Writing Smackdown

Author's Note: Wow. It's been a long time since I last posted or had anyone else post. Oops. I promise to be better...

So, I'm participating in Savvy Authors/Entangled Publishing's Smackdown. It's a week-long basic training to work with Entangled editors in getting a novel ready to write and finish for NaNoWriMo in November. A friend of mine did this last year, and she said it really helped her learn how to write faster. Oh, and she also got a contract with Entangled. :)

When I first signed up, I was planning on working on a current novel, the first in a planned series of three. I know the characters, their GMC, the plot, etc. Well...yesterday, Savvy sent the participants an email letting us know that this had to be a brand new story, one that we haven't started writing yet. 


So, I went to Plan B, which was to work on Book 2 of aforementioned series. Now, all I knew about this story was the basic hook, the characters, and their GMCs. I usually don't write synopses until I've written much of the first draft as I'm mostly a pantser. I spent an agonizing day yesterday trying to figure out what the hell my characters were going to do to get from Point A to Z. But I finally did it, and turned it in just a few minutes before the midnight deadline.

Well. The editors assigned to my team read the synopsis this morning, thought it was a nice idea...but it didn't really fit the line we are trying to write for. It was too sweet and smalltownish for the sexy Indulgence line.


I quickly brainstormed a new idea that might fit better and ran it by them, asking if I could write another synopsis. Yes, as long as I turned it in by midnight tonight.


So I spent all day today brainstorming and starting a story from scratch. Then wrote a synopsis for it. Usually, I have an idea in my head for a few weeks/months/or years before I even take pen to paper and start fleshing out the characters. But today, I came up with an idea, characters, GMCs and wrote a friggin synopsis. All in one day. :) And I LOVE the story I came up with. I'm so excited to write this book.

I'll find out tomorrow if the editors like it. I sure hope they do. I'll definitely keep you posted.

Let the Smackdown begin.

Q & A with author Jess Buffett

Thanks for being here today, Jess.
Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Hmmm, what can I say about myself...I was born and raised in New South Wales, Australia. I married my high school sweetheart and we live on the Central Coast with our two children. I am absolutely a hopeless romantic who loves stories about true love that sizzle with a happy ending (which is probably a good thing given what I write). I'm a huge fan of M/M and M/F romance—anything with hunky men in all their glory, whether they be Shifters, Vampires, Cowboys, or the boy next door. I'm a firm believer in soul mates, happily ever after’s, and in love at first sight, but that sometimes people need a second or a third for the brain to catch up. 

Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

Yeah. I really can be. People might be surprised that I struggle to get myself out there. That I sometimes worry over something as simple as a post on Facebook, or asking someone to help.

In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?

I have trouble getting out there and noticed. Whether it be by email or PM, the first time I ask someone if I could be on their blog or even send a friend request, I get nervous. I’ve only just gotten comfortable enough to ask, and even then it is usually by posting something in a general forum, not directly.

In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

I’m not sure if it has helped with my writing career, but my writing career has helped me not be so shy anymore.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

Advertising. When The Kayan’s Mage was released, I had a lot of friends help me out with the promo so I was lucky, but then I realized it was everywhere which is kind of the point. But the whole time I kept waiting for someone to say “would you quit it already!” And asking for help was really hard. Thankfully there are so many nice people out there willing to offer help. 

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

It probably covers both, but when I told people I was writing, and even more so I was writing M/M. Opening myself up like that to people who knew me was pretty scary.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you? 

Make as many friends with other authors as you can, no matter how out of your comfort zone that is. At the end of the day they will be the ones who stand by you, understand you, and help you when you need it. Just make sure you are never too busy to return the favor.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

Hunter Clan 2 – Riley’s Vampire Prince will be out May 22nd:

BLURB - Riley McLeod has never gotten over the loss of his family to murderous Vampires, and often hides behind his sarcasm and carefree attitude. So imagine his shock when he discovers he is not only mated to one, but his mate is the Prince of the Vaucluse Coven.

When Caleb Vaucluse arrived at the Hunter Clan, he never expected to meet his mate. His joy soon turns to devastation when he learns that Riley fears him. Caleb struggles to get passed Riley’s defences and prove that they are meant to be. Unfortunately just as they come together, pride and old wounds prove hard to overcome for the pair, and threaten to tear them apart for good.

As an enemy is revealed and more questions are raised, Caleb and Riley have choice to make. Do they keep their pride and stand alone, or stand together and embrace the love fate gave to them?

Where can my readers find you on the web?

Author links:






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Social Media for Shy Writers

by Regan Walker

What is it we shy writers have in common? We aren’t comfortable being “out there” promoting ourselves
and we’re happy being at home alone with our books and our writing. And perhaps some of us are not so comfortable with social media in general. Not “tech savvy” as one of my author friends says. But we can’t afford to remain ignorant. And, if we have trouble promoting ourselves, would the same be true if we were talking about our children or our grandchildren? Perhaps not. So, why not consider your books your children? After all, you endured pain to bring your stories into the world just like children and you love them. I’ve no doubt about that.

These days, publishers expect you to promote your own books. You can’t afford to bury your head in the sand and just hope your new “child” will sell. You have to show the world why they should buy your book. What makes your novels interesting? What research did you do to write them? What is so fascinating about your characters?

I suggest the minimalist approach for a romance writer just stepping her toe into the world of social media. Here are my short steps to what you might want to try at first as you step one toe in the water at a time:

1. Pick your name. Decide what your name and persona you show to the world will be as an author. You don’t want a Facebook page that is full of your personal life. So, assuming you have a pen name, that will be the name you use to set up Facebook and Twitter author accounts, the two I recommend you start with. You can still have a separate personal account where you share family news but best not to combine them. 

2. Get a good picture taken. I suggest a professional picture—a headshot. I like the ones with dark backgrounds highlighting the author’s face, but whatever you do, keep it uncomplicated. It will be the photo you use for all promotion, Facebook, blog tours, etc. so make it a good one. 
3. Get an email address that has your author name in it. You want publishers and other authors to recognize your message as coming from you. I have five email addresses, each for different purposes. The one I use with my editor and publisher and with my website has my author name in it. 
4. Set up a Facebook account. It’s not hard. Facebook has lots of help in the short steps to your new Facebook identity. Try starting here: http://www.facebook.com/help/345121355559712. Once you have an account, you can “upload” a picture and banner picture. It is not hard to do this and online tutorials are available. Here’s my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104
Once you have an account, you can search for and connect with other writers, even friends and those who support your writing. There is a “search” box on Facebook to do this. Once you’re connected with others, watch what they post and see what you find interesting. Sometimes it’s just a pretty picture, or words of encouragement. 
The point is you are making friends one by one in the cyber world. And to make friends you must be a good friend, encouraging and complimenting others. Also, comment on the posts of others; let them know you agree with them or like their book cover or just found what they said helpful. That will “introduce” you to them. Eventually, you can do your own posts. On Facebook, pictures are better than just words alone. 
Do not over post or over promote. And don’t post where you and your husband are having dinner unless it is really interesting and others would want to know. A post or two a day—at most—is enough. I have “unfriended” people on Facebook and “unfollowed” people on Twitter who overpost. 
5. Set up a Twitter account. Again, there is a lot of online help to tell you how to do this. You can start here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter#. If you are not yet published, describe yourself as an aspiring writer and active reader, perhaps indicating the genre you like. Then you can search for those interested in the same genre. “Follow” everyone who “follows” you so you’re connected. Then watch what people post. Eventually you can use Twitter to promote your work but in the meantime, look at the Tweets you find helpful and why—that will tell you what you’ll want to Tweet when you get around to it. Here’s my Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview
6. Even before you have a book published, I recommend setting up an author website. You’ll need a domain name that can be had for about $10 for the first year. Make sure your name is in it. Mine is reganwalkerauthor.com. There are sites like Weebly.com (the one I used) and Wordpress.com that have premade, beautiful design templates all done for you and very user-friendly tutorials on how to set them up. And you can get your domain name through them but I got mine at Register.com. Best of all, Weebly and Wordpress are free. Might be a Saturday project but you can do it. Of course, if you can afford to pay a technical type to do it for you, great. But I like the fact I can update my own site—and it’s free. Here’s mine: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com

Publishers want to know you have a presence on the Internet… that if they publish your book, you have some ability to promote it.
7. Join some email loops. If you’re a member of Romance Writers of America or other writers’ group, they’ll have an email loop that will have your inbox full of their chatter. You can see what’s of interest to you and delete the rest. Your local chapter will also have a loop. Join them and be an active participant. One I recommend for romance authors is Savvy Authors. They are very supportive of aspiring and new authors. 
8. Should you have a blog? Ok, I left this till last because I know for most shy writers and busy people this is the most daunting. The premade website designs usually come with a blog option, making it easy to add one. Before you consider it, however, decide what you would do on a blog. Would you promote other authors? Would you post interesting articles for readers? authors? What? Every blog has a personality. 
I have an author blog connected to my website that basically just shouts out “news.” My real, working blog is my Regan’s Romance Reviews site. I had this blog long before my first book was published. I love helping other readers of historical romance find the good ones. My site  is dedicated to doing just that. It’s a labor of love. Yes, you can see my books on the site but that is not its main function and my followers and the 4000 folks who look at my blog each month are looking to find something of interest to them. If you don’t want to do a blog on your own, you can always go together with a few other authors to do one together. There are many of those and it makes it easy to share the work. 
9. Appear on the blogs of others. Even if you never have your own blog, you will want to be on the blogs of others to promote yourself or your books, but you have to find something to say more than “buy my book.” Comment on the posts of others; be encouraging. Develop some interesting posts of your own. I am a member of the Beau Monde Regency authors chapter of RWA and they have a blog—not to promote books but to provide information on the Regency era. I have made good use of my research for my novels by writing articles of interest on Regency Theatres, Valentine’s Day in Regency London and most recently, The Last Revolution in England—the Pentrich Rebellion of 1817. When the Beau Monde blog posts one of my articles, I “Tweet” it and post a link to the article on Facebook. 
I hope this has helped you. While none of it is new, I tried to provide some simple steps that will get you “out there” to tell the world why they should want to own your books!

* * * * *

Blurb for Against the Wind:
 A night in London’s most exclusive bordello. Agent of the Crown Sir Martin Powell would not normally indulge, but the end of his time spying against Napoleon deserves a victory celebration. Yet, such pleasure will not come cheap. The auburn-haired courtesan he calls “Kitten” is in truth Katherine, Lady Egerton, a dowager baroness and the daughter of an earl as elusive as she is alluring. She flees a fate worse than death. But Martin has known darkness, too, and he alone can touch her heart--as she has touched his. To the English Midlands they will steal, into the rising winds of revolution.
Available now!

Regan's bio: As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.
Find Regan on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Q & A with author SS Hampton, Sr.

Thanks for being here today, Stan. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Thank you for having me.
Well, I am a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. I am a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army, and the Army Individual Ready Reserve (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War). I enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004 and was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years, including Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). I have been writing most of my life—first published in 1992 after which nothing else happened until 2001. I am about to retire from the Guard so my second career goals include being an aspiring painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, I miss the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada, I officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran. 

Thank you so much for your service! Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 

I was once shy (lacking confidence) and very introverted (still somewhat introverted). But as ruling personality traits, I would say no more.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

The public relations and/or marketing aspect. Unless you are a “big name” author most such activities are undertaken by you. Many people, as I do, write a lot of blog guest postings. Others, as I do, establish Author Pages at Amazon US and UK, and Facebook pages; we never miss the opportunity to let people know where they can find our work. Others do book signings at local bookstores and libraries. The list goes on and on. To me, all of this is harder than writing and editing.

I SO agree with you there. Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

That is easy: falling in love. As for “had to step outside”—that sounds like a choice, and such a circumstance, I believe, is not a choice. It happens. It is wonderful and frightening at the same time. It is a risk, sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessful. And, that is all I will say about that.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you (whether you’re shy/introverted or not)?

First, there is nothing wrong with being shy or introverted—as long as they are not your dominant traits and you make decisions due to those traits. If you are going to be a writer, you need to develop a thick skin for the publisher rejections to come and those readers and reviewers who do not care for your writings once you are in print. You will need to get out in public to “hawk your wares” (I hope I used the right phrase) and that will require personal modesty, the ability to make a good impression on people, sense what they may be looking for, and projecting an air of friendly confidence. No room for shyness and introversion as dominant traits. 

Oh yes. Never sell yourself short even if someone calls your work “disappointing.” You already have the best validation there is: a valid publisher has accepted your work, sent you a contract, and is willing to invest the time, money, artwork, and editing necessary to turn your manuscript into the best possible story it can be.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

“An Incident on MSR Tampa”

BLURB: Halloween Night, 2006 – a resupply convoy commanded by the Air Force and escorted by Army gun trucks, is leaving Kuwait for Baghdad. The lonely desert highway north is MSR Tampa, a bloody highway along which for years the convoys suffered insurgent attacks. And on MSR Tampa there is a particular wooded bend that no one speaks of, though many know of its haunted reputation, a reputation given new life by a gun truck crew testing a new generation of enhanced night vision goggles…

Buy here

Where can my readers find you on the web?

First, a lot of the guest blogging I have done in the past year can be found if you Google “author SS Hampton, Sr.” Otherwise, I can be found at the below sites:

Melange Books
Musa Publishing 
MuseItUp Publishing 
Amazon.com Author Page 

Amazon.com UK Author Page 

Starting Week 4 of... The Artist's Way

Well, I have three weeks of AW under my belt now. If you've joined me, how are you doing?

Week 3 Check-in:
Morning pages? Yes. Every single day. At least 3 pages. Sometimes more. They're still mostly a running To Do list of things I "should" do or want to do, but I'm working on writing about my WIP, trying to work through plot issues, setting goals, etc.

I did write a lot about one of Week 3's topics: anger. I am very angry with myself. Angry for wasting so much time these past few years, thinking and talking more about writing than actually writing. Spending time trying to build my blogs/FB/Twitter followings when I should be spending that time writing. In an ideal world, I could do it all, but it's not an ideal world. I'm not organized enough to do it all.

Artist Date? Yes, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd expected to. I spent an hour at the local dollar store, going up and down every aisle looking for bargains. I did find some bargains, but I had to force myself not to speedwalk through the store. Felt like a waste of time.

Synchronicity? Well, in an un-writing-related thing, every day I drive over the railroad tracks to get to work. And every day, I think to myself as I'm swerving to avoid the mega pothole against the metal rails, "I sure wish the city would fix this." Well, early last week, I said that aloud, rather than to myself, and on the way home that very day, there was a road crew working to fill the hole. So...I guess that's synchronicity, eh? I'd prefer some with my writing, but there you go. Maybe there's been some and I've been too dense to see it...

Did I do all/any of the tasks? Um, not too many. Only a couple of them "spoke" to me. The other ones I thought were stupid and a waste of time. Which probably means I need them most, but I doubt I'll ever go back and do them.

Any other issues? Yeah. I've realized I belong to certain groups and have certain acquaintances who don't make me feel good about myself and my writing career. It's not necessarily anything they're doing, but how I feel about myself around them. It's my insecurity. Until I deal with that, I'm going to step back from those groups/people.

Starting WEEK 3 of the ARTIST'S WAY

First, my check in from Week 2.

Morning Pages? Yes, I did them daily. I am trying to be more positive in them rather than using them as a bitch session. They are still somewhat of a glorified To Do list, though. I spend so much time day dreaming in the pages, talking about all the things I want to do and should do. What I need is a little less talk, and a lot more action (love that song BTW).

Artist Date? Sort of. I went for a drive the and listened to an old RWA workshop on tape--It's my process and I'll cry if I want to...by Jane Porter and Lillian Darcy. This is a great workshop that really spoke to me. Jane and Lillian talked about how their processes suck, how most authors' processes suck. And they go on to explain why. And I was set free LOL, because MY process sucks. I keep trying to change my writing process, but no matter what I do to it, it's a hot mess. But somehow, some way, I always seem to end up with a pretty good product. Maybe I just need to accept that writing does NOT come easily to me, that writing a first draft is NOT fun, and get over myself. Eh?

Any other issues? I have actually been writing every day consistently. Some days for just 15 minutes (I use a timer--that's my minimum time committment). But I still tend to put off my writing until the end of the day when I'm tired and would rather be reading a good book rather than writing a shitty one... Oh, that's being negative, isn't it?

Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
It's about listening to our anger. "In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of breath," says Julia Cameron. She says if we really think about it, we can usually figure out what our anger is trying to tell us.

My anger is telling me to quit being a dumbass. I'm angry at myself for wasting so much time. If I spent half the time writing that I do THINKING about writing, I'd have much more to show for it. I'm also angry at myself for all the times I've been envious of other writers' successes. It's not those other writers I'm mad at--it's me. And I'm not jealous--to me, that implies I begrudge them their success. I don't. If they worked hard, they deserve to succeed. But I worked hard for YEARS and didn't reach the level of success I desire. So yes, I'm envious. But I let my pity party evolve into a huge blockage, and now I'm not doing what it takes to succeed. As I said earlier, time to get over myself.

This chapter also talks about synchronicity, my favorite thing. Synchronicity is simply answered prayers/dreams. When a door closes, somewhere God/the universe opens a window. You just have to be looking for that open window. And you also need to be willing to go through that open window.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this week. I'm more hopeful about my writing than I have been in a long time, so that's a good thing. And I'm also getting the itch to paint/draw again and play the piano...

Artist's Way Week 2

One week down, eleven to go. I'm glad there are a lot of weeks left, because I need a lot of help. :)

First, I'll start with my check in for Week 1. I did my morning pages every day. I can't imagine a morning without them. I tried really hard to not make them a glorified To Do list. I tried to actually write about issues I was having, and to write about my WIP and problems I'm having with it. By the end of the week, I'd figured some things out with my WIP. Which is good. Was it enough to get me writing every day? Uh, no.

I didn't really go on an Artist's Date, because the definition of an AD says it must be done alone. I did, however, go to three Oscar-nominated movies and watched the Academy Awards last night. Those are all artsy endeavors. Did I do them alone? No. Do they count as Artist's Dates? This week, they do.

I did most of the tasks. I didn't like the ones about our creative monsters in our pasts, so I didn't put much effort into those. I don't know why I resisted these. It probably means those are the tasks I need to do most...

I really liked all the information in Chapter 1 about positive self talk. I try to pound this into the heads of my personal training clients (I'm a personal fitness trainer in my day job)--if you're mean to yourself and put yourself down, you'll never reach your goals. Do I practice what I preach? No. So I've written affirmations most days and try to remember to read them throughout the day. Is it working? Not yet. I'm the meanest person I know...to myself. Not good.

Week 2 is about recovering a sense of identity. I'm looking forward to it.

How are you doing? Any breakthroughs or realizations? I'd love to hear.

Have a great week 2!

The Artist's Way Week 1

If you've never heard of/read/followed The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, you're really missing out. This book about breaking through our creative blocks was originally published in the early 2000s. I followed the 12-week program back then and saw great results.

But I wasn't really blocked back then. I hadn't been writing that long, so I was young and dumb and didn't know any better. Now, I'm older and supposedly wiser, and I have become my own worst enemy when it comes to my writing and my art (I'm an artist as well as author). I feel like I'm wearing a straightjacket; no matter how much I want to write/draw/paint, I just can't seem to make myself do it. At least not on a regular basis, or as often as I should. And when I do start a project, I have a hard time completing it.

So, that's why I've decided to do the 12-week Artist's Way program again. I'll check in weekly here with an update.

This week... I've read the Week One chapter. I've been doing Morning Pages most days ever since I orginally did the program in 2002 (or whenever it was). Mornings just aren't mornings if I miss my pages. They're usually more of a running To Do list than anything else. "I can't forget to make an appt with the vet." "I really need to clean out the fridge--it's a mess." Other times, if I'm going through a stressful time in my life, it might be full of four-letter cuss words. If anyone ever read my morning pages, they'd either think I'm 1) the most boring person in the world, or 2) a complete psycho bitch.

Both descriptions are probably fairly accurate. LOL.

I haven't done any of the tasks yet... however, I did make a list of possible artist dates (this is hard for me to do. If I have time to do an artist date, then maybe I should be writing/working out/cleaning the toilet...).

Artist date ideas:
Play the piano (haven't done this in years. Literally.)
Take a sketchbook to the park (if it's not raining)
Take a hike with my dog
Browse the little shops in my town
Go to a movie by myself
Watch an old B&W movie in my jammies
Go to the art supply store and browse
Visit the new antique store in town
If any of you are doing the program, even if you're ahead of me, I'd love to hear how you're doing. Tell me what prompted you to do the program and how it's working for you. I'd also love to hear your artist date ideas.

Have fun this week!


Stepping out of our comfort zones

Periodically, I come across a blog post that I think you, my lovely readers, would enjoy. Here's once from Word Wranglers about taking chances. Enjoy. :)


The new face of marketing

As much as I love the idea of doing all my promo and marketing from my house and in my ratty sweats, I'm learning that I might have to make myself get "out there" more and actually meet the people.


This is SO not what I want to hear. 

Check out this great post by Esther Wheelmaker, in her blog Zombiepunk Series: The New Face of Marketing. 

If you're an introvert/shy person like me, you may not like what she has to say, but I'm thinking we should listen to her.

After reading Ms. Wheelmaker's great post, check out her newest release on Goodreads

How to Ignore Your Mother's Warning

by Brinda Berry

A few years ago, I only socially interacted with people I'd known for years. Even then it was sporadic. I'm not the party type, and I didn't really do Facebook. Then, I signed my first publishing contract and discovered I was expected to engage. I needed to ignore my mother's warning: don't talk to strangers.

I've always loved technology, so it wasn't difficult for me to pick up how different sites worked. Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are all fun platforms to use "technically". The more difficult task was to actually talk to complete strangers. What do I have to say that would be of any interest at all?

I'd like to share what I've learned about talking to strangers.

1. Share topics that you are interested in and someone else will chime in on the conversation.

2. I like books and reading, so I talk about my current reads or discoveries.

3. Learn to poke fun at yourself. Others will laugh with you.

4. Ask questions. If you need help with anything from finding a good movie over the weekend to solving a computer issue, there are experts who love to help.

5. Be consistent. Don't be the friend who only visits every ten years. Show up on a regular basis and others will feel comfortable knowing that you are a presence.

6. Respond to others when they post. This is a two-way street. Don't expect others to be interested in you if you ignore the opportunity to respond to them.

7. Build relationships in a community. I've made lists in Twitter where I can view posts from people I've learned about and know. I have writer lists, editors lists, reader lists, etc.

8. Introduce others. If you have friends who need a boost up in this social media world, introduce them. It's exactly what you would do in person, so do it online as well.

9. If you're not funny, borrow someone else's humor. I'm not talking about stealing anything. I only suggest that you quote or share humor from others and give them credit. We all like to laugh. Smile!

Do you find it easy to engage with others on social media? What's your favorite or least favorite platform. Why?

You can find Brinda online here:

About Brinda: Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She is the author of the Whispering Woods YA series published by Etopia Press. She's terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality. Brinda doesn't mind being called a geek or "crazy dog lady". When she's not working the day job or writing a novel, she's guilty of surfing the internet for no good reason.

Q&A with Margaret Fieland

Thanks for being here today, Margaret. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?
Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, "Lifelines," was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. She is the author of "Relocated," published by MuseItUp Publishing, and of "Sand in the Desert." Her book, "The Angry Little Boy," will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.

Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 
I consider myself more of an introvert than an extrovert. I've taken Myers-Briggs and at first I was surprised I was more balanced than I would have guessed at the time.

In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
I'm less eager to approach folks about opportunities, especially in-person, to volunteer to teach workshops and the like. I'm working on this.

In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
It's a piece of who I am. I bring myself, my vision, my use of language, my interests, my fantasies, the characters and stories I imagine, to my writing.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
Selling and marketing. I don't like it, and I don't have enough experience in the area to believe I'm doing everything I can to get the word out about my work.

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

When I decided to write "Relocated." I am a huge science fiction fan, have read reams of the stuff, but at the time -- 2010 -- I'd never written any at all. I had a phobia about the world-creation aspects, and I'd only written two novels: one a chapter book is due to appear sometime this year, and another that needs a major rewrite. On a whim, sometime in late September, I decided to do NaNo. I spent the next six weeks mostly on the world-building, some time on the characters, and about a page of plot notes. On Nov. 1, I started writing, and by the end of the month, I had a first draft.

Then, of course, came the months and months of editing.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
Just go for it. Don't dwell too much on all the eyes you're convinced are staring at you or on all the things you're convinced will go wrong or you will do badly. Just do it.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?
When fourteen-year-old Keth's dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn't know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar. On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation. After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval. Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth's friend's father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.

Available now!

Where can my readers find you on the web?

My website:

My blog:

Relocated's website:

Why So Serious? Tales of an Author Hobbyist

by Melinda Pierce

First, thank you, Rebecca, for allowing me to hijack Once Written, Twice Shy today.

Second, let me throw in a Happy Birthday to my hubby! Love you lots, babe.

And now I’ll get down to the business of being serious – or not.  When I started my writing journey three years ago, I connected with a fabulous critique group of newbie authors, all yet to be published.  We each laid out our goals, and I introduced them to my ten year plan.

The Ten Year Plan:  To publish anything within a 10 yr time frame or give up writing, because if I couldn’t do it by then, becoming an author wasn’t my thing.

Them: Snickering behind their hands or full out laughing, while writing away at their soon to be published manuscripts.

Why would they laugh? Because it was obvious I knew nothing about the publishing industry.  Nothing.  I’d entered a few Writer’s Digest short story contests and I’d even had a short story published in an on-line magazine. (The magazine went under after the second issue, totally not my fault.)  I’d read a few craft books and I knew I had a lot to learn about writing in general.  I joined a few writers’ groups and communities, attended some online workshops, and generally I started paying attention to the overall world of writing.

That’s when I noticed the trend of blogs and articles defining what it was to be a serious writer. A serious writer is one who treats writing like a business.  He/she has a book plan, a marketing plan, short term goals, long term goals, a tribe, a presence online, an appealing website, attends conferences, networks, knows if she wants to self-pub or find an agent, and pumps those manuscripts out like there is no tomorrow.

Suddenly my ten year plan turned into a get-it-done-right-now plan.  All of it.  Otherwise, I wasn’t serious about being a writer or a published author.  So I dove in head first.  I set aside my writing time and started manuscripts that I thought would sell, because I had to sell to get my foot in the door.  I joined more groups, started more manuscripts (all without finishing the one before, mind you) and started a cycle that consumed my life.  But that’s the way it’s supposed to be, right?  Serious writers are consumed by writing.  There’s no time for anything else.  Butt in chair, butt in chair, kid in front of t.v., laundry piled on the floor, dishes stacked in the sink, mad at hubby because why the hell can’t he pitch in while I work on my break out novel?! So what if he worked 12 hours, I’m on to something this time, dammit!

Yes, almost three years of this cycle – running in circles and getting nowhere but miserable.  I hated sitting down at my computer and instead of trying to write, I’d surf the net, spend hours on Twitter, and think about writing and talk about writing, yet never actually added many words to page.  Then a couple of things happened.  The first, I had my little baby boy and it forced me out of the chair.

Second was a conversation with a friend that went something like this:

You have talent, just finish one of those manuscripts.

I weakly respond, I have a ten-year plan remember? Plenty of years left, hee hee.

That makes writing your hobby.

Lord have mercy, not the dreaded H word.  Anything but that.  Serious writers don’t treat writing as a hobby.  Hobbies are things you do when you have spare time.  In fact, when you Google the definition, here’s what pops up:

Hobby - An activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure.

Wait a second – stop the presses (yes, I’m a cornball too).  That doesn’t sound like the definition of a dirty word.  Pleasure, well that’s kind of the whole reason I started writing in the first place.  I enjoyed creating, and it was about time for me to find that joy again. To do this, I had to change my way of thinking and I knew right where to start.

My own definition of a serious writer: A writer who cares about craft and producing a damn good book.  One who wants to give the reader an experience to remember.  Period.  All the rest doesn’t matter, at least it doesn’t to me right now.  Not at this stage of my ten-year plan, and this stage of my life.  This doesn’t mean I don’t care about my writing, it means it takes a lower rank in my list of priorities.  Kids want to play outside – writing gets set aside.  Hubby wants to watch a movie – writing gets set aside.

Call my writing a hobby, that’s okay – does that mean there isn’t any room for me in the world of writing? Nope. Does it ruin my chances of becoming a best-selling author someday? Not at all.  It does mean I’ve removed about 80% of the stress that I had placed upon myself, and I’m all the happier for it, and I’m positive my writing will reflect this.  If it takes two months or two years to get a book finished, it doesn’t matter to me as long as the end result is something I can be proud of.

Does writing as a hobby work for everyone? – of course not.  For many authors, it is your business, it is your career and you have to continue to treat it as such.  But for a few others a light bulb may go off and you may join me in this laid back journey of hobbyism.  ß which I’m not sure is a real word, but if I can someday get Snookie or Kim Kardashian to say it on a reality show, I have no doubt it’ll be added to the dictionary.

So good luck to each of you on your writing journey, however YOU decide to define it, and happy writing!


P.S. That critique group I mentioned above – every one of them is now a multi-published author, but that’s a post for another day. J

About Melinda: Melinda B. Pierce is an author hobbyist, mother of two, and self-proclaimed trophy wife – although her husband defines her as being more of high maintenance than anything else.  She writes in almost every romance genre and refuses to follow the path of most resistance.  Connect with her on twitter @MelindaBPierce

Q & A with erotic romance author Nicole Morgan

Thanks for being here today, Nicole. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Thanks for having me! I am a multi-published author of erotic romantic novels, which more often than not have a suspenseful back story. Erotic romance mixed with a good old-fashioned whodunit.
In additional to her books, I also have a recurring column called, "Sex and the Single Woman" in BT Showcase's online
eMagazine. Also, I have recently partnered up with three of my author friends and became Four Seduced Muses, a blog dedicated to the steamier side of romance.

Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 

I’m definitely not shy. I may appear quietly polite to strangers, but I’m not shy. I have no problem meeting new people and interacting with them.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you? 
Coming up with new material on a consistent basis. You can’t just write a book and expect to become a huge success with that one story. You need to work at it constantly, putting more books out there several times a year. Sometimes the monotony of it can be a bit much, but in the end I also find it very rewarding – as cheesy as that may sound. 

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life? 
I’ve recently starting writing under a new pen name (Ssshhh… I’m not telling what it is either *winks*) and that was a bit hard for me. Nicole Morgan books have been such a huge part of my life for the past several years I found it hard taking on new genres and getting comfortable in those shoes.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
I would say, nothing is as bad as you think it is. If you’re too nervous to say hi to someone or break the ice, chances are they’re thinking the same thing. Appearing outgoing (even if you’re not) with a smile on your face will often times make you the life of a party and people will soon seek you out for conversation.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it? 
Jenny manages a resort and works tirelessly to maintain the lush property. Thomas is a drifter. Sexy and confident, he’s the last thing she needs in her life. Still he relentlessly pursues her. Will his charms be too much to resist? Will she act on her desires and be...impetuous? 



Where can my readers find you on the web? 
Nicole’s website:

Nicole’s blog: http://nicolemorganauthor.blogspot.com