When I first began my writing journey, I had a writing blog that gained some traction on Twitter, garnering numerous shares and positive feedback. A few of my posts were even published by Short Story Writer Magazine. Over the years, I moved away from blogging, but with the creation of this website, I've decided to resurrect some of my more popular blog posts as well as publish some new ones. For those just beginning your own writing journey, I hope you find some of my tips and insight helpful. 
July 5, 2020


It’s been a scorcher here in Michigan! My body isn’t used to temperatures in the nineties; I’m more of a seventies kind of girl. And the weather isn’t the only thing that’s hot, the publishing world has been rife with new releases (see what I did there?). In particular, I’m personally looking forward to Mexican Gothic and Home Before Dark. Are there any new releases you’re looking forward to this summer? If you’re curious to learn more, I’ve included links to some of these new summer reads below. 

In the indie world, Tylor Paige, a friend of mine, just released the latest installment to her You and Me series, entitled Trusting You, Trusting Me. Each book can be read as a standalone.  If you’re looking for a hot rock star romance, be sure to check these books out!  A link to her latest release is included below.

Now for the winner of my latest giveaway.

The winner of the autographed paperback copy of The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart is…
Anita F!
Congratulations, Anita! Please respond to the email I sent to you with an address where I can send your prize. Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway. If you didn’t win this time, there’s always the next one. I love giving away books and will be announcing another giveaway soon!

To finish out your weekend, I’ve included a couple of links to some FREE eBooks on Amazon below, as well as some hot new promotions from some fabulous indie authors. 

Until next time, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

June 21, 2020

Hello and Happy Father's Day!
How was your week? Mine started out interesting enough. Last Saturday, my husband and I were finally able to get out of the house for our first official “date” in months (okay, it was to The Home Depot, but that still counts, right?). Because I’d basically been allowing myself to look like a dumpster fire for the last several weeks, I decided to glam it up a bit and pulled out my trusty eyeliner, only to discover that it had met its maker and, instead, had to resort to using my liquid liner. Can I just say how much I despise liquid liner? I originally bought it believing it would be so much easier to apply, but I soon found out how wrong I was and how much of a disaster I am with makeup. Anyway, after a long day of donning said liquid liner, when I went to remove it, it basically wouldn’t budge. Having no makeup remover and being too tired to try anything else, I eventually scrubbed it off with a washcloth until it was close to gone and went to bed.

As it would turn out, that was a bad idea.

Apparently, I scrubbed so hard that I caused a subconjunctival hemorrhage in my left eye. If you don’t know what that is or looks like, for the love of all that is holy, do yourself a favor and DON’T Google it. Seriously, it’s not pretty. However, I must say that the fact that this happened to me is completely on brand with the way my luck usually goes.

So, long story short, I spent most of this week inadvertently frightening small children and finding creative ways to keep my eye hidden from the general public.

Never a dull moment over here.

On the writing front, I decided to stick with my original plan and continue writing my book with the Bachelor theme. I’m pretty excited about it, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I also received word from my producer that the audiobook for When Time Stands Still will be ready for my review on July 1, meaning its release is in the very near future.

Okay, on to the giveaway I mentioned earlier. I recently acquired a signed paperback copy of the talented Kate Stewart’s fabulous book, The Guy on The Right. I binge read this book and couldn’t get enough of the MCs, Theo and Laney. Because I adored it so much, I decided to give away a copy of it to one lucky newsletter subscriber. So, if you would like to be in the running to win a signed copy of The Guy on the Right, just enter my giveaway here. If for some reason you find you are unable to submit your entry, please feel free to email me and I will add you. The giveaway runs until Friday, July 3, and the winner will be announced in my next newsletter on July 5. (You must be at least 18 or older to enter this giveaway.)

Finally, because I adore free books (I mean, who doesn’t?), I’ve included not 1, not 2, but 3 freebies below along with my usual content.
Well, that's it for now. Until next time, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

June 7, 2020


Well, I would love to say that I’ve been a big ball of productivity in the writing department over the last couple of weeks, but that would be a lie. Between balancing work, home, mom life, and just plain being in a funk, writing has been put on the back burner. My husband is in the military and is often away from home, so that hasn’t helped matters. However, I will say that I’m learning how to properly maintain a pool, and I was able to effectively YouTube how to operate our new filter, so, strangely, I somehow feel accomplished. Always look on the bright side, right?

I’ll never be one of those authors who can put a book out every other month—and I’m fine with that. Kudos to those who can – that’s amazing. My ultimate goal is to release two books each year, instead of the one per year or so I’ve been doing. Up until two weeks ago, I’d been making good headway on doing just that, having outlined my new book in my head. But now I’m facing a bit of a dilemma getting back into the swing of things.

What is this dilemma, you ask?

I recently joined the Book of the Month club, where a book is sent to subscribers each month in a fun blue box. No, that’s not the dilemma; it’s actually a pretty amazing service. I’ve had great luck with their book selections and thoroughly enjoyed Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin, the May book I received. Really, if you haven’t signed up, you should do so today. 

The actual dilemma arose with my selection for this month: One To Watch. I initially selected the book based purely on the cover and didn’t bother to read the description…until a couple of days ago. Let’s just say I saw A LOT of similarities between this book and my new WIP (work in progress).  Therein lies the dilemma. Do I continue on with my latest project (there are also MANY differences), or do I start a new book entirely? I’m not sure I even know what the answer to that will be yet, but I’m confident I’ll figure it out. If anyone wants to give me any input, though, feel free.

With everything going on in the world today, it’s not lost on me that if this is the worst dilemma I’m facing right now, I’m truly blessed.

While I figure things out, I’ve included some promotions, a featured freebie for this weekend, books by some incredible indie authors, and the latest new releases in the traditionally published world below. I’m also making plans to announce another giveaway soon!
Well, that's it for now. Until next time, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

May 24, 2020

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
I can’t believe it’s almost summer! This year has flown by (which may be a good thing). Hopefully, you’re able to make the most of your long weekend, especially if you’re still under quarantine restrictions like we are in Michigan. I just pray that things can return to some semblance of normal soon.

I’ll keep this week’s newsletter short and sweet.

The audiobook for When Time Stands Still is in production!  It actually has been for a while now, but it hit some snags with everything going on this year. My hope is I’ll have some news to share surrounding its completion soon. I can’t begin to explain how surreal it is to hear someone narrate your work. It nearly brought me to tears (not like that’s hard).

There were several new releases in the book world this week, a few of which are included below, including the highly anticipated sequel to the Hunger Games. Also included is a new freebie for your reading pleasure and plenty of great deals.

I’ve made the decision to cut my newsletter back to every other week over the summer (beginning this week). My family and I are active, staying busy during the summer months. We love to travel and are sometimes pretty spontaneous with our excursions, so I thought it would be for the best.

Well, that's it for now. Until next time, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!
May 17, 2020

Hi, Everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had one hectic week! By day, I’m a paralegal, and although my job can be quite fulfilling most of the time, the stress factor is through the roof.  Luckily, I have some time off this coming week. Both my sanity and my yard need some extra tending to.

My amazing daughters really stepped up for Mother’s Day. My youngest (8) completely melted my heart when she presented me with a homemade card with $30 of her own birthday/Christmas money tucked inside. She felt bad because she couldn’t go to the store to buy me something with her dad like she normally does, so she gave me money so that I could buy something for myself. Of course, I’m not going to keep her money, but I was very touched by the gesture and am so proud of the thoughtful, kind-hearted, and amazing young ladies both of my daughters are becoming.

Writing is underway on my next book. It has a Bachelor theme to it, which I may or may not change; but for now, I’m running with it. It just feels good to be writing again. It should come as no surprise that I’m a sucker for a good romance (rom-coms and second chance romances, in particular) and I’m in my happy place when I’m in the middle of writing one. What kind of romance reads do you enjoy?

I finished Verity by Colleen Hoover this week, and I’m still in complete shock and disbelief over it all. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers that completely mess with your head, you NEED to check this book out!

Speaking of thrillers/mysteries, below is a link to an exciting new release (A Deadly Inside Scoop) from a fellow indie author who recently became a traditionally published author after reaching a deal with Penguin Berkley. I’ve also included a freebie for the weekend and, of course, a few other bargain finds.

That's it for now. Until next week, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!
May 10, 2020

Hi, Everyone!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing moms out there! I hope you all are enjoying your day and get to spend it doing something fun and relaxing. My plans include trying to make more of a dent in the pile of books I have sitting on my dining room table (which only seems to be growing taller) and, of course, writing my next rom-com.

I received some exciting news this week! When Time Stands Still won gold for best romance at the 2020 Independent Publisher “IPPY” Book Awards! This is the fourth award (and sixth recognition) that When Time Stands Still has won, and I find myself once again humbled and encouraged by the accolades. Although rewarding, writing can be a long, arduous process, and it’s awesome to receive validation that you’re doing something right once in a while. I only wish the awards ceremony in New York could be rescheduled instead of cancelled completely. I’ve never been to New York, and it would have been the experience of a lifetime to be able to travel there and accept my award while meeting fellow authors and others in the publishing industry. I guess there’s always next year!

Okay, now for the moment many of you have been waiting for – the winner of the signed paperback copies of When Time Stands Still and When Stars Collide is Darlene J! Congratulations, Darlene! I will mail your books out to you soon.  The winner of my Facebook giveaway has been announced on my Facebook page. I plan on doing more giveaways in the future. In fact, I have something exciting coming in the mail that I plan on using in a future giveaway! 

I felt like I won the lottery this week when I was able to purchase the audiobook for Verity by Colleen Hoover for only $1.99. Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite authors. I may have been late to hop on her fan train, but now that I’m on it, I’m never getting back off.  If you’re a Colleen Hoover fan like I am (or are just looking for an outstanding read), several of her books are on sale right now on Amazon.       
There were also some great new releases this week in the traditionally published world, a couple of which I’ve included below, along with some other bargain reads and a freebie to help you get through the week.

That's it for now. Until next week, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!
May 3, 2020

Hi, Everyone!

First, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to those of you who emailed me last week to let me know there was an issue with the giveaway I posted.  I always triple check the links I post, and everything looked great on my end, but there was indeed an issue. However, because you guys (and gals) were on top of things, I was able to quickly correct it within 30-40 minutes after my newsletter went out, hopefully avoiding too much of an inconvenience for people.  If you ever notice an issue, ALWAYS  feel free to email me, so that I can do what I can to get it corrected ASAP.

You can also feel free to provide me with any book recommendations you may have. I'm always up for those!

For those of you who may have tried to enter the giveaway but couldn't, you may enter it HERE. For my new subscribers (first of all, Hi!), the prizes being given away include a signed paperback copy of my award-winning romantic comedy, When Time Stands Still, and sequel, When Stars Collide. This is the LAST week to enter, so make sure to get your entry in if you want to be included. As I also announced last week, I'm doing another giveaway on my Facebook group page. To enter that giveaway, you must be a member of my group and can become a member by clicking HERE. The Facebook giveaway is only open to US residents -sorry!

Okay, so this is completely unrelated to books, but I feel compelled to mention the significance associated with the month of May and how it relates to me personally. As many of you probably know, May is melanoma awareness month, something of which was insignificant to me until three years ago.

In the summer of 2017, I was diagnosed with melanoma, which developed in a mole I'd had on my back for as long as I can remember. About six months before I was diagnosed, I noticed a change in the mole, but due to being busy and a "It's probably nothing" attitude, I neglected to get it checked until I was at my PCP's office for a completely unrelated reason. During that appointment, a nagging voice inside my head told me I needed to get the funky-looking lesion examined.  I ignored this voice throughout the appointment, finally giving in just as the NP turned to leave the room. I expected her to tell me there was nothing to worry about, or at the very most, that I should keep an eye on it.  What I hadn't expected, however, was the concern in the NP's voice or the doctor she ushered into the room. A few weeks and a biopsy later, I was diagnosed with melanoma and was tentatively staged at 1b.

Because of the depth of my tumor, there was some concern that the cancer may have spread to my lymph nodes. Receiving this news, I was, of course, paralyzed with fear and anxiety concerning my future and what it may hold. At the time, I was right in the middle of writing When Time Stands Still. Needless to say, I wasn't in any shape to write, and I ended up setting the book aside to focus on my health. I decided immediately that I wasn't going anywhere else for treatment but the University of Michigan Melanoma Clinic, one of the best in the country and, thankfully, located not far from where I live. Not so great was the fact that, because I was going to U of M and U of M is a busy, busy, place, my surgery and subsequent biopsies wouldn't be scheduled for another two months. A planner by nature, those two months were absolute torture.

One surgery, seventeen staples across my back, and six fewer lymph nodes later, I was given the news that my melanoma hadn't spread, but I would need to remain vigilant for the rest of my life because, as my oncologist's office told me, "You never know with melanoma." 

Incidences of melanoma are increasing in the United States at an alarming rate, especially among younger women. As a woman in my thirties, I thought I was too young, but I was so very wrong and misguided. So I implore you all to do skin checks, and if you notice anything off, see a dermatologist ASAP.  For those who tan in tanning beds, please consider a safer alternative. I used tanning beds from my late teens to my mid-twenties (I even owned one), and I have no doubt that habit contributed to my later developing melanoma.

On a much, much lighter note, I finished The Happy Ever After Playlist and absolutely LOVED it (see review below). Also included below are my usual assortment of free or bargain book promotions and recommendations for your reading pleasure.

This week I'll hopefully be getting back into the swing of things as far as writing is concerned. I have several ideas swirling in my head and need to peg down one to begin working on. Many readers of When Stars Collide have expressed their desire for a book featuring the character who was left heartbroken at the end of the book. I hadn't planned on expanding on that - I guess we'll see!

That's it for now. Until next week, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!
April 26, 2020

Hi, Everyone!

This past week has certainly been a busy one.  Between tons to do at work, getting used to our new homeschooling schedule, and making the final preparations for the release of When Stars Collide, I feel like every minute of every day has been utilized to some degree.

And speaking of the release...When Stars Collide was published on Amazon yesterday! A big thank you to anyone who may have pre-ordered the book, left a review, or helped to spread the word. I can't begin to express how grateful I am for any support I receive. When Stars Collide sold more pre-order copies than any of my other books and has received some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, including these snippets:

"Mena has to be one of my favorite characters of all time..."

"Mena is an unforgettable character, one I happened to think was awesome."

"The thing I loved most about this book was that it felt so real. It deals with real life issues and conflict. Of course everyone loves a fairytale, but there’s nothing better than a character that you unexpectedly feel a kinship with, handle her heartbreak and her struggles and keep moving forward no matter how much it hurts."

" I adored the first one, When Time Stands Still, but this one was even better."

"I honestly laughed my butt off and had my heart broken and brought to both happy and sad tears while reading this book."

To show my appreciation to my readers and newsletter subscribers, I'm hosting a GIVEAWAY, wherein the winner will receive a signed paperback copy of both When Time Stands Still and When Stars Collide! The giveaway will be open until May 9, at which time a winner will be selected.  Click HERE to enter (you must be eighteen years of age or older).  I'm also going to be holding another giveaway on my Facebook group page, which will feature more swag and a $30.00 Amazon gift card.  That giveaway will be announced on my Facebook group page sometime next week.  If you would like to be included in that giveaway as well, join my Facebook group by clicking HERE. (The Facebook giveaway is only open to US residents-sorry!).  

I recently picked up the audiobook for Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore and am psyched to start it as soon as I finish The Happy Ever After Playlist. I was able to download Valentine for absolutely free per a promotion announced on The Today Show. I guess there is some benefit to working from home sometimes.

That's it for now. Until next week, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

Doing Your Duty As A Beta Reader

I can't say that I'm an expert on beta reading.  However, as a writer, I do know the importance I place on what I do and I would hope that those who choose to become beta readers would understand and appreciate this importance and place the same amount of it on the books they're critiquing.  Beta reading is a very rewarding experience (no matter what side of the fence you're on).  On one hand, it gives you the opportunity to read the works of other writers, unpublished or published.  For me, reading the books of others gives me a new perspective on my own work.  It gives me ideas on how I can better my writing and, in some cases, on what I'm doing wrong.  Being the recipient of beta reading opens up your eyes (and makes your stomach turn with anticipation while you await the results).  Other people are naturally going to see things that would have otherwise completely eluded you, whereby giving you insight on what you're doing wrong--or right, for that matter. No matter whether you intend on e-publishing or going the traditional route, I highly recommend the usage of beta readers to give your work that extra polishing.

As I mentioned, my experience with beta reading is limited, but I still like to think that I know what qualities to look for in a person who is going to beta read my work and what qualities I believe you, as a beta reader, should exhibit when evaluating the manuscripts of others:

Don't worry about hurt feelings:  Your most important job as a beta reader is to be honest.  It's not doing the author of the book you're reading any kind of service for you to sugarcoat any criticisms you may have.  As writers, one of the first things we have to develop is a thick skin.  Harsh words come with the territory.  The fact is, not everyone is going to LOVE your book (shocking, I know).  As a beta reader, you need to point out all the errors in the plot, the predictable dialogue, the errors in grammar, and--worst case scenario--whether a major re-write is going to be needed in order to salvage the book. You're there to give your honest opinion; that's why the author asked you to beta read for them in the first place.  If they're a reasonable person, they'll be able to take the verdict they receive and better their work.  If they're not, then they were never ready to handle their work being beta read in the first place.

Never beta read the works of your friends/family:  There is no way you can be 100% truthful and unbiased with those you care about.  Think of it as the crappy children's art syndrome. Okay, perhaps that's a little harsh, but for those of you with kids, you may know what I'm talking about.  When your child brings you that "puppy" they drew that looks more like an atomic bomb exploded in a room full of smurfs, your reaction isn't, "What the hell is this crap?" It's more like, "Oh my gosh, sweetie! This is so beautiful!"  And you mean it, for the most part.  When you read the works of those you care about, like it or not, there are blinders that naturally appear.  What one may perceive as awful, another may perceive as needing only a slight tweaking.  Even if those blinders never show up, there is still the thought that you are going to have to see these people on a regular basis and you don't want your words to have completely shattered their dreams (making for a very awkward Thanksgiving). Read the works of close friends and family for fun, but never go beyond that.  Giving someone false feedback is never helpful.

Break out your fine-toothed comb:  Next to being honest, a beta reader needs to be thorough.  Read each page, digest every sentence.  Don't just look for those errors that stand out, look for those errors that are camouflaged amid otherwise flawless, beautiful writing. Be watchful of small glitches in detail.  Did a character leave his or her coat at home and it has now magically appeared while said character is in the middle of a 600 mile road trip?  Are the characters being true to the original picture the author painted?  Is the story flowing like a babbling brook or is it slowly trudging uphill in a snowstorm? After reading their book a hundred times over, the author tends to become blind to the obvious; their minds mentally correct the mistakes.  Beta readers provide new eyes and have the capability of spotting those errors in detail missed by the authors after their 101st read-through.

When in doubt about a grammar/spelling error, refer to sources:  Break out the dictionaries, thesauruses, and various other books on the proper usage of commas, semi-colons and em-dashes.  None of us are experts, nor do we always avoid making grammatical errors.  If you don't know whether something is wrong, refer to the sources.  If you still don't know afterwards, then throw a suggestion in anyway.  At least this will give the author something to think about while simultaneously quieting the nagging monkey on your back.

Avoid discouragement:  As much as you need to be honest with your criticisms, you should never tell an author to give up on their dreams.  All writing is subjective.  There are published authors out there whose books I prefer not to read, as their writing style doesn't do anything for me.  But they're published authors, and they have a fan base that I can only dream of. Give the author your honest opinion, point out what doesn't work and what you didn't care for.  However, never under any circumstances tell them to quit what they love or discourage them from writing more in the future.  Encourage re-writes and offer to read them once they've completed them.  Just because their writing doesn't work for you doesn't mean it won't for others.

Your Preference v. Their Writing: Let's face it, we all have our different tastes and there are just certain books you see on the bookshelf that, although they may be well-written, simply just don't appeal to you because you're not into love triangles, ghosts, robots, cowboys or talking rodents. Hence the existence of genres.  Chances are, unless you stick to beta reading exclusively from your own genre, you're going to be asked to critique a book containing subject matter that appeals very little to you, if at all.  This is where you need to put your own preferences aside without allowing them to bias your opinion and focus on the writing itself.  Sure, you may rather endure Chinese water torture than read a shoot-em-up Western, but you can't let that stop you from focusing on sentence structure, plot lines, grammar, character development, dialogue and all the other jazz that comprises truly great writing.

Timeliness and Follow-Through:  When you agree to take on somebody else's work, you're essentially agreeing to make it a priority.  Granted, there are those unforeseen events in life that can act as a setback to your duties as a beta writer, but you should still keep on top of things by shooting the author a quick e-mail letting them know where you're at in the book, your thoughts thus far, and a reasonable time frame for completion.  Yes, being thorough takes time, but that doesn't make it acceptable to begin another writer's work when the snow is flying, only to finally complete it while you're sitting on your back porch in your bikini, sipping a mojito. When you agree to take on someone else's work, you agree to make it as important to you as it is to them and to honor the fact that they have their own deadlines and expectations of when they'd like to see their work completed.

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever beta read for someone else?  Ever had a bad experience with the beta reading process?

April 19, 2020

Well, folks, I learned something this week: I'm not cut out to be a teacher. Like at all.

I've always had a huge amount of respect for educators, and diving into this homeschooling thing this week, on top of working a full-time job and doing everything else I have to do during the day, has been brutal. Also, why did they have to go and change math?  Addition and subtraction were one of those things that fell under the "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" category. Seriously, though, I have nothing but admiration for all you teachers out there. I'll give you all hugs after the quarantine is over and buy the first ten of you I encounter a stiff drink (because I know I need one after this week). 

One good thing to come out of the quarantine is getting to geek out with my kids over books (okay, so it's more me than them). My eighth grader is starting a unit on The Boy in the Striped Pajamas this week. It was an optional assignment, yet she still decided to do it (YEAH!). Her teacher emailed the book to them, but my daughter had a hard time reading it on her laptop, so I proclaimed, "I have this," and whipped out my Amazon Prime membership. In hindsight, it was probably the only thing I did right on the homeschooling front this week.

Also, a big thank you to the powers that be for making The Phantom of the Opera available this weekend on YouTube.  I saw it live a year ago and would gladly watch it on repeat for the rest of my life. 

The proof of the paperback for When Stars Collide arrived in the mail on Friday (photos below). I'm so happy I took my cover designer's advice, because it looks amazing!  All I have to do now is wait for Amazon to approve it and the paperback will be available for sale before the eBook on April 25 (probably).  Be sure to stay tuned for the When Stars Collide  GIVEAWAY announcement next week. 

Finally, if you're on the lookout for some FREE or bargain reads, please check out the promotions listed below and the featured indie reads for the week.  I was able to pick up The New Guy, The Poppy Field, and When Life Gives You Lemons, all from HarperCollins, for my Kindle for only $.99 each. You can find more about these books via my Bargain Books button below. I've also included a review of The Unhoneymooners below (so worth the read). 
That's all for this week.  Until then, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

Getting Through The Editing Process

As writers, we're often either blind to our own flaws, or they mask themselves so cleverly within the pages of our manuscripts that only fresh eyes can find them. 

Try it for yourself.  Tuck your "brilliant" novel away in a drawer for four months and then pull it out and tell me it's still brilliant, because I can guarantee you that your whole perception of it will have changed.  Once snappy dialogue will seem bland; your originally bulletproof plot will now have more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese, leading to the consumption of an entire bottle of wine and a feeling of utter inadequacy.  This is why we edit.  We edit to polish, to fill in the gaping holes, and to make our readers experience the "wow" factor that our novels are intended to elicit.  But how do we get through this arduous process without wanting to slit our wrists? Well, we all have our own preferred techniques, but the six that I've personally found the most helpful are as follows:


1. Think of it as turning the mediocre into a work of art.  This is something I keep having to repeat to myself.  As much as we hate to think that what we write is anything but spectacular, the fact is, that's not always the case.  This is why we edit.  We edit, edit, and edit some more.  We add commas where they are lacking, quotation marks that were forgotten, and more "showing" where there was once only "telling".  We remove paragraphs that are unnecessary, words that do nothing to add to the story, and dialogue that's more weighty than uplifting.  Truly, the editing process allows you to add that extra dash of paint to the canvas, turning your work from humdrum to astounding.


2.  When in doubt, simplify. Too many times, we as writers tend to make the uncomplicated an enigma by adding mud to crystal clear water.  We want everything we write to be poetic while failing to realize that true poetry isn't forced.  So, it's no surprise that when editing time rolls around and we re-read the "masterpiece" that we swore we wrote, it sounds more elementary than Frost.  This is when frustration kicks in making us wonder what exactly it was we were drinking when we wrote our first draft.  But instead of doing what we can to make it better, we either scrap it completely or complicate it even further.  Simplicity is key. Instead of trying to be elegant or mistakenly believing that throwing random commas on the page will make your mess more organized, keep it short and sweet.  Your point can be powerfully conveyed in just five words, but completely lost with twenty.  Besides, editing 100,000 words is a hell of a lot easier than 200,000.


3.  Break out the vodka.  This only applies to those who aren't pregnant and of age, of course.  I'm one of those people who tends to push themselves until something is done.  If I don't accomplish what I've set out to do (whether it be writing, running an errand, or just taking a shower that day) in the time period I've allotted for it, I feel as though I've completely wasted my time.  As a writer, it's good to set goals for yourself, but just because you've set those goals doesn't mean they can't be subject to change or modification.  If you keep pushing yourself to meet unreal expectations, instead of meeting them, you'll find yourself on a one-way ticket to burn-out city before you know it.  Trust me, I've been there and it's not pretty.  I liken it to being on a cruise ship in the middle of a hurricane.  Take time to unwind. If you can't figure out where your plot went wrong or what one of your characters should say to lighten the mood, don't beat yourself over the head.  Instead, remove yourself from your work for a little bit. Take a walk, take a nap, take a chill pill.  Just don't let the editing process consume you until you begin to loathe it entirely.


4.  Read the works of others.  If you're like me, you learn by example.  There are times that I find myself stuck on sentence structure.  I know how I want to word something, but it just seems awkward.  Reading the works of other authors, especially those who write in a similar style as you, will help you with your structure conundrum, thus pulling you out of an editing funk.  Plus, it's always a good idea to take a break and read in order to clear your mind and make it fresh for another round of editing.


5.  Have a good bitching session then get on with it.   Let's face it, the vast majority of writers hate editing.  It's tedious, time consuming, soul-sucking, and it brings our faults as writers to light.  However, with that said, it's a necessary part of being a writer and, unless you have your own personal editorial staff, it's unavoidable.  The good news is you're not alone.  Right now (and at any given time), there are thousands of writers going through the same process as you are who are pulling out similar fistfuls of hair while starring blankly at their computer screens.  The beauty of this is that these same writers are most likely online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any one of the gazillions of social media sites out there.  Reach out to them.  Have a good bitching session, as chances are, you'll find that you have a lot in common with other writers, and it's always good to have someone in your corner in your time of need.


6.  Remind yourself that dreams are worth chasing.  There is a reason why you chose to write.  Whether it be in pursuit of becoming the next bestselling author, because there's a story brewing in your head that you feel needs to be shared, or because it helps you maintain a healthy level of sanity, we all write for one reason or another.  We all have dreams and the best dreams are those you have to work to attain.  There isn't anyone, shy of a celebrity, who's had their dreams handed to them.  They had to work for them.  And it takes hard work, dedication, and hardcore patience to get where you want in life.  Just think of editing as a stepping stone towards publication or fuel for the rocket ship that is poised to blast you and your novel into orbit. 

April 12, 2020

Happy Easter!

 by Mhairi McFarlane this week. I've been wanting to read this book for a while. Presently, Don't You Forget About MeI'm psyched to begin 

It's a good thing he doesn't know about the book club I joined. I'll save telling him that tidbit for another day. 

One good thing about spending so much extra time at home is that I've managed to make a pretty solid dent in my TBR pile. My husband had taken to giving me the side-eye whenever Amazon made a stop at our house to deliver yet another book that would then get thrown on the pile situated on our dining room table. Thanks to the quarantine, I'm happy to report that my pile has slowly been shrinking, and those books are being placed on the bookshelf in my office.

I hope all of you are finding ways to celebrate. We're trying to keep things as normal as possible for the kids, even though it's going to be weird not having family over for dinner.  My inner Betty Crocker comes out during the holidays. This usually translates into me making a huge dinner that results in a week's worth of leftovers (which, in my mind, totally makes up for pretty much every other day of the year when I, well, don't cook). I'll still be cooking this year, just not nearly as much as I usually do. On the plus side, the girls had fun coloring eggs, and I managed to score toilet paper at the grocery store, so some things are beginning to look up. rom-coms have been my jam (both to read and to write). I find they're the best thing to get me out of whatever funk I may be in.  And who doesn't love a title that doubles as a John Hughes/'80s nod?

The release of When Stars Collide is just under two weeks away!  However, it's available for pre-order on Amazon right now. If you would like to pre-order it, you may do so 
here.  If you would like to review either When Stars Collide or When Time Stands Still (the first book), you may do so by clicking on the links below.
When Stars Collide
Review When Time Stands Still

Finally, below I have several promotions for you to check out, including free romance reads as well as books available for free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Near the bottom of the newsletter is also a link to my website where you'll find some pretty cool bargains on some New York Times Best Sellers (ranging in price from FREE to $5.99).  Also, be sure to check out my indie books of the week for this week and my review of Well Met (so cute!). 
Well, that will do it for this week.  Until then, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

Most writers fall into two categories: Those who outline before writing and those who just write. In my case, I tend to utilize both methods. I like knowing ahead of time where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. However, I also enjoy the freedom of taking a detour if the original road contains too many speed bumps. No matter what method you personally prefer, there are pros and cons that every writer experiences during the writing process.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of outlining first.

1. It’s too restrictive. There are those who stick to the game plan and avoid the unbeaten path altogether. If that makes you feel comfortable, then by all means stick with it, but there’s a certain sense of being shackled to an original thought that could potentially stall the formation of a better idea.

2. There are no surprises. Surprises in writing are always fun for the reader, but when they happen to the writer, they aren’t necessarily good things. An outline eliminates any unwanted surprises such as a hole in your plot, the introduction of any unnecessary characters, or a storyline that’s choppy and doesn’t flow the way it should.

3. They keep you on task. Just like a ‘To Do’ list, an outline tells you where you need to go and what you need to do. It allows you to plan out what you’re writing that day and helps make your storyline flow more seamlessly.

4. Outlines ensure flow and help make for a more structurally sound plot. An outline is structure. When you know exactly what events are going to transpire and when they’re going to transpire it makes for a better constructed plot and less of a chance of cracks in your overall foundation.

Although more spontaneous, writing by the seat of your pants isn’t for everyone, but for those who do it, the following positive and negative aspects may be encountered:

1. Your creativity is allowed to shine through. Like a kid in a candy store, the possibilities are both endless and exciting when you write unrestricted and let your mind take you to places and people it wouldn’t have had you stuck to the original plan.

2. More writing is accomplished in less time. I know when I write by the seat of my pants, I feel freer and the words just come to me more naturally than when I try to restrict them to the content of an outline. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s more of a detriment, but I usually find that my word count for the day is higher and, for the most part, the content is solid when I write outline-free.

3 There’s more room for error. When you write without rules to go by, you’re more apt to break them. An outline lays out scene by scene instructions, ensuring a more fluid, relatively smoother writing experience without the standard errors that come without proper planning.

4. It can end up bogging you down. Even though you may write more when you let your mind take over, you may find that you end up doing a heck of a lot more editing. More words equal more filler and less meat to your story, subsequently leading to the trimming away of more fat.. You may find that this causes you to take more time with editing than you first anticipated, making this method of writing less productive in the long run.

At the end of the day, there really is no wrong way to write and no one manner of writing is better than the other. Different things work for different people. What matters is that it works for you and that you’re actually writing something as opposed to just staring at a blank sheet of paper.
April 5, 2020

Another week, another set of adjustments.  My kids were bummed to learn this week that their school would be closed for the rest of the year, a fact of which surprises me as neither of them are ever particularly excited about school. I really feel not only for those seniors who are missing out on their final year of high school, but also for those students getting ready to make the transition from middle to high school and from elementary to middle school. My eldest is in the eighth grade and is beyond upset about missing out on her eighth-grade field trip, her spring band concert, and preparing for high school next year with the rest of her class.  Though I understand why these precautions are completely necessary, I'll be so glad when things can return to normal (or normalish) again. 
In happier news...It's April and the release of When Stars Collide is just under three weeks away! I can't wait to share this story with all of you. As any author will attest, there's a sense of euphoria that accompanies an impending release. Whether it's your first novel or your twenty-first novel, the feeling never goes away. If you're interested in reviewing When Stars Collide, please click here. Otherwise, if you would like to pre-order a copy (or just learn more about it), you may do so here.  As I've stated before, although When Stars Collide is a follow-up to When Time Stands Still, it's not necessary to have read When Time Stands Still first (although I would, of course, recommend it). 

Because being stuck at home doesn't seem so bad when you have a book in your hands,  I teamed up with some other authors this week to bring you a couple of promotions, which you'll find below. These promotions include several romance novels that are currently FREE for review as well as a giveaway that includes many other second chance romances (full novels and excerpts) that you can download for FREE right now! Seriously, check it out!

Below, you'll also find my review of Mia Sosa's The Worst Best Man, my indie book of the week, my usual array of bargain eBooks (updated weekly), the most popular audiobooks, book recommendations, new releases, and some of my favorite indie authors. I also included a blog post about how I'm able to survive receiving a bad review without becoming a raging alcoholic.

Finally, a huge thank you and hello to my new subscribers this week!  If there's ever anything you want to see in future newsletters, feel free to let me know. 
See you next week! Until then, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

How to Survive a Bad Review Without Becoming a Raging Alcoholic

I wish I could be like Shaw who once read a bad review of one of his plays, called the critic and said: 'I have your review in front of me and soon it will be behind me.' -Barbra Streisand

From my close observation of writers...they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.  -- Isaac Asimov

When I was in elementary school, I remember sitting in on a presentation about bullying and kindness. Although I can’t remember most of what was drilled into my young, impressionable mind that day-or much of anything now that I’ve reached the third decade of my life, for that matter-one thing did stick with me. In that presentation, an insult was labeled as a cold prickly, while a compliment was called a warm fuzzy (stick with me, I promise I have a point here). In short, it was reiterated repeatedly that when you present a person with one cold prickly (an insult) it takes approximately twenty or so warm fuzzies (compliments) to undo the damage your one cold prickly caused. Ever since learning this little tidbit, I’ve carried it with me, later finding it to have been the most important lesson I learned in the third grade. Years later, as a writer and recipient of not-always-so-wonderful reviews, that one lesson holds all the more meaning. For despite all the positive comments and reviews I’ve received, I find myself focusing on only the negative, allowing those words to define my work.

As writers, we have to separate our feelings from our work product. I know it’s easier said than done, but if we are to thrive in our chosen profession (or hobby), then we can’t allow our egos to become bruised or somehow believe that a negative review is at all related to who we are as people. In short, we must put on our big girl or boy pants and carry on.

And because negative reviews happen to literally EVERY writer at some point, I’ve assembled a list of ways that we can keep said pants on to cope when a less than awesome one comes in.

Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstance, Comment On It

It’s only natural to want retaliate when hurt feelings are involved. However, we writers must refrain from defending our honor and accept the fact that customers pay for our work and are entitled to voice their opinions on it, whether favorable or not. For someone to argue with or belittle a reviewer after they’ve taken the time to read and review their work is both unprofessional and guaranteed to land the offending author’s reputation in the toilet. Not to mention, it does nothing to help the cause of other indie authors, who only have their body of work and online reputation to build their readership.

Congratulate Yourself, You’re Officially An Author

No traditionally published or popular indie novel has all four and five star reviews. Every single one of them have one and two star reviews to go along with all the glowing ones. Don’t believe me? Do a search on Amazon and see for yourself. Because I can pretty much guarantee you that any novel with over 100 reviews has at least one or two less than stellar ones amid the heaps of praise. So wear your one and two stars proudly, authors. After all, you’re in good company.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

There has yet to be that one novel that everyone universally loves; one that’s so perfect that no one can criticize it. We can only do so much as writers. No matter how polished our writing may be, no matter how flawless the story, no matter how much editing we do, there will always be someone unaffected by our work. Everyone has different tastes, and two people can read the same thing and draw entirely different conclusions on it. Such is life. Suck it up and drive on.

Look For The Hidden Gem

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a good negative review. What’s so good about them, you ask? Well, for starters, for every one ‘this book sucks’ review, there are usually two or three negative ones of substantive value. If you can swallow your pride long enough to read them, of course. The truth is, no one’s perfect, and we all make mistakes. But it’s only those who learn from their mistakes, those who take the constructive criticisms in those reviews and use them to their advantage, who are able to improve upon their writing, and eventually turn their critics into fans. Take the time to take in every less than glowing comment about your book’s sentence structure, usage of adjectives, character development, plot, and dialogue, store them in a mental filing cabinet, and pull them back out when you’re writing your next book. I guarantee you won’t make the same mistakes again.

Quit Stalking Your Reviews

I have to say that this is one of the hardest pieces of advice for anyone, myself included, to take. In fact, I regularly stalk myself on Amazon and Goodreads to see whether I have a new review. If I see that I do, my pulse automatically quickens and I get a little sick to my stomach at the possibility of the review being a negative one. Thankfully, most of the time they have been pretty positive, but there have been a few times where I found myself reading something that completely ruined my day. In the beginning, they really bothered me, mostly because they affirmed all my insecurities about myself and my abilities as a writer. But then I realized that the only reason why they bothered me so much was because I’d become a victim of those insecurities, and that if I didn’t allow them to bother me, I could move on and get over myself. So I got over it, knowing that although I’m nowhere near perfect, my insecurities are just that: MY insecurities. The reality is that I love writing. It provides me with release, and no amount of negativity, warranted or otherwise, is going to stop me from doing something that I love.

Use It As Incentive To Make Your Writing Better

If you’re stubborn and hardheaded like I am, when someone tells you something negative, you make it a point to do whatever you can to prove them wrong. This is especially true when applied to reviews. Whether helpful or not, use the review to improve upon your writing. Take the criticisms with you into your next book and think back on them. Were they warranted? Do you actually use too many adjectives? Is your dialogue really flat? If it was before, I’d be willing to bet that it won’t be anymore. Make it your goal to improve upon your writing with every book you write. Eventually, you’ll prove to your detractors that they were wrong about you.

Have a Good Cry, Laugh, Eat a Pint of Triple Chocolate Brownie Fudge Ice Cream (not necessarily in that order)

I’m a big fan of feeling sorry for myself for a few minutes, letting it get out of my system, and then moving on again. In my younger years, this would have required a glass -- oh, who am I kidding, a bottle -- of wine, or anything covered in chocolate. Today, I’m just a tad more health conscious and just stick with sulking around the house for a little bit before I force myself to pick up what I was doing before the offending review appeared, acting like it never happened at all.

Never Give Up

This is probably the most generic advice out there, but I’m going to include it here anyway. I know that I’ve personally read a few comments that have really stung; comments that have made me question why I write at all. Although it’s easy and only natural to want to shut yourself down and say that you’re done, you can’t let the opinion of a couple of people wipe away those of the rest of your reviewers (or that one cold prickly overshadow your mountain of warm fuzzies).

Writers, how do you get over a negative review? Do they bother you, or do you allow them to just roll off your shoulders?

March 28, 2020

What a week!

I hope you all are staying safe and healthy at home during this crazy time (I would have said unprecedented, but I'm kind of sick hearing that word used every five minutes). Like many of you, I've been working from home this week. I always thought I'd enjoy it, but I must say, I really miss the routine of going into the office; not to mention, it's not exactly easy to handle some of my responsibilities as a paralegal from home. On the plus side, however, I've been inspired by all the good I've been seeing going on in the world. All the food donations, mask-making operations, neighborhood sing-alongs, and other random acts of kindness prove that this quarantine has failed to break us.  We just have to keep reminding ourselves that, eventually, this too shall pass.

Okay, on to book news.

Over the past week, I've been keeping myself busy putting together some pretty cool swag for the giveaway I'm running next month in anticipation of the release of When Stars Collide (the sequel to When Time Stands Still) on April 25. Hint: If you enjoy a little wine with your books, then you'll love this giveaway. Next week, I'll be posting a link to a signup sheet for anyone interested in receiving a free copy (ebook) of When Stars Collide in exchange for an honest review.  So far, the feedback I've been receiving has been great, consisting of statements such as:

"Mena is hysterical and oh so relatable!"
"The main character was quite a character!"
"The book was very well written. I absolutely love Mena!"

If you would like to pre-order a copy of When Stars Collide, I've included the link below. The special pre-order price is just $.99. The price will go up to $2.99 after it's released.

I've also decided to make When Time Stands Still $.99 until next weekend and have included a link to that book, too.  Keep in mind, although I would recommend it, it isn't necessary to have read When Time Stands Still before reading When Stars Collide.

Since being homebound, I've found myself listening to more audiobooks, especially while working.  As such, I created a landing page with some of the latest and most popular audiobooks on the market right now.  You can find a link to that page below. Also of note are the bargain books I was able to find this week. I concentrated my efforts on finding deals in the romance genre. The books range in price from free to $4.99, Hopefully, you're able to find something to pass the time away among them. 

Next week, I'll be posting some promotions for you to check out, including several books you can receive for free in exchange for an honest review and a giveaway involving an array of second chance romances (both full novels and samples). 

Finally, thank you to my new subscribers.  Please feel free to let me know if there is something you would like to see in future newsletters.

Until then, stay safe and thanks for subscribing!

How I Find Time to Write With a Hectic Schedule

(Originally published April 25, 2011)
Alas, like most indie authors, it's required of me to hold down a day job to pay those pesky bills.  Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to work with an amazing group of people as a paralegal at a law firm that I'm exceptionally proud of. < Insert witty lawyer joke here>  For me—and I'm sure the same is true with most people—my job doesn't end after I put my forty-plus hours in a week.  When I get home, I instantly have to put on so many hats I feel like I'm literally turning into a mad hatter.  From mother to wife to dry cleaner to housekeeper to accountant to plumber to groundskeeper to chef to ninja (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating slightly on the ninja role in a futile attempt to feel cool), I always feel as though I'm too busy to keep my head on straight let alone write.  So how does one balance such precious little time during the day between their jobs, family and dreams? Well, I'm glad you asked because, if the title hasn't already tipped you off, it's the subject of today's blog—hey, even I'm prone to my slow moments, just look at my Tweets sometime.

The following ideas include techniques I've actually used myself to feed my creative need in between the chaos and hustle and bustle of life.  Others are those that came to me while composing this blog: 

1.  Take notes:  Most of the time, for me anyway, the best ideas arise at the most inopportune of moments (while on the phone with clients, typing letters, driving home, fighting crime, etc.).  In order to accommodate for these sudden sparks of genius (or so I like to think) I've made it a habit of carrying around a writing utensil and something said utensil can be used to write on. For instance, in my proudest moment, I've made use of a tube of lipstick and a utility bill. I don’t recommend it.

While I'm at work, I have a year supply of post-it notes at my disposal of which I use to write down sudden ideas that pop into my head to use when I can actually devote time to writing. When busy at home, I've been known to use the nearest random piece of paper (including my daughter's coloring book pages, napkins, "to do" lists, and, if I'm lucky, a discarded piece of notebook paper). Fortunately, I've been lucky enough not to have to resort to the toilet paper...yet. 

The point is, when you find yourself consumed with absolutely no time to sit down to hammer out an idea, make use of those items available near you (traditional paper, post-its, children's building blocks or smoke signals) to jot down your thought nuggets for further use and exploration later.

2.  Carry a recorder: Most of the attorneys at my firm have recorders ready to roll at a moment’s notice—Lord knows my boss makes use of his.  Recorders are convenient if you have a sudden idea that you want to rattle off right away.  Doing this saves time, as unless you're the Speedy Gonzales of the keyboard, most of us speak faster than we are able to write. Use your recorder to record random thoughts, plot epiphanies, dialogue, or even complete pages of material.  They're handy, cheap, and can be used darn near anywhere (although I would recommend avoiding the bathroom).

3.  Use your head:  If you absolutely cannot find something to write on, try to find creative ways to remember those ideas you're coming up with.  For me, music is a huge inspiration for my writing.  A few of the "scenes" in my first manuscript were inspired by various pieces of music. Perhaps there's a poem that has helped inspire a story for you; a location, a memory or a certain person.  Equate your ideas with something familiar to you.  It will help you retain them until you are able to write them down.

4.  Bring your laptop with you-While writing my first book, I would, on my lunch hour, whip out my handy dandy netbook (oh God that sounded a little too Blues Clusey) and use my one hour of sanctity to crank out sentences, paragraphs and pages.  That's one good thing about netbooks, the little buggers are tiny and very easily portable. If you don't own a laptop but have access to a computer where you work, use Word (or whatever program) to write and then e-mail what you've written to yourself.  Use any break or opportunity you can get to write.  You'll be surprised by how much you'll be able to accomplish if you do.

5.  While the kids are out cold-I used to cherish nap times for more reasons than just the sudden silence that came with them.  I'm big on being productive and capitalizing on opportunities when they arise. Therefore, nap times and Dora times were like Christmas at my house.  Now, getting my daughter to take a nap is like trying to fight a lion with dental floss and I have to make use of random five-minute blocks of time when she's occupying herself (and I literally mean five minutes as, if she's quiet for longer than that, I know I'm in for a mess to clean up).

6.   Become nocturnal:  Not surprisingly, I do most of my writing pretty late at night and I drag ass the next morning because of it. Usually, I'm unable to begin writing hardcore until after 9 or 10 at night.  Most of the time, I'm writing until around midnight or one in the morning.  Thus, I will apologize in advance for my blog posts.  As writers, we need to adapt even if that means burning the midnight oil or writing at the butt crack of dawn—if, of course, it doesn't have any negative impacts on your family or employment.

Okay, writers, I gave you mine, now you give me yours.  What are some ways you manage to fit writing in under a hectic schedule?
Self-Doubt: A Writer's Worst Nightmare

"Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong." ~Peter T. Mcintyre
"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."  ~William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, 1604
"Once you become self-conscious, there is no end to it; once you start to doubt, there is no room   for anything else."  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960
I recently found myself feeling the need to resurrect this old post, namely because it was one of my more popular posts and, even several years later, it still rings true. Writers often deal with crippling self-doubt, whether from a biting review or lack of confidence. Most of the time, the feeling is fleeting, and we're able to shake it off. But sometimes, it's not, and I hope this post will serve as a catalyst to help pull anyone finding themselves creatively disabled out of the self-doubt rut. 
 Self-doubt: the bane of any writer's existence.  It's the dark cloud looming on the horizon, threatening to rain down self-loathing, inferiority and regret.  In short, it's the one thing that can end a writer's career before it even has a chance to take flight.  With its uncanny knack for stifling one's creativity, self-doubt renders its sufferer an empty shell. 

I don't believe there has ever been an author who--at one point in time--has never suffered from a minuscule amount of self-doubt.  Recently, I've had my own bouts with this affliction and the symptomotology has been enough to render me virtually useless.  In going through my manuscript and some of my former blogs, I've noticed glaring typos and grammatical errors--I should, at times, be locked away for comma abuse--as well other cringe-inducing faux pas.   As my blogs are being shared and re-tweeted (of which I'm extremely appreciative of), I often find myself critiquing the hell out of what has been passed around and fear I may not be living up to the high standards I try to set for myself.  This stems partly from sheer fear; fear of being rejected by those in the community I'm striving to gain acceptance in.  The other part is being exposed to those who write so flawlessly and so seemingly effortlessly that I often wonder if they have the same fears and self-doubts that I do.  The answer to that is, I'm certain, a resounding YES. 

The question is how do you prevent it from consuming you and your writing?   I believe the answer to that is through lots of practice, support
and self-motivation.  Now let's analyze some techniques, shall we?  (Too bad, we're going to anyway...)
Find a writing partner--A writing partner or support group of fellow writers is invaluable to any word- crafter.  It's imperative to receive both good and bad feedback (constructive criticism) and to have mini cheerleaders, motivational speakers and drill sergeants by your side at a moment’s notice to both encourage your pursuits, celebrate your victories, tell you what works and what doesn't, and most importantly, to prevent the storm clouds from rolling in. Before I started involving myself in social networks, I had a small group comprised of family, friends and co-workers who would read my work and provide me with the encouragement I needed when I wanted to chuck my laptop across the room (because a bad writing day is all that blasted computer's fault, don't cha' know).  After I joined social networking sites for writers (or ones that just harbor a substantial writing community such as Twitter, Blogger, Absolute Write, Query Tracker, Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Story Origin, etc.), I felt as though I'd arrived home.  These communities offer a seemingly unlimited amount of talented aspiring authors and published authors, all willing to dispense a plethora of advice and support.  After all, we're all in the same boat so why not travel together?
Quit standing in your own way--I know there are famous quotes out there that roughly state something about being your own worst enemy and creating the barriers that block your own path to success.  Well, they're all completely true. The human mind is a beautiful oddity with the ability to both propel a person into greatness or cast them aside in the gutter at the slightest twist in thought. However, it's when one allows those negative twists in thought to consume them that the problems really begin to erupt, and minor problems such as grammatical errors and the writer's own fickleness in wording forces them to question their abilities. It's one thing to be critical of your work with the intent to make it the best it can be, it's a completely different story to beat yourself up over a misplaced comma.  Have faith in yourself, your errors aren't as glaring as you believe them to be.  And when you feel like giving up, take a walk, watch a movie, or do the moonwalk to take your mind away from the negativity. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how much a break and a set of fresh eyes will vastly improve your disposition.
Not everything you write is going to be bestseller--Wouldn't that be great, though?  You, sitting at home typing away, knowing there are a whole slew of famished individuals out there ready to feed upon your every word.  Alas, for most of us it's time to wake up from this dream, for we know it takes work--lots and lots of agonizing, frustrating work--before we even see a tenth of that kind of success.  That is, if we ever see any success at all.  To be a writer, you must remove the stars from your eyes and humble yourself with the sobering truth that writing isn't going to make you rich and famous.  With that truth, thankfully, also comes the equally as truthful statement that that's pretty much the norm for most writers and it isn't because your work isn't up to snuff that you aren't a multi-millionaire.  Write because you love it; because it makes you happy.  Don't write because you believe it to be your meal ticket or that success equals validation of your abilities.
Comparing apples to elephants--The worst thing you can do as a writer is to compare your work to that of others because, unless they're absolutely terrible or you have a slightly inflated ego, you're probably going to surmise their work as being on a level much higher than yours. I'm insanely guilty of this.  Whether it be friends, fellow bloggers, writers, or published novels, I'm constantly critiquing my work against that of others.  Where does this get me?  A night without a single word written, a woe-is-me state of mind and a chocolate massacre on my hands (and face, and probably somewhere in my hair, as well).  Your novel is yours and no one else's.  Your writing style is unique to you. How you write and what you write is a mark of your true identity, setting you apart from the rest of the pack.  To compare your work to the work of another is like trying to compare your DNA with theirs.  In the end, the strands will never match and to tinker with one to make it comport with the other will only result in a contrived, mutated product.  Different is good; variety is the spice of life; Pepsi is way better than Coke...oops wrong blog.  The point is, your style is unique, special, something to be proud of and chances are the person you're relentlessly comparing yourself to thinks the same way about their work when compared to yours.
You possess the same tools as the next person-The beauty with fiction writing is there isn't a single person out there who is more qualified or who possesses a clear advantage over you (unless they're a celebrity, but that's a topic for another day).  We all come equipped with a brain comprised of creative, technical threads, enabling us to put sentences together to create characters and worlds beyond the scope of reality. Although some naturally have more than others, all of us come off the biologic assembly line with drive and determination ingrained deep within our souls. Our collective brains, drive and determination, though differentiated by thoughts, execution and persistence are the tools every writer needs to succeed.  It's how one chooses to use them and how one lets their self-doubt affect their potency that makes all the difference in the world. 
Great expectations--If you're like me, you tend to set the bar at the peak of the mountain. Some days you're able to clear it so effortlessly you think your writing will ascend into orbit.  Other days, you're barely able to hurdle over a blade of grass and you feel your writing is on par with that of your toddler's (my daughter can blow me out to water most days with her creativity).  At the risk of ripping off Charles Dickens, setting great expectations for yourself is both healthy and necessary if you plan on succeeding at anything you set out to do in life. Yet those same expectations--if left to run rampant--can also be your undoing.  Don't make your great expectations impossible ones.  Instead of trying to clear hurdles in the sky, concentrate on those down here on Earth first.  Not to be cliché, but Rome wasn't built in a day.  Like your literary dreams, it takes time for empires to emerge. 

Creativity is key--For a writer, creativity is second nature. Telling a writer to be creative is like telling a kid to play at Chuck-E-Cheese; it's just going to happen.  When you write and you get stuck on the way your dialogue, sentence structure, narrative, or overall thought process is panning out, don't think to yourself, well, I'm not going to be the next Sara Gruen, keep writing. Allow your creativity to flow until you've either worked out your problems or completely replaced them with new, even better ideas.  Perhaps open a different document to draft alternative scenarios or move on to a completely different chapter in your book and come back to the section that's plaguing you when you feel you're better able to tackle it.  After all, the world doesn't need another Sara Gruen, it needs to be introduced to you.

Be positive--I know it's hard to do every day and I'm not saying that it's not healthy to have a good cry from time to time to clear your head.  It's just that, after you dry those tears and finally leave the pillow you were beating the hell out of alone, you need to move on.  Don't dwell on your problems and frustrations. Fix them.  Even the longest, darkest tunnel ends eventually, and so will the sudden resurgence of negativity encapsulating you.  This is where the writing group mentioned earlier comes particularly in handy. If you're stuck on a plot point or a grammatical dilemma, they may be able to supply you with the ideas and information needed to fix said dilemmas and reign in your self-doubt before it breaks you. 

A final tool I've found particularly helpful when I'm in a slump is to read positive remarks I've received on past projects.  Those kind comments and helpful suggestions have a way of rejuvenating me like emotional coffee, giving me the drive to carry on and the ability to leave those negative thoughts in the dust.
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Sara Furlong Burr