Top Ten Publishing Myths by Erin Brown

 

  1. Editors and agents aren’t looking for great writing anymore … it’s all about the almighty dollar.
  1. Self-publishing will make an author a bestseller.
  1. “I don’t need an agent.” 
  1. Publishers take care of all of your marketing and publicity.
  1. Talented authors get huge advances.
  1. Editors will be able to devote most of their time to your book. 
  1. An author should never give up on the submission process, no matter how long it takes.
  1. All published authors should expect to hit a bestseller list or their publishers have failed.
  1. The bigger the agent, the better.
  1. Once your book is sold, you can give up your day job.

Erin Brown worked as an editor in New York City for over eight years. She recently left Manhattan to start her own freelance editorial business. To learn more about Erin, visit her website at www.erinedits.com

Read the full article here:
AuthorMagazine.org – an on-line magazine for writers and readers….

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Cheyenne Mitchell

Cheyenne Mitchell writes fast-paced, supernatural thrillers.  Her first  novel, In The Light of Darkness, was published in 2007.

Hi Cheyenne, please tell everyone a little about yourself.

Cheyenne: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism/Communication, I was born in Philadelphia, Pa, and I’ve always loved reading fast-paced, exciting novels of which my favorite of all time is entitled The Captains and The Kings by Taylor Caldwell. It’s an over a thousand page novel I read in about four days during the early 1980s.  I love writing, singing, dancing, and being with God and family most of all.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre (s)?

Cheyenne: My love of writing began at the age of six years old when I was in the first grade. I loved writing poetry, and my favorite Poet has always been Mr. Edgar Allan Poe whose writings were dark, but very heart-felt.  I have always been attracted to the supernatural/thrillers with a touch of drama, which is what I myself love to write about.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Cheyenne: I wrote my first supernatural thriller/drama In The Light of Darkness in 1993. It took me three years to write it because I was working full time then.  My goal has always been to become a rich and famous novelist, and still is.  The message I want readers to grasp from my writings is “what if” this could happen?  Or what if this happened to you?  I aim to make my protagonists and their problems very identifiable to readers so they can sympathize with them, and to keep them on the edge of their seats with nail-biting suspense and mystery in the process.

Briefly tell us about your latest book.  Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Cheyenne: I have two supernatural thrillers on the market right now. One is entitled The Covering which is the story of two, teenage sisters who cannot figure out what is going on with their family members who are very strange.  Celia, who is the protagonist, will take readers on an incredible and exciting journey as she endeavors, along with her sister, Drew, to find out what their family members are hiding from them.  It is a novel filled with terror and lots of shock for readers.  My other novel, Syroia, is the story of a young man who is only one member of a family who has been tormented for generations by the demonic spirit of a long-dead murderer. However, the spirit he sees after every killing is NOT the one who has actually been terrorizing him, and many others in his family.  The Covering  is receiving all FIVE stars, and Syroia as well from reviewers.

What is the hook for the book?

Cheyenne:  In The Covering: What if nearly two hundred year old vampires were raising two normal, teenage girls who are their own flesh and blood?  In Syroia: What if a terrible spirit of someone you never knew is after your soul, but is really someone closer to you than you would ever believe?

How do you develop characters? Setting?

Cheyenne: I must say that all of my inspiration, creativity, and imagination come directly from God ALONE, and nowhere else. It is like second nature to me. Like a burning in my bones.  I have been awakened at three in the morning with ideas for a story or character.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

Cheyenne: I would have to say my most likeable character in all three of my supernatural thrillers would be Tyla Davidson in In The Light of Darkness.  She suffered much as a little girl along with her siblings because of who they believed was their mother. But in the end all of them come through their terror not entirely unscathed, but they manage to find peace.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Cheyenne: Again, I have to rely on God, and I take a lot of notes.  All I do is write whatever He tells me to write. The words seem to come pouring out onto the page, and the plot comes together naturally for me.

What are your current projects?

Cheyenne: I have a number of projects yet to begin from my God.  One thing He wants me to do is write a screenplay for one of my novels. I am in the process of beginning that.  Also, I have novels in front of me yet to write, and short stories I want to have published.   I have chapters of  In the Light of Darkness on my website and website blog – www.misscheyennemitchell.com and I have posted a short story thriller on Facebook (www.facebook.com/misscheyennemitchell)  entitled “The Doorway” and another short story   thriller on my blog (www.misscheyennemitchell.blogspot.com) entitled “Enraged.”  I hope readers will enjoy them.

 Thanks for joining us today, Cheyenne.

 Cheyenne: Thank you so much.

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Erica Nelson

Erica Nelson writes about happiness, and how you can get there. She wrote her first book of poems at the age of twelve and her first self-help book, Prospect When You Are Happy, in 2007. Erica’s latest book, Happiness Quotations, has just been released.

Hi Erica, Welcome to Literature & Fiction. Please tell everyone a little about yourself.

Erica: I was born in Sausalito, California just a hop across the bay from San Francisco. Born to parents who published newspapers, I was writing as soon as I could read. I remember my mom had sandpaper letters that I traced as a child to learn the alphabet. Later we moved a lot, almost every other year, and I spent a lot of time in libraries. As soon as we moved to a new city, I would learn where the library was located, and walk there often, carting books home. Love of reading was born inside me, and has never left. My first book was published in 2007, Prospect When You Are Happy, created for the conscious business person to create prosperity from a happy place inside. This new book Happiness Quotations: Gentle Reminders of Your Preciousness is my first book for a general audience, although many of my readers seem to be women.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Erica: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I would carry my journal around with me as I rode my bike and walked in elementary school. In middle school and high school, I wrote songs and wrote for the school newspaper and yearbook. Then in college, I wrote concert reviews, dance reviews, and feature stories on dance and music for the college newspaper. Straight out of college, I became a journalist and I still write a weekly column that runs in seven San Francisco Bay Area newspapers in the education section of the papers.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Erica:  When I started writing, I didn’t have goals. I just wrote. I have boxes and boxes of journals. I have clippings dating back to the 1980s. I interviewed Jay Leno once, before he was famous. That sounds like such a long time ago! I guess I had one goal once, “I want to be able to support myself writing in any city anywhere, wherever I want to live.” Later, as I got in tune with my spirit and soul, I wanted to write about being happy and experiencing happiness in difficult situations. That’s where my new book comes in.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Erica: The vision for this book is to be one of many, as a series of passages that show up for me and then I share these visions, concepts, situations where you can navigate rough waters with more clarity, more poise, more loving approaches, more joy, more of all that good stuff and less of the drama, less sorrow, less poverty, less spiritual abandonment and more connectivity to source energy.

What’s the hook for the book?

Erica: Everyone needs to be reminded of their own preciousness. Some days it is easier than others.

Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Erica:  I write as though I know everything, and that’s kind of funny. I write from a place of connectivity to source energy, the all-knowing being within us. I’m not like this 24 hours a day, some parts of the day I am not the “me” that shows up as all-knowing author. When I speak for audiences, they can be surprised at my humility. In my books, I come across as powerful, intense, insightful and wise, or that is the feedback I have been given.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

 Erica: I write every day, and have for about 35 years. I don’t even feel like I am old enough to say that, inside I feel quite young. My upbringing shapes me, in that both my parents wrote all the time. I have early memories of my dad hitting the typewriter keys at 5 a.m. pounding out fictional accounts of his life that never were published, although he has published several textbooks on journalism. My mom was a published novelist before her passing. This environment of “the word” being the main venue of expression is reflected in all that I do, all the time.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Erica: Happiness Quotations: Gentle Reminders of Your Preciousness

“Happiness Quotations” belongs in every home. Each of its pages carries an uplifting, practical message that is perfect for today’s troubled world. And each message is well-written,to the point, easy for anyone to read and understand, and joyously simple to put into practice. For instance, “Trust Your Gut Instinct”, #43, consists of advice that anyone can use in their daily life. #52 tells the reader to “journal your wins’, a inspired thought, easy for anyone to apply. Author Nelson has created a self-help book that truly will enable the reader get themselves out of sadness and depression in a realistic and do-able way. This book should be at the everyone’s list of presents to give for birthdays and holidays. It is spiritual but will offend no one while helping everyone.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Alice M. Dinizo (Toms River, New Jersey)

What are your current projects?

Erica: Every day, I update my Facebook fan page with a new quotation, so that’s ongoing. My latest and greatest project is a 70-days to happiness course that I am writing. It started out as 21 days, then bumped up to 60 days, and finally is emerging as 70 days. In 10 weeks, the student will take one concept each week and have daily instructions to shift into positivity. I’m thinking of calling it Positivity Training, although it’s really a handbook to happiness. This summer will be all about the book tour for Happiness Quotations.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Erica: At www.HappinessQuotations.com, you can read about upcoming radio interviews, in-person book readings, as well  as news on new classes and course offerings that are always virtual and work internationally. On www. Facebook.com/HappinessQuotations you can always get a daily hit of happiness.

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Helen Wisocki

Hi Helen, Welcome to Literature & Fiction. Please tell everyone a little about yourself.

Helen: I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan and moved to Los Angeles, California, when I was twenty years old.  Moving to Massachusetts in 1977, I opened a clothing and jewelry boutique, which I still own and operate.  I’ve observed many different types of people through my business and how they interact with others, making for excellent character resources for my writing.  I’ve raised two children, who are now living in California, which is where I plan to retire someday.  Travel has always been a love of mine. 

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Helen: I loved writing fictional stories in high school, and my senior-year English teacher told me that I should submit my stories to magazines.  Never taking his advice, I instead wrote many colorful and detailed letters to family members in my travels around the country, usually starting with the words, “And the saga continues.”  I seemed to put myself in situations that made for good story telling. 

   When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Helen: I met a guy from high school at our thirtieth high school class reunion who told me about the horrors his family experienced after meeting their new pastor.  His family was torn apart by the pastor who used his clerical power to groom and manipulate his wife.  Their four daughters were horrified when their parents divorced and the pastor married their mother and moved into the family unit.  His story was so compelling that it became the first non-fiction book that I wrote called Innocence Betrayed.  We unfortunately had to change it to fiction after production began, possibly because of threats to the publisher by the church mentioned in the story.  The message in the story was an important one for readers to learn to recognize the grooming techniques that unscrupulous clergy will use to satisfy their narcissistic behavior.   
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?

Helen: My latest book, Sins of the Abused is non-fiction.  It tells about the survival of a man who was abused by a priest at the age of ten, becoming hooked on sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and becoming an over-achiever.  It will most likely be the last story that I write about clergy abuse.  It is set to go into the editing phase in the spring of 2011 and published by the end of the year.

What’s the hook for the book?

Helen: The story is a timely one regarding the recent discovery of how high up in the Catholic Church the cover-ups of abuse actually were.  Victims were abused first by their trusted priests and again by the Church with lies, cover-ups, denial, and the statute of limitations.  Many of the victims did not survive the torturous life after the abuse, but my co-author was one who overcame the self-loathing, addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, and pornography, having the courage to come forward to tell his story and detailing what it took for him to get there.  He is brave in opening up to the graphic details of the grooming process and abuse, helping the reader to understand just how a young boy could be torn from an innocent and trusting childhood to a world of addiction and horror from which few survive. 

 How do you develop characters? Setting?

Helen: When I began working with my co-author on Sins of the Abused, he had already written a manuscript telling his story, but it was disjointed and rambling.  I had to read about fifty pages before I found a place to begin.  Since it is based on a true story, the characters were developed from real people, from my experience in already researching and writing about clergy abuse, and from being raised in the Catholic Church.  It was important to pull the needed information from my co-author that I felt was necessary for the reader to get a clear picture of how such a story could actually take place.     

Who is the most unusual/most likeable character?

Helen: I think my co-author, Marco, is the most unusual and likeable character, but he’s also the most hated character when he’s abusing drugs and alcohol, ruining relationships, setting his children up for pain and abuse, and destroying all that is good in his life.  It’s unusual that a person can survive what he endured.  He was a polite and trusting little boy who yearned for the love and attention his younger siblings received.  Little did he know that he was the perfect target for the coolest priest at church.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Helen: The way I maintained the course of the plot in my first book, Innocence Betrayed, was to use an outline and pages and pages of notes.  But for Sins of the Abused I was working with a manuscript that I had to continually go back and read through, moving chapters around and adding many newly written chapters to make things more clear and maintain the course of the plot.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

Helen: I thoroughly enjoyed writing two short stories based on personal escapades in the anthology, Forever Friends where I wrote a story of surviving hard times with a “Circle of Friends” living together and sharing many combined talents to make ends meet.  In the anthology Forever Travels my story is called “A Most Excellent Adventure” and is based on my travel experiences driving across the United States with my son, who had just graduated from college and wanted to move to Los Angeles from Boston to begin a career in film and media. 

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Being the quiet and shy middle child in a happy two-parent home in Michigan with four sisters, I did a lot of observing.  I feel that this helped me to see both sides of a situation later in life, which helps in developing characters.  My daily journal entries gave me an outlet to express myself through writing.  I saw life as a story that played out in my mind, going wherever my imagination wanted to take it.  Imagination is a wonderful thing for someone who likes to write.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Helen: There were many great reviews for Innocence Betrayed, but this one from Kate, a survivor, was very special:

The contents of this book amazed me, because they are so similar to my own story. Having been in the place of hurt that the characters found themselves, I was able to really relate to this writing. I connected with the grooming, the manipulation, the Church cover-up, and the painful aftermath that something like this can bring. The story shows just how easily something like this can happen, and is a help to those it’s happened to, in seeing that they are not alone. Heartbreaking truth…and great writing. So glad to see a voice being given to such a painful topic!

5-stars *****

What are your current projects?

Helen: Right now I’m working with another survivor who wants to tell his story.  This young man is a survivor of three kidney transplants beginning at the age of two.   I’m also developing a series of adventure stories based on the many personal escapades I’ve experienced and continue to enjoy through life’s happenings.   

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Helen: I currently have two websites with information on my books and me.  One focuses on being an informational site for those abused by an authority figure at www.innocencebetrayedbyclergy.com and the other website is more general at www.freewebs.com/helenwisocki

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The Process of Writing

By Ann Joiner

I have been a writing teacher for, well, thirty years now, since I’ve been tutoring since I retired. The writing needs and skills of high school students are different, in many ways, from those of professionals or working to become professionals. There are some general procedures, though, that apply to all of us, I think.

And my thinking is based, not just on personal experience and observation, but scores and scores of workshops, textbooks, and lectures from those with more knowledge and experience than I could ever have managed on my own.

I’ve learned about many processes that are very different from one another, but one of the points they all have had in common is that writing is a process. The process begins in our heads, with an idea. At the end of most, but not necessarily all, of the processes is a product. The steps in between are not set in stone, but most writing teachers would agree on the basic steps, and that they most often work in a certain order. The steps are sometimes given new names, especially by textbook and workshop developers who are trying to sell a product, and want to convince prospective buyers that they are on to something new.

Generally, though, the steps can be divided into a creating stage, a developing stage, and a finishing stage. (my terms – there are lots of others, including simply a beginning, middle, and end).

The creating stage starts in the writer’s head, with that idea I wrote of above. The idea has to be made tangible by getting it on paper, or today, into a computer. some of us, especially those of us who began writing in a pre-computer era, still begin with a pencil and paper, but more and more are comfortable with a keyboard. Whatever, that idea has to be put in a form that can be read first, by ourselves, the writer, and next, maybe a few trusted readers. At this point we are still a long way from a product that we are willing to put out to a general public. It is important to the quality of the finished product, at this early stage, that we are not overly critical of ourselves. We are in the stage that Anne Lamott, in her book, Bird by Bird: Some instructions on Writing and Life, refers to as “shitty first drafts.” (If you are like I was, you may feel offended the first few times you read that phrase. Our first drafts are so much better than it implies. She is merely trying to remind us that they are first drafts, and once we have them written down, and in enough of a whole piece, we may want to change the wording a bit).

When we do begin to look over what we are writing, as we move into the developing stage, it is generally agreed that it is a good idea to go from general to specific: That paragraph would be better in the introduction, maybe, rather than so near the end, or hidden in the middle. When we have a feel for the general sequence, then we can start to look at our sentence structures – their syntax, only, though. It’s a bit early for grammar and mechanics. They are part of the finishing. Developing is about sequencing, and adding or subtracting stuff, creating a flow for our ideas as we make them into a story. Once we have the complete story, told in the style and order we feel is most effective, we move from development into finishing. It is only here, and not until we get here, that we worry about the smaller stuff: Are our adjectives descriptive enough? Have we appealed to all of our readers senses that are appropriate to the tone and mood of the piece? Are their still bits where we might show more and tell less? And finally, Have we used the proper mechanics: periods, semi-colons, commas, etc. in a way that makes our intent clear? At this point, if you’re on a computer, and most of us are at this stage in this day, it’s okay to run a spell-check. Remember, though, that you can’t rely on it to catch everything. One technique that I learned early on was to go through the piece backwards. Too often, we “see” what we meant to write, rather than what we actually typed.

If this seems to be too cut and dried, an over-simplification, it probably is. I should add that the parts of the process are recursive, and each flows into the other, with no clear line of where one stops and the other starts.  Some writers, especially with longer works, like to complete the process on bits at a time, some go back and forth, other do better just plowing though the whole creation before looking back at it and reflecting on changes.

At some point in the process, we individually reach our personal point where our writing becomes more reader-directed than writer-directed. The more we move into that “reader-directed” phase, the more we probably ought to muster the courage to share and ask for suggestions. This step is easier for some writers than it is for others. Our first readers function a bit like teachers.

And here, I’d like to shift gears a little, and focus on that function of being an early reader of a fellow writers work. As a classroom teacher, I learned, both from experience and training, that it is important to the writer’s finished product, that we give our advice and suggestions based on (a) where the writer is in the process, and that we focus, first, on (b) what we see as being positive in the writing. After we have encouraged the writer by pointing out the really good stuff, we can be helpful by giving our impression as a reader, of what might need more clarification, or be more interesting if it were presented in a different manner. And we need to be clear in our own minds, when we offer advice that involves making changes, that we have not allowed our own egos to get in the way.

Diversity, we are beginning to learn, is a good thing. Writers have diverse styles, too. The more fluent writers can often be recognized by their unique style. It is not our job as readers to attempt to impose our style onto another’s writing.

Now, all that being said, when a writer wants to be published and paid for what they’ve written, a point arrives where the work has to go to an outside editor. That editor ought to be someone who understands the markets, genres, and what the average reader will be willing to pay for. To my way of thinking, this is not what most writers, in the WIP stages, are looking for when they first put their creations out to readers. Not everyone has the qualifications and credentials to be an editor, and those who do, generally, I would think, would want to be paid. I think that most writers, when they get the courage to post a WIP or concept, are looking for an early reader’s advice rather than an editor’s advice. Maybe not, but it might help if we are clear about which hat we are wearing when we give advice and, if we are giving editorial advice, that we share those qualifications and credentials. As writers looking for advice from our fellows, we might want to be specific about whether or not we are looking for developmental feedback from what I’ve called “early readers,” or for editorial advice from critical readers who have experience in helping a writer achieve that professional finished product.

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How to Find an Agent

Linton Robinson, an American expatriate who has spun off several different writing careers, is published as a novelist, essayist, poet, journalist, foreign correspondent, and copywriter.

On his blog, Lin gives advice on how to find an agent. Key points include:

  • Find out who represents the writers whose work is most like yours or appeals to your target audience.
  • Search Google intelligently to try to find the agent who represented the book or author.
  • Cruise those books in the bookstore or library — often writers, especially in their first book, will have dedications to their wonderful agents in the front or back of the book.
  • Find the agents online.
  • Follow the guidelines: most agency sites have guidelines for querying them.

Looking for agent databases? Check out Lin’s list:

SEARCHING FOR YOUR AGENT (When he doesn’t want to be found)

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