Tag Archives: Jon Gibbs

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew… Final Thoughts – Thanks Jon!

Here are a few quotes from Jon Gibbs that I thought were good little snippets everyone could use.

Thank you again, Jon, for your words of wisdom, and for going out of your way to help aspiring authors to Learn from your Mistakes

1.        Dealing with shyness – He is shy.  He is afraid of public appearances.  To get through it, he imagines his grandmother saying “Okay go home – you will disgrace all your ancestors but that’s fine.”  It helps him to trudge on.

2.       Figure out what works best for you and then do that a lot

3.       Write what you like, even if it seems out of date.  If you enjoy it, someone else will, too.

4.       Winning a contest (small) and putting it in your query letter makes you look like a newbie.  Major awards are okay, though.

5.       Writer’s digest may seem good, but you have to pay to submit.  Don’t pay to submit.

6.       Slush readers trash “Dark and stormy night” openers and don’t read to the next line.

7.       Jon learns more about writing listening to others critique his writing.

8.       Young Adult needs a romantic element to be marketable*

*This is what a publisher told Jon when he was selling Fur Face as YA.  However, a friend of mine was just asked by a publisher to remove the romantic element because it made them uncomfortable.  You never know.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com


Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #2: It Ain’t Easy, Baby

You will not get published by accident.  You need to go to workshops, and send your stuff out.  No one will accidentally read your manuscript.

Now, I need to admit that I have a friend who posted an excerpt from her novel on her blog, and a publisher happened upon it.  He asked her to send him a full, and he eventually published her.

It does happen, but the chances are so slim I can’t think of a number that small.

There are people out there who walk around carrying “Writer’s Market” hoping someone will see them and say “are you a writer?”  Seriously… it’s not going to happen.

You need to submit.  Press that little submit button.  I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but it can be done.

Go ahead, stick those pages in that envelope.  Send your baby on its way.  It won’t get anywhere if you don’t let it leave home.

You need to decide if you are a recreational writer, or a professional writer.  Either one is fine, but professional writing is work.  You need to apply for jobs… no different here.

(Unless you go for self-publishing, but that’s another story completely)

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #5 Giving up too soon

This is the last post on “Biggest Mistakes, and I think it is the most important.  Take a deep breath, and read slowly and carefully.

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (scroll down below for the list of authors), the authors discussed the biggest mistakes they think new writers make.

This is really important, because the temptation to take the “easy road” is there, blinking and coaxing every day.

Don’t throw your novel out to self-publishing if you are not ready.

I’m going to say it again.

Don’t throw your novel out to self-publishing if you are not ready. 

Say that line over a few times.  Make it stick in your head, then continue…

I have a friend who actually did “go through the motions”  They put their novel out there, and were getting rejections.  They then decided it might be a good idea to get some beta readers. (Okay, they did that part in the wrong order, but at least they realized what they did)  After about ten or so beta reads, they came across me.

“The barracuda” attacked with reckless abandon.  (As nice as I could possibly be, of course) I knew EXACTLY why this wonderful, elaborate very imaginative story was not being published… I explained over and over in great detail.  They revised, but only slightly.  They did not want to ruin their “artistic integrity”.

That book is now self-published… with exactly the same beginning that I ripped to heck and back.  I feel horrible about it.  It is not selling.  Now… that is not to say that I’m always right.  I can be wrong.  This time, I wish I was.

Remember:  Most e-book channels let you read the first few pages just like if you are in a bookstore.  The first few pages of this novel are BORING.

Is it a great story?  YES.  Is it original?  YES.  Did the author make all the mistakes noted in the “biggest mistakes”?  Unfortunately, YES.  (Sorry BK)  I dearly, dearly hope I am wrong, because this is a great story, and they put a lot of work into their baby.  Right now, my heart is sinking over it.

If one person tells you something you do not want to hear.  Consider it.  If two people say something, think hard about it.  If three or more people say the same thing, suck it up and admit you are wrong.

Try to get a publisher first, and try long and hard.  Don’t put out something sub-standard just because you are in a rush or afraid of the process, or don’t agree with the feedback.  That first novel can haunt you for the rest of your life… and you never know, you just might end up with a “Gold Mine Manuscript” rejection that will change your outlook completely, if you are open enough to their suggestions.

Is self-publishing okay?  Sure.  For some authors.

Just Please Please Please make sure you are ready.  I have read quite a few self-published novels that were not ready.  It’s a shame, because I would be hesitant to take a chance on another novel by any of these authors.

If you do self-publish, AND YOU HAVE TAKEN THE STEPS TO BE SURE YOU ARE READY, check out Daniel Ottalini’s blog for a great checklist to make sure you follow through to give your novel a chance.

Jonathan Maberry: www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail: www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail: www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs: www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard: www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella: www.jsnouff.com/kristin


Several years ago, I heard literary agent, Cherry Weiner, give a talk at a writing group. Among the many things she shared with us that day were these wisdomous words:

When you’ve finished your story,

go back and rewrite the beginning.

Up until then, I’d always written in a linear fashion. I’d start with (what I hoped was) a killer opening, then work my way through the middle to the (again hoped for) thrilling and/or satisfying conclusion at the end, after which I’d get down to the editing. The idea of wantonly discarding the first few pages of a story, or worse, the first chapter or two of a novel, seemed counter-productive. Why write a beginning at all if you’re just going to throw it out later?

But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Despite our best intentions, stories quite often head off in a different direction from the one we originally intended. Even if, like me, you use outlines, planned ideas and sub-plots get changed, added and/or abandoned as we get to know the characters and plot better during the first draft process. Besides, who hasn’t had a critique containing a big red line several pages in, along with the words ‘I think your story starts here’? Personally, I’ve found rewriting the opening almost always leads to a better fit with the rest of the story.

There’s another positive effect from knowing you’ll rewrite the beginning from the outset, at least for writers like me. I understand the benefits to be had from getting the first draft over with as fast as possible. I want to work that way, but I fight a constant battle with my inner editor during the first draft process. When you know from the outset that whatever beginning you write will (almost definitely) get thrown out anyway, it’s easier to resist the temptation to go back and polish up what you’ve already got.

How about you?

Where do you end your first drafts?

Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in New Jersey, where he’s ‘Author in Residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School. A member of several writing groups, including SCBWI, he’s the founder of NJAuthorsNetwork.com and FindAWritingGroup.com. His blog, An Englishman in New Jersey (http://jongibbs.livejournal.com), is read in over thirty countries. 


Jon’s debut novel, Fur-Face (Echelon Press) a middle grade fantasy about unusual friendships, unlikely alliances, and wanting to fit in, was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award. Watch out for the sequel, Barnum’s Revenge, coming in 2012.

 When he’s not chasing around after his children, Jon can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #3: Nope, you can’t explain yourself. Sorry, not allowed!

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mike McPhail commented that you CANNOT explain your novel to people.

Think about that. 

What Mike said is that you are not going to be there to explain anything about your novel.  It needs to stand on its own with no questions.  If it can’t stand on its own, you are not going to find a publisher (and remember, he’s a publisher as well as a writer)

I recently read a review from a “self-published” author that said:  “Just get through the first few chapters… you’ll be glad you did.”

I can’t help but wonder if they asked a friend to say that… This is probably why they self-published.  Why would you start your novel out weak?  Personally, if I’m not engaged in the first few pages, the book goes back on the shelf.

I wonder if this person ever had beta readers.

Note:  I would never let a beta-read pass with a bad first page, let alone a bad first few chapters.  That’s like literary suicide in my book.

Make sure your novel can stand on its own, and for goodness sake, if you feel like you have to apologize for your first few chapters CHANGE THEM!

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Biggest Mistakes New Authors Make #2—Jumping the gun- Writing Non-linearly

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mistake number two was not writing linearly, which means not writing your story from start to finish, beginning to end, without jumping around.

Everyone gets great ideas while they are writing.  When you get one that happens later in the story, do you stop and write it?  I admit, I do this all the time.

To keep yourself moving, have a folder called “revision notes”.  Rather than jumping back to something you wish you wrote, or hopping forward to a great idea you have… place the idea in a “notes folder” so you don’t forget it, and then keep writing.  This will keep you focused on where you are.

I admit I am guilty of this in a big way.  I have whole chapters that are written that will not appear until book five or six, and I don’t have book one published yet… This is why book one probably needed so much editing.

Who else is guilty of this little gem?

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #1 – Avoid the Dreaded Delete Frenzy

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published”, a group of published authors discussed the biggest mistakes they think new writers make.  Boy did they have a long list!

The panel consisted of: Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella.

As always, I love learning from mistakes others have made, and I truly appreciate them sharing what NOT TO DO.

Rather than making this an insanely long post— and since Friday is now open—

This is going to be my new “Friday Night” slot… Biggest Mistakes New Writers make.

Mistake Number one:



It is really easy as a new writer to get frustrated, and go on a delete frenzy.  The problem is, the days of crumbling up paper and throwing it into a garbage can are over.  You can’t take your deleted file out of the trash, smooth it out, and look at it again.  Once you delete… it is gone.

Deleting in a frenzy can lead to loss of very valuable work.  Especially if you are really emotional when you are editing (we authors never do that, right?)

Trust me, you may think everything you’ve written stinks now, but you may find you need to refer back to part of it later.  Even if you don’t use it, it is part of your back story, and you may need to review it to keep your story consistent.

The Author Panel suggested keeping a side file and don’t actually delete anything. Just drag and drop.  If you never want to see it again, just don’t open the file.  But if you do—

From my own experience, I know I always change my mind.  There is a huge scene near the end of my novel where one character gets his memory back.  I have re-written the scene five times, and they are all dramatically different.  You know where I landed?  With my very first draft.  I was putting so many plot twists and turns in the revisions that the scene became confusing.  I did need to re-write it a little, but I stuck with my original idea.  Believe me, a year later, I was glad I had a copy to refer back to.

Avoid the dreaded Delete Frenzy.  Make a cozy little file. Call it a nasty name if it makes you feel better.  Someday, you may thank me.  🙂

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

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.


Reining in the The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer – A Review of Fur Face by Jon Gibbs

I found out why The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer stopped doing reviews.  He read “Fur Face” by Jon Gibbs, and really enjoyed it.  However, he knew I wanted him to review it, but he was embarrassed to do one because he met the author at a recent book signing.

“Well, did you like the story?” I asked.


“Then what are you worried about?”

I got the lip… If you’re a parent, you know what that means.

He was just self-conscious about it because he was afraid of what he would look like in front of an author that he feels like he knows, even though his review would be positive.

Note to self:  Introduce the MMGR to authors AFTER he has given the review.

Anyway… The MMGR’s review of Fur Face was:

(I’m paraphrasing from several conversations over the last several weeks)

It was really good.  It was about this cat that can talk, who has to find a kid that can understand him to help him do what he has to do.

(Trying not to drop a spoiler there)

He mentioned an intricate plot that would be hard to describe.  There was lots of funny stuff and action, and a big mystery about animals that had to be saved.  (Right up his alley)

I didn’t get a star rating on Fur Face, but book two is on his list of “I gotta have it” books.

Now that we’re over that hurdle… The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer should be returning to the blogosphere very shortly.  Yay!

Editing, Editing, and then, well, MORE EDITING-Advice from Publisher Authors

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (Click here to read my post from that night), many authors on the panel spoke about the importance of editing.  No brainer, right?  Well, you might be surprised.

There are a lot of people out there who have written a “great story” and sent it right out to agents, burned their bridges, and never had a beta read.  I know you are nodding your head.  Hopefully it’s because you KNOW someone, and you are not the culprit.

I ALMOST did this around a year and a half ago (Wow, has it been that long already?)  I finished HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT.  I edited the heck out of it with only my own input, and I was about to send it out.  I had trouble finding someone to read it for me, and I was confident, so I was going to skip this step…. but something told me to go out and find a beta reader.  I found a guy I didn’t know, and we exchanged manuscripts.  That’s when I found out that I had a great story **Yay**, HOWEVER, my presentation stank.

Author Jon Gibbs said “People send their work off too soon” He noted that when we read someone else’s work, we read what they wrote.  (Duh, right?)  Well think this over — When we read our OWN work, we read what we THINK WE WROTE.

How true is this?  I never noticed my lack of setting or character description, because I KNEW what everything looked like.  (Among many other problems my beta reader pointed out)  You really need to get a few people to look at your novel while you are editing to make sure you are writing what you THINK you are writing.  It actually took me about four beta readers to whack me upside the head and set me straight on this.

Jennifer R. Hubbard admitted that she didn’t edit enough when she started out, and that she was getting rejections.  The book she revised 12 times and had others read was the one that got published.  (I guess she is talking about “The Secret Year”)

Danielle Ackley McPhail suggested having different kinds of readers in the editing phase… Beta readers will help make your writing better, and “just plain readers” will tell you if the story flows and is enjoyable.  She also suggested making sure one of your “just readers” is someone who does not normally read your genre to get a different perspective.

So, if you are like me, and have people in your life pushing you to get your stuff out there… stick to your guns.  Do your beta-read drills.  Edit after their comments, and then DO MORE BETA READ DRILLS.

I am excited to say that I am sending out HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT for the third round of beta-reads (and three “just plain readers”) shortly.  After six beta readers, and editing and revising it with reckless abandon for well over a year, I think I’ve finally really written what I think I’ve written.  If not, I have full confidence that my readers will “Let me have it”.

I am going to look for new readers too, so I can get some fresh perspectives.  I am really looking forward to seeing if all this hard work has paid off!

Jennifer Eaton