high-traffic areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and dining rooms. One of the bloggers I follow, who participated in the blog hop, actually wrote from a shed. Talk about privacy and peace and quiet.

3. Distractions

I used to live in a 750 square foot condo, so carving out my own place was impossble. Everywhere I wrote there were distractions. If I wrote on my bed, I fell asleep; if I wrote in the family room, I was privy to all the noise in the house–not to mention I was distracted by my books, everything I could see or hear out my window, my cats, the television, etc. For awhile I wrote in the kitchen. To be honest, the set up was great. I had a big kitchen table my mom refinished for me, so I had plenty of room for notes, books, and food–the latter being the problem. I don’t recommend writing in the kitchen unless you want to get fat instead of getting any writing done. I used to get up a lot to get drinks or snacks. I was right by the fridge; it practically called to me.

4. Color and smell

Studies show that certain colors inspire creativity. Green is supposed to make you more creative. The smell of peppermint is supposed to keep you alert. Therefore, a green wall and a peppermint candle make the perfect combo to help get the creative juices flowing.

The Tools of the Trade

1. A desk or laptop tray You don’t need to have a desk if you like to write on your bed or couch, but I do recommend a laptop tray if you will not be writing with a pen and paper. One reason is for safety. Laptops get very hot and can start fires if left on a soft surface like a couch or bed. Not too long ago I read about a man who died in his home because of the toxic fumes his laptop gave off as it set his house on fire. If you can, purchase a desk. I like corner desk because they take up less space. If you write from a desk you’ll want a comfortable chair as well. When choosing a desk, have an idea of what you will be putting on it, so you know how big it should be. Also, consider if you want drawers and compartments for storage?

2. Lighting

If you don’t get a lot of natural light you will want a floor lamp or a desk lamp. Don’t be like Bach and compose your masterpiece at night with poor lighting. I used to write by candle light, but I don’t recommend it. I might as well have written by moonlight. Oh, the eyestrain! It’s no wonder I can’t read at night anymore. I made a lot of poor lighting choices in the past. For instance, aside from the candle light, I had a lamp with a red shade to match my walls, but I quickly learned this lighting was more for ambience than functionality.

3. Time wasting eliminators

I really couldn’t think of what else to call them. Essentials just sounded to blasé. What I mean by time wasting eliminators is things you need to keep yourself from getting up every five minutes. This could be a trash can, coasters, phone charger, tissue boxes, pen holders, filing cabinets, etc. Anything that prevents you from wasting time. If you have to get up for it, it should be on your writing desk or a nearby table. Keep things within your reach.

4. Accessories

This is where it gets fun. Remember, this is a creative space, not a work place. You can have photos, flowers, knick knacks, toys, stress balls, or whatever you like. On my desk, I will have a light up owl, photo frames, solar owl, Frozen stationary, and a Lego Legolas.

A Portable Writing Place

So what about if you are a writer on the go? It might be hard to take all that stuff and put it in the car. Sometimes relocation is stimulating, even if you just go to the café down the street or a local park, but it’s counterproductive if you get to your destination and realize you left something essential at home.

Create a writing bag

I recommend a messenger bag or a canvas bag: Something large enough to fit a laptop, large notebook, reference books, etc.  I have an adorable messenger bag I got from Kmart that has owls on it (because I love owls). Inside the front flap is a place for small notebooks and pens. There’s other compartments inside where I can put snacks, my wallet, phone, etc.

Keep a checklist

I recommend putting this in your writing bag so you can check it before you leave to make sure everything is ready to go. Which brings me to the next topic.

What should you bring?

  • laptop (if you use one to write) MAKE SURE IT’S CHARGED
  • notebooks (for writing the old fashioned way or for keeping notes)
  • pens (to write, scratch with, and chew on, of course)
  • folders (for notes, concept art, or loose pieces of paper)
  • reference books (if there is a book you constantly reach for when you write at home, take it with you)
  • snacks (don’t write hungry)
  • beverage (I recommend water)
  • ear plugs or ear buds (if you want to block out sound or listen to music)

When you’re done, you should have a space that does not irritate, confuse, or drain you, but a place that makes you feel inspired, creative, alert, and ready to write.

I can’t wait to finish my writing space. When I do, I’ll be sure to take a lot of pictures to share with you. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about our perfect writing place. What do you have on your desk? Where do you write?

What Would Your Book Be Banned For?


imagesCA49UIDNHappy Banned Books Week! For those of you who aren’t familiar, this week falls on the last week of September and is dedicated to raising awareness and celebrating freedom of speech in literature. To be honest, most of you have probably heard of Banned Books Week, or at least you’ve read a banned book (either because it was banned or simply because it was an awesome book). Some of you may have even written a book that would top the Banned Book list. For fun, please take the poll below. If you could have your book banned for any reason, what would it be?

Tuesday Tip


tip#1It’s Tuesday again–time for another tip. I’m going to apologize, because I started writing this today, which is a big mistake, but also a great learning experience. Many of my Tuesday tips actually come from writing them.

Long story short, I had been working on a draft for two days; however, there was no way I was going to get it polished in time to be a Tuesday tip (Wednesday perhaps, but that isn’t the name of this post). So I had to think of a new topic last minute, which got me thinking. How many of you post the same day you write the draft? How many of you like to put a full night’s sleep between you and your draft before posting so you can go back and look at it with a fresh mind?

I’m taking my own advice today by creating this post using a 5 step method that I normally utilize. Although I recommend taking two to three days to write a post (one day to research and outline, one to finish the draft, and the next to edit and revise), this method will allow you to write a well-structured post in a couple of days or in a last-minute pinch.

Step 1 Outline

It’s important to outline. If you don’t know what needs to be said and when, putting your draft together might look something like this:


  1. choose a subject
    1. something you are passionate about.
    2. something you know a lot about
    3. something you’ve recently talked about with other people
    4. a current trend
  2. decide tone and style
    1. formal/informal
    2. serious, playful, professional, etc
    3. consider audience
    4. consider prior post
    5. consider your topic
  3. research
    1. what you don’t know
    2. what others have said on the topic
    3. sources (keep a list and links)

This last part can take an hour or more, which is why I suggest researching and outlining the first day, and drafting the next.

Step 2 Create the structure

This is where you take those bare bones and put them together to form a skeleton. Create your headings and subheadings. This will help you keep your thoughts organized when you go to write. For instance, let’s say you were writing a post about auto insurance for beginners. Your structural outline might look like this:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why you need auto insurance
  3. Coverages
    1. liability
      1. property damage
      2. bodily injury
    2. comprehensive and collision
      1. deductibles
      2. exclusions
    3. uninsured underinsured
    4. medical
    5. towing and rental reimbursement
  4. How to save money on auto insurance
    1. discounts
    2. compare rates
    3. combine policies
    4. safe driving
  5. Conclusion

Step 3 Write

Just write off-the cuff. I do recommend writing in order. Start with your introduction. Try to hook your reader as well as clearly state what you will be writing about. Fill in the headings and subheadings. Because there’s already an outline, it’s like filling in the blanks of a multiple choice quiz. Lastly, write your conclusion. Re-emphasizes main points and tie it back to your introduction. This is also a great place to call your readers to action, even if it is just to encourage them to comment and share.

Do not edit as you write. Your writing will be more natural and sound less robotic or contrived if you just write what you think as you think. Write quickly, fast enough to keep up wth your thoughts. What you write may be rough, nonsensical, even off topic, but just get the words down. Get all your thoughts out. Trust me, some of them will be good.

Step 4 Edit

You’ve spent all that time prepping, and now it’s time for surgery. Go back and tweak, chop, hack, burn, add and remove words until you are left with something that gets your message across. You are looking for the same things you would if you were editing your novel or a research paper.

  1. sentence flow
  2. redundancies
  3. spelling and grammar errors
  4. readability
  5. structure
  6. relevancy (make sure everything contributes to the big picture)

Step 5 The final touches

This is like adding jewelry and accessories to your wardrobe.

  1. choose images (it’s google time!)
  2. assign a  category
  3. don’t forget tags
  4. create links if you need them

Now you are ready to click publish. Don’t forget to share your post on twitter, Facebook, and other writing platforms that you have. Hopefully you found this helpful, and you don’t find yourself in a bind like I did. Follow the 5-step method and you’ll have a perfectly polished post by the day you need to publish it.

The Versatile Blogger Award


This has been a good month for my blog. I reached my one-year anniversary; I’ve surpassed personal records for views, likes, and comments; and I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.

I was nominated by Lori Maclaughlin, a fellow writer and Tolkien/fantasy fan. I’ve enjoyed reading her post, and so will you. Please check her out.versatile-blogger


The requirements are to list seven random facts about myself and nominate 15 other bloggers I’ve recently started following. Here goes . . .

Random Facts:

  1. I have a twin sister who also writes.  I get “twin senses” or fancy panic attacks whenever my sister is in danger. I consider myself a little psychic, or at least when it comes to my twin.  Check out her blog at http://litchicblog.wordpress.com/
  2. I love owls, Frozen, and The Hobbit. By “love” I mean obsess, really. If I see Frozen, Hobbit, or owl stuff, I have to buy it. Needless to say, my bathroom and bedroom are decorated in owls, and owls are invading the family room and the kitchen. Also, I know all of the songs from Frozen, even the bad ones.
  3. Aside from writing, I’m very good at drawing–or at least I used to be. It’s been awhile. About a year ago I sketched some concept art for my WIP. Since then, my only artistic endeavor has been on my son’s magnet doodle board.
  4. I was born with cataracts. No, I’m not blind, and yes, I can see. I know what you’re imagining, and I am not squinting two inches from my computer screen. There’s a healthy foot of distance between me and the technology.
  5. I love to sing, which my son loves and my sister hates. Maybe it’s my voice or the genre of music I favor. What’s so random about this fact? Well, I can sing in a deep man voice despite the fact that I have the body of a 12-year old boy. I think I fall between a man’s tenor and baritone, like Josh Groban. lol My favorite songs to sing are from The Phantom and Les Mis, which are my son’s favorite bedtime songs.
  6. Halloween is my favorite holiday. If you’ve ever watched Roseanne you’ll get a glimpse of what my family is like. This month, I’ve spent a paycheck on Halloween decorations. I’m also planning an elaborate costume that will match my sister’s.
  7. I don’t wear any makeup. I feel like that is a rare thing these days, because it seems like most women wear at least a little. With no statistics or percentages to back it up, I’m sure It’s still pretty safe to say I’m an oddity. My morning face matches my evening face: How many people can say that? I thought the older I got, the more I’d be tempted to wear it, but I’ve noticed the reverse. From one who has been all over the spectrum of ugly and beautiful, I’m just comfortable and accepting of how I look.

And my Nominees are . . .

  1. James D. Roberts offers his thoughts on writing, as well as advice. I really enjoy his writing style and his wit–and so will you.
  2. Nicholas Rossis writes children’s stories, sci-fi, and fantasy. I also follow him on Twitter, which is how I found out he had a blog.
  3. Roger Colby is a teacher and a writer. You’ll enjoy his blog. The title says it all “Writing Is Hard Work.”
  4. Ryan Lanz has a great blog for writing tips and information. I visit his blog for inspiration. That word pops up a lot in his post, so if you need some, you’ll know where to go.
  5. Christine Campbell is a published author, and I learn a lot about marketing, blogging, and self publishing from her post.
  6. the writerscafe247 is a very creative and fun blog that reminds me that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary act.
  7. Therin Knite  This is where I go to find awesome Indie books to purchase. Check it out.
  8. Tara Sparling is very knowledgeable about writing trends. Her post are fun and informative. If you aren’t following her, you should be.
  9. James writes for fans of Tolkien. If you want sneak peeks of the Hobbit movie, this is where to go to see the latest trailer, posters, rumors, etc.
  10. Dylan Hearn  is another talented author I follow on Twitter. Check out his blog.
  11. Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog is all about author connection and promotion. This is a great blog to find writing and editing advice.
  12. Roy Jacobsen writes great post about writing and editing. This is probably one of the best blogs for grammar advice.
  13. Steph Snow Her picture says it all. She offers unfiltered thoughts on writing and other topics.
  14. Kev Cooper is a fellow writer–and cat lover. He is a great writer to connect with.
  15. Chris McMullen is an experienced writer. Her blog is perfect if you want good advice and inspiration.

If you are nominated or would like to nominate someone for this award please visit:


Where Did the Time Go?


So, I did something that would be taboo in a marriage: I forgot my one-year anniversary. I started my blog a year ago on September 5, 2013. It is now the 13th, so I’m roughly eight days late. My anniversary fell on a Friday, so I know why I missed it. It was a busy day at work, I was figuring out a new visitation schedule for my son, and, as I’ve mentioned in another post, my family has been dealing with a serious illness. So between doctor appointments and flip-flopping schedules, it’s no wonder my anniversary fell under my radar. (And yet I remember when McDonald’s will be giving away free coffee and when GoT season 4 will be on DVD.)

My motto this month has been celebrate the small stuff, like baking banana bread with my mom, getting my office organized, etc. So I’m going to have a little belated one-year anniversary celebration.

imagesWhat did I accomplish this year, and what’s in store for next year? My very first blog post was about a write-in I had with my sister and her friend from college. I really enjoyed connecting with Sarah Wright, and getting to discuss writing and blogging. Sarah was actually the one who convinced me and my sister that blogging is essential to a writer’s platform. Please check out her blog at http://smwright.wordpress.com/

 I wrote my first post during the write-in; since then, I’ve written over 60 post and connected with over 200 writers, readers, and bloggers with WordPress. It’s been a great experience. I feel like I’m part of a writing community.

Since that first post, I’ve talked about writing: the ups and downs, challenges and accomplishments, and what to do and what not to do. In July, I started my first weekly feature: Tuesday Tips. I’ve had a lot of good response to these, so I will keep doing them until I run out of advice. Aside from helping other writers, I’d also like to support and promote them as well. I want to start a feature where I ask authors a question. Kind of like an author interview, but with one question that focuses on a particular strength I feel the writer has. This will be a great opportunity for them to help other writers by sharing their strengths as well as promote themselves, their writing, and gain exposure.

I’d also like to feature a poet a month. I’ve read some great poetry on WordPress, and I’d like to give poets a chance to spotlight a poem of their choice.

The third feature is a collaboration with my sister called “Twin Talk.” We are super excited about this feature, which would appear on both our blogs. We realize we aren’t using our twin gimmick enough. I mean, how awesome is it that I have an identical twin who also likes to write and blog and talk about writing! We’d like to pick one topic a month and discuss it and post our discussion on our blogs. The only reason we haven’t started this yet is because we need web cams or something to record our chats so we can upload the videos. Any advice on this would be welcome.

What do you like about my blog? What would you change? Any thoughts? Also, if you are interested in being featured on my blog, please let me know either in the comments below, via twitter, or the contact section I will be updating shortly.

Thank you all for making this a wonderful blogging year.