Tag Archives: writing life

15 Princess Bride Quotes That Explain A Writer’s Life

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 4.13.49 PMFrom first draft to multiple revisions to query to submission the writer’s life is difficult ( and that’s putting it mildly ) and filled with angst. But we writers LOVE to write so we endure. And that’s why it’s necessary to have an Arsenal of Funny at your disposal. Infusing a bit of humor into the day just may save our souls…or at least give us the gumption to fight the good novel fight another day!

Mix ‘n match these 15 classic lines from Princess Bride when you need a dose of  writing perspective.

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Excuses, Excuses

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 7.07.21 PMPuleeeeze, writers.

As a high school language arts teacher I’ve heard every excuse in the book—many times over. Much to my students’ chagrin, I tear apart…um, I mean  kindly and logically explain how to overcome that excuse. ( Maybe this is why they don’t appreciate my wisdom until they’re in college. )

Warning: This blog may offend those writers thriving on excuses. I know, I know, many excuses are valid—death, dismemberment, disaster, disease, zombie apocalypse—however, most are just excuses.

Here’s the top excuses I hear from both writers and my students.

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Shocking Writer Transmutations

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 8.59.40 AMWriters evolve. They learn the craft, make mistakes, correct their errors, develop their voice, and learn some more. The process takes time ( years ), requires lots and lots of writing and hours and hours of reading. But what they don’t tell you is that a writer actually morphs into the most frightening creatures each time they write a novel! That’s right! This change is far worse than the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde transformation. Far far more terrifying.

Here, my writing friends, is the true terror of a writer’s transmutation.

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Breakfast Beta Readers

beta readersWriters NEED beta readers! It’s near impossible for most of us to determine if our work in progress is horrid or brilliant—or somewhere in between. That’s why it’s soooo sweet when we find effective beta readers.

Beta readers come in all shapes and sizes—kind of like breakfast cereals—each have their own style and unique charm!

Luck Charms’ Leprechaun: You deem this person your “lucky” beta reader. Not only are you lucky they agreed to beta read for you, their comments and suggestions are always sugar sweet. Using their analytic spade, they spoon through through your creamy plot  to make suggestions that are magically delicious.

Frosted Flakes’ Tony the Tiger: This beta reader thinks everything you wrote is  “Gr-r-reat!” Which is great for your ego but maybe not so great for your manuscript. Although this beta readers can be a bit flaky at times—promising to finish reading by next week only to extend it until who-knows-when—they are often your most loyal and enthusiastic cheerleaders.

Rice Krispies’ Snap, Crackle, & Pop: Whether this refers to your beta reading team or a single beta reader with multiple talents, they excel at multiple levels. They find typos and awkward syntax in a snap!  Poor characterization or a plot flaws pop out at them! Although their stellar and knowledgeable literary/editing skills cause them ( and rightly so) to act a bit puffed up, they crackle with glee over a great story!

Fruit Loops’ Toucan: They follow their nose—it always knows—the flavor of a fruitful manuscript. These beta readers sniff out plot, characterization, setting, and theme from far away—perhaps the first chapter. And because they have a nose for the art of fiction they provide genre-specific comments.

Cap’n Crunch’s Cap’n Crunch: This beta reader looks at everything through their telescope and gladly rescues writers from soggy manuscripts by suggesting more crunch to their writing. Although they might not be a real captain of writing their comments are delivered in a Sea of Milky approval.

Yet, as you know, not all beta readers are sweet, so I’ll save a spoof on harmful beta readers for another post.

Related posts: Rock Your Writing; Readin’ & Writin’

Collateral Damage

collateral damageOne of the many perils of writing is dealing with the fallout from months of obsessive…um…enthusiastic writing, rewriting, and tweaking. There’s lots of fabulous information about what writers should do, yet not too much about what we don’t!

Here’s a What-Doesn’t-Get-Done list. Does it look like yours?

  • Any project at all—be it as easy as sewing on a button to shopping for more bookshelves.
  • Clean the fridge… or any time-consuming cleaning and organizing task!
  • Hang with friends. (True friends already know you’re a bit obsessive…um enthusiastic, that, and they really want to read your next book! )
  • Organize/file bills and receipts ( Thank goodness for auto pay.)
  • Shop for shoes. ( Comfort can’t be assessed on a website. )
  • Bake…except if it’s one of my children’s birthdays and they asked for a cake.
  • Cook any meal requiring more than an hour of prep and cook time—if there’s food in the house hubby should consider himself lucky.
  • Regular work outs decrease as the light-at-the-end-of-the-WIP-tunnel increases—   my fingers, however, are in excellent shape!
  • Impromptu visits to fun places. ( Usually a daughter drags me by the hair to the beach. “An afternoon away from the keyboard won’t hurt mom, I promise.”)
  • Stare lovingly into hubby’s eyes—oh, wait I don’t do that, and anyway it would probably mess up his golf stroke.
  • Teach the pooch new tricks. She’ll have to be content with mooching treats with the old ones.
  • Attempt any website overhaul—I’ve been itching to update my layout for months.

So what does one do in that brief bit of time between old project and new project? All of the above of course! And they will all be done with gleeful-happy-exuberant joy because, by golly, another novel is complete.

Maybe one day I’ll learn to manage my time better…nah…where’s the fun in that??

Related links: Rock Your Writing; Readin’ & Writin’

The Artistic Writer

One picture says a 1000 words. A luxury writers do not have. However writers have been known to get an idea to two from gazing at works of art. So in a silly effort to merge the two here are eleven famous paintings that describe the writing life.

First day last day



writing a query

writers conf


First drafts be like

rewriting a sentence.


slaying adverbs

Wrestling with 3rd draft



author platform

agent rejections

 On a more serious note, I flip though my art books or browse the web for:
  • a character’s facial features
  • a character’s body type
  • body postures, especially as it conveys mood
  • clothing styles, patterns, fabrics, especially historical garments
  • food from a particular historical period
  • architecture, houses, and furnishings from a particular historical period
  • historical detail or information ( if painting is accurate or painted in the same century)
  • colors that evoke a particular mood
  • landscape and the colors used to evoke mood

Related links: Rock your Writing; Readin’ & Writin’

Writing Fortress

castleThe historical fiction I’m currently writing required extensive research on castles. And it struck me—somewhere between the first and second drafts—that the act of writing a novel shares many similarities with  the parts of a castle.

The MOAT is a writer’s protection from outside forces like talkative significant others, crying children, and errands. The wider and deeper your mental and physical moat the more likely you’ll be able to carve out extended writing time.

Only lower the DRAWBRIDGE for allies, those with encouraging words who would never stab you in the back. Allow honest beta readers to cross as well.

Your CASTLE WALLS must be thick thick thick! Enough to withstand a siege of naysayers battering your dream with a canon of criticism and thick enough to withstand rejections and setbacks.

Make your writing location your own private SOLAR. Only allow a few entrance into your writing sanctuary. Station a guard at the door—even if it’s only a Do Not Disturb sign hanging from the back of your chair.

Go to the GARDEROBE often—the privy or bathroom. Excrete all those nasty adverbs, trite words, hackneyed expressions, banal characters, ho hum pacing, and insipid plots. Yuck! They stink up a manuscript!

Visit the WARDROBE frequently. Store ideas, research, and deleted word gems for future use.

The KITCHEN is good for burning first drafts, cooking up a query letter, or staring into the fire while contemplating the publishing world.

Don’t forget to stop by the BUTTERY for whatever is “ale-ing” you or the BOTTLERY for the celebratory  Finished-Another-Chapter goblet of wine.

Keep your deepest, darkest fears in the DUNGEON. Chain them to the wall. Don’t let them see the light of day. Torturing yourself is pointless and a waste of precious writing time.

Your ARMORY is best stocked with knowledge about the weapons of plotting, a chain mail of literary craft, and sword-sharp syntax and grammar.

Use the CHAPEL  to pray or beg the writing gods and muses for strength, endurance, and grace. Some gods require sacrifices—like reduced TV watching or Facebook time.

Make sure to say hello to all your friends, tweeps, and followers hanging out in the social media GREAT HALL.

Keep your KEEP—the highest and most secure place of a castle—strong. Keep the faith. Keep  sending queries. Keep blogging. Keep editing. Keep learning. Keep writing.

Related posts: Readin’ & Writin’

Flo Write & the Seven Inspiration Dwarfs

7 dwarfsNothing feels better than words flying from brain to fingers to page! Bliss, yes?

But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes for optimum writing flow we need the help of all the seven inspiration dwarfs…because, you know, ” hi ho , ho ho, it’s off to writing work”  they go!

Doc: Prescribes practical advice and suggestions. He knows every writing ill has a remedy; every plotting problem has a cure. He’s confident a dose of rewrites or edits is a manuscript’s salve.

Bashful: Offers a bit of hesitant pondering. He realizes some plot twists must be mulled over and planned out before they can be properly executed.

Sleepy: Indulges our need for a good night’s sleep, a quick nap, or a few moments of reverie. This frees our mind to dream and create and imagine.

Happy: Bestows the you-can-do-it and positive attitude necessary for every writer.

Dopey: Sure, he’s not too smart, but he caters to our don’t-tell-me-the-odds of writing/querying/publishing. Sometimes it’s best not knowing what you’re getting into before starting. Ignorance can be bliss.

Sneezy: Allergic to sloppy syntax writing, ho-hum dialog,and banal plotting, he’s also immune to hypersensitive excuses.

Grumpy: Toughest inspiration dwarf of them all. Part critic, part realist, part churlish task-master, he doesn’t hold back when pointing out a manuscript’s weaknesses. And that’s why he’s so irritable! He knows you are capable of better!

Which inspiration dwarf do you need to get back into the writing flow?

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’Rock Your Writing  

Talkin’ Turkey

turkeyOr How to Carve Out Time for Writing When You Have a Day Job!

Oh, and it’s not JUST writing your novel! Building a social media platform and blogging gobbles up time as well!

So in the honor of Thanksgiving, this blog is dedicated to the many thankful ways this mom-teacher-author makes time for writing.

Writing a novel is a big enough task to swallow, but blogging and tweeting and social media-ing ( yep, I made the word a verb ) means biting off more than you can chew and often having to spit out those chores that are burning yummy writing time.

Here’s my recipe.

 Prep time before work
  • Send out a tweet or 2 while eating bowl of oatmeal
  • post latest blog on Facebook groups ( Monday is a BIG day–make sure to use the #MondayBlogs hashtag)
  • look at last words I wrote of work-in-progress so next scene can marinate while commuting
  • tweet while standing in line at Starbucks
  • note any ideas/keywords/phrases after car is parked
Preheating the creative oven during work
  • tweet or check tweets while walking to bathroom or during passing period
  • any flashes of brilliance are stored in one of my idea vaults ( See Idea Vaults )
Stuffing in the social media data during lunch
  • check Facebook and Twitter
  • read blogs or articles
  • check email
  • save links or forward links to read at home
Basting those priorities while driving home and while running errands ( bank, grocery store, dry cleaners)
  • deciding the best use of my time for the next few hours

Carving those juicy hours. I have only about 3 hours before the brain shuts down and the eyes glaze over, therefore I maximize whatever the brain is capable of.

  • Sizzling hot brain: Excels at plotting, outlining, and writing first drafts. Dinner isn’t happening! Neither is laundry nor any other household task. The phone goes unanswered. I respond with hand signals. ( See Hand Signals for Writers.) This is PRIME time.
  • Room temperature brain: Handles re-writes, editing, and blogging. Making dinner, throwing in a load of laundry, talking to kiddos and hubby,  paying a bill–these don’t require creative intensity. Interruptions are OK, and the family gets dinner.
  • Refrigerator Brain: Capable of tweeting, liking, and commenting on various social media platforms. Cold brain is also good for pinning photos on Pinterest, reading blogs/articles, researching, annotating, reading, and trashing spam. This is my “down time.”

Those three hours during the weekday are deliciously precious. I don’t watch TV; however, I will watch something on Netflix while on the treadmill.

The Smorgasbord Weekend
  •  This is the time I get the most accomplished and when the most progress is made on a manuscript. I work from morning until my vision gets blurry because without the 1 &1/2 hr commute, the 200+ student questions, and 5 am wake time the ol’ sizzling brain stays hot.

Why it’s gravy: I love writing and enjoy the entire process so it’s not work—it’s a joy.

Candy, Clarity, & Creativity

Standing in front of candy-filled shelves is a good place to contemplate, because therein lies every writer’s story.




Once upon a time, you heard the
snickers of your friends upon announcing you were writing a novel.
They didn’t realize that writing provides your creative
 and that when you gaze up into the
milky way you dream of plot and character.
But hey, you’re just one of many writing


striving to live the dream.

Each writer’s path is different. Some stop and start, while others experience the 
of plot flaws and banal characters. Attending writer’s club meetings or conferences helps because you take advice from savvy


and learn from the mistakes of 


Back home, in the glow of the LCD screen, you practice the craft of writing, making sure to give your story that creative

nestles crunch

Months later, you hand your manuscript over to a beta  reader only to have a creative meltdown, your


as you are told that plot holes and pacing flaws riddle your manuscript.

More months pass while you rewrite and rewrite and rewrite some more. Only after wiping the sweet sweat of editing from your brow do you believe your manuscript is

good and plenty
with conflict and characters. Now it’s time to take the publishing plunge.
With anxiety you use your trembling
to send that first query.
And you wait…


the time of querying and the
whoppers of rejections you  manage to carry on undaunted. Maybe you even begin writing your second novel.

But in the end, long weekends spent in writing caves, dark nights obsessing over plot, months of research, and countless hours of slavish devotion  are done for one reason. It is the hope that your words will provide delight to a reader.  Because, after all, isn’t that a real writer’s 

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Super Heroes for Writers

superheroes for writersWriters are busy. In addition to brainstorming, outlining, plotting, and editing they must navigate and manage the Cyber world. This is no small feat and requires a few social media super heroes.

Here’s a few suggestions.

Acronymizer: Seeks out definitions for acronyms, protecting writer from cyber stupidity.

Blog Man: Delivers fresh blog material sure to captivate and entertain. Writes riveting error-free posts in a timely and visually appealing manner.

CrowdSorcerer: Harnesses readers, friends, friends of friends, followers, thinkers, and movers & shakers with skills to solve all the writer’s problems.

Like Monger: Likes and favorites comments and posts. Works closely with…

Comment Czar: Crafts savvy, witty, and pithy remarks that are NOT gender-political-race-religiously biased/ off-putting/ upsetting/ stupid.

Pinterest Girl: Assesses photos on Pinterest, repins, comments, and seeks out fresh crowd-appealing images.

Social Media Optimizer: (SMOer) Maximizes your content to target audience. Vets new platforms and investigates latest methods for making you a social media god. Jumps over slow Bandwagon and designs a rocket book-launcher.

The Podcastinator: Creates, manage, records, and films audio and video content. Knows best lighting to minimize your flaws and exploit your fabulosity.

Tag Boy: Blog Man’s sidekick. He includes the perfect keywords for your blog posts—catapulting your website into the glorious blogosphere where it will reap oodles of new reading stars.

Master Threader: Manages all the comments on your blog and responds to every comment made on multiple social media platforms.

Trolliac: Identifies trolls after their first comment and eradicates them from your feed. Does not engage.

Webinar: Leaps over tall social media platforms in a single URL. Faster than a speeding key word. Soars above the others with brilliant, relevant, innovative information sure to garner gazillions of new followers.

Note: A big thanks goes to author Avi Steinberg for the superhero idea!


What sort of super social media hero would you like having?

Related Posts: Readin’ & Writin’