Writer Pet Peeve #12

Writers write. We rewrite. And edit. And rewrite again.
It’s hard to know when a piece is done.
Walk away, come back later with fresh eyes.

Then rewrite, edit, rewrite again.

Sharing with readers, submitting to journals, entering contests, uploading files for publication…
Pressing that “enter” key can be quite intimidating.

Are you sure? Surely sure? Really truly sure it’s the best it can be?
Maybe one more read through.

Once “enter” has been hit, we want to be done.
Need to be done.
Have to be done.


You missed a word here.

No. I fastidiously edited this piece and the word in question was there and removed because a) it’s implied, b) it’s clear by the next sentence what is meant (hey, here’s an idea, read the whole thing before commenting!) and c) that word has very few synonyms and is necessary in more important parts of the story.

I didn’t ask for a critique on this piece I’VE ALREADY SUBMITTED; I wondered if you wanted to read it. Because I like it, I think it’s good, and maybe we can discuss. Keeping in mind, of course, that it’s ALREADY BEEN SUBMITTED.

Writers have enough thoughts, ideas, deadlines, and doubts swirling our brains. We don’t need more things clogging the drain.

So, yeah, premature unsolicited crit after the fact is definitely a top twelve pet peeve.

Next week’s pet peeve:
Submitting to contests, journals, or other collections and receiving NO RESPONSE.
Is an auto-reply of “Thank you for your submission” too much to expect?

Just kidding. About posting more pet peeves, not about the non-response. Grrr.

That could be a thing, though, you know? I just made up #12, but I bet with YOUR help we could easily compile a list of Writer Pet Peeves!

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Why Writing is better than Speaking

The most obvious answer is that when I write publicly, I don’t get nervous, my mouth doesn’t go dry, and I don’t trip over my words.

Seriously–I’ve been writing publicly for years! And not once have I ever been embarrassed at a B&N, self-conscious at a coffee shop, or tongue-tied at a library.

But the real reason that writing is better than speaking is because of the EDIT option.
Control Z, backspace, undo.






When you’re speaking, the words come out. And they stay out. And whatever you said is now out there. Any changes addressed at this point may only worsen things.

When you write, you get to work with the words. Manipulate them, make them pretty or purposeful or polite.

Or at least you should.

I’m off topic today…off manuscript and onto social media.
And I sure do wish people would use the power of writing for good.

I had a Facebook exchange the other day where I typed something, considered how it might sound, then rewrote it. And again.

Three times I had to edit my plea to get plowed.
Er, I mean my request for his services.
Shit, I need someone to clear my driveway!

How hard is that?
Oh wow, see? Once you go there…

People often expect me to be a good speaker because I’m a writer. Not just public speaking, but conversationally. Spoiler! I’m not. I think all my time at the keyboard controlling the final outcome is ruining my talking and words and stuff.

I guess my point today is to ask everyone who writes–whether it be 140 characters on Twitter, Facebook comments, or email exchanges, to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the backspace bar. Believe it or not, tone in text is not tacit. To be better understood, take a few moments to say what you mean. You are in control (z)!









Use your words for good. 


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You Might be a Writer if…

I was on a writing retreat for four days with three other writers.
After a while, I began to notice some communal traits.
Following the model of redneck comedian Jeff Foxworthy, I thought I’d share my observations.

You might be a writer if…

You might be a writer if…multi-tasking includes eating, drinking, typing, talking, bopping to music in your headphones, reading, taking notes, and theorizing plot points.

You might be a writer if…you lose track of your chapters when you’re writing and put “Next Chapter” at each break.

You might be a writer if…you have fading letters on your keyboard and are thankful for finger memory or else you couldn’t spell. See ‘E’ key.








You might be a writer if…you laugh out loud at your own work.
You might be a writer if…your own words bring a tear to your eye.

You might be a writer if…you put notes in the manuscript like, (check fact here), or (what’s his name?), or (how many times can you say weird on one page?). That one cracked me up when I was editing. Total LOL.

You might be a writer if…when in doubt, you make it up. Flabbergastment is now a word. Because I wrote it.

You might be a writer if…you type the word you mean only to find upon rereading that instead of “you”, it says “she”, or instead of “something” it says “someone”.

You might be a writer if…you write into the wee hours, go to bed exhausted but feeling good, then wake to read gibberish.

You might be a writer if…you’ve ever forgotten to ‘save’. Once. Because once you forget, you never don’t ‘save’ again.

You might be a writer if…your fellow authors’ successes spur you on. One writer’s success is a group success.

You might be a frustrated writer if…your cursor slips and you find yourself typing in the middle of a previous sentence.

You might be a writer if…you participate in animated conversations about what you haven’t written yet, but it’s good. Sometimes with others, sometimes with characters, sometimes with yourself.

You might be a writer if…you have no idea what time it is, but you know your word count.

You might be a writer if…you’ve been sitting so long your butt hurts.

You might be a writer if…you read through this entire list and nodded at least once.

I am in good company.

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How to Make a Living with Your Writing

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, was the closing speaker for the Indie Author Conference back in November. Funny, personable, and ridiculously adept at making a living with her writing, Joanna writes both fiction and non-fiction.

She gave us a bit of background, told us how she wanted to read, write, and eat biscuits for a living. But, with a Masters in Theology from Oxford, she seemed best suited for work in IT. (?!)

She wanted to be a writer, considered being a writer, would quit her job and think about writing until the bills came a knockin’, then would return to the work-a-day duties.

She said societal mindset seems to be that writing “is not a proper job”.

On one of her self-imposed, non-working sabbaticals, Joanna did a LOT of self-help reading. But most importantly, she not only READ the books by people like Tony Robbins, she also began applying their lessons.

The first thing she learned to apply was–

  1. Change your mindset. What is your definition of success? You need to define your goals. Please note, your definition may likely change in process.

She came to realize how ingenious a book is! You write it once and sell it year after year and continue selling it for seventeen years AFTER you die!*

Your book is a product.
And an employee.
You send it out to work for you!

  1. Focus on the customer.
    Writing is not about you, it’s about your reader.
    What do they want to pay for?

Find the intersection of what you love and what readers actually want.










She suggested doing a keyword search. “How to be…”
What do people WANT? And more importantly, because come on, we all know the two aren’t necessarily identical, “What do people BUY?”

We are global. The internet is global. USE THAT.

Multiple formats—what can you still exploit?
Retitle and rerelease. Workbook edition. Professional edition. Children’s edition.
International sales—tweak to better relate to their culture.

Joanna’s tips to make a living from writing:
2. Try other genres.
3. Write to the Binge Culture.
4. Go short.
5. Go long.
6. Box sets! 3 book, 9 book, rereleased with new content, bonus content
7. Refresh your back list. Rewrite, update non-fiction.
8. Build multiple streams of income. This is why we are INDEPENDENT!

(As she went over the above list, I said, check! check! check! check! It is reaffirming to realize I am on the path to making a living with my writing!)

She kept emphasizing that each book is another product. Another employee out there making money for you.

But of course, she also mentioned the fact that most authors make money from resources other than book sales.
1. Public speaking.
2. Lectures and workshops.
3. Featured columns.
4. Endorsements.

(To which I thought nope, nope, nope, lol.)

Happy, successful authors need to attract an audience.
Choose what works for YOU.
Your book, your lifestyle.

Take action.
Be consistent.
Don’t do something because you think you have to but then not follow through.
If you want this, what are you doing to make it happen?

In closing, she asked, “Have you made art today? Have you written a thousand words today? Are you one step closer to your goals today?”

Well, have you? Are you?

(Sorry for the choppy notes. I was caught up in her lecture and forgot to write everything down! What can I say, she’s a dynamic and charming speaker. Luckily, her words and advice are available on her website, The Creative Penn, and also through her podcasts. Hopefully this blog is teaser enough to get you on the creative path.)

*I just read an article about copyright expiration and how it varies.

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When one chapter closes…

It’s easier than I would have thought to say goodbye to In Print. As a founding member, I guess I let the organization go when I stepped down from ALL responsibilities. I held many titles, wore many hats, and accomplished many amazing things through the Professional Writers Organization I helped begin with fellow writers Kristin Oakley, Kathleen Tresemer, Carol Ahrens, and Pat Noel.

It’s been eight years since we sat around Kristin’s kitchen table and talked about how the writers’ groups that were currently accessible to us were not meeting our personal needs or what we wanted in an organization.

I’ll be the first to admit, I never thought we’d really pull it off!
Pipe dreams, you know? Frustrated with not getting our writerly goals met, we were just shooting the shit and fantasizing.

Thankfully, there were stronger minds and movers and shakers at that table.
And brownies.


And it was good.

For a solid five years, In Print Professional Writers Organization offered area writers a place to meet, other authors to learn from and commiserate with, workshops to grow, guest speakers to influence, and a plethora of other options. We met monthly as well as offering outside prospects. The Prompt Club, Writers as Readers Book Club, Word of Art, In Print Radio which continues to offer authors a platform with the help of Bob Francis, field trips, contests, and the opportunities offered by our affiliate, Chicago Writers Association, allowed IP to provide resources, exposure, and connections to those in the field.

Thanks to the connections of Kristin Oakley, we attended UW-Madison writer events like Weekend with your Novel, the Writer’s Institute Conference, Write by the Lake, and had Media Goddess Laurie Scheer provide multiple workshops throughout the years.

Of the five founding members, three are published, two multi-published, three have led workshops at conferences, and one also teaches at UW-Madison. One is still finding her creative way, and one has stepped away from writing altogether, but that doesn’t change their initial impact on our group.

Not only are we IN PRINT, we are PROFESSIONAL WRITERS.

It saddens me that In Print is shutting down. I feel the potential was there to continue to influence writers of all ages, genre, and ability. We had big dreams we never got to—including a journal publication, our own writers’ conference, and non-profit status!

Selfishly, IP served MY purpose, and for that I am grateful.

The last In Print Professional Writers Organization meeting
will be Saturday, February 2, from 1 to 4 pm
at the Cherry Valley Public Library,
755 East State Street, Cherry Valley, IL 61016.

If you are in the Rockford area and looking for writer support, I encourage you to attend this meeting. A chance to talk to other writers, compare notes, needs, and desires. Who knows…when one chapter closes, perhaps another opens?
All you need are like-minded, dedicated writers and brownies.

Other options in the area include the Northern Illinois Novel Knights,  Rockford Writers Guild or OWLSOgle Winnebago Literary Society. I highly recommend CWA for all they have to offer including book reviews and awards, a conference, and the Write City Magazine.

I’d like to close with a Thank You to In Print for all it allowed me to accomplish.
Thank you to Kristin, Kathleen, Carol, and Pat. We created something good, ladies. I will carry these experiences with me forever.


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The Prompt Club

The Prompt Club was one of the many things I started through In Print Professional Writers Organization. Based on my earlier experiences with DAWGs (DeKalb Area Writer’s Group), The Prompt Club met once a month and wrote a one thousand word story to a shared prompt.

We would select from a list of suggestions provided by the leader, write our own interpretation of the selection, then hand out copies and read aloud at each meeting. We would have discussion and suggest edits. The one thousand word goal was to help focus the story and work on editing skills. It’s also a good length for reading aloud and perfect for submitting to journals and contests.

The Prompt Club ran for five very successful years.
We had a lot of talented writers participate.
Many of our short stories were submitted and published individually. Several were edited down to 200 words and used for Word Of Art. Others were inspiration for longer pieces of work.

Our Club also spawned two book publication by original members. Christine Cacciatore’s collection of Weird, Wicked Tales: Creepy Short Stories for All Hallow’s Eve and my own Foe Be Us, a collection based on phobias.

We no longer meet in person, but I have launched a new Prompt Club through the Facebook page. Every Tuesday I will be posting a writing prompt. I will also be sharing links to resources, inspiration, and submission opportunities.

I invite you to like and follow The Prompt Club page. Click here.

Prompts are a terrific way to practice your writing. Consider them weekly exercises to strengthen your skills for the heavy lifting–like novels. They can inspire a line of thought you didn’t know you had. They are helpful in developing back story and details for your work in progress. They can challenge you to write outside your comfort zone and help to hone your editing skills. PLUS, you acquire a handy pile of stories that can be shared, submitted, and/or published!

The Prompt Club – Calisthenics for your writing.

The Prompts are open to your interpretation. Use them as you will. Apply them to your work in progress, tweak them to meet your current needs, skip one and write two stories for another. The point is to get you writing, get you thinking about writing, then get you writing more.

Here are the first two posts:

Think about your writing goals for the New Year. Write a story from December 2019’s POV. Is the future month proud? Disappointed? Amazed?

Write about YOURSELF for 10 minutes. How you look, where you are, what you’re doing. Write in third person.

And a sneak peek at tomorrow’s Prompt.

Waxing, Waning. Pick a random object and write about it in 200 words. Edit to 150. Read aloud. Edit to 100.

I hope you will join me in writing to the Prompts.
I also hope you’ll share what you’re writing!
Maybe our Prompt Club goal for 2020 will be to publish the best of our collection from this year.

I think December 2019 will be very proud of us.

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Perceiving the New Year in 3D

I keep seeing a lot of posts on social media about your “word for the year“.

Kelly Epperson Simmons wrote a recent blog titled New Year’s Resolutions vs Word of the Year. She says resolutions can be vague and overwhelming. “Choosing a word is easier on our heads and hearts than resolutions. It seems softer perhaps, but can be even more powerful.

Vague is no good! Powerful is!

According to Elizabeth Rider, an Online Influencer, “The first step to manifesting anything you desire is awareness and intention. A Word of the Year will set you in the right direction by bringing more awareness to your intentions.

I want to be aware and intent.
I’ve decided I need three words.
Yes, it’s looking to be that kind of year, lol.

these are my words for 2019.

I like it!
Three dimensional.
Length, breadth, depth.
My words for the year represent my life as a whole.

I will focus on DEFINING my goals for the year,
DECLINING those things that compete, distract, or derail those goals,
and DESIGNING a plan that I can grow with.

It’s a just say YES!
and NO!
kind of plan.
The kind where I stop letting things happen and start making things happen.

After last week’s Chat on “success”, I am inspired by a fresh start.
I know, it’s just a date on a calendar, blah, blah, blah, but I do believe you have to begin somewhere so why not the FIRST of a NEW YEAR?
(c’mon, makes sense)

Do you have word/s for the year?
Words you hope to apply, accomplish, and/or avoid this year?

If you need some writerly inspiration, check out The Writer’s Alphabet.
I’ve got words, 🙂
And…I DEFINE them!

I do believe 2019 is definitely off to a good start.

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