Saturday, February 28, 2015

WOTS February Meeting

Can't believe I had to miss last Saturday. One thing about having a chronic illness--you never know
when it's going to hit and wreck your plans. But word has it the WOTS group received some great instruction from a couple of terrific authors, Lynne Gilbert and Kellie Gentry. Looks like a huge crowd attended: 28 people, including our guest speakers and 7 visitors. My bet is that such a crowd kept Ivan busy.

Since I couldn't attend, I had to rely on others to give me a rundown of the talk. Kathrese McKee stepped up to the plate with a short summary (thank you!).
According to Kathrese, Lynne Gentry gave pointers on doing research using both primary and secondary sources. She coached us to "marble" the details into the story to establish credibility and the quality of verisimilitude that help the reader suspend disbelief.

Kellie Gilbert talked about taking the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride. Before writing the scene or chapter, choose the one emotion you want the reader to experience. The hooks at the beginning and ending of the section should reinforce that emotion. She attributed this quote to John Olson of ACFW, "Before you write a chapter or scene, ask yourself, not what should happen next, but what you want your reader to feel." Boil it down to one word.

Really wish I could've been at the meeting. Sounds like our speakers offered some valuable words of writing wisdom. But as I scrolled through the pictures Kathrese took, I was tickled to see this one of Martha Rogers. So excited she was able to attend!


Janice Thompson says: "I'm super-dee-dooper excited about SO many things in my writing career right now. Audio recordings are underway for the Bella books and for Hurricane, which is getting a new cover ASAP. I just got my rights back for Love Finds You in Poetry Texas, which is being re-titled" to Mismatched in Texas.

DON'T MISS THE WRITE-IN at Annette O'Hare's house. Last I heard, it was scheduled for March 5, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Soup will be provided for lunch, and we can bring extra snacks, sandwiches, chips, fruit, veggies--whatever we like to snack on while we work (peanuts!). Leave your calorie counters at home, but bring a battery pack for your creativity.

Annette issued a warning: "I want to give a heads up to everyone coming to the write-in at my house on the 5th. I have 2 very spoiled inside dogs. I hope no one has dog allergies!"


Our topic for March is "Plotting," and I've scheduled a terrific post by author Lisa Lickel next Saturday which asks why we should do it. Be sure to check back! 

John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) American author of twenty-seven books, is our featured author. Got a favorite among his works?

Guest speaker, Carla Hoch, author of Breaking Reed! Get ready to knock 'em dead!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Introducing New Publisher: Take Me Away Books and Forget Me Not Romances

Need some help with your unpublished manuscripts? 

Cynthia Hickey, hybrid, and Amazon best-selling author, and her small ebook line, may be the ones who can help you.

Today’s publishing world is changing faster than some writers can keep up. Not only must you have a well-written book, but you must be prolific. Where once, you needed a large publisher to see your book in print, with small royalties and a long time to wait before seeing the fruit of your labor, today that is no longer the case. A book can be in ebook form and in print via print-on-demand within a matter of weeks and royalties paid to the author are much higher than in the traditional route. It’s an exciting time to be a writer!

Today’s authors wear many hats; writer, publisher, marketer, cover designer, etc. They must be active on social media. Everywhere they turn, they’re bombarded with what’s new, what’s old, what doesn’t work anymore and what’s the new thing to guarantee sales.

We’re told we must have a book published every three months in order to stay in the reader’s sights. While this is true, it is often overwhelming to those who take longer to complete a manuscript than others.

Are you tired of writing to fit a mold? Have you received the rights back on previously traditionally published works? Do you have a dusty manuscript that can’t find a home? Then Take Me Away Books or Forget Me Not Romances  may be the place for you.

Forget Me Not

The Forget Me Not Romances is a line of sweet, clean and/or inspirational novels that allow the reader to get lost in a good romance. This line is open to romance genres of historical, western, contemporary, suspense, and mystery. Don’t worry. If you contact us about one line, and we feel you’ll fit better with the other one, we’ll switch you over if that’s what you prefer.

A lot of authors, while writing the book of their heart, find that their baby doesn’t fit into a particular niche. That’s no reason to stick the story on a shelf or in a drawer. Take Me Away Books and Forget Me Not Romances are small presses dedicated to helping authors who want to publish their book in ebook form. We’re looking for romantic suspense, mystery, memoirs, fantasy, science fiction, and everything in between. You wrote a story about a time-traveling fairy? Okay. If it’s a well-written story about a time-traveling fairy, we’ll take it.

Take Me Away

Take Me Away Books is open to all genres, except for erotica and children’s books, and books posted there will have a rating, similar to a movie rating. Forget Me Not Romances, devoted to clean and sweet books, won’t need a rating because of their wholesomeness. Both lines will run in the same manner and the information can be found here. If you have more questions, please email me at cynthiahickey (at) We are open to submissions for both lines. Come find a home for your baby. If you have a submission, please send it to cynthiahickey (at) with SUBMISSION in the subject line.

In order to give each of our authors the attention they deserve, Take Me Away Books and Forget Me Not Romances will be very selective in who they accept. We want to take pride in the services we offer and in the finished product. Writing for a small press, where the authors not only actively promote their book, but the entire line, helps everyone reach a wider market.

This is an exciting venture for us as we enter into the world of being a publisher. There are a lot of books available to help a person get their book in ebook form, but all of these take time. Often, a writer finds that the details take up time that they would rather spend writing. With more and more books showing up on ebook distributing sites, it often takes a team to reach as many people as possible. We want to help you get started.

Celebrating The Small Press 

Why publish with a small press? Why go ebook? Why go indie when you want to be traditional? Why not start indie and strive for being a hybrid? The primary reason for using a small press is to bypass the mis-conceived notion of what self-published is and have the backing of a publisher’s name. This also helps you build a readership and hone your craft in order to entice a traditional publisher. Don’t be surprised though if you decide to stay with a small press. The higher royalties might be worth it to you. If you’re a traditionally published author looking to fill in between contracts or list your back lists, ebooks are a great way to pull in readers to your traditionally published books and visa versa.


Fiction or non-fiction that is well-written and will appeal to readers. Genres: romance, romantic suspense, mystery, historical romance, science fiction, fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, or any combination thereof. We’re looking for author’s willing to work as a team to market their books in an ever-growing world.


Erotica or Children’s books. Authors who want to sit back, do nothing, and see what happens. This doesn’t work in any type of business. Ever hear the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well, it takes a team to build a book.

We want to be a part of that team.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Dynamic Duo for February!

We’re in for a special treat for our next meeting: the Lynne Gentry/Kellie Gilbert team will be here to discuss “Tools to Build a Great Novel.” These popular authors are bound to know a few tools we could use. 

Hope to see you next Saturday!

More about Lynne Gentry:

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. Her new series, The Carthage Chronicles is a time travel, historical romance, adventure. The second in the series, RETURN TO EXILE, released just last month. 

She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright with several full-length musicals plus a Chicago children's theater curriculum to her credit. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer. She loves spending time with her family or working the hospital oncology wards with her medical therapy dog Roman.

As a former legal professional, Kellie Coates Gilbert spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America. She was one of the lead paralegals in the Jack-in-the-Box litigation, where uncooked hamburger resulted in the deaths of several toddlers and made many more critically ill, which is now the subplot of her newly released WHERE RIVERS PART, the second novel in a collection of contemporary women's fiction stories all set in Texas. Her books not only explore the heart issues that matter most to women, but often allow readers an inside peek into her former legal world. 

Kellie currently makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a very spoiled 2.7 lb. Yorkie named Emmie Sweetpea.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Goals that Make Sense, by Ron Estrada

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons and Paula Naugle

I love New Year's resolutions. I love the wha-wha-whaaa sound they make as they fizzle and die by January 3rd. A resolution is something announced from an elevated platform. Usually a bathroom scale. Resolutions are for lifestyle changes, not business.

And you, my friend, are a business.

What a business does is to establish goals for the coming quarter or year. Even weekly goals or quotas are put into place, sometimes on a big white board in the sales office. No big white boards for you (unless you're like my wife and fantasize about such things). In your case a Word document or spreadsheet should suffice.

The key to establish goals has been passed down from every corporation from General Motors to Bob's Bait & Tackle (you have to try his attack crawlers!). Here's what is what we all learned during our first year in the corporate trenches.

A goal must be two things:

1. Achievable
2. Measurable

Heavy stuff, huh? But you'd be surprised how many people can't grasp it. How many of you, in your very first days and weeks of writing, announced that you would finish your manuscript and find an agent that year? Those of you who are lying, see me after class. 

Let's take an average beginner, we'll call her Mary, and an average unpublished veteran, we'll call him Bob (he hates the bait & tackle business) as examples.

Mary's Goals:
  1. Learn all I can about story structure.
  2. Write 500 words a day, even if it's just gibberish.
  3. Attend one writer's conference.
  4. Find a critique\accountability partner or group.
  5. Read one fiction novel per week both in and outside my genre.
Simple enough? Notice Mary didn't list "Get published" as a goal. Mary knows that she won't become a published author in a few months any more than she can start practicing law after one semester of college. 

I like to keep my list of goals short, five or six at most. I also like to split them up into categories. Number 1, for example, is about craft. It can be "Work on character development" or any other writing skill. It's helpful to have that goal in mind when planning that conference, right?

Now let's move on to the veteran, someone who's been at this for a while and is nearly ready to be published or self-publish.

Bob's Goals:
  1. Learn how to show emotions on the page.
  2. Finish 3 drafts this year.
  3. Attend a conference focused on my genre (Thrillerfest, RWA, etc.).
  4. Agree with my accountability partner to send daily or weekly progress reports.
  5. Submit my last novel, Once Bitten Twice Hooked, to Agent A, B, and C. 
If Bob intended to self-publish, I'd modify that list to include hiring a professional editor and cover designer for Once Bitten Twice Hooked (feel free to steal that awesome title, by the way). If Mary can't find it in her budget to attend a conference, she can switch that goal with "Read one book per month on writing craft." 

It's your list, modify as needed.

Now on to part two of goal setting--it must be measurable.

You'll notice, from my two lists above, that almost everything on that list can be measured. Word count, completed drafts, number of books read, etc., are all easily measured. 

But what about that pesky number 1 on each list? How do you measure learning? We can write this off as the difference between business and art, but I think that's a bit of a cop out. A teacher gives tests to measure a student's progress. You can do the same.

If you don't have a critique group or beta readers, add that to your list. Let's say Mary is working on story structure. She doesn't have to finish a novel to see if her structure works. She can write the short synopsis and pitch it to her readers (The late Blake Snyder of Save the Cat fame said he would pitch his ideas to people in restaurants). Of course, structure and idea are two different things, but you get the idea. Even better if Mary has a mentor to look at her outline.

Bob can do the same thing. When he sends his manuscript to his beta readers, he can add a note--Keep a specific eye out for my description of emotion. 

If you have five beta readers and two say you have more work to do, you've scored a 60% on your test. What would mom and dad say? Right. Back to work.

Be sure to set your quarterly, weekly, and daily goals as well. Some of us prefer weekly because we have crazy schedules. Some like daily goals to hold ourselves accountable. It's up to you. But write it down. No, don't post it on Facebook. This is between you and, at most, you family and accountability partner\group. Then adjust as necessary as the year progresses. Hey, things happen. We get sick. We take a new day job. Babies get birthed. Adjust.

I'm going to add a final note. Be realistic in setting your goals. We all want to be Super Writer. But if your burn-it-at-both-ends schedule interferes with your devotional time, family time, or exercise, you'll crash. Take it from the guy who slacked off on his exercise last year and has spent the last three months with horrible back pain. Do you know how hard it is to get through NaNoWriMo when it hurts to sit down for more than five minutes at a time?

So set those goals as well. Mind, Body,  & Spirit, right? 

2015 doesn't have to be the year you get published or the year you sell ten-thousand self-published books, but it can be your best year ever. 

Ron Estrada has multiple published magazine articles, including a regular column in the 
bi-monthly Women2Women Michigan. He also freelances as a technical writer, specializing in white papers for manufacturing and consumer products. He writes spec fiction, hovering somewhere between post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction (he prefers the term pre-Last Days), but has also dabbled in Mystery and Suspense. Turn-ons include long walks to Frosty Boy and dinner by Kindle light. His real-writer’s blog can be found at  You can e-mail him at or catch him (at pretty much any time) on Facebook. Twitter handle is @RonEstrada. CB handle is God’s Gift.

(article reprinted with permission from NovelRocket)