Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to Support Your Local Author

Stop by the Summer of Love Books website on April 1 for a chance to win a whole summer of romance novels (mine is one of them). There will be more than one winner, so be sure to enter.

cj Sez: Haven’t been feeling up to snuff for the past few weeks, so this post is going to be short (but I’m hanging in there). What follows is a stream of consciousness blog about how to Support Your Local Writers, whether you’re a writer or a reader.

 If you’re a writer . . .

and have your own blog, invite guest bloggers. Lyrical Pens does do that, though we haven’t been graced with a guest for a few weeks. (Time for us to send out some more invitations.) When you have a guest, send out “Coming Attractions” promotions on Facebook, Twitter, et al. Giving your guest blogger space to say something about their own books is a nice touch.

Read and be willing to give your fellow authors’ work a fair critique. Be kind but be honest.

If they want to just sit and talk, grab a chair and listen. Writing is a lonely occupation, and most other people don't understand.

Encourage each other. Writing is not a competition; everyone can be successful.

If you’re a yet-to-be-published writer with a manuscript on the cusp of publication, but don’t have a business card, get one. Hand it out to agents, workshop instructors, fellow writers, wherever you have an opportunity to network. Get your name out there as early as possible so people can watch for your new release. Some variation of the business card that follows is my suggestion, and it would work even after your novels are published:

Name  Jane Doe, Author
Writer of XXX (literary fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, YA, romance, whatever)
eMail address
website address

Now, if you’re a reader (and since writers are also readers, this applies to everyone) . . .

Like and comment on authors' posts on their Facebook pages. Facebook's algorithms only show posts that FB thinks other members would like to see. That means the more likes and comments a post gets, the more people will see it. By the by, after the Summer of Love contest opens on April 1, you can get an extra entry by liking my Facebook author page.

Go to book signings, even if you can’t afford to buy the book at that time. Your attendance is encouraging. I’ve been to book signings where the author and I were the only two people there. I've been the author at signings where . . . well, never mind. With a little thoughtful planning, you can keep that from happening to another author, and if you’re in Mobile, AL with a new book, I’ll come to your signing. Just let me know when and where.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Taking Ownership redux

The contest isn't "live" yet, but COMING SOON.

cj Sez:  Author Pat Conroy credits his English teachers . . . no, make that lauds the “genius of” his English teachers for instilling in him a love of the English language.  As he is quoted on Goodreads: “I've been in ten thousand cities and have introduced myself to a hundred thousand strangers in my exuberant reading career, all because I listened to my fabulous English teachers and soaked up every single thing those magnificent men and women had to give. I cherish and praise them and thank them for finding me when I was a boy and presenting me with the precious gift of the English language.” ( ).

 Me? I was too business-oriented to get that inspired by my high school and college English teachers (who were, nevertheless inspired and wonderful). Despite my apparent lack of interest in writing during those years, I have loved reading for as long as I can remember because I was, am and will always be fascinated with words and syntax. I love, love, love the task of putting words together to create a story so full of pictures and emotions that readers can see and feel what I do when I’m writing. I especially like to lure the readers into conjuring up the images in their imaginations. I want to make each of my stories their own.

But what really draws me to Mr. Conroy today is something he wrote in his memoir My Losing Season: A Memoir: 

“Do you think that Hemingway knew he was a writer at twenty years old? No, he did not. Or Fitzgerald, or Wolfe. This is a difficult concept to grasp.  . . .  But they had to take the first step. They had to call themselves writers. That is the first revolutionary act a writer has to make. It takes courage. But it's necessary.”

 That’s what it’s all about. We have to learn to call ourselves “writers.” That’s a grand title I long hesitated to give myself despite having been published in several genres (and been paid for it) over several years. Now that I’ve done it, guess what? It feels good and natural. Try it. Celebrate it. Say it: “I am a writer!” I bet you’ll like it too.

 I’d love to hear how you decided it was time for you take ownership of the title you earned through study, discipline and determination.

This St. Patrick's Day wish is a wee bit tardy, but sincerely given:

Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.


You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Drains on a Writer's Energy

This post is longer than usual, but I have heard so many stories lately about writers with health problems and writers throwing in the towel, I felt a need to share information from several sources. I hope you find it helpful.

Every twenty-four hours, we have the opportunity to start a new day,  but few of us do anything new. Oh, we may start a new piece of writing, but I'm talking about real change, the kind that affects everything we touch. We muddle along in our writing and living grooves, while stealth energy drainers sneak in and sabotage our professional and personal lives, which are, after all, inseparable.
This stealth "bomber" is called clutter. No, this isn't another article about feng shui; although, a little feng shui probably would be helpful to motive us to a more fulfilled life. Clutter can be physical clutter or mental. The insidious nature of clutter is this:  it establishes itself so gradually and entrenches itself so deeply, that we don’t consciously know it's invaded our lives until it drains our creativity, our energy, our productivity, and ultimately our health.

I did a little research on this subject to remind myself exactly what feng shui involves and found that the first item on every list I perused was to declutter in order to obtain good feng shui. The art of feng shui is quite complex in all its forms and tenets and beyond the scope of this article, but I suggest you look it up to determine what you could use to help you along this path of decluttering. It is quite enlightening.

Physical Clutter: We leave a fast-food cup in the car or on our desk and soon have a matching set. We stack folders we plan to file, pile clothes that need folding, build a tower of old pizza boxes or water bottles, drop wet towels on the bathroom floor, forget to hang tools back up in the garage, save all the articles we want to read under "Documents" and the list grows too long to go through it, turn down the pages in our writers' magazines and books, then can't remember which book has what we're looking for. Before we know it, we are surrounded by an unorganized mess, and by the time we see it, the problem seems insurmountable and writing our tome has lost its excitement.
Whether it's physical or mental clutter, we are skilled at stepping over it, dusting around it, feeling guilty when we look at it, promising ourselves to work on it a little every day, declaring we will sort our pc files by topic and create folders with obvious names to house our research. But by the time we collapse in bed, our promises can wait one more day. We tell ourselves and convince others that we know where everything is and to leave the piles alone. Writers don't need to exercise; our legs swell from sitting so long, and it goes away when we go to bed. A blood clot doesn't have the nerve to settle in our creative beings.
Quit fooling yourself. Those piles are taking up valuable physical space, draining and filling your mental space with junk. A clear mind and energetic body needs SPACE. Space to think. Space to rest. Space to plan. Space to get energized! And I don't mean closing the office door, taking your laptop and heading to the closest coffee shop to work. Surprise! the clutter will still be there when you return.
Clutter, even unconscious clutter, crushes forward mobility. Always in stealth mode, clutter demands too much of our energy - energy we need for health and fitness, for creativity and productivity.
Mental clutter: Like physical clutter, this sinister glutton of energy inhibits our ability to think clearly and react to everyday problems and activities logically. Warning Will Robbins: Mental clutter relentlessly hovers under the radar, making it hard to recognize.
We tell ourselves our bodies will never be fit. And that's okay. We're writers not gymnists. We have genetic problems that make us overweight. It's okay to cry on the way home from critique group. We’ve always been shy. Joining an exercise class or critique group would be too embarrassing. Between work and kids, there isn’t time for cooking from scratch, much less writing an hour a two every day. We can’t afford a sitter so exercise is feasible and time alone at the library is doable. We don’t know where to start to declutter our lives. And the list goes until our mental clutter blinds us to new possibilities and binds us to old habits.
Our heads are so jammed with negative messages, we run on autopilot, which means we are no longer in charge of our lives. We can’t see alternatives. We are blinded to options. Creativity is strangled and stagnates. Energy seeps away.
So What? A writer doesn't need an organized house; the piles of stuff stimulates our imagination. A writer doesn't need a mind filled with "happy" messages; we write from our angst, like Poe and Hemingway. My critique group can suck an egg. I know what I'm doing. Bear with me as I suggest a few new ideas gleaned from fitness articles, nutrition articles, and articles from other well-known writers who guard their minds and health with guided missiles of wisdom.

4 Ideas to Clear Space
  • Look, really look, at your home and office/desk. Taking one space - a small one like a drawer in the desk or one pile of clothes. Physically touch the things in the area, so you become aware of what is in the mess. You'll find yourself saying things like, "I wondered where that dress disappeared to. So that's where all the spoons are. I wish I had found this before I downloaded the whole file again. Oh, the deadline was January 31, 2012.
  • Question each thing you touch. Tip: Make a checklist on a piece of paper to help you remember these questions. What is this?  Why do I have it?  What is its function? Does it enrich my life? Does it bless me? Would someone else be blessed by it? Is it trash?             After I’m gone, will someone else have to come in and get rid of it?
                                                       Eliminate as much as possible
  • Get a friend/family member go through it when you’ve finished. Bring your fresh perspective to the area and welcome their objective one.
  • Make it a rule to remove something when you acquire something new.
Out with the old. In with the new.
6 Ideas to clear head space
  • Slow down and pay attention, really listen, to the messages in your head.
  • Use this key question to help you make improvements and eliminate brain drain.
“Do I have other options?”
Rushing to get out the door and get to work? Do I have other options?
Rushing to get the kids to school on time? Do I have other options?
Rising blood pressure when the same person pushes your buttons? Do I have other options?
Refusing to try an exercise class or go to the gym? Do I have other options?
Stopping at a fast-food place on the way home?  Do I have other options?
Skipping a few days of writing won't hurt. Do I have other options?
  •  Leave yourself notes or set an alarm (I use an online alarm clock after I had a clot scare.) and stop a few times a day to see what you’re doing and what you’re thinking.
Eating?                                        Checking Facebook/Twitter for the 10th time?
Playing Spider Solitaire?             Playing Mahjong?
Deleting more than your adding to your manuscript?  Feeling sorry for yourself?
  • What are your routines? Morning, Lunch, Late afternoon, Dinner, Bedtime?
  • What are your habits? Productive, Time wasters, Destructive? Can you drop/change some? 
  • Do you regularly procrastinate? Avoiding tasks drains energy and leads to low productivity.
 Want an Energy Boost? List the tasks you’ve been avoiding and DO THEM! 
 Being intentional about our physical and mental environments, including how we schedule time and treat our relationships gives us energy to face our daily challenges and do the things we want without feeling guilty.

What do you do to treat your writerly self to mental and physical well being?


Friday, March 13, 2015

Authors Write

Top of the mornin' to ya!  Think it's obvious that authors write? Think again. We all see it online or hear it at a meeting of writers. I often hear it in Barefoot Writing Academy classes. It goes something like this:

I just don't have the time to write. (look at Kelly L. Stone's book Time to Write)

I can't think of anything to say - from bloggers. (I have a list of 101 ideas I'll send you.)

I've hit a wall - also known as writers block. (write letters, write grocery lists, write a letter to you child/grandchild, write to a deceased friend/family friend, write like you mean it!) I fall else fails, use a sledgehammer on the dastardly wall!

I should have paid attention in English class. (see Grammar Girl online or her book)

And you probably could add items to this list. Today, I'm sharing some sites that I "religiously" read, and I hope they will inspire you as well.

Books and Such - Literary Management

There are 5 agents who blog at the site and each with a distinct personality. Mary Keeley's recent post is "Celebrating Writers", which should you give some idea of why I read it. They have solid information on industry traits that, at best, are confusing. At worst, annoying. Specialize in Christian books.

QueryTracker Blog - Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Excellent source of information. I share something from this site weekly to my clients and other writers.  You can search for agents, publisher info, etc. You might enjoy a recent post, "The Query Process: laughably bad rejections." One of the statements within the body of the post is 
"What if a literary agent is just obnoxious?"

Authors Publish - the magazine for writers
Loads of freebies and latest info on publishers. They list publishers accepting submission across all genres. Good source for freelancers. Check out some of their guiding principles and see if it's a fit.

1.  They always pay authors they publish on their site (Yes!)

2.  All the publishers we review do not require agents or previous publications. (Yes!)

3.  We research all the publishers to make sure that they are legitimate. (Yes!)

4.  We do not feature markets who charge a fee for all submissions. (Yes!)


This is cj's publisher and they are currently accepting submissions.

Crimson Romance (est. 2012)Headquarters: Avon MA 02322Acquisitions: Tara Gelsomino, Editor Royalties: to be discussed, Current needs: Crimson Romance’s digital-first romance line is open to submissions in five popular subgenres: romantic suspense, contemporary, paranormal, historical, and spicy romance. The publisher is seeking previously unpublished full-length novels (between 55K-90K words) and short stories. All authors—agented or unagented—are invited to submit any works that have not been previously published in whole or in part in any media, including self-publishing. [ submission guidelines ] - See more at:
Neil's well-written book pulled me right into his fascinating, true story. With descriptive scenes and characters, it was an insight into a subject I knew little or nothing about. Amazing man and author.

Neil White, author of best selling book "In the Sanctuary of Outcasts," and several other books, and professional editor and publisher, will be hosting a workshop at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center on April 17th and 18th. 
"How to Write and Publish your Book"
 $150 per day, $250 for both. 

2015 Southern Christian Writers Conference
When:  Friday-Saturday, June 5-6, 2015
Where: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Keynote Speakers:
1) Karen Moore, literary agent and author of more than 60 books and 10,000 greeting cards
2) Cindy Woodsmall, author of 16 books and one of today’s most popular Christian novelists
Excellent lineup of informative and inspirational speakers who will cover a wide variety of topics.  website at
The Book Breeze is an online magazine - free - jammed packed with author interviews, info on new books, and book reviews. My book reviews are under, what else? -  Barefoot Book Reviews . This month I started a new column, and you guessed it! Barefoot Writing Academy - Creativity & Craft.
24 Great Profiles:  A publication of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, edited by Philip L. Levin, MD, is a tribute to memorable men and women of the Magnolia State - Mississippi. I am delighted that my piece on author, Carolyn Haines, the author of over 70 published books in multiple genres, was included in this beautiful book. There are stories about notable Mississippians from the 19th Century forward and include: Eudora Winfrey, Stu Roosa, Walter Anderson, Morgan Freeman, and Ophrah Winfrey. You can email me at if you would like a copy ($15) and I will get it in the mail to you (I pay the postage.)
Erin go Bragh!