The older I get, and the longer I write, the more convinced I become that writer’s groups are an essential component of a writer’s life, success, and mental well-being. Why? -1- Writer’s groups provide a sense of community, of belonging. Although my professional background has always been in sales and marketing, I have never felt comfortable in large crowds of people (unless I was teaching). Until I walked into my first writer’s meeting in Boston in the late 1980s. There’s nothing that compares to being in a roomful of other creative people. When I’m with other writers, even those I…

Call me a creature of the sunlight. Like a little kid, I wake up as soon as dawn chases the darkness away in the morning–regardless of what the clock says. Summer is mornings, freshness, new beginnings. The vivid colors of the trees, flowers, and sky paint pictures I remember once the winter turns them sodden and blurry. Sometimes I think to snap an actual photo. Usually, I don’t. I collect sea shells, herbs for drying, and long walks once life cools down in the evening. I love bare feet, shirts without sleeves, windows thrown open to the wind. To me,…

In this final of 4 blog posts with tips for keeping on track with your writing, I want to tell you about the many free database programs available to keep all your book files in a central location. Many businesses use these database and project management programs for team collaboration and monitoring the numerous projects they have going. Well, we freelancers can use many of these programs as well, even if we don’t employ other people. Some of us go solo during the writing process, but others of us have teams that consist of critique partners, agents, and fellow writers…

In this third of four posts about how to stay on track with your writing, I’ll be discussing Tip #3: Using Multiple Notebooks in Microsoft’s OneNote. I use OneNote to keep at my fingertips all those things I used to find myself flipping through pages of manuscript to find because I knew they were in there but just couldn’t find them. The best thing about OneNote is that it not only works like a regular notebook, with separate sections and pages, it also permits me to color code everything and insert photos and hyperlinks right from the Internet. I can…

In my last blog post, I talked about Tip # 1, Customer styles and themes in Microsoft Word. In this post, I’m sharing Tip #2: A Custom Chapter-by-Chapter template for outlining both what I plan to write in future chapters/scenes … and what I’ve actually written. I don’t know how it goes with you, but my plans always sound terrific. And some of them actually turn out that way. But quite often, I change plans in the middle of a story because I stumble over a flaw in my plot, I note an inconsistency in the character’s personality, or I…

I’m not a pantser. I don’t have to plot out every single scene before I write, either, but I like to have a framework within which to operate. After years of writing millions of pages of insurance textbooks, countless newspaper and magazine articles, and hundreds of book chapters I’ve settled on a process that keeps me organized. It also allows me more time to write without having to backtrack. Here are the ingredients to my recipe for keeping on track: Tip #1: Custom Styles and Themes in Microsoft Word Tip #2: Custom Chapter-by-Chapter template for outlining both what I plan…

I’ve attended numerous writer’s conferences over the years and was never fortunate enough to be granted an agent/editor pitch until last month. And then, when I arrived at the conference, I learned I’d not only been scheduled 10 minutes with my #1 choice, but I’d also been scheduled another 10 minutes with my #2 choice (1 agent, 1 editor). How lucky can a girl get? Then I started thinking, Holy S–t! What the hell am I going to do? I’d been conducting nonstop research on the essential elements of the pitch, as if someone, somewhere had written a list of…

Freedom of Expression

April 3, 2018

As a writer, I have always embraced the right to express myself freely, without censorship. That’s one of the best things about being an American and living in this country: each of us has so many freedoms. When I write–regardless of whether my creation is a textbook, workshop handout, short story, novel, or blog post–neither you nor anyone else is forced to read it. You can skim it, read it from beginning to end, or skip it entirely because you have the same rights I do. Although I consider your response when I write, I don’t tailor my words to it. When speaking,…

Do you know your slang?

March 21, 2018

We all know you don’t say certain words in public. Or, God forbid, when your mother is in the same room. Slang is defined as informal speech that’s used in a particular setting or environment, or by people in a particular group. When I was in high school, our slang included the terms groovy, batshit, and way out. In my current novel, two of the present-day characters have ancestors who lived during Prohibition in the 1920s. Did you know the following terms were coined back then? Skid row was originally “skid road,” a place where loggers hauled their goods. During Prohibition, these logging…

Circadian rhythm: It’s the reason you find yourself full of energy at a particular time of day (or night) and really dragging at another time. Biological clock: Your internal timing device; usually a 24-hour clock. Your biological clock produces your circadian rhythm. So, what does this have to do with your productivity and whether you’re a morning person or a night owl? Well, your circadian rhythm is based partly on DNA and partly on external factors, such as daylight. “Larks” wake up and go to bed early; they tend to find themselves more productive in the morning. “Owls”  rise and hit the sack later,…