Tag Archives: Business

How a simple change of attitude can change your life. You cannot change others, but you can change YOU

I came across this training session today. Most of these things I roll my eyes at, but this one I thought was particularly good.  This is a segment of a seminar given by Zig Ziglar, who I’d heard of, but never listened too.

Now, to be honest, his method of presentation is a bit off-putting to me, so if the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, I suggest just closing your eyes and concentrating on what he says.

This is not targeted at authors. I think this can benefit many people in many ways.  The last 45 seconds or so, in particular, packs an extra-special punch.

This is about nine minutes long. I suggest taking a minute to listen. People spend big bucks to hear seminars like this, and here you have it for free.


In general, I am a huge optimist. I’m glad I can smile at how wonderful the world is when people around me are hemming and hawing over their rejections and writer’s block. Negativity loves company, but that’s not the company I want to keep. It sucks creative energy.

If I ever start to get negative, I’m coming back to this post to give a listen.

A positive attitude can snowball into positive results.

Give it a try. You may be surprised.

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Write a Story WIth Me #70: “Real Estate Queens” by Shannon Burton

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

#70 – Shannon Burton: Real Estate Queens!

Marci feigned tears as Mother and Sian went off. She’d long since learned that adults held their words when children were about, speaking freely only when they thought themselves alone.

In one motion, she beat her new wings powerfully, freeing herself from Bethany, and soaring into the shadowy foliage of a truth-tree. She remembered pretend play at spying with her faerie friend. Now, Jenelle’s games felt more like lessons – tools she could use, to learn what was said.

She lay flat upon a thick branch, invisible.

“You are well not to trust her, or anyone other”, Sian was saying. Her voice was sharp as bitterfruit. “I do not. But, if you will trust, do not trust Yoran your husband, nor any Fey who tries to turn your mind to their ideas.”

“Can I trust you, Sian?”

Do you want to know what she says? I do!

 Hop on over to Shannon’s site to read the rest!


Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Sixty-five Click Here

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Sixty-Eight – Anmol

Part Sixty-Nine – Norah Jansen

Part Seventy – Shannon Burton

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Vanessa Jane Chapman — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

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Yay! The big Announcement for Paper Wishes!


I am super-excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Astraea Press for “Paper Wishes”!

Paper Wishes is the Re-envisioning of “Jack and Jill, Volume One”, which went out of print about a month ago due to Still Moments being purchased by another publisher.

We’ve started new edits, and “Paper Wishes” will be bigger, brighter, and cleaner than ever!

I am totally excited about this new opportunity, and I am really looking forward to working with a publisher as diversified as Astraea.

Stay Tuned!

Release date and

new cover to follow



When you are lucky enough to have choices. Stuff to thing about

When searching for a publisher, many authors target who they want, but settle for who will publish them.  Right?  This week, I found myself in the thrilling and cushy position of having a choice after being offered multiple contracts for Paper Wishes.

What’s Paper Wishes?  Ha!  I’m glad you asked!  Paper Wishes is the re-envisioning of Jack and Jill Volume One.

As most of you know, Still Moments Publishing was purchased by another publishing house on March 15, and Jack and Jill was not one of the titles automatically shifted under their fold.

This was not a huge surprise to me, as Jack and Jill was not traditional Romance.  The book really was a better fit for Christian Romance, so the minute I got my rights back, I began querying Christian Publishers.

Now – should this happen to anyone else, be prepared because the greater percentage of publishers out there (at least in Christian) DO NOT WANT previously published work.  This surprised me at first.  I had the nicest discussion with a really big house that liked my work, but had to decline because it had been published too recently.

But they were really a long shot anyway… and not so much on my radar.  I was mainly focused in on one publisher that I contacted the day Still Moments made the announcement.  I spoke with this publisher, explained my predicament, and we chatted about the publishing business in general for a while before I had even sent them my work.  We were very much on the same page, so I bit my nails as I sent them my submission, and to a few other houses as well.

Less than a week later, I had two contract offers, and a third arrived last night. I have the luxury of matching up what each publisher has to offer, and also weighing the changes each publisher wants. (Yes, there will be changes)

Requested Changes:

1.        Two of them want the cursing removed – and for anyone who has read my work, I really don’t curse.  But what I WILL have to remove is dernit, darn, gosh, Hell, heck … anything even remotely looking like an explicative.

2.       I will need to tone down the make-out scene to bring it more within the boundaries of Christian novels.

3.       One of the publishers wants me to change it from First Person to Third Person.

So I am weighing the required changes alongside royalties, distribution, foreign rights, cover design, print rights and overall package offered.

It’s wonderful place to be, and I hope to be making an announcement shortly.


Another Publisher Bites the Dust

It’s one of the risks we take as authors when we put our work out there, especially with one of the smaller publishing houses.  A week ago, Still Moments Publishing closed for submissions “due to the que being full”.

Hmmm.  Odd, huh?

Yesterday, it was announced that Still Moments Publishing is being absorbed by another publisher.  Which one, I don’t know yet.

Do I regret my decision to go with them?  Not at all.  I learned a lot about Romance Writing through them.  The experience with my editors was overwhelmingly positive, and my writing grew because of it.  The mild inconvenience I am experiencing now is a small price to pay for growing as a writer.

The transition has been as painless as possible.  Still Moments has been very good about it.  I already have my rights back, and am seeking a new publisher.  I wish everyone at Still Moments the best in their future endeavors.

So, if you’ve been thinking of picking up a copy of “Jack and Jill”, or “For the Love of Christmas”, you might want to do so sooner than later.  Most Still Moments titles will start disappearing in the next few days.



Give that Publisher What They Want Dernit! – Keep It simple

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with professional editor and author Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)


So far, we’ve discussed that nothing will help your manuscript if the editor in question is not even willing to read it.

We’ve discussed remembering your contact information, and some basics… How to identify yourself, and your manuscript.

Last week we discussed basic formatting.  Now we’ll go into some special stuff.

Keep It Simple

Matters of Style

No matter what I type here there are going to be plenty of examples of publishers that do things different from what I’ve covered. Sometimes that is just a product of their experience or how they were taught. Sometimes it has to do with style guides. You may or may not have heard of these; the most familiar are the AP Style Guide, the Chicago Manual of Style, and Strunk and Whites. Many of these have their roots in print journalism and are meant to unify style for consistency. Basically they are journalists’ grammar and style bibles. Their use is no longer limited to newspapers or magazines. Not only do they guide a writer in matters of style, but they also cover grammar issues that are often confused or lost in depths of time-fogged memory.

Keep it Simple!

Before the time of electronic submissions not listening to this advice was one of the biggest mistakes beginners made. You would laugh your butts off if you had heard some of the stories I have about the manner in which some hopeful authors have submitted their manuscripts. We are talking complete bells and whistles here of the type you would expect from the ad campaign of a major corporation. Everything from fancy, scented paper to puzzle-box packaging, all of it intended to catch the eye and stand out like a psychedelic dream. Unfortunately, all that does is relegate your manuscript to the list of over-drinks stories editors tell.

Things might have changed now that the majority of submissions are handled electronically, but it is still important for you to know that a story should be noticed for the quality of the writing, not the inventiveness or style of its presentation. If you are submitting by conventional mail use plain white or cream bond paper and observe the formatting guidelines I reviewed above; if you are submitting electronically, don’t use fancy type or try to set your manuscript as if it is a finished book; don’t use colored text or insert photographs (unless they are a key point of what you are submitting, such as an academic text or how-to); and don’t add any other bells and whistles you might be considering. Let me be clear: The manuscript should stand on its own merit. If the writing isn’t any good, none of the flash is going to make a difference. What it will do is distract the editor from your work and likely cause them to reject it outright as being unprofessional.

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail



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Road to Publication #18: Reviewing the ARCs, OH NO!

Holy Crud.  This is not happening.  I just found out why you DON’T want to have two works being published at exactly the same time… and even worse… by two different publishers.

I was stunned this morning when the first round edits for Connect the Dots came through. I thought I would have another week.  I have two weeks to finish the ARC edit (the very last edit) of Last Winter Red AND finish the first round edit for Connect the Dots.

Okay.  Breathe.  It’s all good.  This is a great problem to have.  People are going to spit at you for having this problem.  Take a deep breath.  Chocolate helps.  Good.  Relax.

Okay.  No problem.  I can do this.

So… back to Last Winter Red.  I started reading it on Kindle last night.  I made a lot of highlights on the ARC with the handy Kindle Notes feature.

The reason for some of my notes is because my writing style has changed a lot in the last few months since I worked on Last Winter Red, and things don’t seem right to me anymore.

I did find a missing quotation mark at the end of a sentence.  Easy fix (I hope).

What is odd, is every once in a while I stopped and said “Is that what he said?” or “Did I write that?” or “Wait.  That makes absolutely no sense.”

I’m wondering if I even wrote some of these things, or if they were edited to the point of losing “something”.  I want to go through the whole thing, make notes, and then go back to my original copy and see if I need to smack myself upside the head for past mistakes.

Maybe I do.  At this point, I’m not sure what happened.

Either way, I think some more changes are in order.

What makes me cringe over this is that I could have made these changes months ago.  I am tucking this away as a “lesson’s learned” though.

I did have a bad feeling about not reviewing the full version before it went to copy editing.  You know that deep clawing pit-in-your-stomach feeling when you think you lost control of something?

To make sure this doesn’t happen again, I MADE SURE before I signed the contract with Still Moments Publishing for “Connect the Dots” that I WOULD have a chance to review a final before it went to final editing.  Not only that, I will get to see a FULL VERSION as it stands through each round of the editing process.

For a control freak like me, this is a huge relief… because I know I will not be down to the wire and fixing errors I would have seen earlier.

This is not J.Taylor Publishing’s fault either.  It is the way they work.  All publishers are different, and as an author, I need to be ready for this.

What I need to do now is finish reading and marking.  Then I want to go back again reading carefully for spelling/punctuation errors, and then I need to document and changes necessary on  a spreadsheet.

I need to do this within one week, so I can devote the next week to Connect the Dots.

Once again, sleep may become optional.

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #3 — OMIGOSH! You Gotta be kidding me!

You know the drill.  This is all I’m allowed to say.

Need a Hint?

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #1

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #2

The Road to Publication #13: Do this because you love it. Don’t write for the money.

I have a second job now.  I am a professional writer.  Yes, I will be paid.

Everyone I have asked says “Do it for the love of writing, because you have to write…don’t do it for the money.”

Yes, I do it because I love it.  But it is nice to know I will get a little something for my efforts now.

However, this is one thing I didn’t consider.  I signed my contract in April.  I will be working on this for seven months on a strict schedule that they have provided to me.  A few weeks before release date, the marketing will start, and continue for a few months after that.

I will not see anything in the form of compensation for all this work until May of next year.  That’s an entire year after signing the contract.

Between you and me…I haven’t told my husband that yet.  He knows that the checks won’t be huge unless the anthology is a runaway bestseller.  Thank goodness he is happy because I am happy.  If his sights were just on payday, it will be a long and possibly disappointing wait.

Now that I think it over, and look at everything that needs to be done to publish a quality anthology— all that time makes sense.  In the end, you will get out of it what you put into it, both in the writing and in the marketing.  I now understand how authors can get 1-2 novels out in a year…it’s because they have to.  There is a ton of work involved, but for those of you who are lucky enough to only write for a living, you need to keep pumping out that material, because the fruits of you labor, once you get that contract, are about a year away.

Do I find this discouraging?

The paychecks are secondary.  I am lucky enough to have a day job… as well as three new novels outlined.  Once I finish this edit and submit my MS to the editorial staff, I will flip a coin to decide which, and delve into something new.

Do it for the love of writing and storytelling.  Anything you get in retrospect will just be a bonus.

The Road to Publication #8: The Photo Shoot

If you don’t have professional pictures, be prepared that you will be expected to make an appointment with a photographer for marketing materials.

When you do this… Learn from my mistake… don’t schedule it a few days before the pictures are actually due.

I went on a Saturday.  The pictures were due Tuesday at the latest.  No problem, right?

Okay, so I am sure you are expecting me to say that the photo shoot was a disaster.  No, it wasn’t.  On the contrary.  What it was, though, was LONG.

I have a new appreciation for models.  Believe it or not, it’s not easy to hold your body in one position and constantly tilt your head in different directions.  And leaning back and holding your head at a certain angle is PAINFUL.

Granted, I could have said, “boring head shots only,” but if you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you know that’s just not me.  Yeah, I got some boring head shots, but I got some really artistic head shots as well, along with full body poses and fun stuff.

This is where my problem came in.  Time.  I wanted to hand my portrait in on Sunday so I could work on the final proof of Last Winter Red to offer it up to slaughter submit it to the editor Monday or Tuesday.

I opened the proof disk to find 325 photographs.  Ugh!  (A good ugh, but still Ugh!)

It took me a few hours to narrow it down to 60 shots.  Then I narrowed those down to 27.  Then I took those and got vainly anal about them.

I have a lot of great shots that are fun and show more of my personality, but looking at other author shots, they are all pretty much the same.  The photographs of me that I loved were all looking away from the camera, but my husband and I decided to look right at the camera for something more engaging.

I did end up sending two shots to the publisher.  One was a full body shot with my socks off.    The other was a normal portrait shot.  (I know, socks off sounds weird… felt weird doing it, too, but I have a ton of socks-off pictures in my “love it” file.

The publisher ended up cropping the “socks off” picture into a portrait.  Not too original, but it looks nice.

What can you learn from this?  Save time and money when you get your pictures taken and only get boring stuff done.

However, if you have the time, get a whole slew of them done, and get some great pictures that you can have fun with on your web site, or treat yourself to a nice picture of you for a change rather than only having pictures of your kids on the wall.

More than anything:  ENJOY IT!  Consider it pampering.  Once in a while, everyone deserves a little “it’s all about me” time.