New Free Chapter: Meeting Your Writing Goals

Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens
US and Canadian editions available

I added a new sample chapter to my book’s website today. Though the book is called Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, I think that writers of any age can find something useful in it.The two sample chapters available now are “Meeting Your Writing Goals” and “Stuck for a Story Idea?” You can find them under the Sample Chapters tab at my book’s website.

Also, if you’re looking for other story inspirations click on the Writing Starters tab and explore.

I’m in the process of creating an ebook of writing starters, some previously published and a lot brand new. I’ll be posting more about that venture soon.

Hope you all have a creative week. Please drop me a line if you find yourself inspired by any of the writing starters. I love to hear about the stories that they lead to.

A Different Direction

In my fantasy life, I write a wonderful book and a traditional publisher can’t wait to take me by the hand through editing and production and present me with the printed copy that I can see on bookshelves everywhere. And of course, this is followed by the sale of movie rights and the author’s tour with TV and radio and … well, you get the idea. In my fantasy life, this all takes place over a matter of months, but that isn’t the reality. Getting a book from manuscript to the book shelf can take 1-2 years. And in my real life, that follows a year or two writing and editing the book to get ready to put in the envelope in the first place.

I’m just not getting any younger. So getting published by a traditional publisher is a goal/dream that I am going to put aside in favour of a different model for now. Yup. Self-publishing.

I self-published my book, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, and really enjoyed the process and writing my promo blurb and choosing the cover. I enjoyed the writing and editing, and I actually enjoy doing the marketing. Luckily, reviews have been good and from sources I’m proud of such as CM Magazine and Canadian Teacher, and  my favourite one from a teen reviewer in What If? Canada’s Creative Magazine for Teens. The book has opened doors to my doing writing workshops with teens at my local library (so much fun!) and this summer at the Southampton Art School (can’t wait!) Last Saturday, I took my workshop “25 Ways to Get Your Students Writing” to the CITE conference at Ridley College. I couldn’t be happier.

If you look at the first two sentences of the previous paragraph, you’ll see the key reason for my decision: the word “enjoy.”  I earn money by writing magazine articles and short stories, website copy, brochures, and lots of other things.  I also teach part-time at my local college. I want to keep my “other writing” as close to joywriting as possible. I’m heading toward non-fiction and I have ideas bubbling away that I can do the market research about and decide whether or not they are worth the risk. I know qualified editors that can help guide my work until it shines and I am willing to put in the time and energy it takes to market my product. I can research my publishing options, costs and benefits. I, frankly, like the idea of being in control of the process and I enjoy (there’s that word again!) doing all that stuff.

Am I closing the door to other options? No. Am I going to find myself 6 months down the road totally obsessing about a novel I just have to write and want to submit to a publisher? Probably. But for now, this is the path I’m choosing. Just for me–and just because it makes me happy.

Numbers Do Count

Yes, sometimes number do count, and yesterday was one of those times. I checked my ranking and my book, that had fallen off the chart for a couple of weeks, was ranked #1 and #2 in its two categories.

If my royalty statements are anything to go by, and if you consider the size of the categories, my meteoric rise probably represented the sale of one book. But, oh how good that sale felt!

I also got my first royalty cheque yesterday, and though the numbers on it are small, they represent my book landing the hands of teenagers who love to write or teachers who love to teach them. I’m tickled pink to think that there are people turning the pages, filling in the worksheets, and writing stories or helping others write them.

My book is for sale online in the US, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. How neat to think that someone thousands of miles–and multiple time zones–away could be reading my book.

If this is what it means to be an author, I’m so glad that I took the risk and sent my words out there. As my ranking begins its traditional downward slide today, I’ll think of that one book, and that one reader, and be very happy. Numbers count, but no more than that one.

Eden Mills and Me

Last Sunday, with some trepidation, I set up my table at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival  and waited for the day to unfold. The weather cooperated, and the sun and warmth brought out thousands of visitors to hear wonderful authors read from their new works.  And all of them walked down Publishers’ Way at least once and past my table.(

I overcame the awkwardness (for me) of striking up conversations with total strangers and talking about the merits of my book. I met parents of teens who love to write, teens who love to write, teachers, and therapists who use writing in their work with teens. I got reacquainted with people I had worked with years ago and former students, and I met and chatted with fellow CANSCAIP member, Janet Wilson ( and Jon Fear and Louisa D’Amato from our local newspaper The Record.  And I sold a few books, too.

My son helped me set up and went to hear some of the YA author readings. He kept me company (did his geography homework), and bought food. At the end of the day, he introduced author, Shane Peacock, at the YA authors’ event and was “paid” with all four books in Shane’s fantastic boy Sherlock Holmes series (, which he duly got signed by the author and is now happily reading.

I was totally out of my element that Sunday and survived. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but energized, too, by the support of strangers for my book and its purpose. And that is what will stay with me for a very long time.

Sunday Afternoon at Eden Mills

Sunday marks my first venture into ‘sales’ for my book, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens. I’ve rented a table at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival and am going to join publishers, book stores, and other writers (self-published and not) who will be selling their books to the expected several thousand visitors.

Buying books is not the major allure of the Festival. Eden Mills plays host to over 40 writers who will read excerpts from their work in grassy outdoor venues. There will be writers of adult, young adult and children’s books, many of whom are award winners, who will also be signing their books for new and old fans.

I’ve have attended for several years and in the past three years I have been joined by my son. The first time I brought him I expected that we’d stay for a couple of authors and then he would want to go home. We stayed for the entire afternoon! He was thrilled to hear and meet the authors of books he knew well and to get to know new authors as well. We’ve graduated from the children’s book area to young adult now and traditionally come home with several new books for both of us to read. This year he’ll be exploring the event on his own while I stay at my table. A change for both of us.

This afternoon marks another step in the  marketing plan that is essential for sales as a self-published author. I’ve had fun creating brochures and book marks and material to hand out on the day and part of me is looking forward to the sales experience. Another part of me is very anxious and wishing I were just at Eden Mills to enjoy the event. I’ll miss attending the readings, but I’m counting on my son to bring back regular reports–and requests to buy books–throughout the afternoon. Though this Sunday will be a change from our normal routine, I will, as always, be very happy to have his company. That will never change.

%d bloggers like this: