Becoming a writer: finding something to say

Couldn’t have said it better myself. “To write well, we must first LIVE well.” Mmmhhh…I think I just found a new mantra. Hope you enjoy this post from one of the fabulous blogs I follow!

Tracy Rittmueller

Have I found something to say? Is this interesting?

Being writers is what people are; becoming published is what writers achieve when someone believes they have something to say. 

Publication validates you. It says someone thinks:

  • your writing is understandable;

  •  your writing is interesting, 

  • and therefore your writing is publishable.

Being published means you get to take on the ridiculously impossible challenge the privilege of writing for strangers who don’t really care about you.

Readers are busy people. They don’t owe you their attention. There are a gazillion books on the market to entertain and educate them, as well as concerts and museums to attend, restaurants to try,  video games, movies, television shows, gatherings with family and friends…

Readers don’t need your jokes, convictions, dreams or sob stories because they have plant of their own. They also have their own heroic survival tales and, guess what? You and your stories don’t inherently matter to them.

Your writing matters to readers only when you satisfy their…

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Who Are You? What Do You Want to Do? Are You Ready?

Who are you? What do you want to do? Are you ready? Three simple questions that I’ve spent the last few days pondering. On the death valleysurface they seem simple enough, but upon closer inspection I’ve begun to see that the questions are as deep and diverse as all of the potential answers. Before I expose you to a glimpse into my complex and often times unstable psyche, I’ll tell you what brought on this journey into self-reflection.

I’m currently reading Yesterday, I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant for at least the third time. This book is over 10 years old, yet the life lessons it offers hold true no matter how much time has passed. It’s the story of how Iyanla overcame traumatic childhood events and poor choices as a young adult, then went on to become a wildly successful self-help guru. Yes, this is a story that has been done before. What I appreciate is that Iyanla tells her truth with vulnerability and humor. It’s obvious that the ultimate goal of the book is to offer sage wisdom in the hopes of changing the reader’s perspective for the better.

Which leads back to those three little questions. All of them are asked of Iyanla in the first chapter.

Who are you?

Seems simple enough, right? My first instinct was to spout off a bunch of titles: daughter, sister, friend, writer, entrepreneur, employee. Then I went into descriptive elements: woman, African-American, Christian, thick’ums.  Sure they’re all important yet, who am I when everything else fades away? I’m a sensitive nurturer who knows that love is all that truly matters. My motivation for being and my reason for living is to love the way God loves.

What do you want to do?

Again, my first instinct was to spout off a long list of things I want to do. Travel the world, raise a family, write a gazillion phenomenal books. All of those goals are valid. When I allowed myself to go deeper I discovered that I want to know and be fully known. People and their behaviors fascinate me. My own behavior fascinates me. I want to encourage and motivate people to reach their goTreesals and walk in the fullness of love. I want to do the same for myself.

Are you ready? 

This was the toughest question of all. Being delusional is easy. Being completely honest with yourself is hard work. It’s embarrassing to admit that in many ways I’m not ready to do all of the things I want to do. I have a lot of emotional baggage to work through, and practical steps to take, before I can say without hesitation that I’m ready to do all that I want to do in a way that is true to who I am.

My point in writing this isn’t just to air my own issues. Although, I did already mention that I find myself utterly fascinating. All jokes aside, I do have the sincere hope that you’ll take a few moments (or days, or weeks, or months) and think about these three questions. Discover your own answers. Then use that knowledge to enrich your life as well as the lives of those around you.

Anyone else on the road to self discovery? I’m interested in hearing about your journey in the comments below!

Photo credit: familymwr / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: familymwr / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

C’mon, Writers! 5 Reasons To Ditch The Rivalry

Humorous and oh so true!

Tara Sparling writes


I’ve been hearing a lot lately about rivalry in the writing and publishing industries. And it’s a sad state of affairs. Because it’s complete and utter nonsense.

Rivalry is an alluring demon for authors (and, indeed, reviewers). For one thing, the very nature of writing  – a solitary activity, which rarely if ever allows for human interaction in the physical act itself – can make the loveliest, gentlest human into a raving, paranoid lunatic.

For instance, by the time a writer emerges from the Nth draft of their novel, covered in the primordial goo of self-doubt, the blinding fog that is fear of failure, never mind that murky quicksand which is the fear of success, the public domain can look like a row of guns and spears, all pointing at you. Some of them will just shoot you where you stand. You’ll manage to run in to the spears all by yourself. But it all looks terribly nasty. (And that’s enough sloppy metaphors.)

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What We’re Reading This Week

Check out these great book recommendations! The last one on the list sounds epspecially juicy.


photo (32)


We Were Liars by Erin Lockhart

“E. Lockhart’s mesmerizingly spare novel will suck you in with promises of dappled sun, first kisses, and golden days that go on for ever. But as the dark secrets hidden beneath the novel’s bright, tidy surface begin their gradual escape, you will fly feverishly forward through the pages until every last lie has been punctured. We Were Liars is a novel of brilliant beauty, taught suspense, and epic emotional impact.”


The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman 
On Sale August 5 – Available to Pre-Order

“Grossman’s new book concludes his Magicians cycle – a tale that connects threads from the first two books and sweeps you away with some unexpected insights into the magical land of Fillory and the lives of Quentin and other magicians from the storyline. What starts as a heist novel when Quentin is tapped to steal a mysterious…

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You’ve Got 30 Seconds to Sell Your Dream…Go!

Would you be ready if the opportunity to pitch your book came along? In a perfect world, all of us would get ready and stay ready to sing the praises of our completed manuscripts or works in progress. We could spout off an intriguing hook and give a concise synopsis all in the same breath. But, this world is far from perfect and I have to say, in my observations, a lot of writers downplay their work. Whether out of a misguided sense of modesty or the natural social awkwardness all writers seem to possess, I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that there’s a solution to this conundrum. It’s called an elevator pitch. An elevator speech is a catch phrase for being able to pitch your product or service within the span of 30 seconds to two minutes– about the average time of an elevator ride. In our case, our products are our books and our skills as writers.


Part 1– Your book title and genreElevator

Part 2– The main character’s ultimate goal

Part 3– The conflict he or she experiences

Part 4–The moral or ‘take away’ for the story

I’ll give you an example. I’m going to use my currently unpublished manuscript. Keep in mind that this is very much a work in progress!

Part 1: When the Real Thing Comes Along is a Christian fiction romance novel.

Part 2: Jacelynn’s ultimate goal is to let go of past emotional trauma and open her heart to the possibility of falling in love.

Part 3: Jacelynn’s biggest problem is that the man who broke her heart in the first place,  pops back into her life after 10 years of estrangement requesting a second chance. He continues to pursue her despite her obvious disinterest and the fact that she has been dating someone else exclusively for over a year. She’s practically engaged, but Jacelynn soon discovers that the past has a grip on her that won’t easily let go. Is she truly over her ex? Will she let go of a sure thing to take a chance on her first love?

Part 4: The take away for Jacelynn’s story is that romantic relationships may come and go, but the love of God remains through it all. He’s the real thing, and all else is secondary.

Taking the time to craft an elevator pitch is time well spent. You can use your elevator speech in conversation with potential customers, agents, publishing houses and the random people who ask you what you’re working on when you tell them you’re a writer. Practice makes perfect, so never miss an opportunity to give your speech! Personally, I found the act of writing my elevator pitch super helpful, and I expect that it will assist me with writing my query letters in the future.

Have you already crafted a killer elevator pitch? Feel free to give some pointers in the comments below!

Check out these articles for more detailed information on elevator pitches:

Photo credit: Foter / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Poet’s Corner Cafe: “The Brightness of Your Light”

Welcome! Grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable. Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I hope you enjoy this poem about the beautiful relationship that mothers and daughters share. Don’t forget, if you’re a poet and you want to rock the mic in Poet’s Corner Cafe, click the CONTACT button up top. I’d love to help share your art with the world!

Mother daughter

The Brightness of Your Light

Your light shines so bright

I am astounded by your beauty

Each chrism of glass holds a reflection of the very best parts of me

It is no wonder that I couldn’t see all of you clearly

I’ve been deceived by dancing shadows and the trickery of subtly changing seasons

As a mother it is my preemptive duty to protect you from outside danger

To instinctually keep at bay the lurking circle of predators and thieves

I thought I did that

How could I be expected to see the threat that lived inside of you?

I was blinded by my clairvoyant vision of your future

I did not see the hurt buried so deep that it imploded and exploded inside of you

I’m sorry

But you didn’t tell me either

I know you’re sorry too

Your future is still waiting

I will get you there

I will push you and pay in blood and sweat

And yes even tears to get you there

I will pull you until my limbs stretch farther than they were ever meant to go

We will broaden your scope of sight

You will be brave

We will travel back in time to arrive at your future

We will defy nature and return to a suspended space

When I breathed for you

When you gained nourishment from my body

When my heart beat set the rhythm for your first fluttering of life

And you will be born anew

My promises are true

I will get you to your future

And then I will continue to bask

In the brightness of your light

Photo credit: Rudy (New Routes) / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Book Review: “The Accidental Diva” by Tia Williams

The accidental divaTitle: The Accidental Diva

Author: Tia Williams

Genre: Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction

Book Description: 

Being a diva isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Billie Burke. Brainy, beautiful, and at the top of her game, she’s the beauty editor at the world’s leading fashion magazine, where paying tribute to the perfect pink lip gloss is serious business. Trouble is, all this corporate climbing and party-hopping has left her with migraine headaches-and a long, lonely bout of celibacy.

Enter Jay Lane-a gorgeous performance artist who came up in a grisly ‘hood in a part of Brooklyn completely foreign to Billie. In no time, this beauty expert’s nights are bubbling over with hot passion-and she’s caught in an affair that’s as addictive and crazy as the city itself.

My Review:

O-to-the-M-frickin’-G, I LOVED this book! This was a book I picked up from the library months ago, and never got around to reading. I hate that I waited, because it’s a phenomenal read. You know the kind of book you carry around with you and read every chance you get? This was that. The cover and the description don’t do it justice. Looking at it, you’d think it’s going to be one of those fluffy standard chick lit books with little substance and lots of laughs. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of books-I quite enjoy them. But, The Accidental Diva was so much more than that. Yeah, there were lots of laughs, but this book also touched on socialism, racism, sexism, gender roles, class separation and I could go on.

Picture it: New York, the year 2000. Billie Burke is a sheltered bookish young woman from Virginia who is  now a successful beauty editor at a top of the line magazine. Jay Lane is a former drug dealing, charismatic up and coming writer from the projects. Their worlds collide in a six degrees of separation type of way.

I get it. This story has been done before. The thing is, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it done this well. Tia Williams has the knack for outstanding dialogue. I felt like I was watching an entertaining movie the whole time I was reading. That’s not because there was a whole lot of description, but because there was just enough to let me use my imagination and really connect with what the characters were saying. And they all had plenty to say, in an in your face, not biting their lips kind of way. If you choose to read this book, I guarantee you’ll have moments when your jaw drops open in shock, or you’ll nod your head in agreement, or you’ll simply pause and self reflect. At least I did.

Now, in the interest of a complete review I’ll go ahead and point out a couple of negative aspects. One, in all of the outstanding dialogue, it’s easy to lose track of which character is talking, especially in group scenes. Two, there’s a lot of foul language. I mean, A LOT. But to me, in order to tell this story with authenticity, some of it was necessary. However, these two issues do absolutely nothing to take away from my 5 star review.

Yep, you heard me: FIVE STARS! This one is going in my collection of faves.  Check it out here via Amazon.

What was your last ‘can’t put down’ book? Dish below!

P.S. Keep in mind that this is a throw back book circa 2003 ish, so the cover has been changed since then. The one pictured here is of the hardcover edition. The one pictured via the Amazon link is the paperback version. It’s all the same book!