Tag Archives: Blog

“Your Mileage May Vary” Guest Post by Jennifer R. Hubbard

The other day, I made the mistake of reading a blog that tends to speak very authoritatively about what authors need to do to sustain a career. I don’t visit that blog often, because it makes me depressed and anxious. Occasionally, I’ve found useful industry information there, but more often I feel doomed, as if I’m “doing it wrong” and have no future. My writing style is not that author’s style. Our genres and audiences are different; our career goals are different. In fact, one piece of advice from that blog made me miserable when I tried it.

Most blogs about writing and publishing acknowledge that “YMMV” (“your mileage may vary”); I try to do that on my own blog. Whether the issue is how active to be online, how to obtain and use feedback, whether to get an agent, whether to self-publish, whether to use a pen name, or whether to outline, most questions don’t have one-size-fits-all answers. If I’ve learned anything from knowing other writers, it’s that there are many, many paths through this business. If there were only one path, one formula that worked for everyone, we’d all be using it and we’d all be rich.

But it’s so easy to get sucked in by authoritative advice, especially when the source is successful in his or her own right.

Of course, the solution to my own problem here is something I said earlier: “Our career goals are different.” Someone may press a map into my hand and urge me to follow the route marked on it. But if the destination is not where I want to go, why on earth would I follow that map? Even when the destination is also mine, I strongly suspect there are alternate routes.

So I really need to stay away from that particular blog. It doesn’t help me. I imagine it helps many other people, and that’s great. One reason I’m not naming the blog is that I don’t think other people necessarily need to stay away from it. Just me.

And in the spirit of this blog post, please feel free to disregard anything I’ve said that is not helpful to you. YMMV.









Jennifer R. Hubbard (www.jenniferhubbard.com) is the author of Try Not to Breathe (Viking, 2012), the story of a boy’s recovery from a suicide attempt, and The Secret Year (Viking, 2010), about the consequences of a secret relationship.

I think we need to slow things down… just a little

I just got through a ten-week experiment.  I decided to try out blogging every day.

I did this for two reasons.  #1 to see if I could do it, and #2 to increase readership.

What I found was an initial spike in average views per day, then a lull that made me wonder if daily blogging had become annoying to people.  But then Boom! A spike again, along with added followers.

I’m not really sure what the magic formula is.

In general, I’m not crazy about people who blog every day.  Why?  Because most people run out of interesting things to say.

I did learn that I DIDN’T seem to run out of things to say.  I guess that’s a good thing.  My problem is time.

I suppose if I just dropped words on the page without the graphics I would be able to keep up.  But how boring is that?  I like the graphics and interactive-look of the blog.  But BOY!  Does that take time!  I’ve also found that I am getting lazier and lazier on the graphics.  Sometimes, I am just too dern tired and want to just get it done.

So, I’m stopping my little experiment.  Before this, I used to blog on Mondays and Fridays, but it seems looking at the numbers that most of you read on Monday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Monday is usually my big topic night…. First Gold Mine Manuscript, then Writing to a Deadline, and now Road to Publication… and I have a few great topics all lined up.

I might keep Monday for “Series Topics” if everyone’s into it.

So, tell me… what days are good for you?  Which days would you like to see post from me?

What’s a good night for “tuning in” to a weekly blog series?

If I can wrangle in the Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer regularly, (Which looks pretty plausible right now) how often and on which days would you like to see a review from a kid’s perspective?

At any rate, if you stop by one day and see yesterday’s post, don’t fret.  I’ll be back the next day.  Once in a while though, I need some R & R.

How many times during a week do you think is “just right” for a blogger to post?

Writing to a Deadline Part 10: Rewrite and Beta Blast

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

Okay… fixed that climax.  Yeah!  I did it.  Oh no!  Now I am at 10,280 words!

That’s a whole page over!  Ugh!

Edit madness:  Extra word here, extra word there.  Unnecessary clause?  Can I tighten that dialog a little?  Does this person need to smile?  Is that dialog tag necessary?

Okay, I’m done.  Right?  Am I?   ARRRHGHHHH!

Beta Blast!  Call in the two people who the story really seemed to resonate with (Don’t bother with the person who didn’t seem to get it from the beginning)

Sorry, guys… I know it’s a lot to ask… but I need it back in two days.

Wait….  Wait….  Wait….  Tear a fingernail off.  Wait….  Water the plants… again.  Groom the dog… again (not that she’s complaining.)

Then the panic moment happens.  Through a writer’s group, I find out that someone submitted, and got a positive response.  Not an acceptance, but a request to make changes and re-submit through private channels.

Oh No!  There is a possibility that they will close for submissions if they fill all five slots.

It’s okay… take a deep breath.  I decided that I need to submit NOW, even though there are two weeks left until the deadline.

My two betas came back with minor changes.  Of course, while I was waiting I made changes of my own, so I pleaded for one more read.  Yeah, I can be annoying that way.

My worst writing nightmare is that all of these people call in the favor at the same time while I am up against a deadline of my own ***gack***

Okay… their responses come back.

Remove that comma, change that word…

Easy fixes.

Slow and steady.

Writing to a Deadline Part 8: “Calling in the Beta Reading Army”

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

I was happily surprised when I sat down to edit, that I had very few things to change.  Mostly typographical errors and little things like switching sentence structure to make it flow better.

The one scene that I purposely wrote as “tell” took a little time to work out, but it’s finally done.

So, I took a deep breath, and called in a Beta-reading army.  Crossed genres and ages.  These are all people I have a fairly high trust factor with:

Two are currently mercilessly ripping apart my novel and making great comments

One is a college professor who teaches creative writing (She has never read my work)

One is a Romance/ Middle-Grade soon to be publisher author who hasn’t read my work (she’s there for that kissy stuff I’ve never done before)

A memoir writer, who also has not read my work

A High Fantasy writer (my writing buddy for the past year or so—-who’s sick of reading my work) (ONLY KIDDING!)

My first ten pages will also be reviewed by three people in a critique group who I’ve never met before.

It’s kind of like submitting to a publisher, but you know these people will get back to you.

Funny, I was more nervous about this beta-read than I was about my novel.  Probably because I feel deep down, that the story is pretty solid.  After dissecting the Gold Mine Manuscript for seven months, I think I know what NOT TO DO.  The question is… did I write what I THINK I wrote.

I also have that deadline looming over my head.  And I don’t want to wait until the last minute… just in case the publisher decides to close for submissions early.  It’s enough to make you a nervous wreck.  Will I have time to make all the changes they might suggest? (If I agree with the suggestions, of course)

The HUG Award – Krista Magrowski, Jon Gibbs, Danielle Ackley McPhail

A few weeks ago (okay, it was almost a month ago — sorry) Jenny Keller Ford bestowed on me the Hug Award.  This is a very special award, and I am happy and proud to have received it.  Hugs back to Jenny, a phenomenal writer with a huge future ahead of her.
Since this is lengthy, I am cutting and pasting the particulars of this award from Jenny Keller Ford’s post below.

My winners for the Hug award are:

Krista Magrowski:  Krista runs my Writers Group, and she keeps an open and encouraging atmosphere where writers can exchange ideas and cheer each other on.

Jon Gibbs:  Jon Gibbs is the founder of the New Jersey Authors Network.  He sponsors talks frequently where published writers can meet up with  aspiring authors to encourage them and answer questions.

Danielle Ackley McPhail:  I met Danielle at a New Jersey Authors Network talk, and she made me realize things about myself that I didn’t know were there… (whether she knew it or not)  Danielle speaks publicly to encourage other writers not to give up.  Her bright bubbly attitude is truly an inspiration.

Congratulations, and thank you for all you do to encourage others.

There is much content affiliated with The Hug Award, and while it is lengthy and seems a bit extensive to me, I do not want to maim or corrupt its potent message by leaving anything out.

Please do not change or use another image for the HUG Award Image©.  Please do not alter–by changing, shortening, or adding to–the text about the award and how to share it with others.  Either copy the entire article as it is on this page, or please include a link back to this article, when you post on your blog or share award with others.

I ask you to please honor this request and help me keep the integrity of the award as originally designed, so that future award recipients will know what an honor it is to receive this award.  Thank you, Connie Wayne


Hope is an expectant desire; a confidence in a future event; a ground for trust and confidence; to think; to look forward to with trust and expectant desire.”

The HUG Award© was initiated by Connie Wayne at A Hope for Today athttp://ahopefortoday.com, which promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they:  Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope forCompassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness

The HUG Award© recognizes and honors those who help keep hope alive in our current world, which is plagued by war, natural disasters, and economic recession.  They nurture hope, in any of the above areas (in italics),  by the work they do, or in their personal lives with things such as blogging, public speaking,charity work, etc.

The HUG Award© is for anyone, anywhere in the world, who meets theguidelines and wants to be nominated for the award. Please leave a comment on this page if you are interested in receiving this award, or if you would like to nominate someone else for the award.

The HUG Award© is for people who, without giving up or compromising their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs, are able to nurture hope and respect the dignity of all people.

The HUG Award© is for those who, without bias or prejudice, use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.

The HUG Award©is for people who have a hope or an expectant desire that the work or talents they use in things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc., will make a positive impact on the world.

These people do not have to actively use the word “hope” in their work or creative talents.  They only need be conscious of their desire to make the world a better place for everyone.

These people use their available resources–a smile, a hug, a helping hand, a listening ear, a voice, time, money, possessions, education, personality, talent, websites and blogs—to make a positive impact on the world and make the world a better place to live.

The HUG Award© is not specifically a website or blog award.  It can be given to people in your community, at your employment, at your place of worship, etc.  Please make sure they have a copy of these Guidelines, and please don’t forget to submit their names back to this site.


HUG Award© Image:   Those who receive the HUG Award© may paste a copy of the original HUG Award© image into an Image widget on their website or blog by simply copying and pasting the following image URL into an Image widget:   http://hopesfortoday.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/hug-award1.png.  As the link URL for the image, please inserthttp://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/.


1.  If you receive a HUG Award©, you may nominate others who also meet the above guidelines for the award.  You may nominate as many people, websites, or blogs as you want to nominate to receive the award.  I do ask that, upon receipt of the award, you nominate at least one other person.  The award is also not time limited, so you can nominate new people or sites you encounter in the future.  Please try not to nominate those who have already received the award.

2.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CONTACTING YOUR NOMINEESand telling them you nominated them for the  HUG Award©.  AND when you contact them…

3.  Please link this page:  When you contact your nominees for the award, please include a link to this page,http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/, so they will have the same information you received about the award.  Then, they also can perpetuate the award by nominating others.  AND…

4.  Please post a comment on this page athttp://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/ with the name and the complete website or blog address of the site(s) or person(s) you nominate.

5.  If you know, I would appreciate you informing me of the geographical location of your nominee(s) and /or their site(s).

6.  Social Media Sites: You may also copy and paste unchanged copies of the original HUG Award© and HUG Award© Guidelines’ wording to other social media sites such as Facebook and Linkedin.  You may also print original copies for your personal use for display, etc.

7.  You may print a copy of the HUG Award© Guidelines for people you nominate, who do not have a website, blog, or social media account to which they can paste award and Guidelines.  If they have email, you may email them a copy of the original HUG Award© and original Hug Award© Guidelines.

The people I have nominated for this award seek to do Good with their blogs by sharing inspiration, kindness, and courage. If you have already received this, please just accept that I appreciate you. Thank you.


Sunshine Award – Can you be sunny? Enter to win!

A big thank you to Dana at MomsLifePonderings for nominating me for the Sunshine award!

Hop on over to Dana’s site.  It’s a nice read that I can totally relate to as a mom.

Well, here are the rules for this award.  Pretty standard.  (Actually a few of these I could photocopy and just change the names of the awards, but that’s okay.)

1) Thank the person who gave you this award and link back to them in your post. CHECK

2) Tell us some things about yourself.   SEE BELOW

3) Nominate 10 bloggers.   I’ll Get to that

4) Contact these bloggers and let them know they have received this award.  Ummm… They usually find out before I get to that.

A few things about myself that I haven’t told you already:

1) My oldest fish just died.  Three pounds of black and white spotted butterfly koi wonder.  RIP Oreo.

2) I have to shave my dog.  I can’t get the matts out of her hair.  (Sorry Chloe)

3) My husband just dyed his hair blonde.  Yeah, I don’t get it either.

4) I need to lose ten pounds.  All in my thighs (the writer’s curse)

5) No matter how much I try, I just cannot use Brought or Bought correctly.

So, I guess I have to find some Bloggers that bring some sunshine into my life.  So, Who’s sunny?  What does it actually mean to be sunny anyway?

Let’s try something new.  Anyone want a blog award?

Post 100 words or less (Flash Fiction) in the comments below.  The only rule is you have to use the word Sunshine.  If you just want to describe sunshine in a really beautiful way, that’s fine, too.   The ten best win.

Oh!  This sounds like fun!

I’ll announce the winners next week, but if less than ten people respond, everyone wins.  Yay!  Have fun!

Stupid things your Beta Readers Find: Letting Your Villain Off The Hook Too Easily.

This is one of those “type things out to clear my head” posts.

I’ve written before that if one person makes a comment, consider it.  If two people make the same comment, seriously consider it.  If several more people make the same comment, revise.

I’m wavering on this one, though.

When I request beta reads, I ask for people to express the emotion they feel in each chapter.  A few people have said that my villain gets off the hook too easily.

Now, are they expressing an emotional response, or do they think that’s an error on my part?  That is what I am trying to figure out.  Even after questioning them, I am still not quite sure.

For one thing, they all would have squawked at my first seven or so drafts, where he completely got away with it.   I’m at least happy with my decision for him to get caught.

I can’t have him die a horrible death though, because then he can’t come back with a vengeance to really screw with Magellan’s head in another book.

I guess the visceral reaction of people is that if someone kills almost a hundred people with no remorse, he should get no less than that in the end.  The problem is that my villain is just too much fun.  Everyone has said that he makes their skin crawl, but they love it.  He is a great character, and I want him to come out and play again.

I think the problem might lie in the fact that you see him get caught, and you see the initial “punishment”, but you don’t get to see the aftermath… but if I do go and show the reader that aftermath, it will get red-lined because that is not intrinsic to the main-plotline for a POV character to be there to see it.

I don’t really have to show you the aftermath… I can show you the emotional response of the aftermath from another character’s POV.  I can intertwine that into the main plotline as the characters move into the final scene.

That’s it!  I got it!  I knew talking to you guys would help. You are all so smart!

Gotta go!  The idea is bursting out of my head, and I need to write it down before it disappears!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

The lovely Char From Joy in the Moments recently bestowed the honor of “Inspirational Blogger” on me.

I had a giggle.  It is really nice that someone finds me inspiring.  Blog awards are so nice.  They always make me grin.

The caption says “Keeping the Blogisphere a beautiful place.”  Hmmmm.  Makes me want to recycle or something.

Thank you so much, Char for thinking of me.

Everyone hop on over to Char’s blog and give her a cyber-hug for me.

The rules of this award are to tell you seven things, and then pass on the love.

Hmmm.  I recently answered seven random questions for another award.  Let’s think of something new.

1.  My roof finally got fixed.  I have a ceiling in my office again. Yay!

2. My sons decided to quit Wrestling.  (YEEESSSS!)

3. I keep procrastinating against signing Chloe (my poodle) up for Agility Training.  I’m enjoying being “sport free” at the moment.

4. My hair is naturally straight.  But it hasn’t been straight in 15 years.

5.  There is nothing more relaxing than watching Max swim around trying to get my attention.  He’s in my office.  Chloe likes to chase him.  Max is a Koi by the way.  You can see him swimming behind Eric in the Video Book review Eric did for me.  (He’s the big white one who hangs out on the right of the screen for the first :57 seconds)

6.  I love stationary, even though I don’t use it anymore.  I just love a few good pretty sheets of paper.  It’s a shame I don’t write with ink anymore.

7.  My husband just lost something like 65 pounds.  I feel like I’m cheating with this hot young stud.  Tee Hee.  He wants a washboard stomach by summer.  I’m not complaining.

Okay… Who inspires me?

I have to put Jenny Keller Ford on the top of th list, because she’s the one who cajoled me into starting a blog.  Apparently she thought I would have something to say.  I hate a writing partner whose always right, don’t you?

Brenda Drake.  Brenda is a thorn in my side because I’ve never met a contest I don’t like, and Brenda keeps taunting me with them.  There are no monetary prizes, and I’ve never won.  But she’s the one who cracked the deadline whip on me the first time, and taught me to pace myself.

Well… I’m supposed to give you seven, and although I read TONS of blogs that I enjoy, these are the only two who I can say genuinely INSPIRE me in one way or another.  So, rather than just picking one out of a hat, there you go.

Check out these lovely ladies… but watch that Brenda.  She’ll rope you into a contest, I guarantee it.

What stupid writing thing did your beta find this week? I bet you have a writing crutch, too.

Do you have a writing crutch?  Is there something you do over and over again, but you have no idea that you are doing it because it feels right?

Mine, apparently, is the use of commas.  SEE!  I just did it again!  I naturally place a comma anywhere where I would pause if I were speaking.

Funny, a beta called me on this last year, and I thought he was nuts.  Several other betas have corrected my commas here and there, but didn’t mention my overall addiction.

Recently, a new beta said (paraphrasing) “I’ve read your blog, so I expected you to overuse commas in your novel, but it really slows down the reading.”

I honestly didn’t even realize I was doing this.

Now I am looking for them like a hawk in my novel.

So, what about commas my blog?

I don’t know.  I might let them fly here.  When I type out a post, you should feel like you are talking to me.  If there is a comma there, I am probably taking a cyber-breath.

What do you think?  Do they annoy you?

I find this extremely funny, to be honest. (Tee hee, there is another one… they just fly out of my fingers.)

I’m not editing any of my natural commas out of this post, just for the fun of it.  This is how I speak.

Now, I just need to make sure all my character dialog and narration doesn’t suffer from my comma frenzy as well.

What do you do in your writing that shoots out of your fingers without you even realizing it?  (Gosh, do I want to put a comma in that last sentence, just to break it up a bit!  ARGHHHH!!!)

Lucky Seven Meme

Okay, here is a new one.  It’s really an Authors game, and this is kind of fun.  I was tagged by my buddy, amazing soon-to-be published author Jenny Keller Ford.

Here’s the rules of engagement:

1.  Go to page 77 of your current manuscript or WIP

2.  Go to line 7.  Copy down the next seven  sentences as they are written.  No Cheating!

3.  Tag 7 authors and pass on the Lucky Seven Meme

Well, My current Whirlwind WIP is a 35 page novelette, so I will defer to my first love, HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT.  Here is an excerpt, fitting the parameters above.  You are about to enter the demented mind of my villain, as he decides to murder my beloved Main Character:

It was an odd sensation, being warmed by the sudden dark of a freak storm, but he welcomed it.  His father always said that the weather reacted to Castillia’s mood.  The sudden exhilaration must be her touch.  She was calling him, and he answered.  The darkness was not to be feared; it made him stronger.  It gave him the final strength to do what he knew must be done for the greater good.

Outside the window, Magellan and Meagan took shelter from the storm under a tree, huddling closely beneath its branches.  Stephen grimaced in disgust as Meagan rested her head on the snit’s shoulder.  The anger inside him boiled. 

First of all, be sure to hop on over to read  Jenny Keller Ford‘s brilliant excerpt from “In the Shadow of the Dragon King”.

I am officially tagging a few people just to see what their WIP’s look like.

Gloria Richards http://gloriarichard.wordpress.com/ No!  You cannot let Brinda do it for you!

Brinda Berry (Okay, so– you just released your second novel.  I know you must have book three drafted.  Give us a sliver!)

Tristan http://sanguinestream.wordpress.com/

Cara Olsen http://thislittlelight516.wordpress.com/

Florence http://ramblingsfromtheleft.wordpress.com/

Sherry Isaac http://sherryisaac.com/

Dianne Wilson http://diannejwilson.wordpress.com/