Hooked on The Right Idea – Courtesy of Guest Blogger Ollin Morales

People are all like old TV antennas picking up different signals.  Sound waves, smells waves, emotional waves, etc. Most people generally pick up these typical signals and that’s it. Let’s call these signals part of the “analog” frequency.

Writers and other artists, on the other hand, are like satellite dishes. We get ALL the channels. Some channels seem completely useless and absurd, some are plain brilliant, others are as boring as the one’s everyone else has seen. I’m not sure what it is, it’s like we’re tuned into something different. It’s like those whistle’s that make a sound only dogs can hear. Sort of like that. Let’s call this the “digital” frequency.

I don’t think only artists can be dishes, however.  Some inspired scientists, engineers and mathematician’s can get the frequency too.  In fact I think everyone can tap into this frequency.  All you need is to nurture and attain an overdeveloped sense of mind play.

Anyways, I digress.  The point of this post is about ideas and, since we writers are satellite dishes, how do we manage that constant inflow of random ideas?  How do we sort through all of it and throw out what’s trash and what’s gold?  How do we zero in on the channel that will serve us well creatively (and hopefully financially as well.)

People have asked me how I come up with my ideas, so here are my personal rules for finding that right idea. It’s important, especially when writing a novel, because as we said, it’s going to be a long engagement.  The idea has got to be worth it. I am not offering this advice because it’s helped me get published and sell a bunch of copies of my book, no, obviously that hasn’t happened yet. (Still writing it. Present tense.) I’m offering this advice because these steps have gotten me writing again, they have gotten me focused on one particular book and determined to finish.  That’s a big deal for a writer, so I really hope this helps you to at least get focused on ironing out your most marvelous ideas.

1. Wait for it

Wait for it. Wait for it.  Wait…  Yup.  Sadly, writing, unlike most careers, requires a whole lot of patience and waiting, even at the very beginning. And no type of waiting is more excruciating than waiting for the right idea to come along. But I think it’s an important step. Because of lack patience, I used to move forward on mediocre or average ideas. Eventually, I’d find myself lacking in inspiration half way through and I would have to give up and start the waiting game again.  So this step is a big time saver even though at first it seems impractical.

2. Pick What Persists

Ok.  You got a lot of good ideas.  Or at least a ton of them that seem like good ideas.  You don’t want to throw out any of them, so you keep them all together in a document on your mac or pc, or in a notepad in you drawer, or a journal on your dresser.  But the question is:  Which one should I work on first?  If I go with one, won’t the other one’s rot and die?  Or become (gasp!) outdated and thus, unusable.

Well, I got a rule about this. Generally there’s a high when you get a new idea, but it’s a high that is not discriminatory. Which means at first, any new wild idea seems like gold. Don’t act on it right away. Let it sit. Put the new idea away by writing it down and putting it in a drawer. Don’t look at the notes you wrote down for awhile. If during the week, the idea pops back in your head go back to your notes and keep adding to it. By all means DON’T STOP inspiration if it comes.

HOWEVER if after several weeks, and then after several months, the idea does not jump back in your mind, please go back to your notes and trash it. That’s right. Trash the idea. It’s not the right idea for you. Don’t keep it around. It will distract you from your “one and only.”

“But it’s still good” you say, “It may not be my masterpiece but it is one of those gimmicks that do well in the mainstream.  Or maybe I can sell the idea to someone else?  Because if I don’t do something with the idea it will be lost forever!”

No it won’t. The idea is in you. That’s where it came from and that’s where it will stay if it’s meant to be. If it’s meant to be, it will keep coming back and it will not go away. It will grow inside of you.  (I know, sounds gross. But it’s true)

Someone else will pick up the idea you threw away, don’t worry.  Remember, you’re not the only dish picking up the frequency.

3. It’s Your One and Only

So the idea keeps bugging you. But it isn’t yours until you accept. So go ahead, accept it. If it’s been persisting for more than a couple of weeks, for more than a couple of months, if it’s been with you for two years for god sakes marry it!  I’m sure this persistent idea has everything you ever wanted in it.  The right characters, the right story, it’s in the right form or in the right genre (or its genre-less), it’s got the right themes and metaphors, it utilizes what you already know, it allows you to say something you always wanted to say but didn’t know how to. Don’t doubt it anymore! The idea is your one and only. If you haven’t put it to paper yet, start writing immediately and don’t stop!

4. You Are It’s One and Only

So if your idea has passed the first three steps you’re in a great place.  You can even stop there if you want to and go ahead with the writing and not worry about step 4.  But there is one more step if you want to be totally sure, and this one is simply for practically reasons. It’s sort of like a ring on the finger. A constant sign or proof that the idea is truly yours and that the both of you are going to be together forever.

So, drumroll, please...

Number 4:  It’s the right idea if you are the only one who can bring the idea to life.  The only one.  As in, the way in which you life has turned out has somehow made it possible for you to write this particular story.  No, not like a serendipity fate thing.  (Although if you want to see it like that, you’re welcome to.) But really, I think it’s more of this: your specific life circumstances and experiences have made you specifically capable of writing this very specific novel, that others, who do not have that same specific background, would find it impossible to write.

If your idea passes all four tests, then: congratulations! You may kiss the bride or groom. If your beloved passes all four steps, then you are more likely to stay committed to it and not give up on it half-way through, or divorce it if you ever lose your job, or if your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you, or if the sky should fall. The key is consistency. You got to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and talk about nothing in particular with your idea to pass the time, and still love it’s company.

So now that you got your one and only and it’s got you, you have to remember:  it’s only the beginning of the relationship. Now let’s see how the marriage turns out.

much love,



Thank you so much, Ollin, for sharing this article with us!
You are always a source of inspiration and motivation!


Ollin Morales is a young writer who’s in the middle of writing his first novel. He’s always in need of a little encouragement and support, so why don’t you drop by and say “Keep at it!”? Visit him at: http://ollinmorales.wordpress.com

So I Had a Sort-of Fight With My Mother – Courtesy of Guest Blogger Miss Rosemary

… over my bedtime.  Yes, that’s right. I’m twenty years old, and she’s still nagging me about when I go to bed. You see, she is an early bird and I am a night owl.  We get along impeccably on everything except this particular issue.  I am on the college schedule and find nothing at all odd with retiring at 2AM and rising close to 11, and I daresay most college students would agree with me (although my roommate is prone to getting up in the wee hours, God bless her).

But what, you may ask, keeps me up so late?  The answer is my baby.  Before anyone suffers from cardiac arrest, it’s not a live infant, but my novels.  My writing is just as precious to me as a child; I suppose you could call it my substitute kid for now (although my little sisters want me to “hurry up and find a boy to make a baby with so we can cuddle it.” I kid you not).  I put all of my heart and soul into this novel and sometimes I just can’t stop myself from staying up all night.  Once I get started writing it’s impossible to stop me. One minute it’s 10:30, and the next it’s 2:45, my hand is cramped, my eyes are burning, and I have to keep getting snacks to keep up my energy. 

Despite all of that though, I usually find myself in a state of blissful satisfaction because my journal, which has become home to whichever characters are swimming around in my brain at the time (currently it’s dear Prince Thomas and his ladylove Laura, but for most of last year it was Julian and his struggle to clear his name of false charges), is suddenly running out of room and I have to scurry upstairs to snag another one before my ideas flutter away.

Speaking of journals, allow me to lament the sad state of the written word.  Its poor, struggling pulse has almost completely stopped beating.  When was the last time you saw/heard of an author physically writing with a pen on paper?  It’s not common anymore to be certain.  Whenever an author is interviewed nowadays they say they immediately dash to their computers when they have a brilliant idea.  Whenever I have a brilliant idea I grab my pen and actually write it, pretending I am like the great Miss

Austen who did not have the benefit of technology.  Something about it feels that much more authentic, like I’m actually writing a book and not working on a college paper or professional document.  Now I’m not technologically ignorant by any means and do transcribe my work to my Mac (and I do love my Mac), and recognize the importance of a Word document. No matter how I look at it though, it just doesn’t feel the same.

Am I a hypocrite? After all, here I am writing a blog and am the proud owner of Kindle, both of which significantly detract from the essence of a printed book or journal.  Maybe I am.  You can judge.  But I will say this: nothing turns me on more than a printed book and anytime I sit, squat, or sprawl out to write, the initial first step for me was, is, and always will be reaching for my pen.


Thank you so much for sharing this great article with us, Miss Rosemary! For all of you who read and enjoyed this, be sure to check out her wonderful blog, full of so many exciting stories that never fail to bring a smile to your lips!


Miss Rosemary lives in the great state of New York and is currently working on several novels and is one of the Editors-in-

Cheif of the Farfield University Literary Magazine, The Inkwell. She was just recently published in Yankees Magazine and is now turning her attention to querying agents and getting her novels on the bookshelves. Check out her blog, Miss Rosemary’s Novel Ideas at http://disgruntledwriterscircle.wordpress.com.

Interview: Mark McKay

I was rather bored one day and began surfing the net. One website led to the next. Soon I stumbled onto SpokenText.net which allowed me to have my work read aloud by a British Robot (wrote a post about this robot here). So happy with this discovery, I shared the link of this site to my editor, Val-Rae Christenson. She was delighted by how useful SpokenText was for her writing, and somehow managed to contact Mark McKay, the administrator of SpokenText. I was later introduced to him, via email…and I asked if I could interview him for my blog. He said yes! So, without further ado, here is my interview with a most inspiring gentleman:    

1. Tell us a bit about yourself! 

I am legally blind and was born and live in Ottawa ON Canada.  I have three beautiful girls and a loving wife.  Who has put up with me spending so much time on SpokenText.net and I love her for that.
2. For those of us who have never heard of converting text into spoken words, could you tell us about it? What is it’s purpose?

First off it is very easy using SpokenText.net and it has many purposes.  You just copy and paste the text you want recorded, hit record and you are done.  We take your text, record it to speech, and provide you with an MP3 or iPod format audio file for you to listen to on your computer or mp3 player.  SpokenText.net is a great way to check your writing for flow, grammar and spelling mistakes.  And by listening to text it helps you to remember more of the content.  And can be very handy for busy students and professionals who need to read large amounts of text but don’t have the time to read print.  As it is hard to read a book and walk down the street or drive a car 🙂
3. What inspired you to create SpokenText.net?

To help out print disabled people (visually impaired, blind, learning disabled, illiterate, new to the language being spoken).  Only 3% of all content is converted to audio every year as it takes so long to record and process human speech.  SpokenText.net was designed from the ground up to be very simple to use so that everyone could have this amazing tool at their disposal.  It is also very easy to put your recordings on an iPod or iPhone using the personal podcast address we give you. Once setup all you need to do is sync your iPod to your computer using iTunes and all of your recordings will be transferred to your iPod.

The site started with a few users and now has users from over 130 countries around the world, who use it for a whole host of reasons: education, ESL and accommodation to name a few.
4. How do you think SpokenText.net can benefit aspiring writers? For example, what kind of features would they find helpful?

The big one is to hear how their book sounds and flows.  It will also let them check for grammar and misspelled words.  The more polished your draft is, the more professional you look and thus should aid you when you send it to a publisher.

5. What has been your best and worst moment in running this amazing site?

The best moment is when I get feedback from members who tell me about how the site has helped them get through school.  This is very rewarding.
There have not been many bad moments.  Mostly they revolve around trying to figure out how to fix the few difficult bugs which all software gets from time to time. And also trying to find ways to tell more people about the site.

6. What was the nicest review you received for your site?

A woman told me that without SpokenText.net she would not have finished her Masters Degree.  There was also a young boy who, without the help of the site, would have not been able to excel in school as he had a learning disability.
7. What is your favorite book?
 Last year I read so many books using SpokenText that I have lost count. A few that come to mind are:
Brave New World
The Art of War
Mission Earth

I really believe in the power of writing and how one book can change how you think and, in a way, change your life from that point forward. To me it is amazing that a book like the Art of War was written 2000 years ago and is still having an effect on people today.  That is such an amazing thing when you think about it.

8. Not only for aspiring writers, but for anyone with a dream, what would be the one advice you’d give them?

The classic advice: Just Do It. A lot of people talk but few actually do. And it is the doing that matters in the end. SpokenText is a lot about this. I thought I could solve the problem so tried.

******While preparing to post this interview, I surfed through his blog, and discovered that he was interviewed by CBC, Canada’s national public broadcaster. The beginning of the interview starts off hilariously, with a Robot, but the rest of the interview is conducted “traditionally” haha. Be sure to check it out here.


I haven’t used SpokenText.net extensively yet, as school has been hectic of late. But Val got me all hyped up about this site by telling me such great things about this program. Hence, I asked her to share her experience with me, so I could post it up on my blog. She replied:

I believe it’s Elizabeth Lyon in her book “Manuscript Makeover” who suggests that one of the best ways to revise one’s book is to read it aloud, without all the drama and flair, just straight, monotonal prose.  But even when you read your own book, you know what’s there, or what’s supposed to be there, and so your brain makes up for flaws in rhythm, echoes, etc.  And also, because when you are reading you are typically looking at the minutiae and technical details, it’s harder to get a feel for the whole story, or how it will come across to another reader.  But having it read in another voice, especially one that is professional sounding really makes you look at it in a different way.  Almost like it’s someone else’s book.  Now the voices provided by SpokenText are not exactly monotonal. They rise and fall almost randomly.  And it does sound a lot like an audio book with a professional reader.  My books in particular are not narrated by an American woman, and so using the British male voice, “Charles,” all of a sudden it’s like my book is real.  And so suddenly I’m looking at it with awakened eyes.  One of the peculiarities of the program is that every time a particular word is read, it is read in the same voice.  For instance, the word “no,” never varies in intonation or volume.  And so when a word occurs more times than necessary, it really sticks out.  And because another reader is naturally going to interpret your rhythm and intonation differently than would you, you hear quite clearly what cadences and sentence structures do not work.  And, wonderfully, which ones do.  It’s not perfect. The voices tend to sound slightly robotic at times. It also doesn’t read contractions well, this is a problem and neither does it appreciate creative onomatopoeia.  For a gentleman to lean back in his chair with a thoughtful, “Hmmm.” Sounds more like “Huh um um um.”  But for the most part, it’s very useful, and for those like my significant other who have not the time to read my work, it’s nice to have something they can listen to instead.  I think it’s quite exciting, really, and I intend to use it a great deal.  I’m using it now as my last run-through before my book goes off to a friend for editing, and then on from there to be considered by a small press.  I find it brilliant, really.  And I highly recommend it.


I’d love it if you guys could convert your first chapter into SpokenText and share the link to it in the comment box below! That way I can listen to it while washing the dishes.

Guest Blogger: So You Want To Publish Your Novel?

You have pitched your book to every editor, agent, publishing house, sister’s brother’s uncle’s cousin who is in publishing, and your pet goldfish, but still no bite? Or maybe you’ve had a few nibbles, rewritten your book until you’ve developed arthritis, and bent over backwards to make the publishers happy, but they still can’t sign you because they just can’t figure out how to “market” you?

Well, join the millions of writers out there who have similar stories. The publishing world is broken. We have known this for quite some time, but we still attempt to please those we have always thought of as the all and powerful gods of literature- the big dinosaurs of the publishing world. The truth is, they are not the ones we need to win over anymore. The ones we really need to pitch to are the readers, the consumers, who will actually shell out the cash to purchase our carefully crafted words on paper.

How do you do it? Should you self-publish? Should you give it away free? Should you give up?

Nowadays there are so many avenues to go down, you don’t have to choose just one. We as authors are able to reach billions of people in all different countries, with all different lifestyles, who like all kinds of fiction with the click of a mouse. If you can find the right venue, you can build a fan base without having a published book. Our world now is all about finding the “next new thing”. If you can market yourself to be that “thing” that everyone is looking for, you will be on the right track.

Get a blank notebook and start brainstorming. Ask yourself:

Who reads books like mine?
Where do they frequent?
What will they think makes my book exciting or different?

Once you have an idea of who might like your work and where you can reach them, build yourself a business plan. Yes, you have to think of this as a job. Make goals, dedicate time, and network just like you do for a job. The business plan doesn’t have to be a 30 page report with graphs and boring details. It can simple be:

“I am going to start a fan base by marketing my work through a podcast where I read chapters and they can listen for free. Then I will focus on college campuses and coffee shops because my book is a love story that takes place on a college coffee shop.”

Next, list how you expect to do that, for example:

“I will post a podcasted chapter of my book once a week. Then, I will market it by contacting other romance novel websites to trade links, swap promos with other podcasters and try to get on as many romance talk shows, podcasts, talk radio shows as possible. Then I will put down flyers at my local coffee shop.”

Once your idea is in place, set it in motion. Make sure you have the website complete before you begin pitching it. Contact everyone you know as well as any authors you have networked with to let them know what you are doing and ask them to pass the info on to their friends. It is all about word of mouth. Join all the social networks: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc… and start making and adding friends.

Once you start getting fans, keep them. Start a mailing list or a group on Facebook that will alert all those interested with every “new thing” you put out there. You have to remind them and have new content on a regular basis. Weekly is best.

After you have built a good fan base, say 1000-4000 fans (this is easier than it sounds), you are ready to publish in print. Perhaps by then you will have caught those “big fish” publishing houses, or perhaps you will be ready to self-publish. One thing is for certain, you will have learned if you truly like the business of writing or if you are happy just writing for yourself.

For those of you still interested, I will give you a quick run down of my writing business plan.

Night’s Knights Simple Business Plan
“Podcast the book, build fan base, publish book, and take over the world.”
A bit ambitious… but if you set your sights high, you never know what you can accomplish.
Good luck and KEEP WRITING!

~Emerian Rich

Published author of Night’s Knights

What is the best day an AUTHOR could EVER have?


Seeing your book for the very first time in bookstores. For Mandy Hubbard, her day “started at 8:30,” with her “looking up all the B&N’s in the area and squealing…when [she] discovered the inventory status had changed to “In stock” at nearly all of them.” She visited these bookstores and here’s a few pictures she took *

* I have been given permission by the author to steal these pics off from her site.

I spy with my little eye, something that looks like this:



My question: How did the bookstore people (managers?) react when you went to them and said you were the author of Prada and Prejudice?

Mandy’s Answer: It varied! One girl was decidely unimpressed (and in fact, acted as if I’d inconvenienced her becuase she hadn’t yet unpacked the 5 copies of my book from the storage room…) and on the other hand, a couple of people immediately called managers who were SUPER nice and excited and they would sticker the books with “autographed copy” stickers and put them on tables or face-out displays. It was amazing to see the difference from one Barnes & Noble to the next! 


Read more about Mandy Hubbard’s adventure here.

You can find this book, published by a major publisher in NYC, at your local bookstore. Or if not (like in my case, Prada and Prejudice won’t be released until June 16. Disappointing, I know) just be patient or order it off Amazon.