Tag Archives: relevant

Vote Today…The Writing You Save Just Might Be Yours….

In California voters are voting on a new tax law that could affect Kindle writers. In France they are revisiting the issue of copyrights and just how many rights an author has. Then there is that dreaded debate on enacting a law regarding the “rights” of a creative to his/her own work…if you don’t think that who runs our government affects your writing…think again.

Now I am not going to advocate any one candidate here. Who you vote for is yours to decide. I am, however, going to encourage each and every one of you to get out there, get informed and then vote your conscious. So often laws are enacted and afterwards there is a group of people who are standing around saying, “hey, wait a minute, I didn’t vote on that”, the truth is, you might not have not voted for it but you didn’t vote against it either and folks, we live in a country where our government often decides that no vote is as good as a yes vote. (This concept often works in their favor)

I know how hard it is to keep up with all the laws, the people running, and the issues but hey, look at what’s at stake here. Over the last several years people in the United States have seen their world get smaller and smaller because of new laws and regulations that have been enacted. The government can now search your home with little reason, monitor your cell phone and even, in some cases, put you in jail and hold you there without giving you a reason…these things are possible because we weren’t paying attention….don’t you think it is time we start paying attention?

Writers have to remain vigilant about what is happening in the world around them. We live in a world where the government censors many writers, they rewrite history and often just keep things from the public in general….we, the writers of the world, are often the only hope of getting the truth out there…how will that be affected by those we put into office. So go out today, get informed and vote….you are a writer…your voice should be loud and practiced…you’ve been speaking for other for years…now is the time to speak up for our future as well.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Posted by on November 6, 2022 in Business of Writing, Writing


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But I Don’t Want to Clean it Up…WAIT…That’s Where That Was….

Part of me hates holidays; especially those that happen making the Monday a holiday. When I was in school three day weekends were cool, but now, they are sort of annoying. Now, they are that extra day you have to get crap done. It’s not an extra Sunday so you can’t take it as a reset day and usually you are desperately trying to recover from the relatives’ invasion. (Me, this holiday Monday) Either way, it ends up being a honey-do day and I hate those.

This weekend we moved my office. My spouse is refinishing a desk we bought so I needed more space. The desk is cool and I am lucky to have married a person who is so talented in this way. It is a heavy 1940’s style oak desk and it has now been sanded, refinished and stained mahogany (which is one of those colors that just says very cool and exotic) and is getting its final coat of the shiny crap that goes over it. (yeah, I don’t refinish stuff…it’s enough for me to “finish” it the first time) Because of all this activity I had to spend part of today going through my office piles…you know the ones, the I’ll-do-it-later piles. Wow, have I been putting that off for a while.

Here’s what I have learned from today’s exercise…I need to organize myself better and I need to develop a system to better track the stuff I have already completed. There was a lot of work in those piles that I have now done several times over because I couldn’t find the first copies. (They were in the piles) Several times today this realization almost brought me to tears. I, by not having a system, am creating more work for myself…how stupid is that?

So I encourage all of you to learn from my mistake… Create a system that allows you to track what you do and avoid the pile method. I now have to rework at least two chapters that were already done because the earlier copies were better. (Darn it) Take the time and set up a system and use it as you go. Trust me, if you don’t it will bring on the tears and the urge to down a box of Twinkies while sitting in your underwear and no one should ever see that.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on September 4, 2022 in Writing


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Reset Sunday – A Caffeine Free Day

Writers are the victims of a stereotype. Okay, we are the victims of A LOT of stereotypes, but here we are dealing with just one…caffeine freaks. We are always portrayed as caffeinated crazy people with a pen in one hand and a cup of Joe in the other. Is that really us though? Okay, admit it…sometimes it is.

I am not a huge coffee drinker. I’m not sure that it keeps me up and to be honest I spend a lot of time in the “reading room” when I drink it. So for regularity, it works…making me work better, not so much. I do happen to be married to a person who is a coffee addict and I have to tell you, being addicted to the stuff is not a good thing. No water, no regular meals…it kind of screws a person up if it is abused which is why your mission on Reset Sunday was supposed to be to go caffeine free. (If you are reading this on Monday, it’s because I was late…sorry claiming the holiday…) Instead though I am going to task you with, get out your pitch forks folks, taking at least one day this upcoming week to go caffeine free…

Why the madness you may be asking? Well, it occurs to me after watching several writer friends who drink 4-shot- mochas-with-extra-chocolates, several a day, that this whole caffeine thing might not be healthy considering that we are sit-your-butt-in-the-chair types. If you are active, you work the stuff through your system, but if you are not all that caffeine is sinking to the bottom of your feet where it is bound to let loose those irritating little calories that we all want to stay away from. Not to mention, whatever long lasting crap drinking that much coffee can do to your body. I want to see if you can stay away from it…for…just…one…day!  Do it and then let me know the results. Did you do okay or did you ax murder that annoying neighbor who won’t turn his sander down and yells at his kids constantly. (Yep, I have one of those too)

Writer’s Note: For all of you soda freaks who are whoo hooing…you have to give up soda for the day…caffeine my friends is caffeine.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on September 4, 2022 in Reset Sundays


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Don’t Count Your Words Constantly, Instead Make Your Words Count

We are word counters, us writers. At some point our work lives or dies by the number of words we have invested into a story. Publishers and editors have their reasons for needing to hit that special magic number. Sometimes the word count matters because of space allotted, sometimes it is all about the length (because in books sometimes size matters….lol) and still, other times, the word count is important because that’s the way we get paid. No matter what the reason, if you are a writer, you have one eye on the word count all the way through your work most times.

Here’s the thing though…we have to be careful when watching that little word ticker. If we aren’t, our stories could fall victim to something akin to the verbal flu…just as too many antibodies can make you sick, so can too many words or too few words…or keeping count in the first place. Okay, hold on now, before you tilt your head, and in your best Scooby Doo voice, ask, “huh”…let me explain.

While we should watch our word counts we need to make sure that we, as writers, don’t become obsessed with it. It is an easy thing to find yourself mired in. You are writing along and with one eye on the word count, suddenly you become concerned that you are short verbiage so you start adding stuff in, only it’s crap, because it doesn’t fit, because now you’re writing isn’t about the story but about making sure that you have enough words to make the count. OR you notice that you have too many words and so now your story is getting choppy because you are cutting it in places you shouldn’t, again trying to make that word count. Either way, because you have an eye on that word count, your story is in real trouble.

So how then do we ensure that the word count monster doesn’t take over the planet of your story? It’s simple…stop watching it. Granted when you are finished with your story you do have to revisit the word count so that you can at least hit the target but, at least if you wait until then, you have a finished story to work with and you are not filling or cutting in a haphazard way. Work on making your words count while writing instead of counting them as you are writing; if you do, your story will be all the better for it.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on September 2, 2022 in Edting, grammar, Writing


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Look Universe….I’m Paying Attention!

Life is messy. This has never been so evident for me as it is right now. We have had a hectic year with grown children coming and going, grandkids introduced to the household then ripped away, gas prices, food prices, and prices in general, raising so much that, there are times when I have to make decisions between my medicine and food for the family. It’s enough to make you scream, and not write.

There is a silver lining too. This year has taught me a lot about myself and my writing. I believe that, for all the strife, I am also a better person and creative. There were lessons and I am finally at an age where I am actually taking note of those lessons. (When you are younger and in the, you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do mode, let’s be honest, the lessons often fall on deaf ears) I wanted to share some of those lessons, or realizations if you will, as they relate to my writing. Here are 10 things this year has taught me so far and how they have made me a better writer.

1. Perfection cannot be obtained -Trying to be the perfect writer takes something away from the process. It makes us feel inferior and desperate to “do better” instead of always doing our best. There is no perfect novel in the terms set forth by the industry, there is only unique and unique is good; it’s what we should all strive for.

2. Writing is an individual thing- There is also no perfect process to writing either because it is a very personal thing. While I might enjoy writing at 5 a.m. after a breakfast of Mountain Dew and Twinkies, you might not and that’s okay. (Although my cardiologist might disagree) Writing is an individual thing and sometimes you have to fit it into an already busy life…that’s okay. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

3. Other people will judge - Doing our best is what it is all about but, as a writer, we also have to accept that people will form opinions and some of them we won’t agree with. Judgment of others appears to be a condition of human nature and often times those judgments can be hurtful. We writers just have to accept the idea that people are people and they will judge; sometimes harshly. The key is not to allow their judgments to take away from who you are as a writer. Don’t take bad reviews or opinions personally; often times it’s the other person’s problem but, because we put ourselves out there by writing, we are easy targets.

4. No one else knows what’s right for you – I hate the word “should”. There is always someone else out there who thinks they know what we “should” do.  “Should” is often another way of saying, do it my way.  If you have a person telling you what you “should” do, use your noggin folks; think before you traipse into “should-land”. Once you get there, you may just find that you need to be in the land of I-knew-better-than-that” instead.

5. Tomorrow isn’t promised – My grandmother used to say this all the time and, I have to be honest, as a kid, it was annoying. She would see one of us putting off something that we were supposed to do and then she would smile knowingly and say, “you’d better do it now, tomorrow isn’t promised” and we would feel instant guilt and go do whatever chore it was that we wanted to put off. When I was a kid this was a tactic to get me to do chores, after my grandmother passed away it became a reality that couldn’t be ignored. I now apply this to my writing too. I write every day, even if it is for just a few minutes because tomorrow isn’t promised and once it is gone, it’s gone…no redo’s.

6. Learning isn’t a process; it’s a lifestyle- You’ve heard people say it throughout your life. Everyone from Oprah to Nelson Mandela has proclaimed it, learning is important and something you should never stop doing. I agree. As a writer learning is not only necessary but imperative. The day you stop learning, you may as well stop writing because writing is a process that becomes a part of who you are. Stop learning and you’ll find yourself with nothing to write about…guaranteed.

7. We are worthy- Value in one’s self is one of the most important parts of writing. Sound strange? It’s shouldn’t, because it is true. If you have no self-worth how are you expected to write anything that you believe someone else will want to read? Belief in ones’ self is step one to being strong enough to tell your story. A confident writer is a good writer. You are worthy of the respect you should get for doing what you do.

8. We are going to age and redefine ourselves- 365 days; that’s what we have to work with, every year. As the years pass we age, hopefully we mature, and along with learning to accept the fact that some guys never learn to put the toilet seat down, our writing should mature too. That doesn’t mean that a 50 something writer can’t write young adult novels, it just means that, as we mature, so should our understanding of what we do. We will also redefine ourselves throughout those years over and over again…and that’s okay. Today, I am not my 20 year old self, nor would I want to be and when I look back on my 20 year old writing, well…I’m glad that has grown up too. Embrace the changes that come with age; they are awesome!

9. We always have a choice on how we respond – I tell my kids that although I have raised them to the best of my ability, they always have a choice as to whether they go left or right, and that applies to every decision they will ever make. We writers will also have that choice in our writing life. We dictate how we respond. Just as no one can “make” you feel something; the term you make me mad is inaccurate, you “choose” to be mad. Mad is a reaction to what someone has done, how you react is on you. When someone is critical of your work, how you respond to that can make all the difference. Will you use it to be a better writer or will you allow it to stop you in your tracks? The choice is yours.

10. What we do matters- I watch this show that comes on Sunday nights, it’s called Prophets of Science Fiction. It is one of the coolest shows I have ever seen. Although I am not a sci fi writer, the show speaks to the writer in me. It showcases some of history’s greatest sci fi writers and how their writing could often be considered prophetic. Writers like Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov wrote about technology that wasn’t even in existence during the time of their writing. We could go into the whole art vs. life debate but I relate this to my last point, what we, as writers, do matters. People read what we write, whether it is articles in the local newspaper, a snippet in a newsletter for the Elks or a novel, write it and someone, somewhere, will read it and be affected by it. This is why being a responsible writer is so very important. Just as parents have to be conscious of what they do because there are little eyes on them emulating them, we writers have to be conscious of what we write too, because the eyes of the world are often on us. What you do matters folks…..

These are just some of the lessons 2012 has taught me and I’m sure there will be more to come. (That’s part of the whole “learning” thing) I welcome the chance to soak up the lessons in life and I would encourage you to do the same. While we enjoy our writing, it also has a lot to show us if we will only listen…….


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



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Posted by on August 28, 2022 in Writing


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Beware the Nay-Sayers!

As a writer I don’t enjoy a lot of support for what I do. I mean, my family is supportive, other writers are supportive, but people in general have one of two reactions; they either are in awe of the fact that I write but don’t really know what to say, or they look all skeptical like I just told them that I’ve been to the moon three times since March. Either reaction is sort of annoying because it makes me feel set aside from the rest of the human race. If I had to choose which reaction out of the two I prefer though, it would be the “awe reaction” because the other one makes me want to punch people in the face.

For a writer, there is nothing worse than blatant disapproval from folks who have no clue. It’s like having a plumber tell you that your adjectives are all wrong. Dude, I don’t talk about your plumbers crack (because apparently that is all part of the plumber experience) so don’t dis my writing skills. It is frustrating. It is also frustrating that we are in the only profession where people feel they can openly disapprove of what we do. Folks don’t look all crazy at the phone installation guy when he announces that he installs phones…so why look at the writer crazy? It’s just weird.

I combat this reaction several ways….

I tell them that I kill people for a living instead of telling them I am a writer. Both things are true but one garnishes a great reaction.

I tell people that I am secretly in the CIA and writing is my cover. You would be amazed at how many people are willing to believe that.

Finally, I just tell most of them to get stuffed. I love what I do and I don’t really care who actually approves or disapproves. It has been my experience that most people who disapprove are usually just jealous anyways. The key for you as a writer is to beware of the naysayers because their negativity can bring you down even when you don’t think that you are listening to them. Tell them to go pound sand (STILL don’t know what that means) and keep on writing. One day they will see your book in a store window while they are yanking up their pants over that plumbers crack and you, my fellow writer, will have won a great victory.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on July 19, 2022 in Healthy Writers, Writing


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What’s the Meaning of Life and All that Crap

I am a student of life. I ask so many questions at any given time that I have family members who hate to see me coming during family BBQs. One of my middle sons tells me that I do it because I was a reporter for so long. This is usually is followed by the phrase, “stop asking me so many questions”. I can’t help it…I’m curious. But should I do this in my writing? Sure, why not? Here’s the thing about asking the big questions within your novels though….if you ask…you should have some semblance of an answer even if you have to fake it.

Readers don’t really mind being made to think. In fact, many of them hope that the novels they read make them ask questions about themselves. For me, I want to grow as a person through my reading so even if I am reading a horror story, I don’t mind if the author points something out. (Like in Stephen King’s “It”….question…should you hang out in sewer systems? Answer…Nope.) Some authors have a real knack for making the reader think without taking them back to school. Toni Morrison does that. Anne Rice does that and we all have learned a thing or two from Stephen King i.e. dogs can be mean, kids who die shouldn’t be played with and don’t piss off the prom queen. I jest but all of these authors ask some really important questions too, like where does life begin and end.

Now we enter the “this is my opinion” phase of today’s column…I think that as a writer we have an obligation to ask the questions that affect the world around us. I think that we make people think and that is part of our jobs. I also think that writing is often a form of self-therapy and asking the questions that we ourselves need answers to also helps us grow. It’s a win –win for both reader and author if done correctly.

So…ask the questions. After all, if we don’t, who will? (wait…did I end that on a question???? Sly devil…)



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on June 14, 2023 in Plot, Writing


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I Don’t Procrastinate and I’ll Tell You Why…Later….

Procrastination. You know, I’ve been actually putting a column about this off and I have no idea why. It’s an important topic. It’s something that writers everywhere deal with, yet, just the sound of the word makes you want to do it tomorrow. I guess it’s time to talk about it.

There are many opinions out there as to why folks procrastinate. It isn’t just writers who bask in the light of I’ll-do-it-tomorrow-land, everyone does it. There is just something about “having” to do something that triggers that little guy who sits on your shoulder saying, aw come on…do it later. I am an expert at procrastination. I blame it partly on living the life of a news reporter in both print and radio for so long. When you live your life by deadline…you tend to have trouble completing a task unless there is a sense of urgency. I often wait until the last minute on just about every project. I think it is habit at this point…who knows. Family and friends know that I will get things done…but they also know it may not be until right before they needed it completed. Personally, I think it adds a certain excitement to life. (In Trailer guy’s voice – WILL SHE GET IT IN BEFORE DEADLINE?)

So how do you combat procrastination? Here are a few things that I have discovered that may help you too:

Make a List – I am the king of list making. I could teach a Master Class on it. A list is like a contract with yourself. Make a list and your ego knows that you are watching. (But not in a stalker way)

Keep a Calendar – My calendar is a constant reminder for me that I have crap to do. I keep one on my iPad because there is an alarm that reminds me, hey stupid, you have crap to do. Calendars can be a good thing as long as you stay away from the delete button.

Focus – Procrastination is a creature from the realm of “time on my hands”. In this land, people sit around playing Facebook games and surfing the internet for obsolete subjects like how to make an airplane using paperclips and how to build a rocket using household appliances. Focus on the work at hand and procrastination has nothing to feed off of.

These are just a couple of ideas; I’m sure other writers have some too. (Please, feel free to share them with the rest of the class.) If you are dealing with procrastination…don’t fret too much, you are not alone. There are times when procrastination is a good thing, like when considering pushing the doomsday button or stepping into oncoming traffic. But, as writers, we have to control it as best we can or no one will ever read our work. It would be funny, but awful, if your tombstone read, “Here Lies the Writer, He Never Quite Got Around to Finis…….” (Tragically funny)


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



Posted by on April 24, 2023 in Writing


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Reset Sunday – Just Stop it…it’s Okay

When I was a kid my dad had no idea what the concept of a “Sunday” meant. He would get up early, mow the lawn, weed eat the yard, trim the trees, clean the garage, work on the car, work on my brother’s car, repair whatever my brother and I had broken during the week, (we were hellions) wash the truck and tinker with his fishing boat motor. Whew…nope, dad had no idea how to truly spend a Sunday.

If any of this stuff sounds familiar….if you are one of THOSE people who use Sunday as a day to beat yourself to death…STOP IT, STOP IT RIGHT NOW! I’m not sure what kind of sadist created the 7 day week with Sunday being the catch all for crap you didn’t get to but it’s time we made some changes. I kind of think that the religious right may have created the concept of yard work on Sundays as a sort of penance for those who don’t attend church but whatever the actual reason is, just because traditionally our parents have tried to kill themselves with work on Sunday doesn’t mean that we have to.

Writers need a day off. We need to be able to do nothing for at least 24 hours. It’s a chance to refuel, recap and re-energize. It’s a matter of writing life or writing death. I need to wake up on Monday morning refreshed and ready to go, not beat up from a Sunday of chores. (That’s what I have kids for…I know, I know…bad parent…whatever…) And those of you who use Sunday to worry…knock that off.

I do recognize that there are a more than a few crazy people out there who enjoy yard work, cleaning the garage and all that…(pisst…get some help for that will ya…) but for those of us who don’t…it’s okay…Sundays are not meant to be dedicated to self-abuse. That’s just a myth propagated by parents born in the 40’s and 50’s in order to teach us responsibility. You can spend your Sundays any way you’d like, work and worry free. If you go to church, more power to you, some of my best aerobic work outs have been in church. (stand up, kneel, sit, stand up, kneel, sit…and so on…) But if you don’t, don’t try and out do the neighbor…think of not mowing your lawn as a public service…not doing yours makes his look better. (That’ll be $9.95 please…)

Seriously though, if you enjoy doing a bunch of stuff on Sundays, by all means, torture your kids but if you don’t…don’t sweat it. Sundays are a reset day and they should be enjoyed. Save the catch up work for Saturdays and take one down day to do what you want. The writer in you will thank me someday…trust me.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on April 22, 2023 in Reset Sundays


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Make Sure You Hit All the Keys and No One Gets Hurt

I am not a typist. In my freshman year of high school, I took a typing class as an elective because it sounded easy, but the instructor ended up asking me to leave before the school year ended. I think it is safe to say that I frustrated him enough that it was either ask me to leave or kill me…I left. (Being killed by your typing teacher is probably # 45 on the list of stupid ways to die.)

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the class; it’s just that I am not coordinated when it comes to using my hands. My grandmother used to say that she hated to watch me do anything that required the use of my hands on a small object. I guess I use them like a toddler…this also goes for my typing. So what’s my point in telling you all this? You don’t have to be a typist to be a writer.

Too many creative writing instructors and basic writing classes laud the importance of typing. They will tell you that, the better typist you are, the better writer you will be…that’s a crock and not the kind you wear if you have absolutely no fashion sense. Would it be handy to type 120 words a minute? Well, of course it would, but that’s not what makes you a writer. In fact, I think it might actually hinder you. Hear me out….

If you are a quick typist you will peck away at the keyboard not really having to think about what you are actually typing. Often times, because I am a hunt and peck person, the slower writing helps me to really look at the work. Due to the fact that I have to make sure that I am hitting the right keys, I often look over what I just wrote more than once…again helping me with the overall process.

So if you are not typing a gazillion words a minute, (a) you are probably doing better work) and (b) hunting and pecking helps in some ways and (c) you’re…uh…normal. (No one who types that fast can be normal) You don’t have to be a typist to be a writer. You have to be a writer to be a writer….duh.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on April 21, 2023 in Inspiration, Writing


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