Gingerbread houseMaybe you’re coming off a particularly productive NaNoWriMo month. Or not. But most writers have projects—big, small, in-between—going all the time, and momentum is important.

It seems like there never is enough time to do everything during the holiday season, which for most people stretches from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. There’s decorating. Holiday cards. Baking. Working. Parties. Shopping. Your children’s school holiday shows. Everyday life.

Oh yeah, and writing. Remember writing? NaNoWriMo? Momentum?

It is easy for writing to get buried beneath the avalanche of holiday activities.

Yet, letting your writing projects slide for an entire month (actually, six weeks), which is tempting, can send them all spiraling downward into a black winter hole, never to emerge again until well past Groundhog Day or the first day of spring.

So how to strike a balance?

Think about all the pieces that go into your writing project(s). Research, maybe. Spend a half hour or hour learning about your character’s birthmark or potentially fatal illness. Study the issues surrounding guns and riot control if your project involves a riot or terrorist attack. If you don’t have first-hand experience, talk to friends or do some on-line reading about parent-child relationships and issues at various ages. Try outlining scenes if your writing is fiction. Or outlining content if your writing is non-fiction.

Focus on a small but essential piece of your project that you can walk away from without losing your direction. For example, if you write fantasy or science fiction, draw upon the magic of the season to imagine the world in which your story takes place. Take time when your brain and body are too tired for other activities to read stories/books that could be competitors to your project. Peruse a book or online site of names and try them out on your proposed characters. Lock them in. Live with them for a few days. Include them in your other holiday activities. Yeah, you have to be a little careful about that, or people around you might think you’re a bit bonkers.

Make lists to help you organize the steps you need to take when you are ready to accelerate full speed ahead in January.

Little steps taken now, while allowing time to complete (and enjoy!) the holiday activities, will position you to launch into a productive 2017 writing year.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Enjoy the holidays. They only come once a year, and none of us knows what the next year will bring.

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Jane Friedman’s latest blog post about evaluating small publishers is a must-read for the author considering the option of pursuing this alternative. Small publishers are less likely to limit publishing to agented authors, and so provide another avenue for writers. However, the field has grown rapidly and to some extent uncontrolled, so you must be a smart consumer. Read on:

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Christmas. Glowing fireplace, hearth, tree. Red stockings. Gifts and decorations.

Feels great to curl up under an afghan in front of the fire…with a book, of course!

STAR CATCHING makes a wonderful holiday read, following a family through tragedy to a warm and cozy Christmas season. It’s available in paperback and e-book formats through my author page on Amazon and also through Barnes and Noble and the Apple store.


Signed paperback copies of STAR CATCHING, In Her Mother’s Shoes, and Autumn Colors are available by leaving a message on the contact page of my website,

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This post appeared on Jane Friedman’s blog ( Touching on the all-important first scene of a novel, it was worth sharing!

Your Novel’s First Scene: How to Start Right

starting line

Today’s post is an excerpt adapted from A Writer’s Guide to Beginnings by Paula Munier (@PaulaSMunier), recently released from Writer’s Digest Books.

There are a number of tricks to making sure that you get your story off to a hot, hotter, hottest start, no matter what your genre. I know, I know, all of you people out there who are writing literary fiction are thinking, “I don’t need a hot start to my story.” Well, think again. Even beginnings for literary stories must aim for, at minimum, a slow burn.

(Continued at

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I found Jane Friedman’s latest post to be particularly useful. New writers, in particular, are discouraged from using multiple points of view within a novel. So when is it okay? And what are the rules and pitfalls. It features a guest post which is an excerpt from Writing the Intimate Character by Jordan Rosenfeld (@JordanRosenfeld), published by Writer’s Digest Books.

“Some stories require greater scope, more voices, or a different context than can be delivered through the eyes of one protagonist. When you find this to be the case, consider using multiple viewpoints. However, you must think about several factors before launching into this greater undertaking….”

Read the full post at:


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OR: The Illusive Specter of Traditional Publishing Taunts Again 

This year’s Chronicle Book Fair in Glens Falls was bustling! There seemed to be more vendors than ever before – which translates to more competition for buyers. My fellow writer and friend, Gloria Waldron Hukle, and I shared a table and collaborated on a massive poster announcing the launch of our new books. We decorated the table to suit the event’s theme, Autumn Leaves, complete with garlands of colorful leaves, a container of fall foliage, and strings of lighted acorns and leaves. The compliments were abundant.

The sales, not so much.

Neither of us sold as many books as we usually do at this event. And I always raffle off a book or two, but even that had no takers! It was hard to imagine how the attendees were seeing anything, as they wandered the aisles of displays chatting with each other and only sporadically eyeing a table’s wares.

And not once, not twice, not even thrice…but FOUR of the people who bothered to make any inquiries about my books asked first if they were traditionally published.

When I had to answer no (but they were thoroughly edited, I hastened to add!), eyes glazed over as if to say,

Let me know when you have something interesting to share. Old woman looks disapprovingly over spectacles at camera

OUCH! That had never happened to me at this event in the past. Clearly more and more people have been taking chances on self-published books and found them lacking.

I even ran into my first post-high school writing teacher, and she, too, asked the painful question. When she asked who published my new book, I confidently responded,

“Dog Ear Publishing.”

Dog running outdoors in nature       (Have to love that name, huh?).

Her face clouded barely perceptibly, but like the supportive teacher I remembered from so many years ago, she didn’t say anything negative. She didn’t have to. Her face said it all. Later, she visited my table and bought one of my books – not the new one, but the one whose description resonated best with her. I appreciated that. As she turned to leave with her signed copy, I said, “I’d appreciate any feedback you could give me after you read it. Clearly, since I have been unable to attract a traditional publisher, there is something lacking in my novels.” She just smiled knowingly, maybe a barely perceptible nod. I don’t really expect to hear from her – she is very busy, writing her own books and teaching in multiple community colleges. But it was nice of her to buy one of my books anyway.

I did have the pleasant experience of meeting a friend I knew only from Facebook. And seeing a former colleague from a job I had in the nineties. That was fun. And Gloria and I had plenty of time to chat.

But that illusive specter of traditional publishing re-appeared in my dreams last night.

I awoke this morning ready to make a bonfire of my books. Why bother? I thought. Why am I wasting my time? I can’t be annoyed at the fair attendees who asked that question. In truth, I’ve developed my own “attitude” about self-published books. Yes, I know they aren’t all bad – in fact, there are many that are very good. But unfortunately they are heavily outnumbered by those that are poorly written, poorly edited, and just not very interesting. I spent a small fortune trying to support my fellow indie writers, and my findings have not been positive. I’d estimate I actually finish one out of about every twenty I try. So no wonder people have the attitude I saw at the book fair.

I think maybe I just need to take a break from all writing-related activities. The last time I did that for a few months, I dove into the book that became Star Catching and finished it in record time. (In fact, it took me longer to complete my futile search for an agent than it did to write the book and have it edited.) So you might say it was therapeutic. Because the book is brand new, I’ll go forward with some of the already-planned promotional activities, but I won’t add to them.

Instead, I will look forward to focusing on the holidays!

And see how I feel at the start of a new year. I have a story spinning in my head. But when I floated the concept to someone at yesterday’s book fair, the response was cool to tepid. So maybe I should “just say no.”

Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, we all have to get through Election Day. Here’s hoping you are satisfied with the outcomes of tomorrow’s elections. Something tells me all will not be quiet on the eastern, western, northern or southern front.


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The annual Chronicle Book Fair is this Sunday! November 6, 11am to 3pm, at the lovely Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls, NY.

If you’ve never been to the Chronicle Book Fair, you must experience it! The book fair features over 100 authors and booksellers, and several seminars offered by participants. It’s always a fun and informative event.

I will be there promoting STAR CATCHING, selling and raffling paperback copies and letting attendees know how to purchase an e-book version.


Look for the LAUNCH PAD poster, indicating the location for me and for Gloria Waldron Hukle, author of a four-book historical novel series, including her newly released Souls of the Soil.poster-for-chronicle-book-fair-2


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