Archive for the ‘Writer's Advice’ Category

“Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.”–Rumi

In the bustle of our hectic lives, writers sometimes loose their sense of direction: A blog and/or website to maintain. An online presence to keep up-to-date (Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook professional page…) Reviewers to locate, query, and send copies of our books to — then, if a review is done, thanking the reviewers. Keeping our Amazon Author’s Page current. Appearances, whether book signings or presentations. Guest blogs. Oh, and writing new fiction (or poetry or nonfiction).

That last item on the list is the most important. Writers should be writing. Your mind and heart both know that is where your passion is and where your time should be spent. When an author is successful enough, she can hire someone to do everything else — but the author must do the writing.

As to what to write — again I refer to the Rumi quote: listen to your heart. Maybe writing book reviews and hosting guests on your blog gives a writer more visibility, but is that your heart’s desire? Would you really rather be working on your next story, book, or poem? If you answer, “Yes, I’d rather be working on my own writing,” then you need to cut back on the distractions and get back to your work.

So I say to writers, run in the direction of the next piece of your writing. Your readers are waiting and your heart knows the way — so run to your keyboard or pad of paper and write!



Read Full Post »

152 “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” – Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon’s statement is true for all of us (regardless of gender). Opportunity does come knocking occasionally, and sometimes chances for success appear serendipitously in our inboxes, but more likely we must create our opportunities.

As a writer, I can sit back and wait for editors of anthologies to ask for my stories – which is lovely when it happens, but still a rare privilege for me. Or I can research markets, locate opportunities, and either write a new story for an antho or check my files for an appropriately themed piece of fiction to send.

I can check my email and phone messages for bloggers and reporters begging for an interview or a feature, or I can get online and look for blogs which might be a good fit for me and my book/books. Then, I can write a query letter and go through the process to “land” an interview, guest blog slot, or feature.

I can sit on my sofa and wait for a bookstore manager to contact me for a book signing, or I call the bookstore, find when the manager has a moment to chat, stop by, and see if a book signing (whether individual or with a group of other authors) is something we can make happen.

I can slump in an armchair and moan because lots of writing conference organizers aren’t calling me to appear and lead workshops, or I can contact the people in charge of writing conferences and ask about the process for presenting a program at their next conference.

I can sigh loudly and lean my chin on my hand while gazing out the window wondering why more science-fiction/fantasy cons are not inviting me to be a panelist or I can find out who is inviting guest authors/editors to various sf/f/h cons and learn what I have to do to get an invite.

You get the idea. I need to make opportunities, not wait for that lucky break. And though I’ve written this post from a writer’s point of view, it applies to most goals which require someone to open a door for you.

So readers, think about how you can make opportunities to reach your goals. And though I wish you good luck — don’t rely on luck, rely on yourself and hard work!

(And if you are interested in interviewing me, featuring me or my books, or having me post a guest post on your blog – let me know. If you are a conference or con organizer and want me to participate – contact me. Just practicing what I preach, and trying to make my own opportunities!) 🙂

Read Full Post »

Leggere Donna Many writers look for markets for their writing nearby. They research and search for magazines and anthologies in their town, state, region, or country–which is fine. But reaching beyond physical borders can yield lots of new publication opportunities.

When your writing is published in venues beyond your country’s borders, new readers have a chance to enjoy your writing. Long before webzines offered readers from around the globe an opportunity to easily find stories (and poems) from “foreign” writers, there were magazines published in print which were open to worldwide submissions.

Studio Spring 97 Some of these magazines published in English (my language), some offered both a published English version and a translation into the language of the country in which the magazine was being published, and some translated the submission and only published the story or poem in the language of the home country of the magazine.

My thanks to the editors of these magazines for sharing my international poem or story with their readers: First Word Bulletin, Spain; Leggere Donna, Italy; Studio, Australia; Culture Cult, India; and lots of others from Canada and the UK (I’ll share some covers on another post).

So writers, think beyond your borders for markets — and readers, look beyond your borders for new writers and their work to stir your imagination!

Culture Cult Monsoon 2016 cover

culture cult spring culture cult 7 Greens Magazine Spring 87First Word Bulletin

Read Full Post »

One of my pet peeves is when a novel has a prologue.

At worse, as a reader, I view the addition of a page or two or more of world, setting, and/or character description before the start of a book’s narrative to be a sign of weak writing. At best, a prologue tells me this author doesn’t have confidence in either their writing or a reader’s ability to grasp the details of their novel’s world unless it is clearly explained.

Even at my jumbled desk in my chaotic office, I can hear the gasps of many of my fellow writers. Yes, yes, I know many fine authors have used a prologue to transition their readers from the mundane world into the universe of their book. And prologues have been en vogue during certain periods of time. But I, for one, never read those prologues! (And I don’t think I’m alone).

A book should begin on page 1!

Drop the reader into your world, then slip in the necessary information about your setting, rules of magic and/or science, the state of religion and politics, the geography, flora, fauna, etc., and the characters’ places in that world bit by bit as you move through the narrative.

And by the way, this does not mean dumping all that information in one place, but rather, judiciously dropping a crumb of info here and there. Readers will pick up those crumbs and begin to understand your world as they become involved with your characters.

Likewise, I rarely read an introduction or foreword. Again, get to the book itself.

Perhaps the only exception to my dislike of extra material prior to the start of a book, is a preface. Letting a reader know why you’ve written a non-fiction book, and your level of expertise on the subject might be important enough to delay the start of the book. Though to be honest, I prefer an author’s note in the back of the book containing that information.

I know there are other opinions on prologues and their kin, but for this reader, they are pages to flip past on my way to page 1.

For another point of view, check out Should You Use a Soft Opening by JA DuMairier on the Thanet  Writers’ site.






Read Full Post »

Murder on Marawa Prime (reviewed in the December 2016 issue of Analog magazine) is my only published murder mystery/ action adventure tale. Yet, I enjoy reading murder mysteries and crime fiction. In my “in progress” fiction files, there are several other crime stories which, I hope, will be completed, polished, and submitted to magazines or anthologies in the not too distant future.

Murder_Cover_CS_front Like all writers, I try not to use clichés, so it was with interest I read an article on clichés in crime fiction (which will include murder mysteries).

Here’s the link – I hope you enjoy Crime Fiction – 10 Cliches to Avoid from Freelance Writing.

Read Full Post »

Grue Magazine 7 Yesterday, I wrote about some of my early Science Fiction and Fantasy publications in the SF Spectrum Publications in the United Kingdom.

Today, I want to mention a few of the SF and F magazines which included my speculative work very early in my writing career. Again, I want to thank these editors who not only devoted time and talents to sharing their love of science fiction, fantasy, and horror — but who often put in their own money.

Worlds of Wonder Oct 87 I am not the only writer who benefited from their efforts. Everyone begins somewhere, and many writers and illustrators whose names are now recognizable began on the pages of these (or similar) Indie publications.

Thank you to Gary William Crawford of Supernatural Poetry who published my poem, “Driftwood,” and Robert E. Cooke of Worlds of Wonder who published three of my poems.

Supernatural Poetry One Also thanks to John Postovit of Alpha Adventures: Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine for publishing my poem, “A Circle of Pillars,” Janet Fox of Scavenger’s Newsletter for publishing my poem, “A Robot’s Question,” and Peggy Nadramia of Grue Magazine for publishing the original version of my poem, “Not Seen.”

And lastly, thank you to Donald L. Miller of The Nightmare Express for publishing one of my poems, and Charles M. Saplak of Celestial Shadows for publishing my prose piece, “Fish Story.”

Alpha Adventures Sept 85 By publishing my work and the work of other speculative writers in these labor-intensive Indie magazines, these editors introduced a new crop of storytellers to readers. Their hard work is why many successful writers of today have a reader base.

For example, I share the Table of Contents in the issue of Grue Magazine mentioned above with Wayne Allen Sallee, Keith Allen Daniels, Elizabeth Massie, Mort Castle, John Maclay, Kevin J. Anderson, J.N. Williamson, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Mark Rich, and other wonderful writers. I feel lucky!

So while I’d love to have you purchase books from the “big” publishers, don’t forget to support the Indie publishers. – Vonnie

Scavengers Jan 87

Celestial Shadows 92Nightmare Express May 87


Read Full Post »

SF Spectrum 9 Among my early Science Fiction and Fantasy publications, were poetry, art, and fiction in SF Spectrum and Macabre, both from SF Spectrum Publications, Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Editor, Wieslaw Tumulka, included my work in 8 issues of his magazines. For a woman from the USA, it was quite exciting to know her words and images were reaching a few readers across the Atlantic.

SF Spectrum 10 I felt privileged to share the pages with artist Steve Lines and writers J. N. Williamson, T. Winter-Damon, Steve Sneyd, John B. Rosenman, Don Webb, Andrew Darlington, John Haines, George Gott, and Mark Valentine,  and many more talented individuals.

In 1986 and 1987 when my work appeared in SF Spectrum and Macabre, the standard format for small or Indie presses was pieces of letter (or legal) sized paper printed on both sides, then, the stack of pages was folded in half and stapled.

SF Spectrum 12 Not very glamorous compared to many of today’s Indie publications, but this was before the advent of computers.

Tumulka, and other Indie publishers/editors were devoted to publishing and sharing the work of writers and artists whose work they believed their readers would enjoy. And in those days, there weren’t online versions and wide distribution — so a contributor “sold” First British Rights, First North American Rights, First Australian Rights, etc. rather than First World Rights or First English Language Rights.

Macabre 7 So which pieces of my writing and artwork did Wieslaw Tumulka choose to include in issues of his speculative magazines? Here is the complete (I think) list:

Poems: “More than Curiosity,” “Saturn’s Song,” “Snapdragons,” “A Circle of Pillars,” “Aware, After All These Years,” “Surgical Leftovers,” “Right Now,” and “Flies.”

Illustrations: “Skeleton in the Toy Box” and “Blooming Skulls” (a cover illustration shown here).

Prose: “Frycakes and Caruso.”

And so I conclude this visit to my past writing/art appearances with a thank you to Wieslaw Tumulka for selecting and publishing my work. It helped give me confidence to keep on creating. And a thanks to the writers and artists whose work I enjoyed in those long ago issues of SF Spectrum and Macabre.

Keep on reading! – Vonnie

Macabre 8

SF Spectrum 11

Macabre 6

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »