It’s Finally Here!

Do you like to read short stories?

Have you ever tried your hand at writing one?

I wrote a blog about short stories earlier this year. In it I told about a group of writers with the desire to publish such an anthology.

Perseverance pays off. When everyone works together toward a goal, amazing things can happen.

Last week, our book—in which I wrote four short stories—was published. 

Desert Tapestry is a cumulative effort by the Arizona Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. The cover is dazzling and the stories are heartfelt and inspiring.

The book, in both e-book and paperback, is available on Amazon.

It is reasonably-priced and would make a nice Christmas gift…

Movie or Bestseller?

Do you dream of having one of your books made into a Hollywood movie? If so, this is a good bit of research you might want to consider. 

Do you know which writing genre is made into the most movies? 

Here’s what my research turned up, starting with #1:












When I began writing, I tried my hand at screenplays with some success. I wrote four comedies and two dramas before I threw in the towel.

It was a good experience , but the writing process is unlike writing for the reading market.

Take another look at the list. There is one genre missing. It’s the one—if I were guessing—that would have been at the top of the list. 

That’s right. Romance came in fifteenth.

Don’t tell that to Nicholas Sparks. I’ve watched several of his movies over the past five years or so.

Just goes to show you.

Don’t believe everything you read.

Picture Books for the Elderly

Ageless Sages is the world’s first publishing company that predominantly prints picture books for senior citizens. 

Their goal is produce books that “bring comfort and delight to elderly individuals in need of positive literature. Reading and soaking in artwork both keep a mind stimulated…”

Beth Miller is credited with writing the first book in this genre, Lavendar Ladies, in 2008.

One of Ageless Sages’ core goals is to remove society’s shaming of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other eldercare institutions. They hope that their publications will “…help bridge gaps between family members who may not always understand what their senior relatives experience mentally, physically and emotionally on a daily basis.”

In 2017, when my own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I wrote a series of three Interactive Picture Books for those who are afflicted with this disease.

My I Remember Series includes: I Remember the Seasons, I Remember Bible Stories, and I Remember Holidays.

Each book features beautiful artwork, original poetry, ideas/questions for meaningful interaction, and suggestions for relevant activities.

These books are available on Amazon, individually or as an entire series.

Things to Consider

So, you have the writing bug and are faced with a big decision: “What genre should I write in?”

Genres fulfill reader expectations. 

Readers buy certain books because they have enjoyed similar stories in the past. Reading these novels is like sitting down with an old friend. These books give them a sense of belonging.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Write about what you like to read. If you are drawn to a particular genre, your writing will show your enthusiasm. 
  1. Choose a genre that is read by the most people. Currently, most people are reading Romance, followed by a close second of Action/Adventure.

3)    Having said that, you could choose a more narrowly-read

        genre, so that your writing will “stand out” among fewer 

        authors. The least read fiction is labeled Literary Fiction

        which focuses on the human condition and is more

        concerned with the inner lives of characters and themes 

        rather than plot.

4)   Choose a fairly new genre in which readers are least familiar.

       Here are the names of some: Cashier Memoirs, Bitpunk, 

       Twitter Novels, Lucid Fiction, Combinatorial, and

       Hmong- American.  **I know next to nothing about 

       these. However, I will research them in the weeks to come

       and feature them on  this blog. Stay tuned…

5)   Choose your audience, first. Perhaps you’d like to focus on

       Young Adults. Then, choose a sub-genre: focus on mysteries,

       Dinosaurs, Monsters, Sports, Baby-sitters Clubs, School-

       related, Young Romance, and so on.

6)   Do you have a message you’d like to get out? For years,

       now, I have focused on “Stories of Forgiveness.”

7)   Hot sellers. Lately, I see that a lot of authors have chosen to

       write about young men or women who have inherited 

       businesses from family members. Their challenge is to learn the

       business and win the heart of an adversary.  Another big one

       is The Cowboy Who (Did this or that). Amish stories

       were big for quite a few years, but seem to be dwindling a

       little, lately. Last year, I read at least five or six books about 

       “Marriages of Convenience” which, of course, turned into

       the most popular: Romance!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does tell us this: there are many, many, things to consider when you are starting out!!!!

Four Things to Include in Your Reviews

As writers, we are well aware of how necessary reviews are to our success. That’s why it’s important that we don’t just ask for them, but we write them every time we get to THE END.

There are four main things to know about writing reviews: 

  1. Make them short and to the point. Too long or wordy and people won’t read them.
  2. Be honest, but not hurtful. Some people only write reviews for books they like. This doesn’t help the writer to improve and it isn’t helpful to the potential reader when they are looking for an enjoyable book to purchase.
  3. People read fiction, first and foremost, to hear the stories of characters, so be sure to say if you felt the characters were engaging, intriguing, real, etc.
  4. Make your comments genre-specific. If the book you are reviewing is a Romance Novel, give some indication as to whether it actually was romantic, or perhaps erotic. (Yikes!) If it is a Mystery, share whether it had you on the edge of your seat and so on.

Don’t forget to use your own good writing skills. You never know when someone will read your review and “GOOGLE” you!!!

An Encouraging Word

For those of you who are writing your very first book, it may seem like it is taking forever to get it ready for publication. However, remember that you are spending a lot of time learning all kinds of things this first go around—all of which you ‘ll be able to apply in the future without having to start over at square one with each new book.

My first book took me eighteen months to write.

My second took me a lot less than that.

With every book, the writing, editing, cover design, and so on is accomplished much quicker as you get more skilled at all that is involved.

When we first start to write there is much to learn. Writing “rules.” Editing. Setting up one or more websites, establishing checking accounts. Navigating the internet. Publishing. Conferences. Marketing.

The list is endless. 

But, take heart. 

Each time a book is published, there is a smaller percentage of time devoted to those things, leaving you more time for actual writing. And, that’s when things start to get exciting.

You will be able to find the answers to all of the questions you have. Use Google or a host of websites and/or blogs by authors, publishers, writing organizations, and so on.

Writing is a lot of work. No doubt about it.

When that first book comes out, I hope you will find that it has all been worth the effort.

Submit Your Writing Online

There are quite a few websites that take online submissions AND pay you for your efforts. Here is a sampling by category:

I. Short Stories

A. Story– Fiction and Non-fiction. Pay you $10. Per printed page.

B. Flash Fiction Online– Submit up to 1,000 words. Pay is $60. Per story.

C. Ideomancer– Looking for “out-of-the-box” writing. Pay is three cents per word, with a max of $40. Per story.

D. Shimmer– Speculative fiction (if you don’t know what this is, see one of my archived blogs on this subject) of 7500 words. Pay is 5 cents per word, with a $50 max.

E. One Story- They pay $500 BUT they choose only one short story to publish each month.

F. Crazyhorse– Looking for the “wacky and strange.” Pay is $20 per page, with a $200 max.

G. The Sun Magazine- They will consider ALL submissions. Pay is $300 to $2500 for Non-fiction; $300 to $1500 for Fiction.

H. Brevity- 750 words or less. Pay is $45.

II.  Personal Essays

A. The Awl- Pay is between $30-$250.

B. Good Old Days– Seeking nostalgia. Pay is between $15-75.

C. Literal Latte– Hold five contests per year. (three have $1000 prizes).

III. Articles

A. Travelicious- A Travel Guide website. Pay is $40 per 1,000 words.

B. Writer Naked– Resource for writers. Exemplary pieces can be paid as much as $200.

C. Technopedia– Anything about technology. Pays $50-$150.

D. Howlround– Dedicated to arts and the theatre. Pays $50 for 750-1000 words.

E. Gameskinny– Looking for lists, guides, etc. Pays $0.50 per 1,000 views.

Got Free Time?

You’ve got time on your hands.

The fact that many of us are not participating in many social events these days frees up several hours a week or more for our writing, doesn’t it?

So, why when I talk to other authors, do I hear that it isn’t the case? That their time is being used up with anything but?

I am told that naps, computer games, and watching television are filling up all available “free time.”

So, that means productivity is down across the board. 

Have we lost our drive… our desire to write?

Can I suggest that we review our goals … renew our purpose for writing in the first place?

It you write to encourage others, there has never been a time when your words of encouragement were needed more.

If you write to cheer people up … to give them reason to laugh… now’s the time they need your funny, uplifting stories the most.

If you write so you can transport your readers back to another time in history or forward to future times, this is your golden opportunity.

If you write so that your readers can escape the mundane or the fear of life in the present, they may be waiting for a book that only you will write.

So you know what that means, write?

Happily Ever After

When I was a kid, the vast majority of books that I ready ended with a happy ending.

But, then I read a book in junior high that had a sad and unexpected ending. I vividly remember going back and rereading the final few pages because I just knew I must have “read it wrong” or “misunderstood.”

I had read for hours, only to be “rewarded” with a tragic ending?

Later, I would learn the terminology for that type of  story was called a tragedy.

Aptly named.

A literary tragedy  consists of brave characters who confront powerful obstacles. They exemplify the resiliency of the human spirit when faced with danger…. and may even end in death. The characters are likable, making their suffering distressing for the reader. And, they often have a tragic flaw that becomes the reason for their downfall. And, finally, there is that heartbreaking ending.

Even though a character may lose everything in the end, if he takes responsibility for his actions, if he affirms human values, the reader is often filled with hope for mankind.

You may decide not to write a true tragedy. However, there are still some techniques you can use to make each scene or chapter in your book a “page turner” or “cliff hanger”:

  1. Use an ellipsis (…) so readers will be left with an unfinished thought. 
  2. Ask a question (so the reader will wonder what might happen or cause them to madly search Amazon for the next book in the series).
  3. Share negative or conflicting inner thoughts for your characters to reveal their inner turmoil.
  4. Make sure your scenes are very descriptive and I vary the sentence length to take readers from intense action to peaceful interludes and then return to a faster pace.
  5. I have written a “less than satisfying ending” which is then addressed in the Epilogue.

Time and Time Again

Last week, I had a series of negative things happen in the space of three hours: a package I was expecting was sent to someone else’s house, my massage appointment was cancelled, I forgot my grocery store coupons and had to drive all the way back home, and my husband returned from the landscape nursery with the wrong item.

All of those things reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s The Series of Unfortunate Events and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst—two books I have enjoyed over and over again with each reading.

Remembering to make lemonade out of lemons, I began writing chapter one of a new book with a main character who is faced with a series of problems, too. Within minutes, my anger turned to laughter. 

I hit SAVE AS and then gave my new book a name. 

People love humor. And if we are able to laugh at ourselves, our own real life circumstances can become the substance of books that readers can enjoy time and time again.