Advice From The Swamp

So, according to blog history, I started this post on April 27th. It’s now mid June ok, July and I’m still screwing around with it. Why? I could use the usual litany of excuses: busy, work, family, etc, but while all are true to some extent, that’s not it. I’m somewhere in the swamp with this writing thing. This is especially so when someone needs advice, and asks the dreaded question, “How can I be a writer?” What they’re really asking me is, “How do I get published?”

Nothing matches the thrill of having your first book published. When Siren Publishing accepted Star Brides: Procured I yelled, texted my spousal unit a pic of the front page of the contract, and danced around the living room. When Siren emailed the book’s front cover, I forwarded it to my spousal unit, and my mom. And that was about it. No big cover reveal, no screaming from the twin peaks of Twitter and FaceBook, no blogging, nothing.

A few weeks ago, Siren accepted the second book in the Star Bride series, The Meat Market. SBTMM is available now for pre-order on Siren’s  website  It’s scheduled for release on July 3rd. (See how I snuck that in? I’m learning.)  I was wrong. Having my second book published is pretty thrilling too. Then I got to thinking – what else was I wrong about. It’s become quite a list. So, as on the eve of my second book’s release, I’m offering this advice…

Several FB friends engaged in a ‘are you a writer or an author?’ discussion. I think what it boiled down to was this:  If you’ve published, you’re an author. If not, a writer.  Or maybe it was the other way around…I’m not sure it matters. The point is, don’t let the process consume you, or irrelevancies will entangle your writing.

Writer killing bogs exist. Fear of failure, intimidation, approach avoidance-all conspire to suck the life out of us. Every writer fears failure. When you’ve spent weeks living and creating a different reality, submitting your baby for soul searing judgement, or publishing as it’s usually known, is terrifying. Write anyway.

Intimidation varies from the snide smirk on the face of a friend or family member when you confide that you’re writing, to the ‘how to’s’ that can be found online. The former you can ignore or flip off. The later is, I believe, a little more difficult to deal with because it often comes mixed with valid suggestions from others that have walked this road. Suggestions, advice, or hints intimidate me when I can’t figure out what the hell they’re talking about. I don’t want to study the finer points of dangling participles, or whether or not an outline has sub-titles, counter points, Geiger counters or whatever. The danger here is that all the insanity delivered by highly educated individuals makes one (ok, me) feel inferior. Is it helpful? It can be. The folks flinging their knowledge around are experts…right?

Read. Read as many books in your genre as is humanly possible. Enjoy what they offer, but understand this isn’t a pleasure cruise. Tay appencion. Why are some books more successful than others? Understand that publishing is a business, and you will be in competition with literally, millions of others. Yes, write what you love, what’s in your heart, but be smart about it.

Research. While you’re reading and paying attention, look to see who publishes works in your genre. Sure, we’ve all heard of the large publishing houses, but smaller publishers may have much to offer and are worth considering, especially when you’re a noob like me.  Make a list of the most promising, and then delve a little further-how do their authors feel about their services? Are their submission requirements aligned with your writing choices? Are they financially solvent? There is plenty of great info available if you just google…

Establish a media platform before your book releases. Or it’s even written. Have a website? If your media budget is $0.00, start blogging. It’s free. And all those books I told you to read? Review them. On Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog. Having your name out there ahead of any book release will be an enormous help. Believe me, I know cuz mine wasn’t.

Along the way I’ve scared myself shitless trying to use online resources. At the risk of overwhelming you, and no I’m not trying to be a smartass, these are three that I’ve found helpful: for those in the romance genre-free, easy to scope out website that features relatively short articles on a wide range of topics by different contributors. You may find anything from marketing to writing erotic scenes. Tone is friendly and informative without the condescension.

I discovered Rayne Hall on twitter-yes, I know-really. She had me when one of her tips suggested tweeting interesting content related to an author’s book instead of promotional messages. And here I was wracking my brains trying to tweet something cute…Her tweets are short, sweet, and to the point. And helpful. She will (publicly) answer tweeted questions. Rayne Hall authors how to books about various aspects of writing. Her website is

David and Justine Duhr run They offer a variety of services for writers of all experiential levels, as well as a blog that I’ve found very comforting at times. My favorite post is ‘Worst. Advice. Ever.’ Check it out one day when you’re pulling at the tufts remaining on your head.

Of course, there are many, many more blogs, websites, books, tutorials, along with voices of wisdom. They’re out there just waiting for you. And that’s the problem. It’s impossible to wade through them all. So my advice-don’t. Focus on whatever makes sense for you.

Whatever you do decide, keep writing!







2 Replies to “Advice From The Swamp”

  1. You are quite correct. The question is “How do I get published?” People already know how to be a writer. You just get a paper and pen, or a computer or,whatever, and you write. Writers tend to be like musicians. Either you are one or you aren’t, and whether or not you ever get published or get a gig or a song on the radio you are still going to do what you do. If you toy with it for a short time then easily give it up, then you are not a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

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