Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#WW Writer Wednesday: Becoming the Writer You Want to Be

Paula Gail Benson
Two years ago, I discovered “The Easy Way to Write” series by Rob Parnell, best-selling author, musician, screenwriter, and Australian entrepreneur. With over ninety books to his credit (many in eformat), he is an acknowledged writing guru whose motto is Your Success is My Concern. 

What I like that his books are straightforward and give positive, achievable steps for becoming a working, successful author. I particularly enjoyed the opening chapter of The Easy Way to Write Short Stories that Sell, in which he gave some excellent advice for making the most of writing skills. Distilled to the essence, here are his recommendations.

First, approach the task as a business. Present yourself as a professional and act professionally and courteously in your dealings with agents and publishers.

Second, produce a clean, enticing product that meets and exceeds buyer expectations. The less an editor has to do to make a manuscript publishable, the more valuable it becomes because it costs less to produce.

Third, ensure a consistent output by developing manageable routines.

What exactly does manageable routines mean? Writing every day at a particular time and in a specific place? Meeting a daily word quota or number of pages revised?

Maybe. Or, maybe not.

Is writing one thousand words a day manageable for you? Or, are you struggling to produce a few hundred words each time you have a few free minutes between classes, or jobs, or things you need to do for your family and friends?

Remember how Curly (played by Jack Palance) explained the secret of life to Mitch (Billy Crystal) in the City Slickers (Columbia Pictures 1991)? “It’s one thing, and you have to figure out what it is.”

Manageable means one thing: what you can accomplish based on your own schedule, lifestyle, needs, and resources. You have to discover what a manageable routine is for you. And, the best test for figuring it out is determining what you can plan to do on a fairly regular basis with a sense of expectation and accomplishment.

Routine speaks of habit. I recently read an article that listed good habits to develop to help avoid some of the detriments of aging. Along with good nutrition and exercise, the article encouraged that people have a routine. It did not have to be complex, but one you enjoyed returning to consistently. Like doing cross word puzzles, practicing a musical instrument, or writing in a journal.

A manageable routine is a schedule you can look forward to keeping for the joy of finishing the tasks you set for yourself, and not so rigorous that it's daunting. In the opening chapter of The Easy Way to Write Short Stories that Sell, Parnell suggests that one way to develop the ability to finish a story is to start thinking of how the story ends. He suggests you write a dozen short paragraph stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. Then, write “The End.” Make it a practice to reach the place where you write “The End” and make that act a part of your storytelling. After you have a dozen examples, no matter how short, the act of writing “The End” becomes part of your work product. You have learned to persevere to reach the conclusion.

In essence, you’ve developed a manageable routine.

He advocates setting achievable goals, visualizing success, and writing a mission statement to better understand your brand and the product you are producing. Last year, I wrote a post giving more detail about his methods that you may find here. But, the more I think about it, the key is developing manageable routines.

So, to make certain that you have a business approach, good product presentation, and consistent output, find the writing habits that fit best into your life and make you want to embrace your writing time each day as a haven and comfort rather than a dreaded ordeal. I hope each of you finds this advice practical, achievable, and encouraging, and that it assists you in becoming the writer you want to be this year.

©2015 Paula Gail Benson

A legislative attorney and former law librarian, Paula Gail Benson’s short stories have been published in Kings River Life (, the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable (, Mystery Times Ten 2013 (Buddhapuss Ink), and A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder (Dark Oak Press and Media, 2014). She regularly blogs with others at Her personal blog is Little Sources of Joy, at, and her website is

Thanks, Paula! Nice piece. I'm sure our readers will take away a lot of great information. Buddhapuss Ink LLC is proud to be a small, but solid house known for great fiction and nonfiction books, written for readers with brains by authors who have more than just one book in them. 
READERS: We hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our #WW Writer Wednesday Series and that we'll see you again next week when our guest poster, Linda Sienkiewicz, writes about Getting Intimate with Point of View. Till then, "Butt in chair, WRITE!

~ The Black Cat

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Cure for the Winter Doldrums!

What if you could strengthen your immune system, lower your stress levels, diminish pain, and boost your energy all at the same time for just $.99?

Numerous studies have shown that the simple act of laughing can achieve all this and more,* and Buddhapuss Ink LLC, a publisher in Edison, NJ, has just released a surefire way to add more laughter to your life with the hilarious first installment in the Leslie and Belinda Mystery series: Daredevil by Tennessee author, Linda Browning. 

These two wise-cracking seniors have been described as Murder, She Wrote meets Laverne and Shirley. The reviews are just starting to come in and are calling this new series “Just fun!” and Daredevil “A book that keeps you smiling from start to finish.” Get down and dirty with these meddling residents of a retirement village in middle Tennessee who let their curiosity get the better of them. Sticky situations and comedic antics abound as Browning sets her characters loose. “Where others are winding down in retirement, Leslie and Belinda are just getting started. Browning‘s cozy mystery celebrates the second half of life with humor, delight and wit.” quipped Sam Hilliard, author of the #1 bestseller The Last Track. This pair of sassy, senior sleuths, Leslie and Belinda, are on the hunt for a missing girl; and it leads them on a crazy chase through a dark graveyard with Leslie’s eight-pound-dog, Riff-Raff, right in the middle of all the action. Buckle up and keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times; it’s going to be a bumpy (and hilarious) ride!

“Everyone at Buddhapuss Ink loves working with Linda. It's like a roller coaster unleashed and off the tracks!” said MaryChris Bradley, Publisher at Buddhapuss Ink. “Her characters are the kind of comic relief that cozy mystery readers love. Think Miss Marple with a penchant for shopping at the Dollar Store. Her stories are fast-paced reads that will leave you rolling on the floor. I want to live next door to Leslie when I retire!” 

Grab your copy of this hilarious eBook and join the laughter. Remember, it's good for you health.

Browning worked for many years in clerical and supervisory roles at the Clinton Valley Center in Michigan, but later followed her husband to Tennessee when he was asked to relocate. They are both happily retired (sort of) and living in a middle Tennessee retirement community. Linda rediscovered her love of creative writing after receiving a laptop for Christmas in 2011. She'd dallied in various crafty endeavors like quilting and painting, but it was her thirst for storytelling that really stuck. “Life is good and at 62 years of age…I’m finally getting going.” 

*Laughter is the Best Medicine for your Heart: Study done by the University of Maryland Medical Center
Laughter Therapy: Study from the Cancer Treatment Center of America
The Science of Laughter: Psychologist and laughter researcher Robert Provine, Ph.D., explains the power of laughter, humor, and play as social tools. (Psychology Today)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#WW Balancing Work, Life, and Writing

Like many writers, I have a day job. That means that I have to be flexible and creative when it comes to balancing all of my obligations. It isn't always easy. It's worth the effort though, because I couldn't imagine giving up my writing.

There are some practical things, though, that writers with day jobs need to consider. After all, there are only so many hours in a day.  Here are a few things I’ve found that help me balance my two professions. I hope they’ll help you, too.

Think of yourself as a writer.

It sounds deceptively simple, but it makes a big difference. If you think of yourself as a writer, 

  • you’ll plan writing time and be as serious about it as you are about your paid work;
  • you’ll grow as a writer and develop your skills; 
  • you’ll make vital connections with other writers, editors, agents and publishers.
Whether you’ve had anything published or not, if you write, you’re a writer. So identify yourself that way.  It all starts with how you see yourself.

Make the most of the time you have.

On a day-to-day basis, how can a writer with a day job manage both work-related tasks and writing? I’ve found a few ways to make it all easier.

  • Guard your writing time. Make it a priority. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day, treat it like the valuable professional time it is. 
  •  Harness technological. Voice recorders, Notes apps and other technology can help you keep track of those good ideas without wasting time. Writing software can help you to be more efficient, so make use of it. 
  •  Streamline when you can. It can be hard to say, no, but you can’t do everything. Go for simple meals, easy care clothes and trimmed down celebrations. You’ll be less stressed and you’ll be able to focus better on your writing.
The more you value your writing time, the better you’ll use it.

Be satisfied with small, achievable goals.

Remember: you have two full-time jobs. You’re a writer and you have another profession. You can’t realistically finish that novel as quickly as you might like. But you can meet smaller goals and get it all done. Here are a few ideas to help you:

  • Set daily goals for yourself. Even if it’s something simple (e.g. Today I’ll name my characters), make it a goal and achieve it. Those goals add up, and they help you focus your writing time. 
  •  Reward yourself when you meet major goals like finishing chapters or sending off your manuscript. You’ve accomplished something. Be proud of it. 
  •  Be flexible. Goals change and your schedule may change. So set and work for goals that can be adapted if needed.
There you have it: a few things that help me manage my life as a writer and my day job. I hope they’ll be helpful to you!
Thanks very much for hosting me!


Margot Kinberg is a mystery novelist who writes the Joel Williams series. She is also the editor of In a Word: Murder, an anthology of short crime stories. She has also written several non-fiction books and articles. Margot is also an Associate Professor, who’s been working in higher education since 1988. You can connect with Margot at her blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, where you can read her daily posts on crime fiction and find out more about the Joel Williams series. Margot’s also on Twitter, on Google+ and on Facebook. Margot’s short stories are available on Wattpad.

Our thanks to Margot for some useful and very “timely”information for writers trying to juggle life, work, and passion.
READERS: We hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our #WW Writer Wednesday Series and that we'll see you again next week when LindaS. Browning shares a favorite book from childhood and how it influenced her writing.
Until then: "Butt in chair, WRITE!

~ The Black Cat