Wednesday, April 30, 2014


What is zero? Well, zero is what you get when you put forth zero efforts.

You have to work hard to learn the craft of writing. That takes practice and studying. If you don’t, your work will be subpar if you self-publish it and rejected if you send it to publishers and agents.

You need to know how publishing works. Whether it’s learning how to write queries or researching the steps to self-publish. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and effort.

You have to create an attractive product. If you’re self-publishing, you have to invest in your book, from the cover art to the editing. Zero effort here means no one will buy your book and if they do, they’ll regret it.

You have to plan ahead with your marketing. You need to plan blog tours, real life appearances, giveaways… You might even have to create the promotional tools. If you don’t and you just toss your book out there with no preparation, no one will know.

And through all of that, if you make zero effort to reach out to others, both for support and to offer support, you will travel a lonely path.

We’ve reached the end of the A to Z Challenge – have you made an army of new friends this month?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Your Daily Routine...

 Have you ever wondered about the routines of some of the world’s most famous writers? Here are some snippets... (you can read the full article HERE)

Ray Bradbury: “My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was twelve. So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.”

E.B White: “I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic..."

Haruki Murakami : “When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

Ernest Hemingway: “When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop...”

Maya Angelou: “I write in the morning and then go home about midday and take a shower, because writing, as you know, is very hard work, so you have to do a double ablution. Then I go out and shop — I’m a serious cook — and pretend to be normal. I play sane — Good morning! Fine, thank you. And you? And I go home. I prepare dinner for myself and if I have houseguests, I do the candles and the pretty music and all that. Then after all the dishes are moved away I read what I wrote that morning...”

What does your writing process involve?

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-FACTOR

We all strive for the elusive X-FACTOR, that quality that will distinguish our novel from every other novel in our genre. That special something that will set our prose a flame and drive us to instant stardom.

It happened to others; others being authors like Mordecai Richler, Alexandra Sokoloff, Yann Martel, Alice Munro, Margaret Lawrence, Leonard Cohen,. Their work includes the X-FACTOR, and it shows.

So, where do you get it? This X-FACTOR?

If Tolstoy were here, he'd say you do your homework and more. The man understood what he was talking about. He spent 4 years researching Napolean before ever thinking of starting War and Peace. And this was before electricity~!

You never get lazy and pick the easiest word to describe what others have described before you. You write from your gut, not that safe place that has ample verbs that are so predictable. You create a hero that we can cry over, yell at, cheer for. And mostly, you drive yourself nuts trying to get it perfect. Oh, and you treat your reader like an adult.

I read a novel recently for the sole purpose of writing a review and posting it everywhere. That's what we're here for, to support each other. I couldn't finish it. The writing was fine. But it was clear the writer didn't stretch, didn't go that extra mile to write original prose, or most importantly, give me a protagonist I could cheer for.

There was no X-FACTOR.

Now I'm left writing no review (I can't lie) and hoping I never get asked why.

joylene, who's off to make sure the X-FACTOR is in her story.

ps. If you haven't already, read War and Peace. Honestly, it covers every theme you can think to write about.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Weaving

Wherever we are in our writing journey, we storyweavers are wannabes. The unpublished writer’s greatest desire is to be published and the published writer dreams of being a bestseller and having his/her work duly recognized.

Yes, I too would love to be a bestselling writer, but I also want people to recognize me as a good storyteller, one who leaves the reader with something to think about after the story is finished.

But before publication, we writers do our fair share of weaving. It’s not easy to take character, mood, plot, point-of-view, setting, theme and combine these into something that becomes a spellbinding tale. We have to take each strand, apply our knowledge and individual style, and then plait them together in such a way that our readers will think it worth their while to take a 100-300 page journey with us.

What dreams do you have for your writing career? Are you gathering the necessary tools that will ensure you can weave your stories together seamlessly?

Hop on over to our IWSG Facebook page and share the love and any special news you have on your writing journey.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Virtual Friends

I belong to two writing groups where I actually get to meet people in person. One meets monthly and the other one holds a big yearly conference I'll be attending in May. Some of the people in those groups I've known for years. Maybe I should say I met them years ago. But do I know them?

In the last two years or so of blogging, I've made a number of Virtual Friends and an even greater number of Virtual Acquaintances. Those faithful blogging friends might know me better than the writers I've met in person. They certainly are more up to date on where my career is. Writing can be a lonely business but even if all your contacts with other writers in online, you can make some very close Virtual Friends.

Virtual Friends can support you by regular visits to your blog. By liking and commenting on your Facebook posts. By retweeting your tweets. By mentioning your successes on their blogs. Friends who will empathize with your failures and cheer your victories. And you don't have to wait until monthly meetings or yearly conferences. You can 'see' them everyday even when you don't know what they actually look like.

Have you met some Virtual Friends during the A to Z Challenge? Have you joined the IWSG Facebook page where you can find more friends? Do you think Virtual Friends can be as close as face to face friends?

Susan Gourley writes epic fantasy and also writes romance as Susan Kelley. You can read her A to Z posts on world building at Susan Says.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Understanding Tough Times

All of us go through it. No matter what stage of the journey, we’ll encounter struggles. And they can beat the ever-living snot out of us.

How do we deal with it? How do we handle writer’s block, rejections, and crappy reviews?

Here are some things I’ve discovered along the way that help get through those tough times –

It’s a learning process. Sometimes it’s the only way we’ll improve.

It’s natural. There’s and ebb and flow and season for all things.

It makes us stronger and more determined.

It keeps us humble.

It can force us to step back and reevaluate or see the big picture.

It helps us develop a sense of humor!

It can force us onto a better path.

It makes us better writers and often a better person.

What tough times are you facing and how will you handle it?

A to Z Challenge

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Every year, thousands of books are published.

According to a study on consumer behaviour, a potential buyer holds a book in his hands for approximately 3 to 5 seconds. So your title has about 5 seconds to make an impression.

So what makes a great title? The basic rule says that it should be simple, catchy and memorable. A title such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not really simple, but it is certainly catchy... with regards to it being memorable... *shrugs* but this book is regarded as “an American classic that defined a generation” and the 2003 edition of the book says "over 2 million copies sold"

Here is an opinion, which I tend to agree with, on what makes a memorable title: “It’s something that combines the familiar and the unfamiliar in a way that is both visceral and verbally stimulating. Take, for example, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — a great title, as it combines these various elements flawlessly. It offers a striking image and has great rhythm.”

Then you get book titles that are an entertainment in themselves. Never mind the content.  Consider this title: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. Phew! This conjures all sorts of images. Actually, this is a playful and practical grammar handbook  that addresses classic questions of English usage with wit and the blackest of humour.

Some of the world’s most famous books with great titles include: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and Lord Of The Flies

As a writer, do you find it difficult to give a title to your book? How do you go about doing this? What is your favourite book title of all time?