Monday, October 20, 2014

In Which You Don’t Have to Pay $300 for a Writing Conference Because I Went For You (1st Session)

You’re welcome.


Yes, on Saturday I had the truly wonderful opportunity to attend the James River Writers Conference here in Richmond, VA. From what I’ve seen of other writers conferences, this one is smaller, but even more awesome because everything is so up close and personal. Anytime you can sit and listen to Barbara Kingsolver (of "Poisonwood Bible” fame- yes, pick your jaw up off the floor) chat with Erica Orloff while you’re having lunch at a table with a couple of editors, after which you are going to go have a pitch meeting with an agent...well, let’s just say I call that a good day.

It was a really good day. And I’m sure you’re wondering how my pitch was great! The agent really seemed to “get” my book, and she was super nice and asked me some great questions, one of which was about how the love story part of the book turned out in the end and when I told her she said, “Oh, good. That’s what I was hoping for.” :-) She asked me to send her the first 25 pages, so I’ll be doing that this week! Hurrah!!

Okay, back to the rest of the conference. Let’s start with the plenary session: “Ideas Worth Writing.” Stacy Whitman was the first speaker, and she talked about finding your voice. She said:

- Voice must come from the writer: it’s not something that can be edited into existence.

- A story may have been told before, but it’s never been told in your voice. Voice is important!

- READ! Read stuff in your style AND outside your style. Don’t let your voice get completely swallowed up in one style or author.

- WRITE! Use your own experiences and try to “hear” your characters in your head. Take notes of the things people around you say, and their expressions. It’s okay to base your characters off of real-life people.

This is an amazing creation by a very talented artist who drew these visual notes AS the speakers were speaking during the plenary session. It was really something to watch. After it was finished, they had it on display in the lobby. It’s not only fun to look at, but there is some really great advice in there! Click on it to see a larger version.

Moving on to Brian J. Jones, who took his cues from Jim Henson, whose official biography he wrote:

- If it’s something you love enough, you can make a living at it.

- “Puppets without trained puppeteers are a toy box. Writing without trained writers is a phone book.”

- Give yourself permission to really stink at writing- behind closed doors. Apparently when John Lennon was writing “Something in the Way She Moves” he couldn’t think of a good word to come after “attracts me like ____” so someone told him to just put a random word there and move on. The word he chose? “Cauliflower.”

- Jim Henson was constantly told “no.” So he just kept going.

- Be original. Do your OWN thing.

- Have FUN!

Next week I have a very exciting interview for you, but don’t worry, more writing conference notes will come in the weeks to follow!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Developing Patience

I was recently called to serve in the Young Women organization, and I am thrilled! Today, I am teaching them a lesson on patience.

Last Sunday I was given my topic.  Ever since then my week has gone something like this:

{driving in the car} "Why is this driver going so SLOW?  Aargh! Wait; I'm supposed to be practicing patience this week. OK, I will try really hard to not be annoyed that this driver is GOING SO SLOW!  Take a deep breath..."

Repeat twenty times.

{after asking one of my children to do a task} "It has been, like, 30 seconds!  Why is this kid not jumping up to do what I asked?  I'm supposed to practice long do I have to wait before I get really annoyed that they aren't doing what I asked?"

Repeat twenty times.

There were many, many scenarios like this one.  I am learning that developing patience takes time.

I feel like I was born with a lot of qualities that come fairly easily to me: optimism, determination, faith, love.  Patience is not in that list.  I could have a LONG road ahead of me. . . .

So, I am looking for some tips and pointers from all of you.  What are ways that you have been able to develop this characteristic in your life?  Come on, help a girl out. . . pretty please (right now!).  :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Genre Dilemma

By Lacey Gunter

So I have this funny picture book manuscript I love. I wrote it for readers ages 6-9. I know 6-9 year-olds still read picture books because I see it all the time, in my house, in the library and at schools. Despite the push for kids to start reading more advanced books at earlier ages, older kids still love picture books and they read them. Even kids that are reading more advanced books often still love a good picture book.

So when I wrote this manuscript, I didn't think it was a big deal targeting it toward 6-9 year-olds.  Then, I went to a little writing retreat a month and a half ago and had the manuscript critiqued by a children's book agent. She thought the manuscript was funny and entertaining, but that is was a little too mature for the 'typical' picture book audience. She felt like that age range was to old of a target audience and that I should consider either turning it into an early chapter book or lower the stakes a little bit and make it more appealing to a younger audience.

I have considered the issue a lot and tried several ideas, all without success. So far, all my attempts at targeting it toward a younger audience have resulted in a loss of the humorous ending and changing the inherent nature of the conflict.  I have tried to infuse the same level of humor in other ways, but they seem to come out too far fetched or they are too flat.  

Similarly, much of the pace, timing and funny ending don't fit well with a longer manuscript. Not to mention that the early chapter book market is even harder to break into than the picture book market, and the picture book market is hard enough as it is.

So I am not sure where to go from here. Do I table the manuscript and try to come back to it at some later date? Do I keep putting effort into trying to make it better fit within a particular genre? Or do I just leave it the way it is and hope that other agents or editors feel differently? I'm not really sure what to do. What do you think? When any of you have faced dilemmas like this, what did you do? The business of writing is so much more complicated than the actual act of writing. Sigh.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Creative Bleeding


I have been a blogging slug lately.  And I'm unhappy about it.

I miss writing.  What I've been doing since July is editing my book, which is really editing pictures, because my book is full of pictures.  Do you know how long it takes to edit a batch of photographs?

At least three months, even though it feels like forever.  I have to confess, my book is becoming a bit of a tyrant.  If I'm working on it, I'm working on it.  If I'm not working on it, it whines from the recesses of my brain, why aren't you working on me? As I drift off to sleep at night, I suddenly get 53 ideas on how to rework a chapter.  At's annoying.

Writing is a strange life.  If you love it, you have to do it.  You can't not do it.  (I think that's how you know you're a writer.)  At the same time, it's a brain drain.  The actual writing skills, the creativity, the editing, the losing material because the computer crashes and you have to start over, the mental gymnastics with the words don't's exhausting.  I know my brain is fit and thin, because it gets a workout every day.  I can't say the same thing about my behind.

Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Oh my word, how true!  It looks easy, because you're just sitting there.  My husband just sits there when he's playing Angry Birds.  To an unknowing observer, we're just two slugs sitting there - but my brain is bleeding!  It's cranking and grinding and stretching, and it wears me out. Only another writer can understand why it can be so draining just sitting at the computer (bleeding.)

Having said all that, I continue to plant myself at my computer and bleed - daily.  Because, I love it.  It completes me. (Thank you, Jerry McGuire.)  It transports me and uplifts me and aggravates me all at the same time.  It's similar to motherhood (I wrote about that HERE), which is another bleeding love. 

I had hoped my book would be published by Christmas.  That's not going to happen.  I've had computer issues, and health issues, and my dad has had health issues, and life has rolled right along like no one is trying to finish writing a book.  I really have to fight for writing time; I have to say no to some things, and lose sleep more often than not, and skip healthy meals more often than I want to admit.  (Who has time to roast a chicken and saute veggies when there are granola bars and M&Ms to be had?)

The writing bug has hold of me.  It's in my bones.  It's in my mother's bones, too, so I can blame her for all this wonderful bleeding. She published a book at 84, so I guess I can wait until next Christmas to (hopefully) publish mine.

Plugging away...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Change of plans...

By: Kristi Hartman

I had big plans for a post today.  I sat down at my kitchen table and started typing out my post, only to have my almost 2 year old look at me with his sad hazel/gray/green eyes (we aren't sure of his eye color, haha) and start to whimper.  I told him to wait just a minute that Mommy was busy right now, but he started crying harder and harder.  A little voice inside whispered to me, 'your little boy needs you right now'.  I normally just try to finish what I am doing, because it kills me to start some project during the day, and not be able to finish it, but I surrendered. That little voice was right.  My little guy is more important than all my little projects, and he needed me right then.   Come to find out, he is coming down with something, and has a high fever.  He just wants to be held.  He just wants to cuddle with someone and feel better.

So, that is what I am going to do.  I am going to enjoy cuddling with my little one, because he will be running away from me around the house again all too soon.

In the meantime, here is a very funny video I came across on NickMom a couple of weeks ago.  Enjoy!

Things You Can't Do When You're Not a Toddler: Watch this video about things you can't do when you're not a toddler, on NickMom!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pitch Perfect

Six days.

2:08 pm on Saturday.

If you guys could say a little prayer for me right around that time, I sure would appreciate it. Because that’s when I will be sitting across a table from a...(wait for it)...

Literary Agent.

Like, a real live one. Her name is Kaylee Davis. And I’m pitching my book to her at the James River Writers Conference!


Okay, I’m all right now.

(I’m not, but let’s just carry on, shall we?)

So in preparation for my Big Meeting (which shall last 7 minutes) I have been doing some research on pitching. I have watched Pitchapalooza videos, read blogs by agents, read do’s and don’ts lists, and gone cross-eyed trying to make sense of it all. Here are a few valuable little nuggets of wisdom I have picked up in my research:

1. Keep it under a minute.

2. It’s okay to go over a minute, just don’t take TOO long.

3. Memorize it.

4. Read it so you don’t forget anything.

5. Give a whole synopsis- beginning, middle, and end, so the agent knows exactly what they’re getting.

6. Just give a hook- make them want to know more.

7. Just relax. It’s like meeting a new friend.

8. Be professional. After all, this is a business meeting.

9. Agents never end up representing authors they meet from pitch sessions at writing conferences, so don’t even bother.

As you can see, some conflicting stuff there. As with most things in life, it just depends on who you ask. So, I had some decisions to make: which advice to take, which to ditch for my pitch?

Obviously I will ignore #9. It might be true but I don’t care. I’m doing it anyway.

As for the rest, I’m planning on doing a little of each. I’d like to keep my pitch brief so I don’t lose the agent’s attention and so that there’s plenty of time for us to chat afterward. But I don’t want to sound like the Micro Machine man, either. And I want to give as much info as I can so we don’t have to waste time on questions I could have easily answered in my pitch. So I’m thinking 2-3 minutes is a good amount of time.

I am going to have my pitch in writing, but I am pretty good at reading while making it sound natural and keeping good eye contact with people. I’ve practiced. My pitch is a combination of a summary and some teasers, so I hope it will give the gist of the book without giving too much away.

As for the casual vs. professional I will lean more toward professional, mostly because Ms. Davis is a business professional and I want to show respect for her work and her position, but I think there is a way to do that while still being warm and making the experience enjoyable.

Okay, so now I need YOUR help:

Here is my pitch. I decided to throw a taste of the voice from my book in there because A) I liked the pitches I heard that had that and B) It helps it be memorable. Can you read it and give me some feedback? (Right now as I read it, it’s clocking in at 2:45.)

My book is a Young Adult paranormal mystery romance that sits at 83,000 words.

It’s about Kate. Kate is weird. She's sixteen and you know how most kids go through an awkward phase around puberty? Well, Kate's awkward phase started around age 2 and never ended. When her mom realized Kate was...different, she very firmly encouraged her daughter to speak as little as possible. And Kate learned the technique very well. 

Well. Except when she's nervous. Then all bets are off. When she's nervous she can't STOP talking and there's no telling what might come out of her mouth.

Yeah. That's kind of the reason she has no friends. Well, no human friends anyway- there is her horse, Mosby. He is a really good listener. And periodically his whinnies almost sort of sound just like "I love you." 

And then there's the ghost.

Well…calling him a friend might be a stretch. He's kind of obnoxious. And broody. And he may or may not be real. Kate can't really be sure but she really really hopes he is real because she thinks he is like, smokin' hot. 

Yeah, you see what I mean? "Smokin' hot?" Who says stuff like "smokin' hot"? Kate does.

Okay, anyway, the ghost, Samuel Montgomery, is quite handsome and tolerates Kate, which is a better deal than she's had thus far in her mostly friendless life. So what if he might have died during the Civil War?

At least, she hopes it was during the Civil War. He may have actually been murdered in a crime of passion by Kate's own great-great-great-grandmother. Most of the small town of Stonemill seems to lean toward that theory, especially the Montgomerys. Turns out, the murder sparked a whole century-long feud between the two families. Which would have been really nice for Kate's mother to tell her before the divorce crash-landed them there, because then maybe then she would be prepared for all of the ready-made enemies that awaited her at Stonemill High. 

At least Stonemill is a beautiful town- it's in Virginia hunt country- ancient oak trees, crumbling stone walls meandering through rolling fields, and all of it steeped in centuries of history and old money. And by old money I mean the Montgomerys' family fortune, of course.

Luckily, there's Alex. And it's weird that I say "luckily", considering the fact that he's a Montgomery. Kate wasn't sure about him at first- well, to be honest she has a really hard time trusting any human who would actually want to be her friend- but there's just something genuine about him. And kind. And warm. And the fact that he shares her love for horses helps quite a bit, too.

But even Kate's relationship with Alex starts to get shaky as things heat up- and when I say heat up, I mean literally. Talk about "smokin' hot". There's a barn fire, a police investigation, poor sweet Mosby gets carted off to who-knows-where, and Kate begins to worry that she might be insane and just not know it yet. 

Well, you know…not that one ever really knows that one has gone insane. 

Kate's 3rd great-grandmother certainly didn't seem to when she went ballistic and murdered poor Samuel.

Kate's mom just says everything's fine. Just keep your mouth shut and everything is always fine

But Kate can't keep her mouth shut. She has to know if her family's past is as messed up as it seems to be. She has to know if she's destined for the same fate. And to find out, she has to stick her neck out much farther than she ever thought she would, and trust in herself far more than she ever dreamed she could.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guest Post: Michelle Badger

Going forward in Faith
By Michelle Badger


We have worked on food storage for years. Over the years I have learned it is NOT about the FOOD it is about Obedience and Sacrifice. After 23 years the Lord would test our family to the limit. Would we be able to give up and share with others what we had worked so hard to obtain to be obedient? Several years ago I became sick. Really sick to the point I couldn't eat anything without becoming sick and I was in constant incapacitating pain. For 2 years I suffered until the Lord blessed me with those who would help diagnose me and lead me on a journey to healing my body. In the process we learned that the majority of our food storage was now poisonous to my body in that I had developed severe allergies to wheat and chemical preservatives. Then 2 of our daughters developed the same allergies. years we had gone without so much to obtain our food storage because we have never had very much money. Just enough to get us through day by day. As a family years earlier we had decided that since we didn't have very much money and my health wouldn't allow me to work that we would go without all the fun extras most families enjoy in order to be obedient in obtaining our food storage. And now we couldn't eat 3/4 of it. I remember asking myself WHY?! Then one day while reading my scriptures I had the strongest impression to look for individuals who needed what we had and now could not use. I would like to say that I quickly agreed with this spiritual impression, however, I admit at first I struggled because even tho I could not eat it, our little family had sacrificed so much! Yet, after truly humbling myself, speaking with my sweet husband and children about my impressions it was decided as a family to find those who needed what we had and share with them. This is also why I have written both my cookbooks. I wanted to help others who are struggling like we are. I wanted to help make their lives and little easier and to bring a little bit of Joy into their lives through good food. I do not know if we will sell many cookbooks and yet God knows I have done as he has asked and the cookbooks are dedicated to him and the proceeds go to supporting our daughters mission. I do not know what the future holds for my sweet husband, myself and my family and yet I Know when we put our Faith and Trust in the Savior Jesus Christ we are in his hands and blessings will come through miracles. "A Wheat Free Life," and "A Wheat Free Life vs the Holidays" are available on

#sharegoodness #jesuschrist

Saturday, October 11, 2014

1000 Miles of First Steps

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -- Lao Tzu

Even the simplest journey feels like a thousand miles because I keep having to take the first step over and over again. --Jewel Leann Williams (Not as profound a saying. More of a whine).

Seriously, folks. Every time I set any sort of goal, I go a little ways, and then fall off the wagon, so to speak (no, my goal isn't to stop drinking).  I have to keep starting over.

As a kid, I wanted to read the Book of Mormon straight through. I memorized "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..." pretty quickly with all of my false starts.

It's the same as an adult. It seems like it's the same with every goal. My family needs to eat healthier and exercise more. We need to not watch so much TV and go to bed earlier. So, for a few weeks, we eat healthy food, we go for walks every night, and we make a rule that we only want to watch TV or movies on Friday night. My husband and I both lose weight, we feel great, and we actually feel like we get enough sleep (almost. I do have a seminary kid, after all).

Then, the new series of Doctor Who kicks off (or Bones, or NCIS, or NCIS Hunky Guys with Dreamy Eyes  Los Angeles) and we can't resist. I lose my motivation on making a weekly research project out of trying to buy fresh fruits and veggies on our budget, and go back to casseroles. We stay up too late one night, so we're too tired for the nightly walk the next night, and the TV magically turns on, and boom! We're back in our rut.

I know I'm not the only person who has this happen.

Here's my (possibly temporary) triumph. I have been staying up really early in the morning to get things done. My son gets up at 4 am to get ready for seminary, and it's one of my jobs to make sure he actually GETS UP at 4. I had been going back to sleep, and then either waking up later if it was my day to carpool the kids from seminary to school, or just staying asleep.  So, I decided that I needed to just stay up, to steal some moments to do my scripture studying, morning prayers, and..... WRITING!! Oh, the rapture I felt at putting words on paper again was worth the agony of dragging my sore, tired, protesting body out of my bed.

Of course, this was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.... and then Thursday came along. I couldn't do it. I slept in. I slept in ALOT. I also felt like crap all day after I got up--not any less tired, and like a doofus for not keeping up with a goal, AGAIN.

But you know what, on Friday, I had the battle with myself that eventually I hope I won't have to have every single morning.  I told myself that even if I slept more, I would still be tired, but that I needed to have that time to be able to study the Lord's words, to have a conversation with him, and yes, to exercise my mind. I dragged myself out of bed--okay. I'll be honest. I went back to sleep. But Heavenly Father helped me out by sending a preschooler to climb in with me, which kept me awake long enough to decide to get up. So, up I got.

The false starts are okay. I'm not a failure because I keep having to begin again. Actually, I think that's kind of what life is about. Little by little we overcome things--but sometimes it takes so long to root those things out of our lives and replace them with better things, that we feel like we aren't progressing quickly enough. It's okay. That is what the Atonement is for--as long as we keep on starting over, we will overcome, with the Savior's help. Every time we start, we get that much closer.

As a writer, I have to forgive myself as well for all the false starts. My creative soul gets really, really angry with me for not working on the art of expression. But the same thing applies. My muse comes back whenever I ask. Every time I start working on something, I get that much closer to doing it the way I really need and want to.

It's the same for all of us. So I want to encourage you--whether it be in your writing, or just in life in general. Please don't stop starting over. Even if it's the ten millionth time and you know that you'll just fall again, just start. This may be the time that you learn what you need to and you're able to overcome and move onward and upward. Or, maybe it's not. But that means that you're one more false start closer to the time that you DO overcome.

We always say that it's more important that you get up and keep trying, than it is that you fell in the first place. It sounds trite, but it's true. Sometimes, it really is the journey. Sometimes it really is the climb that makes the difference.

Keep going! Step by step, first step by first step, you'll get where you need to go. I know you can do it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Note to Write Upon

When I write, there are times when I like it serenely quiet.  There’s nothing wrong with this as I’m sure some of the greatest works of literature were penned (or typed or dictated or…) by the side of a placid lake, the edge of breezy beachhead, or in the quiet introspection of one’s writing ‘place’.  There are times when I need it to be void-of-space quiet, lest the least bit of distraction ruin a perfectly good train-of-thought and make me reconsider my recent self-diagnosis (based upon a somewhat reliable website) of adult ADD.

There are other times, though, when there is a need to pop on the headphones (ear buds, et al) and surrender my creative processes to a higher plane of melodic-inspired musings.  In fact, I’m going to recommend that, as often as possible, authors make it a practice to write with music.  To take this a step further, I’m going to recommend that the music you choose to have playing as you write fit within a certain criteria, and not merely be a collection of our favorite techno dance songs from twenty years ago.  There’s actually a bit of good research out there pointing to music being an intellectually healthy addition to our creative endeavors.

Music is one of only a few activities that exercise both hemispheres of the brain; and, if you happen to have played an instrument (or still do and haven’t hidden your talents under bushels like I have), you have huge advantages in your cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal (i.e. writing) skills.  Based upon a study of nursing students at Texas Woman’s University, the application of music to learning or creating non-music related topics (so in this case…writing) were obvious, the advantages being that the use of music improved motivation, concentration, reasoning, confidence and self-efficacy.  In other words, we feel like writing, we write like a marathoner, our writing makes sense to others (Obviously it makes sense to us. Duh!), we believe strongly that our final product will sell, and even if it doesn’t go ‘Top 10’, we still believe in our future potential.

But what kind of music is responsible for this leap in creativity?  My high school Chemistry teacher played baroque music during exams, claiming that it helped the brain with recall.  It might have, but it was so relaxing that it usually only helped my brain take a snooze.  I’ve reviewed education journal articles that trumpeted Mozart; human resource journals promoting the group-think music selection as the golden path; and of course, the religious admonition to ‘just sing a hymn’ if the mind wanders. 
May I suggest a more umbrella solution that incorporates all of the above and none of the above.  What? (He’s lost it…He should relax and listen to Mozart.)  What I mean is that it does not matter what music is chosen so long as it meets two important criteria: 1) There must be modality.  There must be interplay between traditional and irregular scales with resolution; light versus dark; good versus bad. 2) If there are lyrics, they must be conducive to the Spirit.  

There aren’t a lot of things in life where a person can say ‘I know’ or ‘I guarantee’, but this is one of them for me.  I know that there are harmonics in a lot of great music that resonate with our soul, which thereby achieves the modal interplay that exists at a higher plain of existence and which can unlock a higher level of inspiration and creativity; and, if we sup at the table of lyrics that can comfortably meet a Christ-centered focus (could be regarding the physical world or universe; could be about emotions associated with the Savior; could be about anything that is true and good), then I can promise that our level of inspired authorship will rise and improve.  We will feel it when we are in sync.  It’s tangible.  It’s delightful.  It’s delicious. 

So, take some time and go through your collection of CDs and playlists.  Sample everything.  Add more if you need to do so.  Make a ‘writing music playlist’ or mix CD.  It will probably span the range of genres, and so long as it meets the modality and lyrics template, you’ve probably got a winner.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Interview with Cassie Mae: Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

by Katy White

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to interview the brilliant Jolene Perry about the differences between self and traditional publishing. Today, I'm excited to share another interview with another brilliant author, Cassie Mae, who has oodles of experience in both forms of publishing! Cassie is the author of a ton of adorable books, including the adorable Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend and her new release, Secret Catch, which she cowrote with Jessica Salyer!

Without further ado...

Cassie, you’re a successful author with loads of wonderful books that you've published both traditionally and self. Yet, I've seen enough cute pictures of your family on FB to know you’re also a wife and mother. How do you do it all?

You have to come out with the hardest question first, lol.
I don’t.
Or I do.
I don’t know, lol.
Mainly, I prioritize. I write 1000 words a day (or try to) and if I set aside a half hour-45 minutes a day to do so, then I get it done.
But sometimes, I don’t write, and I make it up later. Honestly, I just make time for it.

How did you get started writing? In which type of publishing did you get your break?

I got an agent in 2012, but while I was on submission I decided to self publish in January 2013. Also in January, I signed two deals (a two book deal with Random House and a two book deal with Swoon Romance), so it kind of all happened at once. I can’t say which one was my big break, haha.

What have you learned about publishing since then?

It’s hard, lol. Lots of pressure and deadlines and if I thought I was crazy before, it no way compares to how I am now. But I’ve also learned when the best time to release a book is, what works marketing/promotion wise and what doesn’t, and also when to run from a contract and when to sign.

Where would you tell someone interested in self-publishing to start?

Focus on your book. The quality of your book is more important than any other thing in self publishing. Once you have had the thing through several critique partners, beta readers, and an editor, and you are 100% satisfied in its quality, then you can start looking at the other stuff. Whether or not you want it exclusively on Amazon or not, cover designers, stock photo sites, formatters, if you want a publicist, etc.

Why do you pursue both types of publishing? Do you have a preference between them?

I actually wrote a blog series on the pros and cons of self publishing and traditional publishing :) I’ll put the links right here:

You publish several books a year. How do you write So. Many. Words?

I’ve seen people write 4-5K words a day. I can’t do that. On a good day, I write more than 2000. So I’m not a big chunk word writer. I do a little bit at a time and in sprints. Half hour of nothing but writing. Sometimes I get 1000 words in that half hour, sometimes 200, but I do it every day. Sometimes twice a day.

How do you keep your ideas and characters fresh?

I read a lot. I see what’s out there and what’s missing or less of and I say, I want more of that! Then I write it :D

How important is editing in self-publishing versus traditional publishing? Do you recommend hiring an editor in either/both?

Editing is the most important in both aspects. Not everyone can afford an editor, so I understand not hiring one. If you choose not to, you better make sure you have kickbutt critique partners, and some who are experienced in working with an editor.

I don’t know why you’d hire an editor for a traditionally published book, because the editor is given to you. Hopefully you’ve got yourself a good agent who got you a credible publisher. Those editors have been doing this a long time.

Everyone talks about the importance of covers in publishing, but especially in self-publishing.  Do you agree? Where do you go to find your adorable covers?

Yes. As much as I hate that people judge books by their cover, they do. Your cover sells your book, your words keep people coming back.

Some of my covers are stock photos, some are original photos. Because I can afford to do it now, I try to get original photos for every book I self publish. (I also try to talk my publisher into those as well ;))

What are the advantages/disadvantages to traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?

Oh! I’m just going to point you to my blog series again :D

Any last words or advice for authors looking to publish in either format?

Do not slack on research.
Know what your contract says before you sign it.
Have fun :)
Writing a book in a month and publishing it the next is not the way to do it.
Edit a lot.
Have fun :)
Do not get discouraged.
Keep comfort food within arms’ reach.
Have fun :)

Cassie, thank you so much for your fabulous help and your fabulous, smoochy books! We appreciate your time and perspective. Now, to read Secret Catch...

You can find more books by Cassie here! For now, though, if you have any questions or comments about either form of publishing, please sound off below!


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