Empowered to Network

Category: Self-Improvement – Writing

My Favorite Blogs and Why– Part II of V

Digital Dictionary Blog Follow Like ConceptsIn my last blog, I mentioned how the amount of social media continues to increase, giving us all a chance to learn and share information. As our lives get complicated with more and more responsibilities, it makes it harder for us to read everything that comes through our inbox.

I decided to share with you some of the blogs that I read that are fascinating to me for two reasons. First, their material is helpful and creative, focused on improving our craft, whether you’re a writer, an indie author, self-published or traditionally published author. Second, they are often posted, available at all times and have something unique. I admire that these bloggers find and dedicate their time to enrich our lives.

Last week I mentioned the following five:

Molly Greene Writer– She is a well-known blogger and published author of fiction and non-fiction, both outstanding pieces of work.

Author Unpublished Cary Morton’s describes her blog as “Brutally Honest Reviews” and also features on Fridays called “Free Fiction Friday” and it’s a list of fiction books, mainly Young Adults that are for free in Amazon. Don’t miss it.

Benjamin Wallace Books has carved the way for writers to incorporate videos in their blogs which make them more personal. Sarcastic and very funny, he is also very knowledgeable and shares many helpful hints.

Positive Thoughts – They send pictures that are just breathtaking and typically include an inspirational quote inside the picture. This is a great source for tweeting and sharing with others.

New York Public Library –Their resources are endless; writing tips and advice, info on author publications, current events, trends and many more. Also this a great source for tweeting to others.

This week I add four more to my list:


Writers Helping Writers

Writers Helping Writers is another great blog. First, I love the look, combining classical with high-tech functions. Their suggestions focus on writing improvement and beyond. In the last post, “Tips When Writing Multiple POV Novels” (a challenge in itself) Angela Ackerman had author Lisa Gail use her novel Soul Crossed to walk us through her suggestions, in a very detailed way. In one, concise post, we received so much useful information, and most of it, from the author’s perspective. I’ve seen this blog use this format before and have thoroughly enjoyed it. They also have the largest thesaurus collection of anyone I know in their blog section under “Thesaurus Collection.” You can add your ideas to their Suggestion Box. I strongly recommend this blog!


The Book Designer

The Book Designer is as they say, “practical advice to help build better books”. For some unknown reason, the first time I saw the title of this blog, I thought that it only related to the design of book covers. Nothing can be farther from the truth. In my opinion, Joel Friedlander has done a marvelous job in bringing almost everything that a writer would want to know or need for their craft, under one umbrella. Topics from marketing, book reviews, cover design, social media, interviews, and so forth. I have not had the opportunity to read everything in this site but I refer to it when I need to drill into a topic. I encourage you to visit this site and get familiarized with its contents. You will be pleasantly surprised.


The Write Life

The Write Life is a beautifully organized blog site that I love not only for the information that it publishes but for its simplicity of use. The pictorial icons that they use to get access to the articles give the site a very interactive feel. As they describe in their “About” section, written by Alexis Grant, Managing Editor, they are a “community, featuring contributors who specialize in ebook promotion, blogging, finding an agent, and more. We give writers with experience and knowledge a place to share what they’ve learned, so we can all keep moving forward.” And in my opinion, they definitely meet their mission. You can be a contributor and write for their blog as long as you meet their guidelines published on the site. I just happen to run into this blog during some recent research that I did on self-publishing. While it was not in my original list of twenty, after reading a few of the articles, I couldn’t help but to include it. Terrific Blog!


A Writer’s Path

You can always count on Ryan Lanz to publish his Inspiration Point quote at least weekly. His blogs could be as simple as a quote, an article, a book review and even an interview. It’s like a box of chocolate—like many other blogs. But one interesting feature that I feel sets him apart is his Writer’s Tool Box. He has created a concise list of ideas to improve your writing from other writers and sources, in addition to his own experience and documented them in, what he terms a “Tool Box”. He makes the list accessible to subscribers. It is a very original idea. He is also very approachable and willing to help others.

My Favorite Blogs and Why– Part I of V

Social media has given us an immense amount of choices and information. Between our jobs, family or other responsibilities, it is difficult enough to find time to read books, let alone blogs. We are constantly getting bombarded with great blog information. Sometimes, I email the blog link to my email so I can save it and read it when I have time. I read every blog I subscribe to and wish I could subscribe to many more. I’ve enlisted into a speed reading program hoping I can improve my reading skills and try to catch up with the mounds of information that are now available in the market.

I decided to share with you some of the blogs that I read that are fascinating to me for two reasons. First, their material is helpful and creative, focused on improving our craft, whether you’re a writer, an indie author, self-published or traditionally published author. Second, they are often posted and available at all times. The bloggers are dedicated writers and authors that find the time to enrich our lives.

I cannot be grateful enough to them for everything that I have learned. There are many; so I will have to limit my blog to five parts to include my top twenty. I hope that you enjoy reading them and help support them so that they continue feeding us with their knowledge.



Molly Greene: Writer

Molly Greene’s blog is my favorite. She is a published author of fiction and non-fiction, both outstanding pieces of work. One of her most helpful books is “Blog It” and as she describes, it is “The author’s guide to building a successful online brand”. This is a must have! She is genuine, approachable and consistent in delivering quality articles. I am subscribed to her tweets so as soon as she issues her post, I get it. Even her older posts are useful. I can’t say enough about Molly Greene. She has a large following because she’s earned it.

Her topics vary from social media, to writing tips, to sharing other authors’ works and so forth. You will greatly benefit by being subscribed to her twitter, blog and newsletter.

Author Unpublished – Brutally Honest Reviews

Cary Morton’s describes her blog as “Brutally Honest Reviews”, and believe me when I say that they are. I had my share with my first published book. But her honesty and thoroughness are to be admired. She explains bit by bit the weaknesses and strengths of a book. After reading some of the books she’s reviewed I can tell you, she is right on the mark. There is nothing worst that to waste your time on a book that is poorly edited or constructed. Her reviews are honest and creditable. She is also very approachable.

I’ve read many blogs that say it’s a no, no to contact your reviewer, especially when you have a very bad review. Well, I did when I got my one star from her, with the purpose of thanking her for the points she made, which after deep reflection I agreed she was right. It helped me tremendously to focus on some of my weaknesses and learn from her comments. Then I asked her if I wrote another book, if she would give me another chance and review it. Her answer astonished me. She said that not only would she give me a second chance, that she would give me a third, a fourth, a fifth; a review for each book I wrote. She would not hold against me that my first book lacked luster. But instead would continue to be the professional reviewer that she is. So if you want an honest review of your book, she is the person to contact. She also has a feature on Fridays called “Free Fiction Friday” and it’s a list of fiction books, mainly Young Adults that are free in Amazon. Don’t miss it.

Benjamin Wallace Books

Ben Wallace is a wonderful author of adventure books. Imaginative and highly creative, Ben re-invented himself, his blog and marketing strategy by changing the way he reaches his fans. He uses super hilarious videos to convey his message. He had stopped writing for a couple of years and it wasn’t until recently when he decided to make some drastic changes and become what he calls, A Professional Writer. This is one of the most original blogs I’ve seen and I really think he’s onto something. He has carved the way for writers to incorporate videos in their blogs which make them more personal. It’s almost like having a conversation with the author. Sarcastic and very funny, he is also very knowledgeable and shares many helpful hints. This is a great blog.

Positive Thoughts

This for me is a must have. I read it every day as a source of inspiration. What I like about this blog is that it provides positive quotes from all aspects of life. Most of the quotes are from the blogger and not from authors. I get many tweets with author quotes so no need for more. They send pictures that are just breathtaking and typically include an inspirational quote inside the picture. This is a great source for tweeting and sharing with others. If you want to be inspired and send these thoughts via social media to others, this is a great source for sharing.

New York Public Library

Another one of my favorite blogs/newsletter is published by the New York City Library. Their resources are endless; writing tips and advice, info on author publications, current events, trends and many more. Due to the amount of information, it is not one that I visit on a daily visit. But at least, once or twice per week, I dedicate about half hour perusing through posts that challenge my mind. This is another blog that I send to my email to later read it at my leisure. Also, when I tweet, I use this as one of my sources and many times, it has been well received.


These are five of my twenty favorite blogs. In my next posts, I will continue to share with you others and my reasons why I find them helpful. Which blogs are your favorite ones? Please feel free to share your feedback.

Revisiting an Old Story

Short Story

The War Games from How Salsa Saved My Life

By Vivian Towers


“Bang , Bang”, I’m startled by the loud, Salsa music lyrics that blasted from my seventeen year old brother’s room. “Bang, Bang” pretty much described the relationship between my brother and me. At thirteen years old, my curious teenage nature drove him crazy.

My parents called the upstairs of our house the war zone, with barricades and yellow tape marking our territories. I had my bathroom, he had his; the hall in front of my room was taped as mine and the one in front of his room was taped as his. We even established passwords for our friends to make sure they were not infiltrating our camps with information from the enemy line. The stairs remained neutral territory as we had yet to find a way for a practical division of nations.

Our troubles began when some tacky stuff from his room disappeared; a poster of Janet Jackson and her Super Ball slip (really?), a statue of a Manneken pis boy from Brussels and the green gruesome monster hand he slapped me around with every Halloween night. Of course, he blamed me for stealing his things when I’m sure one of his closest friends did me the favor. Being blamed for something you’ve never done is torture, especially when it comes to my brother. After the incident, I found broken figurines and missing Legos. I treasured those with all my heart and he knew it. His way for retaliation left me no choice but to declare war.

Shouting matches flooded the dining room, living room and any area that we frequented around the house. The day when we got into a small fist fight became the day when my parents finally intervened and set the War game, as they called it.

World War III had erupted in the Torres family and a peace treaty was nowhere in sight. So my dad, a retired vet, proposed the idea of establishing a war zone. Enemy lines and neutral areas would be marked with yellow plastic ribbons. Our rooms became our barricades and safe zones. Finally, he drafted a temporary seize fire agreement which we both signed. We would not fight, nor talk bad language, carpool together and stop invading each other’s space. If we defied the rules, we would be grounded for no less than a week.

Though tensions were high, we tried to follow the agreement at school. The amount of and obvious dirty looks we gave to each kept our friends at a good distance when they saw us approaching. Afraid that the Torres bomb would go off, the teachers got involved and scheduled our classes to be apart from one another. Almost like using a map, they delineated our paths not to cross.

My brother suggested carpooling with some of his friends to avoid my presence but my parents drew the line.

“One day, this will all be over and both of you will be laughing about this silly spectacle. Sooner or later one of you will need something from the other. While we do not support your current relationship, we know that the day when you come together will be memorable and you’re relationship stronger,” Mom said one evening during dinner. My dad chuckled but I was not amused. At least for now, the dim light at the end of the tunnel didn’t show signs of igniting.

Four months later, I was invited to my first school dance by Peter Garcia. He’s such a “hottieee”, everyone would say. Nervous of my dancing skills, my girlfriends got together after school and in my room practiced for hours. We watched “YouTube” videos and listened to music from different genres.

War games

We were confident that we would rock except when it came to Salsa and Merengue dancing. With our school being predominantly populated by Hispanics, we knew we had to master Salsa and Merengue. But how? We all counted on Jessica who boasted of her knowledge and “natural abilities” but her stiffness extended to her hips. It was not her fault, she was Irish. I was running out of options so I asked my dad.

My dad worked twelve hours a day at CompuLess, an internet company near our home. But one night, he made some time and volunteered to show me. He had been a good dancer in his younger years. He still could “rumba” but my mother didn’t like dancing so it had been a while since he last shook his body. When you don’t practice, you become rusty and, Oh My Gosh, was he rusty. Not to mention, somewhat impatient. I have to remember to never ask him to teach me how to drive.

“Vivian, you have to move your hips. Follow my feet, back and forth” he said several times. Finally, after trying for hours, I gave up and in frustration ran up to my room and cried.

Now, my brother was an excellent dancer perhaps even with the ability to be on television, maybe like “In Living Color” just as Jlo. Maybe he could show me? But no such luck! It would snow in Miami before I would ask for his help. So, I accepted my fate. Aha! Maybe I can “google” Mmm, Excuses to tell your partner why you can’t dance? You can find anything in the internet these days! I had to think of something because missing the chance for my first kiss with one of the cutest guys in school was not an option.

One evening, my parents decided to have a date night and leave me under my brother’s care for a few hours. “Bang, Bang”. I’m startled by the same Salsa song that my brother played the other night. But this time, not only did I recognize the song, but also felt it pierce my soul. Even though I had to finish my multiplication homework, I was too distracted, the rhythm of the bongos and the loud noise from the trumpets made me tremble. My unstoppable fascination for the beat got me out of bed and heading to his room. Determined, I tip-toed down the hall to find my brother’s door slightly open, tempting my inquisitive nature. Ignoring the yellow tapes safeguarding his space and his DO NOT DISTURB sign, I approached his door and quietly peaked inside.

His exquisite, choreographed Salsa moves with his invisible dance partner filled me with envy. I pushed open the door with caution, just to get a closer glimpse of his class act performance. But the loud creak of the old, wooden door interrupted his concentration. He saw me. Oh no, here it comes. He screamed, “Vivian, you’re breaking the rules…” Frozen in fear, I listened and waited for him to finish his bombastic sermon. This time, I knew I was grounded for life. Think fast, think fast. And like magic, I found my voice. “I’m sorry, it’s just that you are the best dancer in the world. I wish I could do some of those moves. But the girls just laugh at me when I dance and I’m going to my first dance with Peter.” My eyes watered. Defeated, I turned around to leave the room.

“Wait, do you want me to show you?” he replied. Speechless, I turned to face him and with wide open eyes, nodded. He grabbed my left hand and placed it on his shoulder, then my right hand, on his waist. His eyes and head movements directed my footsteps, backwards then forward. We began dancing slow at first, but gained momentum as I loosened up my body, mainly my hips. “Bang, Bang, Ah, Beep, Beep”– the music lyrics still played 20140701_1533522.jpg in the background. Though not an expert, I became his invisible partner. My ear to ear smile thrilled him, as he sang louder and louder. He lifted me up by the waist and swirled me around until we became dizzy. Once he placed me back down, we tried to keep our balance, but couldn’t and fell on the floor. We laughed, hugged, bonded. And then, it finally hit me, we were back together and like my mom said, stronger than ever, but phew, that was a close one “Bang, Bang”.

A Form of Social Networking

Social media written on old typewriter

A while back I wrote a story named, “How Salsa Saved My Life” and posted it on my blog. This story was in response to a challenge from Writeon Kindle that requested a story in which dancing helped you get out of a sticky situation.

Months later, I would be involved with my story one more time. I just joined a writer’s critique group for writers and authors. They are a wonderful group of people and focus on helping each other in a professional manner. There are 6 to 7 members and meet at a public library three Saturdays of the month. They bring no more than 1200 words of their stories on a paper copy for each member in the group to read and write their comments. The first few hours, we read each other’s work, not only looking for proof edits but also for ideas to clarify the storyline, characters and other components of the story. While this process is not intended to replace the function of a professional editor, we do enjoy learning from each other’s ideas and writing styles. The last Saturday of the month, we vote for a topic and each member writes a story, again no longer than 1200 words. We meet in a social setting where everyone reads their story. We comment, laugh and enjoy time getting to know each other on a social level.

Last Saturday, the topic was on siblings or other family members. Well, since I don’t have a sibling and writing about my mom is out of the question, I decided to create a story about the brother I always wish I had. I remembered my previous story on Salsa, so I decided to expand on it and change the focus. After doing so, I realized that sometimes you may write a piece you are happy with but as the editorial process, there is always room for change and improvement. I don’t think I will change or use my story again, I try to never say never. After all, like life, writing is a work in progress!

I will be posting the story separately.  I hope you enjoy it.


Do You Prep Before You Write?

Young Woman Doing Stretching Exercises before JoggingI have been reading many articles on blogs by authors and writers regarding disciplined writing regimens that will improve your writing timelines and make you feel more engaged. After reading, I realized I have my own regimen. My routine has helped me extend my writing sprints and staying the course. I take some breaks, but with my routine, I seldom need them.

Below is my “Prep to Write” routine and hope you may find some of these things helpful.

  1. First, I call my writing buddy to check her availability. We will either meet at Panera’s or run sprints from our homes. If we work from home, we text each other the time, ready set and go. Once we are done, we do a count of words and decide whether to continue or not. It works like a charm as we cheer each other on and push each other as far as we can.
  2. If my buddy is not available and I’m writing alone, then I let everyone in my family know not to disturb or distract me. If there is an emergency PLEASE call 911 or grandma. She always knows what to do.
  3. I get my writing snacks together and place them next to my desk or bed (what would we do without laptops); Hershey chocolate and water are a must. I try to get my real brain food, breakfast, lunch or dinner before I start writing.
  4. I installed an Audio Manager on my phone to control the volumes for all notifications including media, alerts, texts, alarm and phone. I then silence everything except for my phone and alarm which I adjust to a low setting.
  5. Inspiration can come from different sources. In most cases, I refer to “The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words” which I bought “Used” from Amazon. I highly recommend it as a reference guide. I review the definitions of five to ten words and then may or may not use them. But mainly, it helps turn my brain switch “On”.
  6. I do between one to two minutes of meditation, focusing on thoughts of gratefulness. This exercise helps appease my mind and spirit. Then, I spend some time stretching, concentrating on my hands, arms and upper body.
  7. Finally, I set the alarm to sixty minutes at low volume and I’m ready to “rumba”.
  8. When I get stuck I look at the site “Writers Helping Writers (http://writershelpingwriters.net/) where I found “The Emotion Thesaurus” (http://writershelpingwriters.net/the-emotion-thesaurus-a-writers-guide-to-character-expression/) and “The Emotion Amplifier”, (http://writershelpingwriters.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Emotion-Amplifiers-2.pdf) both from authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Buglisi. Both books offer great suggestions to character expression.
  9. Once the hour is over, like a “Do Loop”, I start the process all over again!

Though it can take ten to fifteen minutes to get ready, I have found that I have greater stamina and peace before I embark on my journey.

I would love to know if you have any special “Prep” regimens that help you before you start to write. I’m sure others would also be interested in your comments. Happy writing!

“Your Book Sucks!” (How to Take Criticism) by Amy Spahn’s Series (BIYC)

Amy Spahn is a freelance writer who encourages aspiring authors by providing exceptional constructive criticism to help them produce compelling work. In the beginning of this year, she started a series of Book in a Year Challenge (BIYC) and every month she published segments related to publishing and more. One of my favorite articles is titled, “Your Book Sucks!” (How to Take Criticism). For me, it was timely and insightful. I hope you it enjoy it as much as I did. For more information on Amy’s Blog, refer to the tab on my blog named “Great Blogs”.

Some of the Best No-Fee Writing Contests in 2015

There are no sweeter words to me than those of my 11 year old daughter telling me, “Mommy, I like that story in your book.” That with the emotions and passion that I feel when I write are priceless. That’s the best award I can ever receive.  But having your work recognized among peers and writing contest sponsors add icing to the chocolate cake.

As most writers are already aware, getting recognition as a writer is difficult. With the advent of ebooks and self-publishing, the marketplace is more cluttered than ever, making it harder and harder to stand out from the crowd.

Writing contests are, therefore, highly relevant to the writer looking to make a splash in his or her niche; while the compensation for many of these contests tends to be moderate in nature, they are an invaluable means of getting one’s name out there and adding a feather to one’s cap when it comes to self-promotion.

Writer Award

Likewise, contests provide the chance for recognition not just among other writers and potential readers, but also among family. Placing well in a contest often draws the attention of these people; once you have such credentials to your name, they take a whole new interest in what you do, which can be incredibly validating.

There is one caveat however: Many writing contests charge an entry fee, and while these fees may look small at first glance, if one plans on entering many contests, these fees will quickly add up. To help writers avoid this pitfall, the following list of no-fee writing contests for 2015 is being provided:

• FreelanceWriting.com (http://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing-contests.php) provides an extensive list of upcoming contests, some of which offer substantial rewards (the The Danuta Gleed Literary Award, for instance, awards $10,000 to its winner, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize offers $7500). One can easily filter results by date and genre, making finding the right contest for one’s specialty a snap.

• Writerviews.com (http://writersviews.com/writing-contests.php)  also offers several contests with excellent compensation, including a rather unique Sitcom Writing Contest which awards $10,000 to the winning script, plus the possibility of it actually being picked up for use on television. There are also plentiful poetry contests, which makes this an ideal place to look for no-fee contests if you’re a poet. Plus, humor writers with a bit of bite in their style will be delighted by the Satirist Comedy Writing Contest, which seeks “the next George Carlin”.

• Chanticleer Book Reviews (http://chantireviews.com/) features a list of “Blue Ribbon” writing contests for 2014-15, spanning several different genres and promising international exposure.

• Poets and Writers lists a number of contests which are hosted by very prestigious faculties, such as Yale. Many of these contests focus on themes, such as the impact of music, and there are quite a few options on the list specific to poetry.

Also take a look at http://chantireviews.com/contests/ and http://www.pw.org/writing_contest_updates for information on additional contest.

So get involved and give it a shot.  You have nothing to lose, especially when it’s free to enter.  Good luck and Keep Writing!


Going Against Expert Advice: Lessons Learned by a Newbie

As I start this article, I feel like Jerry McGuire when he wrote his Mission Statement. Some people disagreed with his concept of spending more time with his clients even if it meant less revenue for the company where he worked. But at the end of the movie, not only did he win the heart of his lovely wife but also came to learn many lessons about his craft. And this is my intention. I am writing this article to share with you how going against the grain can sometimes be painful to your ego, force you to take the longest distance to your destination and in some cases, you may have to reinvent yourself again. Would I change any of the actions I took that got me here today, No, I wouldn’t. It’s been a journey full of lessons and as I sit here, I know similar situations will be around the corner. But now, I will follow the expert advice that is readily available all over the internet.

So, I will share my story as I share some ideas that looking back would have made better sense and hope that at least for some of the newbies, this information will be helpful.

1. Find a Writing Buddy

The main reason I started to write was because I had a friend who encouraged me to join the Nanowrimo Contest. It took me several weeks to spell and pronounce the name correctly. I had just quit my job to dedicate more time to my special needs child who was attending elementary school. I had the time and for some reason, the hunger to write and express myself on paper. I was fortunate that my writing buddy is an excellent writer and had several years of experience under her belt. Also, the one-on–one offered me more time to discuss questions and issues that came up during my writing.

2. Take your time to publish your first novel; Find a Good Editor

So I entered the contest and in two weeks, completed my novel. First mistake, I decided to split the novel into a series and then publish it a few months later. I did have the novel edited by a professional editor, but only once. Even though I edited my work at least six times, a professional is the key to creating quality work. Also, be selective in choosing your editor. I know it’s expensive but it’s worth it. Later in the article I will share with you the consequence of poor editing choices. Do your research, ask people in the industry for recommendations; my conclusion is to select a good, professional editor even if you have to pay more money. I’m living a conservative lifestyle and don’t have money to blow away but if you are committed to be in this business long term, then look at it as an investment.

3. Take your time to publish your first novel; Research your audience

I had not read books for a long time before I wrote my novel. But ask me about any movie and I can tell you anything you want to know. I was and continue to be a movie junkie. As a result, I did have many ideas for good plots that I felt I could convert to novels. To top it all, I was a Healthcare consultant and travelled around the States and the world, spending many hours in planes. So I read many books but they were professional, self-improvement and non-fiction books. This alone gave me the confidence to write. When you are unaware of your audience, you have a big chance of failing in this business because they are your customers. Like any company, knowing your customer is the most important aspect in developing a product that they will buy. If you are in this field to write and never make a penny, then this may not be important to you. But in my case, I would like to be paid for my services and do not want to release bad quality work because it reflects on my reputation. Been there, done that.

4. Take your time to publish your first novel; Research your genre

Once you select your genre, this suggestion goes hand in hand with the earlier one. Read books in your genre so that you can understand the wording that is being used. The audience likes the genre because of the way that it’s written so if you write something completely out of the ball park, they will put that book down in the first inning and they will never buy another one from you again.

5.  Subscribe to Blogs and Read Them

When you have a family and a full-time job, it’s hard to make time for all the demands of this business so take your Time. The business is not going to go away. I’m over 50 years old and changing to a different discipline has been a very humbling experience. Having been a successful Health Care executive and owning three business, to transfer and start in this career has not been an easy road, and I’ve come to accept that it will be very bumpy for a while. But when I went to a Statewide Writer’s Conference not too long ago, I noticed that many of the writers were either my age, and in many cases older. I cannot tell you what a sense of relief that offered me. It gave me hope that I can write for a very long time and still make it. Yes, there are many young and wonderful writers that we can learn from and will be around for a long time too. So age doesn’t matter in this business. Also, make sure you network because many authors will be your clients. Take your time.

6. To  Blog or Not to ; That is the Question

Well, if you are reading this you know where I stand with that. But it’s been over a year that I’ve been writing and just started a blog. With determination, I will continue it. A major part of your success will depend on marketing your product and social media will get the word of your novel out in the market. This part of the business is the scariest for me not because of its complexity but of the time commitment it requires. I cannot say, Take your time, because in this case you need to be available at whatever time. So know that once you publish your novel, if you don’t start the ball rolling, you are going to miss momentum and potential opportunities that will make your book successful. I found the following website in researching which web hosting product to select,


I decided to start now because I’m planning to publish my 4th book in the spring if 2015.

7. Research your Publishing Options

With the internet and eBooks, there are so many options for publishing; indie, self-publishing, hybrid, traditional and so on. Compare them and check which one not only fits your financial goals but also your time limitations. Your time is money and if you go pure self-publishing, your flying solo. Some people love it and after doing it several times, it’s become second nature for them. But there are options that will support you in some aspects of the business, allowing you time to breath. Whatever you decide, be aware that the marketing will mainly fall on your lap. The audience wants to see you so no matter which route you take, if you make it big, be ready to travel and invest considerable amounts of time unless you can clone yourself.

8. Reviews of Your Work Can Hurt

One of my first reviews was a one star. That evening I called my writing buddy and cried like a baby. And for those of you who think I was exaggerating, I’m just a very sentimental person. After a few days, I re-read the check and did what everyone tells you not to do; I emailed my reviewer. However, my email was not to insult her but instead to thank her. I think she was shocked and to be honest, I didn’t think she would respond. But she is professional and did. Every point that she noted from the fact that I wrote like a child, that my work should’ve been edited more, that after 11 pages, she had to put the book down and that she couldn’t believe anyone would ever release a book in that condition, I analyzed and concluded that she had given me the aspects of the novel that I had to check to improve it. For me, that was priceless. I’m now in the process of editing the book and publishing a 2nd edition and will feel proud to do so. And every bad review that I got for the book, I will read and take into consideration. In my email, I explained to her that it was my first book and that the 2nd one of the series was in the process of being released. I asked her if she would give me another chance. And she said, not only a 2nd, but a 3rd, a 4th and so on because this is what she does. She reviews books not only for her audience but also for the writers to consider suggestions for improvement. Since then, I’ve kept in communication and have utmost respect for her work. I will be sending her my new book in the spring and hope she enjoys it.

9. Your Reviews Can Hurt Other Writers

No one likes to have their baby called ugly so my recommendation is not what you say but how you say it. I have not been the most diplomatic person when it comes to this. Perhaps being in Consulting and telling companies how to improve their operations hardened my speech. This is an area that I need to work on. I’ve seen the work of some colleagues and while I’m the least person to have the ability to give a proper opinion, I can at least recognize some syntax, POV and character consistency issues. When I see how some writers give their comments in such a soft yet assertive way, I applaud them. Now if you are a professional reviewer, your job is to be assertive and direct but from one colleague to another, you can be less aggressive. Again, this is just my opinion.


There are many other lessons I learned but these were the major ones. So to summarize, after going through these experiences, I changed my pen name. Yep, my insecurity got to me and decided to start anew. Interestingly enough, I do like my new pen name better than my old one and will not be changing it even if I get remarried. This is a craft and I need to learn many skills. I am taking internet courses for writing but am planning to go back to school and take some formal English writing courses as recommended by my writing buddy. There are so many factors that will influence your success and skills in one of them. But I think that the most important one is to be determined and be ready to like rollercoasters because you will have lots of ups and downs; but if you have the desire and passion to write, it will be a great ride. Finally, thank you Writing Buddy for being my seat belt and helping me stay on my seat.

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