Cornelia Amiri is here today and she's sharing her advice for new writers. Be sure to comment on this blog post for a chance to win a PDF ecopy of her book. 

Do Make the time to write - prioritize time for writing over other things.

Do set a goal - for example 2000 words a day.

Do follow your dream no matter what comes your way.

Do learn the craft of writing, through books, workshops, classes, any way you wish, but learn it.

Do join a critique group or find a good critique partner.

Do research publishers before you submit to them.

Do read other books as much as you can.

Do research if your book requires it and use several sources especially if you are using the internet - some of it can be wrong.

Do build up a social network presence on face book and twitter before you even get published.

Do write from the heart and find your own voice.

Don't get discouraged at rejections, each  is getting your closer to an acceptance.

Don't give up, don't listen to the nay-sayers.

Don't think of it as a hobby that you only spend a few minutes on each day.

Don't refuse to learn the craft of writing because you always got A's on your term papers, you’re competing with polished professional writers not other students.

Don’t just write in a genre because it's hot in the market place if you’re not comfortable with it or passionate about it.

Don't do it for the money, it's not the best path to get rich quick, not at all. 

Don’t  become a shut in, spending all your time at your typewriter, attend conferences and conventions to meet other writers and readers and get information on publishers and other helpful advice. 

Don’t expect your publisher to do all your promotion, learn how to promote your work.

Don’t ever get rude with a publisher or reviewer no matter what they say about your work, keep it professional. 

Don’t let the hard work of writing become a drudgery, have fun with it, enjoy it to its fullest, always keep your passion for it.  

Cornelia, thanks for sharing your very sound advice. 

Now, I have a few questions for you.
How do you relax after a long day at work?

I love to watch movies, play with my cat, talk with my seven year granddaughter, who always makes me laugh and I love to read in the bathtub.

You write romance novels. Is that your preferred leisure book to read?

I read all genres but as a whole I do prefer romances, it’s my favorite genre. When I read I want a bit of an escape, a bit of an adventure, and a little romance. I want my spirits lifted with a little true love and a happy ending. 

I love happy endings too. Romance is my favorite genre to read. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written? 

To me the most romantic scene I’ve written took place on an Irish beach as white foamed waves crashed against the shore while the hero, an ancient Roman, recited a love poem by Ovid to the heroine. That would work on me.

It would work on me, too. Sounds romantic. 

Can you tell us about your book, Peace Love Music?

Jodi’s birthday breaks her free of the foster care scene and launches her on a journey of self discovery. She thumbs her way to Woodstock to groove on peace, love, and music.

The moment Blue spots Jodi strutting toward him barefoot in the rain, he’s overcome with déjà vu. She doesn’t share his feeling that they were lovers in a previous life, thinking it’s half crazy, still she feels she’s meant to be with the irresistible hippie. 

As an adult now Jodi’s free to be naughty rather than nice and he’s the man who can make her wildest dreams, the sensual ones, come true. Is she headed for a love-in at his tepee?

How about an excerpt? We'd love to read one.

Sunshine wrapped one arm around Ziggy’s shoulder and one around Jodi’s, who rolled her arm around Blue, then they swayed back and forth, singing, “Having a hard time living the good life.”

Jodi, Blue, Ziggy, and Sunshine rocked to and fro as the Grateful Dead sang “The wheels are muddy. Got a ton of hay.”

In the cold downpour, Blue pulled Jodi into the circle of his arms and pressed his warm lips against hers. A jolt of fire shot through her.

Blue caressed her mouth with his as the Grateful Dead sang, “All I need is your love.”

The music, the pounding rain, the firm, warm feel of Blue’s lips and arms as he held and kissed her savagely, engulfed her senses like a haze of colors blending together.

Two drummers banged out a mind-melting rhythm and in a soft yet strong tone, Jerry Garcia sang. “Shine on me, shine on me, come on please, come on please. Yeah, yeah, shine on me, Baby. “

Blue eased from the embrace, only to move behind Jodi and wrap his warm arms around her as she pressed against his chest. She tilted her head back and their wet lips touched in a deep, lingering 
kiss in the falling rain.

Love the ending to that excerpt...kissing in the rain. Where can readers find your book online?

Purchase Link:

In addition to the novella, Peace Love Music, Cornelia Amiri is the author of twelve published books, ten Celtic/ paranormal/Romance novels and a Steampunk/Romance with a second Steamunk/Romance, To Love a London Ghost, coming October 7th. 

How can readers connect with you online?

Website / blog / FB:

Cornelia, I'm so glad you stopped by today. It was nice chatting with you and thank you for sharing your advice to writers. Hope everyone can stick around for a bit to visit. 

Don't forget to comment on this blog post to be entered to win a copy of Peace Love Music.

Please help me welcome author, Beth Shriver to the blog today. Love for you all to stay and visit with us.

Meet Beth Shriver.

Beth Shriver received a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska. She worked as a case worker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. 

Beth freelanced for local papers in her area and wrote columns and devotionals for magazines. Her two cats and beagle keep her company when she writes in a variety of genres in both fiction and non-fiction. 

Beth, so nice to meet you. Where can readers find you online?


Time to chat. Why did you become a writer?

I didn't start writing until 2003, and I was never one of those kids who hid under the covers at night to read after bedtime, or started writing my first novel at age five! No, I began writing articles for inspirational magazines because I thought I had something to say and wanted to share with others. An author friend of mine read my articles and encouraged me to write a book.

So I wrote a YA. Then came the memories of my social work years and a story idea was created from that, and I've continued to write in a number of different genres. For me, writing is all about life experiences on steroids. Each situation, conversation or feeling is heightened to give everyday situations a fun, new kick.

You write romance novels, but is that your preferred type of book to read for leisure? 

I don’t have any particular genre that I like, maybe historical if I had to choose, but I like to read all types of books and see everything that’s out there. I’ve been surprised at some of the books I’ve really enjoyed that I never thought I’d like. When you see all the different genres I write in you’ll understand my tendency to jump around a lot. It’s all about the story not the category for me.

I agree. I've written in the mystery, romance and woman's fiction genres. I like to read all types of fiction as well. What’s your Top Ten List of reasons why you can’t live without writing?

1. I love to tell a story
2. It’s a great escape
3. I have a huge imagination and have to find something to do with it
4. I get paid for doing something I love

            The last six reasons are the six books I am contracted to write:

5. Annie’s Truth
6. Grace Given
7. Healing Grace
8. Return to Me
9. Touch of Grace
10. The Gift

Some great reasons. Thanks for sharing. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled?

My husband’s company has sent us to over a dozen countries and we’ve taken many family trips as well, so I’ve been very blessed. The most exotic place has to be Italy in Tuscany, but I absolutely loved the countries in Africa as well. I would like to go back to Zimbabwe and do mission work there some day.

My husband is Italian and we both have family in Italy. He's been there to visit but I haven't. Would love to go there someday. Two of my favorite movies are Under the Tuscan Sun and Letters to Juliet--I think the beautiful scenery drew me to those movies. That's a great aspiration to do mission work in Zimbabwe. Hope that you get to do that someday. 

Beth, can you tell us about your new book, Love is a Rose, which is scheduled to release from Desert Breeze Publishing on June 15. I absolutely love the cover!

Rose Fontane, a homeless shelter caseworker, would do anything for the residents who live there. Her life is the shelter, even to the point of having no family of her own. This all begins to change when architect Jeremy Wheeler stumbles upon the shelter when scouting out the area for the site his company plans to destroy and build an outdoor shopping area. In order to date Rose, he has to court the shelter as well, and in doing so he becomes attached to the people there. Rose begins to change her view of the corporate world as she finds that Jeremy’s heart is as genuine as hers when it comes to helping those in need.

Definitely a book going on my TBR pile. Where can readers find this book?

Purchase Link: (June 15, 2011):

We'd love to read an excerpt. Can you share one?

Dark and handsome with perfect attire, a boyish face made him appear younger than he probably was, and he was tall, but then most people seemed tall to Rose.

"What are you looking for?"

"Umm." He hesitated.

"Are you so lost you don't know what you're looking for?" she quipped.

He grinned, showing his very white teeth. "No, I just wasn't aware that there was a soup kitchen here." He looked over her head toward the kitchen.

"Are you hungry?" Rose folded her arms over her chest, trying to figure out what this guy was doing here.

He grinned. "Ah, no." He pulled off his black leather gloves and put them in his pockets. "I need to make a phone call. Do you mind if I stay in here? It's cold out there." He hitched a thumb over his shoulder toward to the door.

"Sure, there's a spot next to Gary." Rose pointed to a vacant seat and watched as he talked on his cell phone. His dark hair was cut short, framing his strong facial features. Rose mused at seeing a businessman among the homeless. He studied those around him as he spoke, but none of them noticed him. What they did notice was his fine, wool, full-length coat.

When he finished talking, he looked her way. Rose stopped staring at him as he came over to her. He lifted his hand. "I'm Jeremy Wheeler. Sorry I didn't introduce myself earlier."

"No problem. You seemed very preoccupied." She held her hand to his and felt his firm handshake. "I'm Rose."

"Really? That's my grandmother's name. You don't hear it very often anymore."

"My grandmother's name was Rose, too."

"You're joking? That's quite a coincidence. I'll surely remember it." He studied her with a glint in his eyes. "And you." He gave her a long, slow smile. "Thank you for your hospitality." He turned and walked to the door.

Susan came into the room as he left. "Who was that?"

"Jeremy Wheeler."

"When did we start taking in executives?" They both watched him until he was out of sight.

Rose lifted a brow. "We're supposed to take in the downtrodden. You never know who that might be."

Beth, so glad you stopped by today. Enjoyed our chat. I hope every one sticks around for a bit to chat with us. 

I'm happy to welcome author, Anne Holly to my blog today. She's here to talk about "Tooting Your Own Horn."
In a recent author forum discussion, I realized that being an indie author means one must do what most of our parents taught us not to do – we must brag, boast, force our way (or at least force our books’ way) into as many conversations as possible, etc, etc, etc… This is not an easy thing to do for the majority of writers, I think. Many of the writers I know are actually fairly shy people. Now there are some brassy, confident folks in the industry, but I’ve also met a lot of people like me, who’d rather just write and hope people buy the thing by tripping over it than actually go ye forth and self-promote.

            The problem is that most of us had no idea that this would be part of writing. I guess many writers, if they were like me, imagined sitting in a nice cottage by a lake, pounding out bestsellers while a faithful golden retriever slept on the braided rag rug near our pine desk, and some guy in a suit in some city far away handled the promo stuff. Maybe once or twice a year, we’d be forced on a herded march across the country to sign books at stores and inform Regis and whoever-is-now-the-new-KathyLee why they should buy the latest paperback. However, the emphasis was always placed on having a press corps based at some shiny corporation doing all the real pushing and boasting.

            This vision has never happened for me – and likely won’t, judging by the decline in traditional publishing houses and the miniscule shot new authors have at getting accepted by brick-n-mortar publishers, who like to stick with tried and true producers in lean times. Therefore, a great number of new authors, like me, are opting for small publishers, micropresses and ebook companies, or for self-publishing, as opposed to lingering for two to five years in the agent-winning and contract-seeking (aka Slush Pile) process. We are independent (“indie”) authors.

            E-Books present to new writers a shot at seeing their work in print in much less time than traditional publishing, which is a fine thing. However, part of what we indie authors sacrifice for this quicker gratification is that smaller presses are often run by people with day jobs who have neither the time nor the resources for effective marketing.

            Thus, unlike my pre-publishing visions of what the writing life could be, many of us smaller authors find ourselves toiling in the PR world without training wheels, and it can be a horrible business. At the very least, it can be embarrassing, awkward and extremely time-consuming. Dickens might have been paid by the word, but we indie authors get paid only per sold copy, and, like a desperate gambler, we become convinced that the more time/money we put into promotion the more copies we will sell.

            For my new book, a full length romance about a man and woman thrown together by potentially misguided marriage between his sister and her brother, I finally bit the bullet and made a “press package” (which you can find on the book’s website – which I also made myself through trial and error).

            One of the hardest things I ever put together, that press packet, including a press release that made me blush with every single word. In it, I had to present myself as someone I was interviewing, as if I were a reporter writing a human interest story about a local author. This is how press releases are done, I know… But, somehow, I always pictured it being some PR person writing such things for me, and not me praising myself.

            Now, none of this means I am not proud of my book – in fact, I still enjoy reading Strings Attached, even after a hundred rounds of re-writes and edits. I am happy I wrote it, and I am pleased to present it to readers. The characters delight me, and the setting (Canada’s north) is enchanting. If this book was written by someone else, I would love to tell people why they should read it.

            But it was written by me.

            And mum always told us not to brag.

            So, there we have it. *sigh*

            I think this is something that authors either get over or never handle well – this difference between self-promotion and boasting; the feeling of being slightly soiled by the process of “pimping” one’s efforts. After all, we are artistes, right? Not common salespersons…

            In fact, this is a false dream, I am coming to realize. Whether the sales are done by you or by someone hired by your company or agent – whether you are Stephen King or Anne Holly – someone must sell your work. Promotions and art are not opposing goals; promotions allow writers to create more works, by exposing their writing to more readers and by allowing the writer to earn something off their work. Some might see it as a necessary evil, which might be so, but that doesn’t reduce the truth of it. “Publish or perish” doesn’t cover it all – “Publish and Promote or perish” is closer to the truth.

            So, there’s the dirty truth of it all. My name is Anne Holly, and I have a press packet. And my ideals of ivory tower author life never did come to fruition. My work, though indie, has to sell. And, because I am indie, I must be the one to sell it. I came to a crossroads at which I almost stopped writing to avoid this truth, but I am now passed that. So, now I flog my book as much as I can.

            Heaven bless mum, but it’s no mortal sin to promote.

            Maybe if I repeat that enough times, I will blush a little less when I have to write my next press release. You think, maybe? 

Great advice Anne. I agree that this is hard for many authors to promote themselves. I have a few questions for you.

You write romance novels, but is that your preferred type of book to read for leisure?

I write romances partially because I love to read them. I have always loved romances, like my mother before me. Now, as a mother myself, I understand the attraction – sometimes, you really need a decompression hobby to keep an even keel. I think that to be a successful genre writer, you must respect the genre, and read it regularly to keep up with your segment of the industry. Romance is certainly not all I read, but I am proud to say I am a romance fan, as well as a romance writer.

I've always loved to read romances as well. It was easy for me to pick this genre to write in. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?

The most romantic scene that I ever wrote took place under the northern lights in the snow. Actually, almost all of my romance has to do with either snow or rain. For me, plain old sun is not dramatic enough for love, I guess.

What is your all-time favorite romantic movie (comedy or drama etc.)?

I love all sorts of romantic movies, so I can’t possibly name them all. But It Happened One Night is, I think, the prototype of all those that followed it. And the final scene from Chaplin’s City Lights kills me every time. And, finally, the tender way that Jean Arthur’s attachment grows to Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington makes me sigh, no matter how many times I see it.

Now your book, Strings Attached just recently released from Wild Horse Press. Can you tell us about your book?

When Canadian rancher Josie Sergeant gets a call from her brother announcing his impetuous decision to marry, she has her reservations. But, when her brother’s would-be brother-in-law swoops in from Australia to stop the wedding, Josie has no choice but to defend the family.

Theo Sabich is bull-headed and dangerously sexy, but also damaged beyond repair… or so he thinks. He enjoys getting on Josie’s nerves, but when he finds her getting under his skin he must decide - face his demons and grab this last chance for happiness or bury himself in his lonely Outback ranch once and for all.

Under the northern lights, their attraction ignites beyond their control, and Josie finds that a one-time “no strings attached” release of passion is easier said than done when love is hanging by a thread.

Sounds like a great book. Thank you for sharing. Where can readers find your book online and I understand you have an excerpt to share (please see the link below).

Excerpt can be found:

Purchase link:

Before we end our chat, please tell us about yourself and where readers can find you online. 

I'm a Canadian romance writer, and author of the new contemporary romance Strings Attached. I have published shorter works through Wild Horse Press, Wicked Nights and Decadent Publishing. I reside in southwestern Ontario, where I spend my time teaching, writing, and raising my three year old son.





Anne, thank you again for stopping by today to share your advice and tell us a little bit more about yourself. I enjoyed our chat and hope you come back again. Hope every one can stay for a bit to visit with us.

Jo Ramsey has stopped by today to give her Top Ten List of do’s and don’ts for beginning writers. She is also giving away an autographed copy of The Black Bridge, her YA novel. Please leave a comment at the end of this blog post to be entered to win a copy of her book.

When you’re first starting out as a writer, there’s a lot to learn. It’s hard to narrow it down to ten things, but here goes:

1. Don’t ever plan to “master” the craft of writing. You’ll always have something to learn.

2. Take your time. You don’t have to be published tomorrow. You have time to learn and improve. I wrote a book six years ago that I thought was ready to be published. When I look at that manuscript now, I cringe at how much I didn’t know about writing. (It did get published eventually; it’s the book we’re featuring here today. But it took a LOT of work to get it there.)

3. Get to know other writers, both in your genre and in other genres. You never know who might be able to offer you advice, help you with editing, or even help you find a publisher or an agent.

4. When you finish your first draft, put it aside for a few weeks before you start revising. You might be surprised by what needs to be changed—and by what ends up sounding better than you thought it was when you wrote it.

5. Learn to edit. Punctuation, spelling, grammar, all of it. You still might need to change things depending on the house style of specific publishers, but at least you’ll have a fairly clean product to start with. Editors do not exist to fix basic errors.

6. Build up your armor. You’re going to get rejected; when you’re published, you’re going to get negative reviews. You can’t let it get to you.

7. Pay it forward. If another writer helps you along the way, acknowledge them, but also pass along your help to a newer writer.

8. Write what’s in your heart, not what’s “trendy”. Unless the trend is what’s in your heart, in which case go for it.

9. Writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s hard work, and the payoff often amounts to pennies per hour, if that. Write for the love of writing, not to become a millionaire.

10. Always remember the feeling you have when you get your first contract offer. Try to have that feeling every single time you get a contract. Be excited!

Wow, some awesome advice. I love it. Thank you for sharing.

Now I have a few questions for you.

How do you relax after a long day at work?

That depends; do you mean at my day job or at work on my books? After my day job, I relax by writing. I only work the day job three days a week; the other four, I spend writing and doing all the other stuff that goes along with being published. After a day of that, I relax by watching TV with my kids and listening to them tell me about their days and what’s on their minds.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

One of my favorite memories is spending time with my three “uncles” (my dad’s best friend and his two partners) at their home just outside Boston. They took me to museums and concerts, cooked gourmet meals for me, and set me loose on the city with one of their transit passes.

Sounds like a fun time. Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?

I’d have to say France, because that’s the only place outside North America that I’ve been to. I went there on a three-week mini student exchange program my senior year of high school.

Can you tell us bout your book The Black Bridge?

Since age five, Topher James has lived beside the “Black Bridge,” an old iron railroad bridge with a history of unexplained disappearances. Topher’s psychic abilities tell him that something dark lurks around the bridge, but as long as it doesn’t bother him, he’s unwilling to do anything.

When Topher’s girlfriend Linnette begins talking about sharing power with the dark presence at the bridge, Topher realizes that both the presence and Linnette are dangerous. Topher realizes he must do something to stop them. But it’s too late! His best friend, Luke, dies, leaving his sister Callie in danger.

Topher and Callie are plunged into the universal war between darkness and light as they attempt to protect themselves and their friends. But can they win…and at what price?

Very intriguing. Sounds like a great book. Where can readers find it online?

Can you share an excerpt?
Topher, go back.

The thought came to me as I crossed the wooden footbridge, startling me momentarily into stillness. For a moment, I thought someone else had spoken and looked around to see who. No one appeared. The black steel frame of the Black Bridge rose menacingly against the cloudless sky; other than that, I saw nothing unusual.

Then again, the menace wasn’t unusual either. Darkness always surrounded the bridge, though no one else seemed to notice. It pressed in on me every time I went near the place. Usually, I ignored it, and I tried to this time as well. After satisfying myself that I’d heard only my own thoughts, I continued on my way.

As I crossed the bridge, the pressure increased, as though the bridge wanted to push me away. Topher, go back. Again I wondered whether the warning came from me or something else, and just for a moment I considered heeding it.Only for a moment, though. I wouldn’t go back. Just like every day since middle school, my friends waited for me on the other side.

It was a cold day for September. As I stepped off the end of the footbridge and joined the guys by the stone wall that hid the bridge from the road, I shivered in the breeze coming off the river. Topher, go back. Irritated, I wrapped my arms around myself and told the thought to shut up.

Luke laughed at me. “You cold or something?”

“Yeah.” Although the thought didn’t repeat itself, the darkness still pressed against me. No matter how hard I tried to shake off the feeling, it wouldn’t go away. I needed something to center me. “Give me a cigarette,” I commanded Luke. I didn’t often smoke, but there were times when it seemed necessary. I was only seventeen and couldn’t smoke legally. I’d started when I was fourteen and hadn’t been caught yet.

“Right, like that’ll warm you up,” he said sarcastically. He tossed me one.

After a few minutes we heard someone coming down the path that led from the road to the bridge. The Black Bridge constituted a major route across the river for pedestrians and bike riders, especially at this time of day when school had let out. Today, though, it would be a bad idea for anyone to come near the bridge. A new thought came to me, I shouldn’t be here. And neither should whoever walked along the path.

Jo, thank you so much for stopping by today. I enjoyed your writing advice and chatting with you. Thank you for sharing about your new book, The Black Bridge.

Please remember, if you comment on today's blog post, you'll be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of this book.

Paula Stiles is here today to share her Top Ten List of do's and don'ts for new writers. Anyone who comments on today's blog post will be entered for a chance to win an ecopy of her book, Fraterfamilias. Hope you stay to visit.

What’s your Top Ten List of do’s and don’ts for beginning writers?

Do keep a list of your written fiction and where you've submitted. This helps you keep track, so that you can query nonresponsive markets while avoiding simultaneous and multiple subs (which usually make editors cranky).

Do join a writer's critique group or find other writers willing to critique your writing on a regular basis. This does three things. First, it helps you improve your writing. You should never stop improving your craft. There's always something new to learn. Second, it gains you friends and comrades in your profession, who can mutually support you through writing ups and downs. Third, it gives you a grapevine through which to learn business tips and about new markets.

Do have a regular schedule of submitting your fiction, articles, books, etc. and have monthly submission goals. Even if you're in it for fun, if you want to be published and to develop a reputation, you need to publish regularly. In order to publish regularly, you need to sell frequently. The only way to sell frequently is to submit a lot. A regular schedule for submissions is critical, especially if your time for writing-related business is limited. Even six submissions per month build up over time.

Do join writing challenges like NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy, in order to help you keep writing and to increase your productivity. In order to submit regularly, you should write and revise regularly. Writing regularly is also the best way to avoid writer's block - again, especially if your time for writing is limited. Writing is like a muscle. Not only do you need to practice to improve, but also to build up your stamina and output.

Do follow up sales with more submissions to the same market. When I first began selling, I thought that markets didn't want to be "bothered" with more subs after a sale. However, I subsequently found out that editors like to build relationships with authors over time. Though they like variety in bylines, they also like getting more of what you sold to them in the first place.

Don't revise forever, but don't expect to avoid revision, either. The worst trap a new writer can fall for is the "Amadeus Myth". That's the one where you sit in front of the computer or typewriter and wait for the muse to come down and "inspire" you to write it all out in one go (and anything that isn't brilliant on the first try isn't true genius). Though, with experience, you can write better first drafts, most of the time, you're stuck with something pretty lousy the first time out, especially if it's original (because experiments never go the way you expect). Then you revise it into something good. Great writing comes out of revision, not first drafts.

Don't give up after a couple of submissions of a piece. Even something that doesn't requires revision between submissions may need to be submitted ten or twenty times before it will sell. Some of your best-received work or pro sales may take that long. I see a lot of women, especially, who get discouraged after sending a piece out once or twice and either endlessly revise it or just give up. While men are more likely to keep submitting the piece (even when it may be terrible), women tend to think, "Well, if this editor didn't like it, it must be bad." That's not true. Editors have a very wide range of opinions of what they consider "good". If it's a well-written piece, it will find a home.

Don't submit until you've read the market's guidelines and researched the market. You don't want to embarrass yourself by submitting something that is obviously unsuited because you didn't read the guidelines, especially since it will probably take you several tries to sell to the bigger markets.

Don't get into fights with the editor or publisher unless you really have to, before or after a sale. This is tricky advice. As the Preditors & Editors site shows, there are incompetent and unscrupulous editors and publishers out there, as in any profession. So, you do need to fight for yourself and your work if you run into one of these bad apples. However, you should avoid unnecessary conflicts. I've had editors that published stuff and didn't pay, or butchered my work, or took years to respond. I've worked for projects that simply disappeared after I submitted the work,  never to be seen again. If you write and publish long enough, you'll get every kind of bad behaviour.

But if you enter the writer-editor relationship braced for combat, you have to ask yourself why you submitted to that market in the first place if you didn't respect the people working there. Aren't you submitting only to markets where you love the final product and want to be a part of it? Don't you think the editors and publishers of those markets know their stuff if they're putting out a great product? The long and short of this is – don't fight over little stuff. Save your strength and influence and goodwill for important things.

Don't sell off your copyright for peanuts or pay to be published. This can vary a little (Script contests have fees and academic publishers will take your copyright in exchange for nothing more than a credit on your resume). But the general rule is that you don't sell all rights to a piece unless you can't use the piece anywhere else and you get paid well. And that money always flows to the author, not the other way around.

Some awesome advice. Thanks so much for sharing.

So, I have a few questions for you.

How do you relax after a long day at work?

I watch TV or read. I may go swimming or for a walk, or outside to look at the stars with a reflector telescope (I'm an astronomy buff). Truth is, writing is my work and I love my work. So, after a long day of work, I usually go to bed.

Love that you enjoy writing so much. It's great to have fun in your job.

If your book was made into a movie, which actors do you see portraying your characters?

Judith and I saw Peter Wingfield as Alan and Nathaniel Parker as Paul, Ian Tracey as Charlie, Jean Reno as Ballard. We didn't really have a "cast" for the rest, for various reasons.

Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever traveled to?

I used to live in a small Muslim village in Cameroon, West Africa back in the 90s (I was in the Peace Corps), called "Boubara". It wasn't close to much of anywhere. One day, I decided to visit a place called "Bouden Falls" on my motorcycle, just because I saw it on a map and it sounded like a cool place very few people had visited (I wasn't wrong). It was 50km north on a heavily rutted dirt road and then 8km across the savannah on a dirt track that disappeared under the grass during the rainy season. At the end, there was a little village and beyond that, this long and wide set of shallow falls. Very beautiful, though really treacherous to cross, and just surrounded by bush. That's probably the most exotic place I've ever visited (I made the trip twice). I even have pictures.

Wow, sounds very interesting. Now let's talk about your book, Fraterfamilias

What's your book about?

French artist Paul Farrell kills four people in Paris and walks into a hail of police fire at JFK Airport. A Russian history professor and shaman with a dark secret steals the body. Police on both sides of the Atlantic are on the case, but they each have secrets of their own. And a powerful enemy watches from the shadows, one who could destroy them all.

Sounds very intriguing. Thanks for sharing. Where can readers find your book?

We'd love to read an excerpt.  Remember, readers, if you comment on this blog post, you'll be entered to win an ecopy of this book!

Twenty minutes after Air France Flight 008 from Paris landed safely in New York at JFK Airport, the passenger from seat 7G walked through Gate 9, heading toward U.S. Customs. He looked ordinary – tall and rangy with Celtic features, wearing a turtleneck sweater and jeans. His curly dark hair was shot with grey. He held a black carryall, with an overnight bag slung from one shoulder and a dark-blue winter jacket draped over his other arm. There was nothing remarkable about him, as the security tapes would later show.

He collected no baggage from the carousel. Having nothing to be suspicious about, the Customs official stamped his passport and passed him through without incident. The passenger stopped to buy a map at a news kiosk. Instead of walking through the automatic doors onto the sidewalk, he turned back into the main concourse, going straight to the baggage storage area. He found an empty locker, pushed the two bags into it, piled his coat on top and closed the door. Pulling the key out of the slot, he walked casually toward some benches where other sleepless travelers were drinking coffee, smoking and reading – trying to stay awake.

He chose a seat next to a large potted palm, in plain view of the door. Opening the map, he laid it at the base of the palm and leaned over to retie his shoelaces. He sat up and began to study the map.

It was 9:44 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, on the last Saturday in March.


James "Jazz" Harper loved the night shift. Being in charge of Airport Security amused him during those hours when human beings were at their lowest ebb and the weirdos were sleeping it off somewhere else. Peace and quiet were fine with him. He'd had his fifteen minutes of fame as a running back with the most rushing yards in one season during his last year of college. Being black and somebody sure beat the hell out of being black and nobody, but he didn’t mind his retirement. He had a nice little nest egg, a good job and still-reasonably-good knees. Now, he just liked sitting in the main security office, watching the human parade march across his screens.

At times, however, the job got too dull even for him. When the call came, it made his night – at first. Paul Michel Farrell, a French citizen wanted for a multiple murder in Paris.

Paula, it was so nice that you were a guest at my blog today. Thank you for sharing your advice for new writers and all about your book.

Hope you all stay to chat for a bit. 

Please welcome guest author, Penny Zeller to my blog today.  She offers some inspiration for sticking with writing when you reach a rough spot and want to quit. 

I contemplated quitting early in my career as a writer.  My reason?  A rejection letter.

I received a request to see a bicycling article I had spent weeks on perfecting.  Excitedly, I sent the article and numerous photographs to the editor.  Not a week later, I received the manuscript back in the mail with a note rejecting it.  I was devastated. My heart and soul had been poured into those three pages of text.  I am ashamed to say that I cried for days and thought seriously about giving up my newfound career.

I wondered if I really was cut out to be a writer.  Sure, I’d had rejections before, but never had I worked so hard on an article as I had on this one.  

If you get stuck in a rut, as I did, here is some advice that has helped me along the way:

  1. Pray. In late 2000, I committed my writing to the Lord. Pray that you will use the gift for the written word that He has given you to glorify Him. Ask that He direct your path and give you wisdom and guidance.
  2. Seek out family and friends.  My husband was ultimately the one who told me not to let this one editor be the one to make me quit the career I had dreamed of since I was seven.  I am grateful that he sat me down and gave me the “you listen here” speech, and I am grateful I listened.
  3. Join a local writing group.  Years ago when I walked into my first writing group meeting with my four-month-old daughter on my hip, I never realized just how valuable the Range Writers would be.  I have gained insights, confidence, and lasting friendships from this group of people with whom I share the same goal.   
  4. Attend a writer’s conference. The classes offered, the presentations of the speakers, the networking with agents, editors, and other writers all add to the immense value of attending a writer’s conference. While some conferences can be pricey, many offer scholarships. One of my friends wrote an essay that won her a scholarship. Another friend, who, while able to afford the conference, was unable to afford the transportation. Amazingly enough, her physical therapist was traveling to the city where the conference was to be held and offered her a ride there and back. For more information on how to prepare for a writer’s conference, please see
  5. Find an editor.  Every writer has an inborn antennae to “catch” things others may miss.  When I heard that my new neighbor was a retired teacher who had once taught English, my antennae went on full alert.  Now was the time to find out if I should be writing as a profession.  With several manuscripts in hand, I walked over to her house and asked if she would be willing to edit my work.  She was honored.  Since that time, I have learned extensively about punctuation and have had many typos caught by this woman who I am proud to call my editor.  She gives me honest and constructive criticism – and that’s what a good editor does.
  6. Discover your niche(s).  So maybe writing about bicycling wasn’t my niche. What about other topics?  I believe there are as many topics as there are writers to write about them.  So, I found my niches.   When I look back on the articles sold, I find that most of them fall under one or more of the following categories: they are geared toward teenagers, include some type of spirituality, or deal with health and fitness.  Does that mean I can’t write about other topics?  No, it just means that for now I am perfecting, focusing, and honing a few niches.
  7. Develop a “happy file.”  I have never kept my rejections (there is a reason why my outdoor garbage can is next to my mailbox!)  But, I DO keep thank-you notes from people I have interviewed, congratulatory notes, newspaper write-ups about me, and “atta girl” letters from editors.  I place all these in a file to revert to whenever I need that extra motivation.
  8. Examine your motives.  There is a reason why a person wants to be a writer.  For me, it was my dream before I could use a computer.  The idea of dreaming up new things to write about and then proceeding with the written project is exciting and challenging to me.  Examine why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.  Write down the three main reasons.  File it away in your “happy file” and read it whenever you feel like giving up.
  9. Keep an “idea file.”  Ideas always come to me while I am taking a shower or suffering from insomnia.  I quickly write these ideas down and file them in my “idea file.”  This is a highly motivational tool.  If you don’t write those articles and stories, who will?
  10. Realize opinions are subjective.  I realized that everyone has his own opinion and what may not look good to one editor may look acceptable to another.  Keep this in mind when you receive a rejection letter.  That was one editor.  Big deal!  There are a million more and they all have different opinions.  The chances are good that one of them could easily like the article you are proposing.
  11. Look back to the past.  Whenever I am feeling discouraged, I look back at old query letters  I wrote at the beginning of my career.  I am amazed at how far I have come.  Keep copies of the queries you send – this is a great way to track your progress in the future.
  12. DO NOT GIVE UP.  I am a firm believer in perseverance.  Stick with your dream, and someday your dream will be realized.

Very inspirational.  Thanks for sharing your story, Penny.  Is there anything you'd like to share on the release of your book, Kaydie   

In the 1800s, there was nowhere for a woman to go if she found herself in an abusive marriage. Her choices were limited. The story of Kaydie takes place in 1882. While Kaydie felt so alone and helpless at times while being married to an abusive man, she sought the Lord through prayer. Though she didn’t yet have a personal relationship with Him, she did know that God would hear those prayers and that He would help her. God is not unaware of what goes on in the world He created and His heart breaks at the painful experiences His children go through at the hands of another. In Psalm 139 we are told “before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” God knew Kaydie’s choice in a husband had led her to a life of manipulation and abuse, and He loved her, cared for her, and protected her and her unborn child.

I also wanted to show throughout the pages of Kaydie that wounds from an abusive marriage do not heal overnight and there is no “quick fix.” Such painful scars from the physical, emotional, and mental turmoil take time to overcome. But with God’s unconditional love and help, revealed through the people He placed in Kaydie’s path, she would ultimately find peace and healing.

Sounds like a very powerful book.  Can you share an excerpt with us?  

Jonah opened the door and stepped inside the house, and that’s when he saw her. Sleeping peacefully with a miniature baby quilt-in-progress spread across her lap was Kaydie Kraemer, McKenzie’s younger sister. Her head rested against the back of the fancy blue chair McKenzie had ordered from Boston; her long, wavy blonde hair cascaded over her right shoulder; and her petite, stocking-clad feet were propped on the bottom rung of a nearby chair. Her slender arms were folded across her belly, and her rosy lips were parted slightly as she breathed with a soft, feminine snore. Jonah stopped for a moment to take in the sight, struck by the beauty before him.

Jonah knew something of Kaydie’s past and of her marriage to a cruel husband named Darius. He knew she’d suffered at his hands, and that he had died in a bank robbery gone awry. From what McKenzie had told him, Kaydie’s married life had been anything but peaceful. However, reclined in the chair—which looked completely out of place in the otherwise rustic, sparsely decorated living room—she had an aura of peace about her that tugged at the deep recesses of Jonah’s heart.

He glanced at the fireplace and saw that the fire had gone out, save for the small glow of an ember hidden in one of the black logs. Kaydie must have been sleeping for some time. Was she cold? Should he cover her up with a blanket? Jonah gulped at the unexpected concern he felt, and he debated whether to go back outside and return later so as not to continue violating Kaydie’s privacy. Where was everyone else? His mind returned to the noises he’d heard in the barn. No doubt Zach and McKenzie were out there with Davey. McKenzie took as much delight in swinging from the rope in the barn and falling into the hay pile as Davey did.

As quietly as he could, Jonah walked over to the table and set down the box of goods. He then turned and tiptoed toward Kaydie, pausing for a moment to pick up the large crocheted blanket from the wooden chair next to the fireplace.

When he reached Kaydie’s chair, he carefully lifted the small baby quilt she had been working on and replaced it with the larger, much warmer, crocheted blanket. He spread it gently over her shoulders, hoping not to disturb her, and made sure it covered her completely. Next, he would stoke the fire, he thought as he smoothed out the blanket. He knew next to nothing about pregnant women but figured it was important to keep them warm.

The blanket nearly covered Kaydie’s legs when she opened her eyes and gasped. “What are you doing?” she exclaimed.

Jonah stood up straight and held up his arms defensively. “Kaydie! Uh, you were sleeping, and I…uh—”

“Get away from me, please,” she said, her voice trembling.

“I…uh, all right.” Jonah took a step back from her and watched as she leaned back as far as the chair would allow and pulled the blanket tightly around her. “Kaydie…” he began, intending to explain himself.

“I don’t know what you were doing, but please leave,” she said.

“I walked in and saw you sleeping. The fire had almost burned out, so I thought I’d cover you with a warmer blanket. I—I didn’t want you to be cold.”

“I wasn’t cold,” Kaydie insisted.

“That’s good,” said Jonah. “I was going to get the fire going again, too.”

“Do you make a habit of sneaking up on people, Mr. Dickenson?” Kaydie demanded…

Excerpt from pages 27, 28, & 29 of Kaydie by Penny Zeller, © 2011, with permission of the publisher, Whitaker House (

Love that excerpt.  Thanks for sharing.  Do you have a book trailer?

Link for book trailer: 

Bio: Penny Zeller is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles in national and regional publications. She is also the author of the humor blog “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author” ( She is an active volunteer in her community, serving as a women’s Bible study small-group leader and co-organizing a women’s prayer group. Penny devotes her time to assisting and nurturing women and children into a closer relationship with Christ.  Her passion is to use the gift of the written word that God has given her to glorify Him and to benefit His kingdom. Kaydie follows McKenzie in Montana Skies, her first series with Whitaker House. When she’s not writing, Penny enjoys spending time with her family and camping, hiking, canoeing, and playing volleyball. She and her husband, Lon, reside in Wyoming with their two children. Penny loves to hear from her readers at her Website,

Penny, I'm glad you stopped by today to share your inspirational writing journey and to let us know more about your book, Kaydie.  

I hope everyone sticks around for a while and chats with us because anyone who comments will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Penny's new book, Kaydie.  Thanks for joining us today.  

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