Guest Post: Three Ways Authors Can Put Jealousy To Work! By Jennie Nash

There’s a lot to think about in the guest post below. Author Jennie Nash lays it on the line. She’s jealous and she’s not afraid to say so, or to use that to her advantage. Whether you find yourself jealous of your colleagues or not, there are some wise words below for writers to motivate themselves to keep on keepin’ on, no matter what. 

In my case, I searched my soul and psyche and can tell you that I’m not jealous of anyone’s writing or publishing success. I’m jealous of people who can eat a whole cake and not gain weight. I’m jealous of nice rich people (not so much the mean ones). But writers? Nope. Not now anyway. But I do see Jennie’s points and how we can be pushed to better ourselves when someone is doing what we aspire to do, or has what we (think we) want. 

Please welcome Jennie Nash to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo

P.S. Don’t be jealous that Jennie has a guest post on WFW. If you have an idea for a guest post, just email me and we’ll see if it fits. As long as it’s about writing, and non-promotional, I’m happy to consider it for Fall/Winter 2013. 

Three Ways Writers Can Put Jealousy to Work

by Jennie Nash

On the front cover of my latest novel – my seventh book – there is a blurb from the great novelist Caroline Leavitt. “Absolutely dazzling,” it says. It’s part of a longer quote that appears on the back of the book, which includes more specific and awesome praise. I have never met Caroline Leavitt, but we are cyber-friends, she is good friends of a writer friend of mine, and she taught in the writing program at UCLA where I teach, which is how I ended up with the killer blurb. Also, Caroline is among the most generous and engaged writers you will ever meet and she’s the kind of super nice person who would read the manuscript of someone she’s never met, and email every few hours to squeal with delight to tell that writer how much fun she’s having with your story. When I received her blurb, I had the highest hopes for my book – and I mean high. Caroline Leavitt herself had recently been on The New York Times bestseller list, boldly switched publishers, landed a juicy deal, and found the kind of career transforming support she needed to keep writing her books — and I wanted to orchestrate a similar move. Caroline Leavitt was my proof that it could be done. She was my North Star.

I have every reason to love and adore this woman – and yet right now I can’t even read her posts on Facebook without feeling my stomach clench. Every morning when I sit down to my desk to work, Caroline Leavitt mocks me from my favorite industry blog, where her latest novel – Is This Tomorrow – is being touted in a snappy ad. I’m afraid to go into a bookstore because I just know that her book is going to be stacked on the front table, with a charming handwritten note from one of the members of the staff. I’m afraid to talk to our mutual friend because the last time we chatted, I heard that Caroline had sold her next novel to her super supportive awesome publishing house. And my novel? The one Caroline blurbed? It’s not in the bookstore. It’s not on the excellent blog. Unless something remarkable happens that’s out of my control, my book has died on the vine, and meanwhile Caroline Leavitt is stomping on grapes and making jubilant wine.

Do I sound a tad bit jealous? You bet I am and I’m not going to pretend otherwise, and neither, I believe, should you. Jealousy can be good. If handled the right way (which is to say without any damaging public rants, brooding bouts of melancholia, or Soliere-like criminal insanity) it can be like rocket booster fuel for your writing career. Here’s how:

1.     Jealousy is a reminder that you’re doing something you care about. 

Writing a book is a long, hard, difficult lonely undertaking. Why do it, if you don’t care about it with a fiery passion? It would be far easier and more pleasant to grow heirloom tomatoes or take up paddle boarding. My jealousy proves to me that I’m nowhere near ready to throw in the towel. Oh sure, I went through some weeks of claiming that I was going to quit writing, of claiming that it was just too painful, of claiming that I was done with this fickle business where you can pour out your heart and soul and get nothing but silence in return. But I wasn’t fooling anyone, least of all myself. In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben says that failure is “part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative.” Jealous, too. So if you’re feeling jealousy of another writer, consider it a good thing. It means you’re found something that matters to you.

2.     Jealousy shows you specifically what you want, and specificity is critical in setting and reaching goals.

Every writer needs to constantly be evaluating and setting goals, on both a small scale and a large, and they should ideally be SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Here’s a fast and clear explanation on all that from the human resources department at MIT.) In the beginning of a book’s creation, your goal might be, “Write 3 pages a day.” In the beginning of a career, it might be, “Send out 3 queries a week to agents who represent the kinds of books I write” or, “Blog once a week about my book topic.” In the middle of a career, when you know you can spin a good tale, you know you can do the work required to get it on the page, and you already have a great agent in your corner (which is where I am), things tend to get a little muddy. My jealousy of Caroline Leavitt has helped give me focus. I know more specifically what I want, and I have a clearer idea of what I need to do to get there. What does your jealousy show you about what you want? How can you translate that into action?

3.     Jealousy gives you something to prove.

I’m not just staying in the game; I’m staying in it to win. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I’ve got something to prove. I am worthy of big juicy support. I can write a novel that lots and lots of readers love. Watch me. And if it doesn’t work? As any good novel proves, a character with a strong motivation is, if nothing else, a character with a good story, so I may not pull it off, but at least it will be an interesting journey.

What about you? What do you have to prove?

Jennie Nash is a writing coach, whose most recent novel is Perfect Red. She has a special offer on her website for readers of Women’s Fiction Writers – a free sneak peak of her forthcoming book, The Writers’ Guide to Agony and Defeat. Visit her at jennienash.com to check it out and use the password WFW6.

Turning The Tables At Women’s Fiction Writers: Author Eleanor Brown Interviews Amy Sue Nathan

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Can you believe it? I’m here on my own blog being interviewed by New York Times best selling author, Eleanor Brown, in celebration of publication of THE GLASS WIVES (available everywhere books are sold)!

I met Eleanor in 2011 at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago. Since that day—when I was a fan-girl extraordinaire (just ask my dear friend and critique partner, Pamela Toler)—Eleanor has been a cheerleader of mine. I’m so honored she took the time out of her crazy-busy schedule to ask me amazing, thoughtful questions. And of course, if you haven’t read her NYT bestselling novel, The Weird Sisters, you should.

NowI have to welcome myself to Women’s Fiction Writers, don’t I? And I thought this week couldn’t get any more spectacular!

I know there are many, many lurkers out there (hundreds and hundreds of you). I hope you’ll step out of the cyber shadows today and say hello!

Amy xo

Turning The Tables At Women’s Fiction Writers: Author Eleanor Brown Interviews Amy Sue Nathan (Me!)

Pink/pink, blue/pink, or pink/blue. I think it's  the perfect cover for The Glass Wives.  Hope you agree! (If you've read it, or when you do, chime in!)
Available everywhere books are sold! (FINALLY!)

Eleanor: The premise of The Glass Wives caught me right away – bringing together an ex-wife and a current wife. Where did the idea come from?

Amy: From realizing—with much relief and satisfaction—that things in my life were not as bad as they could be. I had divorced, my ex-husband had died, and there was this nagging sensation that as a family, things just couldn’t get much worse. My kids didn’t have a dad, our sense of family and place and normal were turned upside down, we were dealing with grief and the everyday lives of kids, because they do intertwine. And then at some point I just wanted to feel like IT COULD BE WORSE. I guess I was just trying to make myself feel better. The idea of having a woman in the same basic situation as me—a suburban divorced mom, but giving her a slew of things I didn’t have to deal with, like—a trophy-wife/widow and needing her to move in in order to pay the bills, not to mention some not-very-well-meaning neighbors, and a know-it-all sister. I ended up relieved I was not Evie Glass—and with the idea for my novel.

Eleanor: I am fascinated by names and the way they help form who we are. The last name of both women in your novel is ‘Glass’ – what is the importance of that name in the context of the story? Do their first names have equal importance?

Amy: I wanted a Jewish name for the family since Jewish culture plays an important part in the story. But, I didn’t want anything too “-This-stein” or “-That-gold” or “Generic-ishkiwitz,” so I settled on Glass. The fact that Glass also connect transparency and fragility, well, I’d like to say it was intentional but it was more like besert (meant to be).

Eleanor: Even if I’m not aware of it at the time, I find I am writing to answer unanswerable questions in my own life, and those become the themes of the novel. What are the questions you wrote The Glass Wives to answer?

Amy: That’s easy. I wrote The Glass Wives to figure out what makes a family, and why some kinds of family are frowned upon or treated differently than others. While suburban single-mom family might not make headline news, as a single-mom who’s steeped in a white picket community, I know that I’ve been treated differently than married moms. Everything here revolved around moms AND dads, or couples. I was always grateful my daughter’s school didn’t have a daddy-daughter dance, but my daughter’s Sunday School class did start a father-daughter project. In a class where there were only a handful of students, in a small Jewish community, I found it disrespectful and disheartening and totally not kosher. It’s hard to convince yourself and your kids that your family isn’t one with a missing part when something like that happens. I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I spoke up. 😉 Writing the book reminded me to always view families without qualifiers or quantifiers and to be as inclusive as possible. Nobody’s perfect but we have to start somewhere.

Eleanor: I absolutely love the cover of The Glass Wives – it’s so eye-catching and evocative. How did you and your publisher come to that design?

Amy: When I met my editor last summer, I was fortunate to also meet my cover designer. The only thing I was stuck on was that the cover be reflective of the content. I didn’t want the cover to mislead the reader. And, though I never mentioned having a window on the cover, it’s what I always imagined. And the cups are perfect—literally because there’s a lot of coffee drinking going on, and metaphorically because there are many similarities between the women, but they’re also different.

Eleanor: Your work on the Women’s Fiction Writers blog and your freelance career make you seem enviably organized – is that true? Does it extend to your fiction writing?

Amy: I’m a list maker. I have weekly lists, daily lists, morning lists, grocery lists. Lists of calls to make, interviews to write, emails to send, bills to pay, friends to make plan with. And when it comes to fiction writing, that’s on the list too. When I get into the writing, now that I have an outline to guide me, I guess it makes me comfortable because guess what? It looks like a list! I do list characters and things I want to accomplish in a scene. I figure the more I write my lists, the less I have to actually remember. As long as I remember where my lists are!

Eleanor: I spent the month leading up to my publication date waking up every night with terrible stomachaches from the anxiety. You’ve interviewed so many writers here on the Women’s Fiction Writers blog – does that mean you’re feeling confident about stepping into author-hood? What have you learned from the people you’ve interviewed?

Amy: I’m comfortable in the author community. How could I not be? I have found authors to be welcoming and generous and inclusive (and not care if I’m a single mom). But confident? Not really. The publishing world is so noisy today, that it takes a lot for a book to rise above that noise, and especially for a brand new author voice to be heard. I know that, and it worries me. The way I allay my own fears is to do everything I can possibly do to get the word out. And to do that, you guessed it, I make lists.

The authors I’ve interviewed have taught me many things—mostly that generosity is common among authors and that there is no one way to write a novel. Whether someone writes a book in three months, or ten years, uses an outline or dictates or writes everything long hand, we all have one thing in common. We are storytellers using written words. It connects us to each other and to our readers.

And authors have taught me another important lesson—to give back with gusto.

Eleanor: Are you part of a community of writers, formal or informal? What has that done for you?

Amy: Being part of writer groups has taught me more than I could have learned on my own. Ever. I’ve been a member of Backspace since 2007, and I was always taking online workshops which become temporary communities of their own. As a debut author I’m part of The Debutante Ball. The support of the other four “Debs” is fabulous. I’m part of a group of debut authors called Book Pregnant. More than anything it’s online author therapy without the couch or a bill. Some of those authors have become dear friends. I’m also active on Writer Unboxed Facebook Group and the new Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Add to all that the fact that this blog has taken on a life of its own and created a community as well.

Eleanor: Your editor, Brenda Copeland, is so lovely on Twitter, and has such incredible authors on her list. What’s it been like working with her?

Amy: Working with Brenda has taught me more about my own writing than anyone else. Making me the best writer I can be is what makes her a great editor. She makes me get under my own skin, if that makes sense. Brenda is also very funny (as I’m sure you’ve surmised) so amidst the formalities and editorial notes and deadlines, there have been a lot of laughs. Her confidence in me has been both humbling and motivating.

As has this interview, Eleanor. Thank you! xo

Now WFW readers, it’s your turn! Ask away!

The Glass Wives Is Published!

It’s Pub Day, Launch Day, Release Day, and the Book Birthday for THE GLASS WIVES, which you know if you’re here, is my debut novel! 

For the next few weeks here on Women’s Fiction Writers I’ll be sharing my experiences (and photos) as a debut author. I can’t think of a better place to share!

Please join me at The Virtual Launch party! There’s food (of the virtual kind) and prizes (of the real kind). Just get your party hat and click here.

If you want to sign up for my Infrequent Yet Delightful Newsletter, you can do that here. OR–you can just read today’s edition by clicking here. It’s different from the getting WFW in your email or reader! 

Meandering around the web today? You can find me at author Jane Porter’s blog, author Lori Nelson Spielman’s blog, Heroes and Heartbreakers, and there’s a video (oh my) of me chatting with Luke Abaffy at Author Feast.  Some of those links aren’t live yet, but youknowwhattodo to find them! 

Thanks for hanging in there with me through it all and for purchasing and reading THE GLASS WIVES! 

HERE WE GO!

Amy xo 

If you want to check out THE GLASS WIVES you can do so at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and a zillion other places books are sold (it’s even been spotted at Costco)! How cool is THAT??

Debut Author Andrea Lochen’s Good Advice: Read Good Books, Find Good Friends, Be Good To Yourself

Sometimes I’m not sure how or where or when I met a particular author, but I am sure that it was meant to be. That’s how it is with debut author Andrea Lochen. Not only are our launch dates one week apart, but we live only about two hours apart. And Andrea lives right near where my daughter will be going to college in August. Can you say “mandatory new author get-together?” 

But until that happens, I’m fortunate that Andrea agreed to answer my questions and join us here on WFW today to talk about books, writing, and what she would change if she could REPEAT this past year!

Please welcome Andrea Lochen to WFW!

Amy xo

Debut Author Andrea Lochen’s Good Advice: Read Good Books, Find Good Friends, Be Good To Yourself

Amy: It’s almost here! You’re just a week away from the launch of your debut novel THE REPEAT YEAR. (Hey, I can relate!) Now that your work is about to hit the bookshelves and e-readers, tell us when and how (and maybe why) the idea for THE REPEAT YEAR hit you!

Andrea: I’m a firm believer in keeping a notebook of ideas and images that strike my fancy.  You may think you’re going to remember that fascinating idea you had, but chances are, life will intervene with more pressing demands, and you’ll forget it, so write it down!  The premise of a character reliving a year of her life came to me while I was a college student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (where my novel is set), so I dutifully jotted it down in my little notebook—thank goodness!  It took me several years to come back to the idea because I needed to find the right character for the premise.  I wanted an everyday heroine who readers could relate to, and someone whose experiences and career would really resonate with the concept of the repeat year.  Finally, intensive care nurse, Olive Watson, was born!

As for the why, I find that most readers and writers are fascinated by the possibility of what might have been.  What might have happened if I hadn’t turned down that job offer?  What might have happened if my ex and I had met now instead of several years ago?  I think readers love reading because it allows them to vicariously choose multiple paths, and writers especially appreciate the idea of rewriting history because it’s one of the perks we enjoy by writing.

Amy: Start to finish, how long did it take you to write THE REPEAT YEAR?  And after you wrote it, what was your path to publication? 

Andrea: I’m a fast drafter and a slow reviser.  I wrote the draft in about six months while earning my MFA at the University of Michigan.  I was lucky to be in a workshop environment with other writers who were super helpful and encouraging.  After graduation, it took me about five years to revise the novel to the point where it felt “ready.”  (It probably took me longer, too, because I teach full-time at a university for nine months of the year.)  I queried several agents before I found The One, and the rejection was downright devastating at times.  That being said, there were some kind, helpful agents along the way who may have ultimately passed on the book, but gave me suggestions that helped make it stronger.  Once I signed with Stephany Evans, we made very few alterations to the book before selling it to Berkley, an imprint of Penguin.  Huzzah!

Amy: When you’re writing a novel, what’s your game plan? Or, do you not have one? I’m working with a real outline for the first time. Do you use an outline, wing it, or is it a combo? And has the way you write changed since you started writing THE REPEAT YEAR?

Andrea:  Oh, how I wish I’d had a game plan when I started THE REPEAT YEAR!  I literally just dove in with very little thought about where my characters were going but intent on the joy of discovering their journeys as I went.  It was a lot of fun, but when I finished the first (very) rough draft, I had some gentle suggestions from friends (bless them) that I wasn’t really using the magical premise to its full potential.  And lo and behold—I realized that I wasn’t!  So I embarked on a major overhaul in the second draft.  (To see how truly different the first draft was, you can read the original, which will forever be enshrined in the Hopwood Room at the University of Michigan for winning a Hopwood Award for the Novel in 2008.)  Several drafts later, it was finally ready to be published.

So with my second book, I feel like I’ve learned more about the novel writing process.  Though I didn’t have a hard-and-fast outline when I started writing it, I did have a Word document full of character details, plot points, and other random ideas.  I’m hoping that by doing more planning upfront, maybe I can reduce my number of drafts.  I’ll let you know how that goes!

Amy: Since your novel is about “repeats”—if you could repeat this past year leading up to your launch, what would you change or do differently?

Andrea:  Like my protagonist, Olive, I’m not sure what I would change right away.  When you’re so close to your decisions and actions, it’s hard to take a step back and see the big picture and how certain choices will affect later events down the line.  But I do know for certain that I wish I would’ve stumbled upon writer blogs like yours, Book Pregnant, Chick Lit is Not Dead, Writer Unboxed, and others much earlier than I did.  They give such useful advice, recommend excellent books, allow you to network with other writers, and make you feel like a part of a much bigger writing community.  So if I were to go back and do things differently, I would definitely start engaging with the blogosphere and social media outlets much sooner!  I also have a sneaking suspicion that I should be trying to bask in the glow of my debut novel being published and enjoy every moment instead of stressing out and trying to micromanage things behind my control.  Now that we’re T-minus one week to THE REPEAT YEAR’s launch, I feel like it’s high time for me to finally kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor!

Amy: The term “women’s fiction” comes up against some harsh criticism.  How do you feel about the genre or label of women’s fiction?

Andrea:  I find it a problematic label only because there is no equivalent for “men’s fiction,” and as Gloria Steinem put it, “Just as there are ‘novelists’ and then ‘women novelists,’ there are ‘movies’ and then ‘chick flicks.’  Whoever is in power takes over the noun—and the norm—while the less powerful gets an adjective.”  But I also understand that it’s a useful (though imperfect) categorizing tool for publishers, booksellers, and readers alike.  And the more I read women’s fiction and meet women’s fiction authors and readers, the more I realize in what good company I am!

Amy: What’s your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction (or whatever you choose to call it)?

Andrea:  Read good books, the kind that remind you of the power that fiction can have, and that inspire you to write your absolute best.  Surround yourself with good friends, the priceless kind that will read several incarnations of the same chapter, over and over again and believe in you and your book, but will tell it to you straight when you need that kick in the pants as well.  And lastly, be good to yourself.  Don’t define your self-worth just by your success as a writer, because your idea of success might keep changing, and there’s always bound to be someone more successful than you.  Try not to compare yourself to others too much, but instead celebrate the unique writer that you are!

Andrea Lochen earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.  While there, she won a Hopwood Novel Award for a draft of The Repeat Year.  She currently lives in suburban Milwaukee with her husband and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.  For more information, visit www.andrealochen.com.

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Author Website: www.andrealochen.com

Twitter Wisdom For Writers From Author Lisette Brodey

This is the part where the internet gets crazy-cool. Cue the Twilight Zone music!

On Twitter one day I noticed Lisette Brodey. She was tweeting about writing, writers, She was tweeting to people I knew. And her name rang that proverbial bell. Brodey. I had a college professor, my Journalism/PR advisor named Brodey. But no, Lisette Brodey lived in LA.  I went to college at Temple University in Philadelphia and knew, by memory, that Dr. Brodey—my Dr. Brodey— had been from Philadelphia. 

I asked anyway and guess what? Lisette Brodey is indeed the daughter of my college professor and advisor, Dr. Jean Brodey.  I found out news about her mother (who she says remembers me!), Tweeted back and forth with Lisette, and of course, followed her on Twitter. 

Please welcome Lisette Brodey to Women’s Fiction Writers! 

Amy xo

Twitter Wisdom For Writers

By Author Lisette Brodey (@LisetteBrodey) http://www.lisettebrodey.com

cute-twitters-previewI’ve been on Twitter for about three and a half years. I’ve met some of the most amazing, wonderful people there. As a writer, Twitter gives me superb access to interesting people all over the world.

A lot of people I know find Twitter very daunting, mostly because they’ve never really tried to use it. It can be intimidating to some to have only 140 characters to make a statement. But it works, and it works well. The more you do it, the more you’ll probably appreciate the way this micro-blogging site works.

Twitter can both be great or not-so-great depending on what you hope to get from it. I’m going to share with you the reasons I follow/follow back, don’t follow back, or unfollow.

WHY I WILL OR WON’T FOLLOW/FOLLOW BACK

1. I consider several things when deciding to follow or follow back. Does this person engage with others? If she is actively having conversations with other tweeters, I’m more inclined to like this person. For one, it shows that she realizes that there are other people on Twitter. And I’m much more inclined to like people who have a photo of themselves for an avatar.

2. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your own work in moderation, but I am a strong believer in cross-promotion. Does this person take a moment to recognize the works of others from time to time? To tweet content of interest?

3. Does the person’s follower/following ratio make any kind of sense? If someone follows me and I see that he is following well over 1,000 people, but only 132 people are following back, there is always a reason. A quick look will tell me that every tweet is virtually the same: they’re all about that person’s book, for example, or the tweets make little to no sense. If the person has 40,000 followers and is following only 2,000 back, I’m not going to assume that he’s found me to be a part of the scintillating minority. Rather, I’m going to think that he’s followed me to get the follow and will unfollow me soon after.

4. Did this person actually follow me or did a bot follow me? For example, I have a novel called Squalor, New Mexico that has nothing whatsoever to do with New Mexico, but often I’ll be followed by businesses such as a real estate company or an auto repair facility in Santa Fe. Nothing against these fine businesses, of course, but it’s clear how they found me and we likely are not tweeting about any common interests.

5. Does the person tweet original content or does she just quote? There are people on Twitter who do nothing but tweet the quotes of others. Once in a blue moon, if I see a great quote, I’m happy to pass it on, but in most cases I have little interest in following someone who merely tweets quotes.

WHY I UNFOLLOW

6. I know that I am not alone in my loathing of people who send DMs (direct messages) to strangers upon following with links to their products or services. Just don’t do it. Really, do NOT do this! If there’s one way to guarantee that I will never check out your book or product, just send me a link about it. To quote my friend author Stuart Ross McCallum, @writer99 on Twitter: “e-converse before e-commerce.”

Some people may ask: If I don’t send you a link, how will you ever know about my new novel, The Vampire and the Hound Dog Get Married? My answer: Engage with people on Twitter as you would in person. Join conversations, start conversations, pay attention to others, retweet what others have to say, be polite, and follow the golden rule. Once you do that, you’ll find that people will click on your bio because they like you. They’ll want to learn more about you. And what do you know, they may even download a copy of your book to their e-reader.

One woman, upon following, sent me a DM that said, “Enjoy the ABC series.” Hello? I only agreed to follow her on Twitter, but now she’s assuming I’m going to read all three books in her series? On what planet?

Then, there are those who send a message saying, “Don’t forget to ‘like’ my FB page?” Hey, I have no idea who you are. We’ve just met. Do NOT assume I’m going to support you at hello. Okay, so how can you ask people to ‘like’ your FB page without being obnoxious? Try a general tweet like this: “Would appreciate ‘likes’ on my FB page. Happy to reciprocate. Just DM or tweet me the link.” Isn’t that better? You’re asking for something but simultaneously offering to help others.

Upon following, I often get a DM saying, “Let’s keep in touch on Facebook, too.” But this person doesn’t want a mutual friendship; she wants you to “like” her page. I am not a fan of this deceitful practice.

7. I’ve just spoken about sending inappropriate direct messages to people. The same goes for tweeting links at people. Not only do people do this, but they do it to people who are not even following them. When I have a new blog, I tweet it to the general public. I do NOT tweet links AT people unless someone specifically asks me to do so. Tweeting links at people is, in a word, spam. There are exceptions when good friends tweet links to me; I have no issue in these cases.

8. I’m much more interested in interesting people than I am in numbers. Some fantastic people who have been on Twitter for a while, just happen to have high numbers of followers, very high, and they actually engage with as many as possible. It’s easy to figure out who cares and who doesn’t. Then there are those who merely want the numbers. They think that if they spend all day and night amassing 30K followers, they’ll be more likely to sell their product. As I see it, the number of followers has nothing to do with sales. YOU are the product first, and if people don’t care about you, they won’t care what you are selling. And, please, don’t boast about how many followers you have. It just tells me that you couldn’t care less about anything but a number.

9. Many people use certain sites to find out who is following back and who is not. I use these sites, too. I won’t necessarily unfollow people who aren’t following me back, but these sites do help me to clean up my lists. These sites often offer people the option to tweet out the IDs of those who have unfollowed them. Maybe it’s just me, but I find this to be very childish, like calling someone out on the playground. If people unfollow me, that’s okay. But I do not tweet about it. That’s just silly. And when I see people who do this, it’s just a turnoff to me.

10. Politics and religion: For many, these are two subjects to simply avoid. While I do choose not to tweet about either, I am very interested in and most appreciative of the political tweets of others. But tweeting politics is always risky. Many people who do not agree with you will unfollow you. And I am one of them. So, while it’s fine to tweet politics or religion, just understand that you will alienate some people. If you’re okay with that, go for it.

To sum it up, our experiences, good or bad, are what we make of them. Behind the avatars are real people who, like ourselves, deserve to be treated with respect. Enjoy your time tweeting, and I look forward to seeing you in my stream.

And please, tell me about your experiences with Twitter. What are the reasons that you follow, don’t follow, or unfollow?

lisettebrodeyLisette Brodey was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. After high school, she moved to New York City where she attended Pace University and studied drama. After 10 years in New York, several of them spent working in the radio industry, she moved to Los Angeles, where she held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City.

She returned to the East Coast and worked for several years as a freelance writer specializing in the entertainment industry. In May 2010 she relocated permanently back to Los Angeles.

In 2008 Lisette published Crooked Moon, a story about childhood best friends whose lives come crashing back together after 23 years apart. In 2009 she published Squalor, New Mexico, a coming-of-age story shrouded in family mystery. (And just for the record, the book has nothing to do with New Mexico. It takes place in East Coast suburbia in the 1970s.)

Lisette’s third novel, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky!, was published in December 2011. In this romantic comedy, picky Molly Hacker sets out to find Mr. Right, juggling four “men of interest” and fighting off matchmaking efforts by the town’s most visible (and manipulative) socialite. Lisette has both blogged as Molly Hacker and interviewed her creative peers as Molly at www.mollyhacker.com.

She is currently working on a YA paranormal novel and other projects.

For detailed information on all of Lisette’s books, click on the BOOKS tab on her website or go directly to Amazon.com.

Author Jennie Shortridge says: Writing For Women Is One Of The Most Powerful Ways To Change The World

There’s much ado about women’s fiction, women authors, and women in general these days. On one hand, reports that confirm how many fewer books by women get reviewed in major publications and some women writers putting down other women writers is horrible. Okay, on two hands it’s horrible. But on that imaginary third hand, it’s bringing a lot of amazing women writers together. A band of brothers has nothing on a band of women writers. 

Author Jennie Shortridge shares her thoughts today, in a show of camaraderie with other women writers, and in celebration of her new novel, LOVE WATER MEMORY.

Please welcome Jennie to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo

Author Jennie Shortridge says: “Writing For Women Is One Of The Most Powerful Ways To Change The World”

In the year 2013, “women’s fiction” is still believed by some to be a pejorative term. The “chick lit” craze certainly didn’t help. Some early books in that category were as deeply revelatory as Catcher in the Rye, but got bedazzled in the marketing machine to scream: “Only buy me if you are female!” And begat a generation of pastel-covered books meant to categorize the stories of women’s lives as fluff, even when the messages inside might be strong as steel.

The novels I write are categorized as women’s fiction, even though my latest, Love Water Memory, has both a male protagonist and a female protagonist, and is the story of a harrowing brain disorder and its aftermath. You could imagine John Irving or Nick Hornby or Garth Stein writing about such a thing (in fact they’ve written about very similar things).

And yet, I’ve decided to come down on this issue exactly where novelist Elizabeth Berg does. To paraphrase Ms. Berg, when asked if she minded her work being categorized as women’s fiction, she said something like, “I love women! I love writing for women. Why would I mind?” (Why indeed, when women buy the vast majority of books?)

But here’s the real reason why I love writing books for women (and men, because plenty of men read my books): Writing for women is one of the most powerful ways to change the world.

Scientific studies show that college students who read fiction develop more empathy toward others than their counterparts. Those of us who’ve always read fiction know this innately. Our sensibilities, values, and core beliefs are formed and informed by the novels we read as teens, young adults, and even now.

In this new society of hardwired, head-phoned technoids tuned in electronically alone at their devices, actual human connection is eerily on the decline. We may tweet or text characters on a screen, but we can’t feel the impact of what we say or don’t say unless we can look into the other person’s eyes.

Women are biologically engineered for empathy, and yet we often get subtle (or not so subtle) messages that empathy and compassion are not as important as power and might. Don’t believe it. If more leaders of corporations, governments and religious institutions were women, integrating compassion into decision and policy making, our people and our planet would be far better off.

When women write women’s stories, we share ideas and experiences and revelations about solving problems, about surviving and thriving through difficulties, about love and the power of compassion and understanding.

And that changes the world, one reader—female or male—at a time.

Love Water Memory and four other acclaimed novels, as well as a writing teacher and avid volunteer. She is co-founder of Seattle7Writers, a nonprofit collective of over sixty published authors in the Northwest who work to give back to their community. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, her blog JennieSez, and at www.jennieshortridge.com.

Sarah Pekkanen’s Fourth Novel, THE BEST OF US, Hit Stores This Week!

I’m honored to have Sarah Pekkanen here today sharing the story surrounding her fourth novel, THE BEST OF US.  Because of a dispute between Barnes & Noble and S&S, many authors’ books aren’t being featured in their stores, if they’re even being sold at all. 

This is where the writer and reader community must come together. Sure, publishing is a business, but for the next few minutes, as you read about Sarah and her book, remember that she’s just like you. Someone whose words and stories are meant to be read; someone who just wants to share her book with you. Please give her a shout-out, buy the book if you can, talk about it, and keep talking! 

Please welcome Sarah Pekkanen to Women’s Fiction Writers! 

Amy xo

Sarah Pekkanen’s Fourth Novel, THE BEST OF US, Hit Stores This Week!

Before I gave birth, I imagined how things would go: An effective epidural, a gently encouraging doctor (obviously he’d look a little like George Clooney), me panting heroically while my husband watched in awe….. Suffice to say things didn’t exactly go according to plan: My water broke at 2 a.m., my epidural failed, my doctor was grumpy – and female! – and my husband was so nervous he kept shoveling ice chips I didn’t want into my mouth.

It’s been kind of the same way with my latest book launch. THE BEST OF US, my fourth novel, hit stores yesterday. I envisioned strolling through the front doors of Barnes & Noble in Bethesda, where I actually wrote part of the book, and hovering around the new releases table at the front of the store, bursting with all the pride and anxiety of a new mother. I figured I’d hold a launch event at B&N, and sign a gloriously tall stack of books for friends and family members.

Unfortunately, my book isn’t at the front of B&N along with all the other new releases, because I’m one of a number of authors caught in a dispute between my publisher, Simon & Schuster, and the nation’s largest retail chain.

There’s much I don’t understand about this corporate stand-off, and I don’t blame either side. Publishing is a tough business. Everyone is struggling – big publishers, agents, booksellers, bookstores, authors….B&N and S&S are both trying to stay afloat in a constantly changing, volatile industry.

While I hold no ill will, it is tough to accept that I’m not able to do any readings or signings at B&N stores. I admit that I cried a little when I learned B&N had cut its order for my book by 75 percent. And I’m saddened to think my novel will be back in the stacks, with my older books, if it is in stores at all. It’ll be impossible for people to give my book a chance if they can’t even find it.

Still, I’m trying to think of the positives. This book has gotten the best reviews of anything I’ve ever written. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred and boxed review. People magazine awarded it three and a half out of four stars. Marie Claire and Glamour magazine both recommended it.

I wrote The Best of Us in a little coffeeshop around the corner from my son’s nursery school. I loved those quiet, dreamy hours, when fueled by a latte and a croissant, I delved into the complicated worlds of my main characters. I interviewed experts in both severe weather patterns and genetic diseases so I could develop story lines. I jotted notes on scraps of paper, on my iPhone, and even on my hand when inspiration struck. I wrote and rewrote, cut and pasted, trimmed and shaped, and then I read through my manuscript and did it all over again.

After a painful, agonizing birth, I finally got to hold my son. And though this process has also been painful, I can pick up a copy of The Best of Us, and remember all the care and hard work I poured into it. And I can feel proud.

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally-bestselling author of the novels THE BEST OF US, THESE GIRLS, SKIPPING A BEAT and THE OPPOSITE OF ME. Please find her on Facebook and twitter @sarahpekkanen!

Sarah is the mother of three young boys, which explains why she wrote part of her novel at Chuck E. Cheese. Seriously. Sarah penned her first book, Miscellaneous Tales and Poems, at the age of 10. When publishers failed to jump upon this literary masterpiece (hey, all the poems rhymed!) Sarah followed up by sending them a sternly-worded letter on Raggedy Ann stationery. Sarah still has that letter, and carries it to New York every time she has meetings with her publisher, as a reminder that dreams do come true. At least some dreams – Brad Pitt has yet to show up on her doorstep wearing nothing but a toolbelt and asking if she needs anything fixed. So maybe it’s only G-rated dreams that come true. Please visit http://www.sarahpekkanen.com

Debut Author Kim Boykin Listens To Her Characters And Lets Them Tell The Story

I love reading books where I’m transported—and I don’t mean to another planet (although I’ve read some of those books too). What I love about reading women’s fiction is being plunked into the middle of characters’ lives, their worlds, their emotions. Author Kim Boykin brings us down South in her debut novel, THE WISDOM OF HAIR. It’s a part of the country and a culture, that can seem foreign to me—an East Coast Jewish girl living in Chicago. Yet, a good book—good women’s fiction especially—brings us together and reveals our similarities more than our differences. Can’t really ask for more than that! 

Please welcome Kim Boykin to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo 

Debut Author Kim Boykin Listens To Her Characters And Lets Them Tell The Story

Amy: Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, THE WISDOM OF HAIR. Would you share with us about your journey to publication?

Kim: I was TERRIBLE with rejection, but got better. Back in the day when everything went out via snail mail, I HATED going into the post office because the same woman always waited on me. Even during the years I wasn’t submitting, she’d say really loud, “So, did ever you sell that book you were always brining in here?” After I sold the book, I didn’t see that woman for about a year, but when I did, it felt really good to say, “Remember that manuscript you always asked me about, well guess what?”

But I didn’t sell it the traditional way, I went to the NY Pitch Conference in July, got a bunch of editors reading the manuscript and THEN I pitched agents. What a difference your query letter makes when you first paragraph says, “I have these editors reading, and I think I’m going to need an agent soon.” I sold the book that December.

Amy: Your website says you write Southern women’s fiction.  What are the most important parts of that Southern culture to impart when you’re writing? What makes the South different from other parts of the country?

Kim: If you lined up all Americans and graded them on the quirkiness scale, you’ll find that southerners are off the charts. Quirky usually translates into interesting reading. As far as imparting culture, I don’t really think about it that way. It happens organically in my characters. Some things people understand and some things they don’t, but they’re still drawn to our stories.

Amy: Do you have a favorite scene in your book or a favorite line or moment? Why is it your favorite?

Kim: Publishers always want to know what your brand is, and, after some thought I realized mine is, women helping women find their happily ever after.  It shows in my favorite moment and quote in the book when Zora, the protagonist, is rescued by her BFF, Sara Jane Farquhar, and Sara Jane’s mom.

There is so much in this world I’ll never know, that I’ll never understand, but one thing I know for certain, there is a bond of sisterhood and friendship that overrides all things. It came to me before sunup the next morning as a ready-made rescue with tears and hugs that drew me in, almost suffocating me with its warmth and safety. It came with a knock at the door, after I’d been asleep for a good while. The woman peeked out the little window and opened the door. Sara Jane and her mama came into the room like a whirlwind, with their coats over their bathrobes. They had not even stopped to dress.

We all stood there huddled up, crying, although they had no idea as to exactly why. They were crying for me because I hurt so badly, because they loved me and would never let me bear the pain I felt alone. The sisterhood had driven two hundred and twenty-five miles to my rescue in no time flat, and not even the Rapture itself could have kept them from getting to me.

Amy: Do you have any writing rituals?  How about outlining? Do you do it, or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Kim:  I’m a morning writer, and I’m the type of writer who hears voices. They aren’t characters, they’re people. I have no control over what they do or say, and if I try to exert said control, it always turns out horrible. I usually just put them together in an imaginary box and see what they do. They teach me, they surprise me. They’re the real storytellers; I’m just the stenographer.

Amy: What’s your definition of women’s fiction?

Kim:  To me, women’s fiction is character driven stories, usually about women, that unfold like an heirloom wedding dress. They evoke emotion and readers love to revel in the details.

Amy: What’s your best advice for writers of women’s fiction?

Kim: Never give up and find a group of writer who offer good, honest critique. And if you read any how-to-write books, take in what they say, but listen to your head and your heart. When you read your work out loud, you’ll know what’s right.

I was born in Augusta, Georgia, but raised in South Carolina in a home with two girly sisters and great parents. So when you read my stuff if there is ever some deranged mama or daddy terrorizing the protagonist, I want to make it clear, it’s not them.

I had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, for some reason, it’s very appealing that the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

What I did have going for me was two things. One, my grandfather, Bryan Standridge, was an amazing storyteller. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the side of his yard, and people used to come by in droves just to hear him tell stories. He told tales about growing up in rural Georgia and shared his unique take on the world. As a child, I was enthralled, but when I started to write, really write, I realized what a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail he was.

The other major influence on my writing is my ADHDness. Of course when I was a kid, nobody knew what that was. Compared to my older sisters, I knew something was “wrong” with me, so I learned to multitask like crazy and excel at things I did well to make up for things I couldn’t do like math and sitting still.

Today, I’m an empty nester of two kids with a husband, three dogs, and 126 rose bushes. I write stories about strong southern women because that’s what I know. I’m an accomplished public speaker, which basically means I’m good at talking.

If this doesn’t tell you what you want to know, check out my blog for a few laughs and some good stuff on writing, gardening, food, and, of course, hair.

You can find out more about Kim at her website.

Author Lisa Wingate Says Women’s Fiction Is Stories About Every Day Lives, Struggles, And Dreams—And They’re Good For Men, Too

How often do we have the opportunity to chat with an author who has written 18 novels? Not very often! Lisa Wingate is a multi-published author who writes inspirational women’s fiction and romance. What does that mean? It means a lot of things to Lisa, but what struck me most is how Lisa wants her readers to be better off for reading her book. Whoa. And yes. Also below you will find some of the most generous aspiring author (and any author) writing advice that we’ve had here on WFW. Lisa is a true gem for taking the time, and having the heart, to share so much with us today.

Please welcome Lisa Wingate to Women’s Fiction Writers. 

Amy xo

Author Lisa Wingate Says Women’s Fiction Is Stories About Every Day Lives, Struggles, And Dreams—And They’re Good For Men, Too

ImageAmy:  On your website it says “Fiction That’s Good For the Soul.” What does that mean to you, and what do you want it to convey to anyone visiting your website?

Lisa: My first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, was published in 2001 in the general market by Penguin Putnam. At the time, there was a strong division between general market books and Christian books. Tending Roses was one of the first novels to fall in that middle ground. Selling the book took a little over a year — roughly four months of searching for the right agent, and then about seven or eight months of shopping the book around to publishers. Because it fell somewhere between Christian and mainstream publishing, which were very separate back in the day, that was an interesting process, involving many rewrites and much discussion with several publishers. Eventually, we ended up selling the book to Penguin.

I’ve always wanted to write stories that leave my readers better off than they were at the beginning, books that were uplifting. My characters start out living a life that wasn’t totally genuine for them, question that, and learn some life lessons along the way.

At this point, I’ve been blessed to write twenty novels (18 published and two on the way) for both general market and Christian publishers. I love having books shelved in places where people who have never tried a faith-based novel might give one a try. Eventually, I “branded” my works as “Fiction that’s Good for the Soul” and I love hearing from readers who tell me what the books have meant to them.

My website is designed to welcome new readers and longtime, faithful readers. I like it to be a place for us to connect. Visitors can learn about my books, check for contests, sign up for my e-newsletter, request for me to speak at an event, find writing hints, see what I have bragging rights to (awards, etc.), and check my appearances page to see if we might meet in person at some event. I realize that the tide has turned some toward Facebook, Pinterest, Tweeting, and blogging, all of which I love to the point of addiction. But, my techie and I try to make sure the website gives all the basic information and a way to contact me FMI.

Amy: Can you tell us a little about Firefly Island, your eighteenth novel (Wow! Congratulations!) without any spoilers of course?

Lisa: At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men–fortunately, they’re related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can’t imagine her future without them.

Mallory couldn’t be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying.

Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?

Firefly Island is part real life and part whimsey. Years ago, my life took a similar turn when, through a series of family connections, my husband was offered the chance to leave his corporate job and operate a ten thousand acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Like Daniel in the story, he really did walk out of the bedroom (looking quite peaked and somewhat terrified) and say, “I… ummm… think I’ve just been offered a… ummm… job in… Texas.” It was fun now that I’m nearly at the empty nest stage to look back and put some of our early marriage/ young family experiences in this story.

Amy:  Your trademark, your “brand” to use today’s buzzword, is that you write inspirational women’s fiction and romance. Why is it important for you to weave these elements into your stories?

Lisa: I write women’s fiction, because I think it’s the most natural thing to write from where you live. I am a wife, and a mom, and a community member, and a friend. The things I experience, and wrestle with, and find joy in, in life, come mostly from these areas.

As far as the romance, what woman doesn’t want romance in her life and in her stories? Everything from love-at-first-sight in Firefly Island, to the rekindling of an older marriage, as in The Summer Kitchen and Never Say Never come into my head and out my pen… well, actually off my computer keys. 

Stories are my back fence way of sharing those experiences, investigating them, and working through them. I learn something new from each story. You wouldn’t think the people in your head could teach you things you don’t already know, but they do:-)

Amy: Can you tell us a little about how you get the ideas for your novels?  Do they just pop into your head fully formed? Do you sit and mine your thoughts for a good story?  And then, do you just start writing or do you outline, make character worksheets, or notes?

Lisa: I come from a long line of Irish storytellers and married into a big Texas clan of storytellers . Rich family legends and tales abound at our holiday dinner tables and are so numerous that some aunts, uncles, and grandparents have recognized themselves in my novels.

And, stories come from waiting in line at Wal-Mart and watching the impatience of the lady in front of me huffing and fuming as the checkout person chats a moment with an elderly man who has lost his prescription service card. What I could do to that fussy, rushed, impatient woman in my story!  Stories come from a sweet lady in my booksigning line who said, “There is a story right here in Waco you should know about. Shall I tell you?” My eyes lit up as I thought I’m always looking for a good story. Right then I learned about the Gospel Café, The Summer Kitchen was born, and went forth to inspire other towns to have a similar “restaurant” that serves meals several times a week to anyone who comes. Stories come from a male reader fan who wrote me saying nice things about Texas Cooking (a very pink book, by the way) and offering to help with Internet projects. Over time he went on to share about his long and rich space career and his views on being so often gone during his daughter’s upbringing. Those reflections ended up as J.Norm in Dandelion Summer. And, stories come from… Well, it’s enough to say that stories live everywhere around me in the people I meet, and in my mind.

When a good one pops up and I get excited about it, I write a paragraph in my little notebook or dictate a memo or email to myself. There are always some stories working their way to the back burner and some that keep worming their way to the front. I might have to accept at some point that I may never write them all. ;o(

The tough part is those rare days when the computer screen is a blank slate, I open my notebook, and I’m supposed to write that synopsis and first couple of chapters for my editor. Which story? It will be the one I’m most excited about at that point and that has ‘gelled’ in my mind. I may need to find a consultant or do some research for details, but I’ll start meeting my characters on those first pages and the story will move along—not always as I first envisioned it, but I can depend on my characters to learn and grow and end in a better place and that makes me happy.

Amy: Women’s fiction comes in all shapes and sizes. What’s your definition of women’s fiction?

Lisa: For me, women’s fiction is anything that deals with every day lives, and struggles, and hopes, and dreams of women. Which is not to say that our stories aren’t fine for men to read too. Some of my sweetest reader letters actually come from men, but I think as women we are natural communicators. We seek to work out our struggles in life by sharing them and by walking through others’ experiences alongside them. In these my modern times, when we don’t get together anymore as our grandmothers did to do our washing and mending and chatting at the back fence as we go through our daily chores, book clubs and sharing the lives of women through story have become a critical element in fulfilling that need for support and sisterhood.

Amy: What is your best advice for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?

Lisa: First, remember that everyone starts out as a yet-to-be-published author. I know it sounds elementary, but don’t attempt to set out into the publishing world until you’re fully ready. In other words, begin by finishing a novel. It’s almost impossible to sell a partial manuscript or idea if you’re unpublished. Polish it and send it out, because as much as we’d like them to, editors won’t come looking in your desk drawer.

Yes, showing your work to the world involves some risk. Don’t take a critique too seriously if you hear it from one person. Editors, agents, friends, and readers are individuals. What works for one may not work for another. If you receive the same comment from multiple sources, consider revising your manuscript before you send it elsewhere. Be tenacious, be as thick-skinned as possible, keep writing while you wait for news. If the first book sells, you’ll be set for a two-book deal. If the first one doesn’t sell, you have eggs in another basket.

If there is a particular area of your writing that seems to be holding you back (action scenes, dialog, description, characterization, etc.) devote extensive study to this area. Seek out conference sessions and online workshops devoted to the topic. Study other authors’ techniques in this area. Don’t just read and admire—dissect, break down, make notes, keep a scrapbook of examples and notes-to-self. Read these notes-to-self when you’re stuck/struggling/editing something that isn’t working.

Watch for overbalance of narrative in your writing. Nothing slows down the pace of a story like huge patches of narrative. Narrative produces pages with big, blocky paragraphs that read slowly, and that tend to “tell” rather than “show”. When possible, work story elements into dialog, action, reaction, and short thought sequences, rather than using narrative. For example, rather than describing the main street of your town, have your character walk down Main, greet a neighbor or two, and reflect on a few random childhood memories of people/places. Be careful that you don’t slide down the slippery slope of having characters engage in meaningless chatter designed only to dump information to the reader, but always seek opportunities to work details in naturally during character interactions. Remember that body language speaks volumes, too.

Lastly, never marry yourself to one project. Keep creating new material—that’s where the joy is, and if you keep the joy in this business, you keep the magic of it.

And develop a sisterhood around your writing passion. I mean ‘sisterhood’ as a general term—guys can be great supporters also. Be in a book club so you can listen to what others love about the books they read, be in a writers critique group so you can learn from the struggles of others and get help with your stumbling blocks, offer to be an influencer for a few authors who write in your genre, subscribe to some women’s fiction writers’ newsletters and read their blogs, go to conferences and start making agent and editor appointments when you are at that point, start a beta reading team of several discerning readers who will be honest and help you perfect that first novel for submission. If you have a God-given desire to write and a story to tell, then don’t let anything hold you back.

Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of 16 books.  Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its fifteenth printing from Penguin Putnam.  Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen(2010). In 2011, Lisa’s Novel, Never Say Never, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award.  Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, in mainstream fiction.  Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational southern fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read.  Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Read a Three – chapter excerpt of Firefly Island on Lisa’s Reader’s page here:  http://on.fb.me/Vj5q85

All the places you can find Lisa:

Lisa’s  website: www.Lisawingate.com
Twitter:   http://twitter.com/#!/lisawingate
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Wingate-Readers-Circle/132187520154779
Pinterest:  https://pinterest.com/lisawingatebook/
Blogging Mondays at: www.SouthernBelleViewDaily.com