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Friday, April 9

5 Questions - by Janie DeVos


     The gals at WordWranglers threw out the idea of answering five questions for our latest series of blogs, and because I've always enjoyed playing games, I was in!  I had fun answering them (some of my responses even surprised me), and I hope you'll enjoy them, too.  At the very least, I hope it will encourage some of you who are closet writers and have been reluctant to send your work out to finally do so.  Believe me, I've had hundreds of rejections over the years, and what I found is that though they may be bruising to the ego, they're just part of being an honest-to-goodness writer.  So, get those query letters written, take a deep breath of courage, and hit that send button.  You just might get that response you've been dreaming of.  I did, and it's thrilling.

  1. Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?  A writer friend (a PUBLISHED writer friend) once told me when I was just getting started that the difference between me getting published and others who didn't is that I wasn't going to let the rejections get to me.  I lived by that little rule, and every time I got a rejection, I sent two more manuscripts off to different publishers. I didn't let it discourage me.  On the contrary, it got my hackles up.  I wouldn't take no for an answer, and I didn't until I  received that longed for, long-awaited for, three-letter word: YES.
  2. If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be and why?  Harper Lee.  It’s her easy, conversational-style of writing that just pulls me in, and yet, the stories are so real and raw that they stay with you long after the final word is read.  She’s a real storyteller in the truest sense of the word.  Her writing is very intimate in that it exposes the ugliest sides of human nature as well as the most beautiful, and it reaches inside each of us, forcing us to examine who we are and where we lie between the ugliness and the beauty.  I think she tried to tell us that we're some of both.
  3. At what point do you think someone should consider themselves a writer? When they send their first piece off to a prospective agent or publisher then they can consider themselves writers.  Otherwise, it’s just a hobby.  It's just something you're toying around with.  I remember when I got my first rejection letter.  I was actually proud of it.  Even though my piece was turned down, someone in the publishing industry had actually taken the time to read it and send a response (albeit, a generic one), and it was only then that I felt like I was truly a writer.  You have to take yourself seriously for others in the publishing world to do the same, and no one can do that if your work is sitting in your nightstand.
  4. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be? Determined, faith-filled and logical.  (Is that four words?)
  5. You are the publisher and the choice is yours--what is your new romance imprint going to be?  Metamorphosis.  After all, don’t the characters and their situations evolve and change throughout the story?  If not, they should.
Happy writing, everyone!  

Tuesday, April 6

5 Questions with @AuthorKristina Knight

Nan & Liz started the party ... and I figured why not keep it going? So here we go - 5 questions with li'l ol' moi!

1. Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? This is a hard one because it's so easy to think everyone will react to every event just like I would. Also, I'm not a fan of the 'writers write every day and if you don't you're not a writer' type of advice. That's very much not how being human works. Yes, writers write, but we also read and refill our creative wells and have passions and pastimes that aren't keyboard related. But I digress...writing advice for aspiring authors. is a bit of advice that I think is universal: Know why you want to write and what you want to achieve with writing and keep your focus on that path. Everyone writes for different reasons - there are some who want the notoriety and fame, some who are looking for an easy paycheck (bahaha on them!), some who just want to tell stories. If you know why you're in this crazy gig, it's easy to celebrate all the little wins along the way - your little wins and the little wins of your writing besties!

2. If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be and why? Okay, Nan totally came up with these questions, didn't she? She always has the hardest questions! Ummmm...I wouldn't mind a little fireside chat (or maybe Come to Jesus or even My Way Is the Best Way) sit-down with La Nora, especially if we made it a regular thing. Of course, I'd get distracted from the writing talk and just want to chat about her books, so maybe that isn't such a great idea. Ummm....And if we're talking all writing, not just romance author-ing, Shonda Rhimes is a font and having her as a mentor would be killer. 

3. At what point do you think someone should consider themselves a writer? At the point they've put sentences together. Not three or four, maybe not a full novel, maybe they've not submitted anything to a publisher or even a contest, but if that person is sitting down with the intent to tell a story for the entertainment and enjoyment of others? That person is a writer. 

4. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be? Loyal, Procrastinator, Funny

5. You are the publisher and the choice is yours - what is your new romance imprint going to be? Oooh, fun one. Okay,  I love a bit of paranormal, some historical, contemporary, crime/suspense/thriller...but one thing all my favorite books have in common is their camp. I love a camp, fun, roll-with-it kind of book. So to be able to focus an entire imprint on camp? GIVE IT TO ME NOW! 

Alright, WordWrangler Readers, there you have it - 5 questions with me! Is there another burning question you've been dying to ask an author? Share in the comments - your question might make it in to our next question extravaganza!

Friday, April 2

Five Questions, Episode Two by Liz Flaherty

Welcome to the second episode of Five Questions. Nan's answers are here. I always think Q & A is fun. It's like when you're doing revisions for a publisher--you have a road map of where to go. Questions give you a road map, too. Not that I intend to stay between the berm and the center line (which explains why one of my questions is different) we go...

1. Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

Have someone to talk to. Not just about writing, but about everything. Someone you trust implicitly with what's going on, all those things that are draining and stressing you. Not only will you end up being able to use your emotions in your writing (but keep it oblique--you don't want to hurt anyone), burdens are so much lighter when they're shared. Nan and I talk virtually every day. My friend Deb, the sister of my soul, knows everything there is to know about my life and me. Those relationships are valuable beyond words. 

2. If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be and why?

Three of them. Actually there are many more than that, but three whose prose has given me some of the best reading days in my whole life. Surely they'd do as much for my writing ones. Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Jennifer Crusie, and Kristan Higgins. Their voices are so smart and yet so relatable. In my mind, that is the perfect combination. If we're doing metaphors--don't we always?--I think they've all mastered the one-two punch. 

3. What period of your life do you find you write about most often?

I have found that I like best to write about whatever period I'm in. For years, I wrote women with kids, because that's what I was and what I loved being. Then I wrote about ones whose nests had emptied and they were facing reinvention. 

I'm 70 years old, so I'd love to write about people who are around my age, but the truth is that's a hard sell. People don't want to think people their grandparents' age fall in love, have sex, suffer unimaginable angst, or think about things other than doctors' appointments and retirement checks. (We do, in case you'd wondered...)

Reinvention is the magic word for me. Although I'm not interested in writing about people in their 20s, if they're being forced to reinvent themselves because of life's circumstances, I think I could still do it. 

4. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

This is a hard one for me, but here goes. I'm nice. I'm a pleaser. I'm loyal. I sound a whole hell of a lot like a puppy, except that I hardly ever slobber and I'm housebroken. (I'm also, to use Nan's words, "old, round, and wrinkled," but we're not doing that.) 

5. You're the publisher and the choice is yours--what is your new romance imprint going to be?

I'd revive Next, arguably the best imprint ever produced by Harlequin. I'd release four of them a month with kickass covers, pay writers an amount guaranteed to haul them out of retirement, charge reasonable prices for the books, and honor the demographic that knows all about happy endings because they've been working toward them for a long time. 

Since Harlequin probably won't listen to me, my new imprint would be Been There. It would be basically the same thing as Next. No protagonists under 40. Romantic women's fiction. With some rules which might be unreasonable but would make me happy. No billionaires unless they're giving the money away, no dumb titles, no use of the word "feisty," no 60-year-old heroines whose bodies look like they're 20. What rules would you add to my imprint, while we're at it?


Thursday, April 1

Happy Holy-days - by Janie DeVos

I just want to take a moment to wish all of my family and friends a beautiful Easter weekend, and a rich and meaningful last few days of Passover. Somehow, these holy holidays seem as if they're heralding a new beginning; a time of rebirth and renewal in many different ways, and I, for one, couldn't be more ready for it. So, may the light of the sun rising on Easter morning, and the light from your Passover candles, be symbols of hope that joy-full days lie ahead for us all. Much love and many blessings to you and yours.

May be an image of flower, tree and nature
Annie Wyrick Trimmer

Tuesday, March 30

Five Questions... Really... It's Fun!

This week, Liz and I are up and we thought it might be fun to answer a few of the questions that writers sometimes get asked. It is a game we play when we do programs/book signings together at libraries and other venues. We always offer to answer questions and warn the participants that if they don’t have any questions for us, we might have to pull out our magical numbered list of author questions. If we do that, they have to shout out a number and we read and answer that numbered question on our list. I think sometimes folks get intrigued at the idea and would almost rather have us ask ourselves those questions than asking their own. At any rate, here are my answers to the five questions we chose for Word Wranglers.

1. Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

The main advice I can give is put the emotion into your writing and when you are done writing for the day, release it with long walk or a glass of wine or simply relaxing in the sun. Don’t bring the emotion and stress into the rest of your life. It’s exhausting for you and for the people you live with to be in that mode all the time. I’m sure it would be like living with a method actor who is always in character—it would wear thin.

2. If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be and why?

I think maybe Dorothy Parker, who was crazy, but hilarious and she had such a great way with words. Her satire is some of my favorite reading. I would also love to learn craft from Kristin Higgins, whose writing is always perfect and her stories so poignant. I’d love to learn her gift for finding the perfect story and telling with such eloquence.

3. At what point do you think someone should consider themselves a writer?

Interesting question because honestly, if you’ve picked up a pencil and started a story, you are a writer, in my opinion. If you continue to write, then unquestionably, you are a writer. That said, I’ve often made the distinction between author and writer, for me, there is a difference—an author is a writer whose work has been published.

4. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

My first instinct was to go to the physical, which isn’t at all to what this questions refers, so I’m resisting round, old, and wrinkled. Instead, I’ll make an effort not to be too hard on myself. I think I am kind, intelligent, and persistent. I may not seem persistent because I’m also low-key, but pretty much, if I really want something to happen, I’ll do all I can to make it so.

5. You're the publisher and the choice is yours--what is your new romance imprint going to be?

I’m torn between a strictly romantic comedy imprint called Love and Laughter and an imprint featuring characters that must be at least sixty years old called Love in the Prime of Life.

So that’s my take on five author questions. Writers, want to take a stab at them in the comments? And readers, what’s the burning question you have for authors?

Stay well, stay safe,

Friday, March 26

Finding Joy? by Jana Richards


Photo by Kolby Milton on Unsplash

This past January, I attended an online conference. One of the classes I took part in was about building a business plan for my writing business. The idea is to set goals and then come up with concrete ideas and strategies to turn those goals into reality. 

The presenter shared her business plan with us. The very first page summarized the purpose of my business. What do I want out of my writing career in the next year?

I followed along with the presenter and copied down some of her responses because they made a lot of sense to me, and they were things I want, too. I definitely want to increase income. I’d like to increase productivity, while at the same time increasing the quality of my work. I would love to increase the number of newsletter subscribers I have and make the subscribers already on my list happy that they’ve stuck around. 

And then the presenter wrote: Have my writing business bring me joy and happiness.

Okay. Sure. Of course, I want my writing business to bring me joy and happiness. Who doesn’t want their work to be enjoyable? The trouble is that outside of the actual writing, a lot of the things I have to do to promote and market my work are not that much fun for me. I’d rather be writing than spending time on Facebook.

For the first things on the list, I can see things I see strategies to accomplish them. For instance, to increase income, I’ve been experimenting with doing more advertising. To increase productivity, I’ve been writing nearly every day and striving to reach a word count goal each day. I’m reading books and studying ways to write better emails to my newsletter subscribers. 

But ways to increase joy and happiness are eluding me.

I guess I could start by letting go of things I deeply dislike. I’m not a fan of Facebook. I’d be quite happy to never log on again. The trouble is that a lot readers are on Facebook. I’d lose advertising opportunities if I didn’t have a Facebook page. I couldn’t even communicate with other Word Wranglers. 

Maybe an attitude adjustment is in order. Instead of thinking that I hate promotions, maybe I can make an effort to like at least some parts of it. But how do I accomplish that?

I think it’s important to derive happiness from all parts of my work. Dear readers and fellow Word Wranglers, how do you find joy in what you do, even the parts you don't like so much? I would love your feedback and ideas.