Are You Getting the Words on the Page?

Writers, are you generating new words every day, editing your work, getting projects in the pipeline for publication? Giving a final push to all those goals you set back in January?

Summer’s coming to a close, the new school year has begun, and for me, it’s a perfect time to launch new projects.

Here’s what I have going on.

  1. Launching a new blog and website. Go Write Something focuses on providing information for people who want to learn more about writing, publishing, and marketing books.
  2. Launching a podcast on the Go Write Something site. I’m the stereotypical introverted writer, so this is a stretch for me, but I’ve already lined up author interviews, so it seems I’ll have to come out of my shell long enough to host a podcast.
  3. Collaborating on two series. I’ve teamed up with two talented writers to collaborate on two different series, one for young adults and the other decidedly not. The goal is to have the first in each series published by Christmas.
  4. Publishing a story collection under my pen name, C.R. Byron. The collection is finished and the cover created. While I’ve published all the stories individually, the collection allows me to sell them at a lower price for the bundle and allows me to have a full-length book on the shelves. Ebook to be published in the next few days. Print book to follow before the end of the year.
  5. Starting a mastermind group. I’ve found a few other women in the Atlanta area who are committed to personal and professional growth. We’ll be launching our mastermind group in November, with official meeting dates beginning after the holidays.

Don’t let the end of the year demands slow down your writing progress. Momentum in the last quarter of 2013 means you can set much higher goals going into 2014–and expect to achieve them.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll follow me over to Sign up for weekly updates, and I’ll send you writing tips, information about publishing and marketing your books, and interviews with writers, agents, and other people involved in the publishing industry.

Go write something!



Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


Our Book Is on Shelves, Just Not in My Neighborhood

My first traditionally published book came out a couple of weeks ago. This is a moment many writers dream about over a lifetime, and a large percentage of them will never see this particular dream come true. I’m counting my blessings, believe me.

We received a decent advance. Some of my friends back in California have picked up their copies. The author, Chef Antonia Lofaso, for whom I’m co-writer, has a television show called Beat the Chefs that launched on GSN last week.So I’ve been more than a little dismayed that I haven’t been able to find The Busy Mom’s Cookbook on the shelves of either of my local Barnes & Noble bookstores. (My local indie bookstores specialize in used books.)

The publisher sent me several copies of the book, and I could order more via Amazon at any time. But I have to confess. I was looking forward to walking into a bookstore and seeing a book with my name on the title page. 

While I know it’s quite possible to have your indie published books on sale in brick and mortar bookstores if you’re willing to do the marketing work, I’m quite satisfied to get make my indie work available online for now. However I thought a major publisher like ours would make this book widely available in a fairly large, food obsessed city like the one I currently call home.

Clearly I still have a lot to learn about this business.

Go write something!

P.S. If you’re surprised to learn you can get indie published books onto bookstores shelves, run, don’t walk, to the blogs of Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith.  Read. Study. Learn.

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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Career



10 Easy Ways to Find Time to Write

It’s easy to complain about a lack of time to write. I should know. I’ve done it enough over the years.

But the truth is, you and I are no more busy than the next guy. Don’t get me wrong. I believe you when you say you have a lot to do. I just happen to know all those writers we watch generate story after story and book after book have the same 24 hours in a day as we do. And I don’t imagine they have a staff of housekeepers, nannies, chauffeurs, and personal assistants to help them carve out writing time.

So how can you find time to write?

  1. Get up half hour earlier. Yeah, I know. This isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do. But that quiet time before anyone stirs in your house, before your phone starts to ring, and before you get distracted by email can be invaluable. If writing is important to you, well . . .
  2. Limit social networking. Speaking of email, limit yourself to specific times of day when you’ll check your inbox, log on to facebook, or dive into the twitter stream. Nothing wrong with any of those things, but if you’ve checked your email 10 times and haven’t yet finished that scene you’re working on, your schedule’s out of whack.
  3. Fall back on the old school pen and paper. Carry a notebook with you, so you can write wherever you are when inspiration strikes or you find a free moment. (Not that you should wait on inspiration, but it does happen, and it helps if you can get it down on the page while it’s fresh.)
  4. Record your favorite tv shows. Bless the inventor of the dvr. You can record a one-hour show, and skipping commercials, zip through it in about 40 minutes. Use the extra time for writing. 
  5. Skip the shows you don’t really care about. Seriously. Turn off the tv. It’s the biggest potential time suck in your life. Do you really need to watch episode after episode to see who wins American Idol this year? (Is that show still on the air?) Look critically at how the box is taking up your time. Remember: the writers, producers, and actors or contestants on those shows are all getting their work done and out to the world. Are you?
  6. Make use of waiting time. Whether you’re stuck in the carpool line waiting for the kids, sitting through yet another soccer practice, or waiting for the dentist to tell you how perfect your teeth are, you’ve got a block of time to get some work done. Bring along your laptop, or your notebook and a hard copy of your current project.
  7. Schedule your writing sessions. Don’t just put writing on your to-do list, block out time on your daily calendar. Whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours, do it consistently.Respect your work enough to show up for the appointments like you would any other. Don’t have time free in your day for regular writing sessions? How about your lunch hour? The hour after the kids go to bed? 30 minutes of the hour you’d otherwise spend complaining about your insensitive boss?
  8. Make a writing date. Find a writing partner you can regularly meet with for writing sessions. The point of these dates is to generate new work. You can always read and critique for each other later, but get the words on the page first. Grab a hot beverage, set a timer, and don’t talk until the buzzer rings.
  9. Set a daily quota AND reward. Daily word counts are great, but they’re even better if they come with a reward. Once you hit your word count, you get to watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix, spend 30 minutes surfing Ted videos, or whatever it is you might do instead of writing. Do the work first, and you can enjoy your reward with a clean conscience.
  10. Turn off the phone. This is a hard one for me. I can miss just about any call, but I try to be available for my kids. The trick here is to let folks know you’ll be working. Give the kids someone else they can reach in the event of an emergency. Ignore everyone else. You  can call them back once you’ve written your protagonist out of whatever sticky situation she finds herself in.
  11. Exercise. This one’s a bonus. The discipline of daily exercise will carry over to other areas of your life, including writing. Regular physical activity will improve your focus, and you’ll be amazed at how your story problems solve themselves while you’re walking, jogging, or lifting weights. Besides, sitting at a desk all day isn’t exactly good for getting back into your skinny jeans.

All of these ideas have worked for me at different points in my writing career, and they still do. The bottom line is that we make time for the things we prioritize. Give yourself permission to make your writing more important than most other things for a block of time every day.

How do you make time to write?

Go write something!

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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Writing



My First Traditionally Published Book | The Busy Mom’s Cookbook

Here’s a look at the cover.

Sadly, the beautiful woman on the cover isn’t me. It’s Top Chef contestant and Executive Chef Antonia Lofaso. She’s the creator of the recipes, tips, and information. I’m the writer who pulled it all together in the form of a book.

Look for it in stores in Fall of 2012. I promise my name will be on the inside.

Go write something!

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Career


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Working with a Traditional Publisher – My Experience (so far)

I count myself lucky to be on a project for which a traditional publisher was willing to pay a decent advance. But I’m not the author. I’m the co-author or writer (depending on who you ask). The ideas belong to the author, Top Chef finalist, Antonia Lofaso, and it’s my job to communicate those ideas in a fashion that will appeal to readers.

I wrote the 85-page proposal for the cookbook, and did the marketing research. I rewrote the proposal, as needed on several occasions. And that was all done before I received any payment. I was willing to put in all that work, because I had faith that Antonia, who already had a literary agent when we started, would get the book sold. It took years for that to happen, but last spring, she reached an agreement with Penguin.

Then the serious work started. By this time, I’d relocated to the East Coast, while Antonia was still back in Los Angeles. We did all of our work by conference call–writing the introductory material, her three-page biography, her short biography, over 100 recipes, tips, and suggestions for home cooks.She’s incredibly knowledgeable about her field and we tried to share as much of that knowledge as was reasonable. If you think writing a cookbook is as simple as slapping some ingredients on the page, you’re misguided, dear writer.

The editor and copy editor were both incredibly professional and offered helpful suggestions.There were some points on which Antonia wasn’t willing to make changes, and that was her battle to fight. Though I shared ideas and offered suggestions, as the project facilitator, I pretty much followed her orders.

The first pass of the manuscript pages was due back to the publisher on Tuesday. Antonia and I conferenced on her changes, which I did by hand on the pages. There were a lot of them, but they were fairly minor. The layout has already been created, and significant changes would throw that off. We sent the pages back today. Honestly, I don’t think we hit one deadline in this process. Hey, the woman’s working 3 jobs and raising a daughter.

As this writing project comes to a close, I’m counting my blessings. I got to work with some incredible people and had some amazing food in the process. The Busy Mom’s Cookbook will be published in the fall of 2012, and I’m looking forward to writing the next one.

Go write something!

P.S. Questions about my experience? Ask me in the comments, and I’ll respond as soon as possible.

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Career


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Should Indie Writers Give Away Their Work?

The debate rages all over the internet. Should indie writers give away their work in order to gain more readers?

I tried it last week. I did a 5-day promotion, setting my literary short story This Thing with Henry to give away for free as a Kindle download. (It’s now back to 99-cents, but still free to borrow for Prime members.) I thought about doing an all-out marketing push, but I only have one other story published digitally under my name. (I have others under a pen name). Before I start marketing, I’d like to have something for readers to look for once they’ve finished the free story.

Some indie publishers argue that you should never give anything away for free. They think it’s bad business. But for those of us who don’t yet have a following, it may be a good way to to begin to build a readership.

My story reached the top 20’s for free kindle books in two sub-categories. That’s not so impressive, but there are now over 400 people who have the story on their kindle. Those 400 people had never heard of me before the promotion. If Henry is to their liking, perhaps some of them will click on the link to purchase The Morning Man. Perhaps they’ll look for more of my work in the future.

I can’t pretend to have the marketing side of indie publishing figured out. I know how to write and craft a solid story. I’m fortunate enough to have access to a great cover designer. Formatting for digital publishing is fairly easy now that I’ve done it a few times. Given the choice, I’d focus exclusively on writing, and let marketing take care of itself. But I’m afraid that would mean writing for an audience of one.

I’ve published several stories under my pen name (more on that later), so for my next experiment in late April, I’ll set one of those to the $0.00 and spread the word a little more. Here’s hoping it finds the right readers and they come back for more.

Go write something!

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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Career, Indie Publishing


Why I’m Not Writing ANYTHING New This Week

At the start of the year, like so many writers, I set some specific writing goals.

I’ve consistently exceeded my daily word count, sometimes by a multiple of ten. This doesn’t include rewrites or revisions. I set specific expectations for generating new material, because I can happily get lost for hours in finding one perfect metaphor, deciding between a comma and conjunction or two separate sentences, or simply paring down dialogue. That’s all in good fun, and I continue to find great pleasure in those things, but they make for a very slow writing process.

My foray into writing genre fiction has made it somewhat easier to generate thousands of words a day, but I also do the same with literary fiction, with the knowledge that I’ll likely do a lot of cutting in the long run.

I’m proud of all the works I’ve produced (though more proud of some than others). But it’s time to do something with it all. This week is about getting the genre fiction revised and published. Next week, I’ll make time to rework the literary stories for an hour or so each day, but I’ll also get back to generating new material and hitting my word count quotas.

No matter how many words we write, our work is in some way incomplete until it’s released to the world and found by readers.

Go write something!

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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Fiction, Writing


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Writing My Way Out From Under

The word for this week is overwhelm.

I’m looking for a new house, helping the older daughter with med school apps, completing high school apps for the younger, working on financial aid applications for both, and just received manuscript notes back from the editor at Penguin. Deadlines loom.

Yesterday, I started to crack. I have a couple of genre projects I want to get published, and I began to feel like they’d never get done. I obsessed over all the things that could go wrong with my many obligations. Have I procrastinated too long? Will my fail my daughters? Will my writing partner make time to work on the manuscript before the last minute? How long will it take to get the next advance check? What if the girls don’t get into any of their desired schools? What if there’s not enough financial aid available to close the tuition gap?

I worked all day, but not efficiently. Even while I marched on the incline machine at the gym, my energy was manic, my mind roaming from one task to another. Today started out the same way, but one simple change made the difference.

I gave myself permission to delve into my own work. Sure, I met my writing quota yesterday, but it was done without respect for the work as a priority. I was simply getting it done, because I’d committed to doing it. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t even appreciate it.

I worked on all the family and career obligations. They’re all important. But I also allowed myself ninety minutes to write my fiction. No tabbing over to websites, no stopping to make a quick phone call to an admissions office, no whining about how underwater I felt.

Ninety minutes isn’t a lot of time, but it saved me. Focusing on something I can control, seeing visible progress on an important project, diving into my fictional world, and spending time with the characters of my creation recharged me in a way that few things can.

I’ll have to remember that over the next few weeks.

Go write something!


Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Writing


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How to Remove the Stigma from Self-Publishing

I sometimes buy books out of compassion for the author.

I see an author sitting at a table in a bookstore, or in a kiosk at a book fair, waiting patiently next to a stack of books. She or he is there to sign and sell books, but for whatever reason, no one has shown up or expressed an interest. I feel compelled to strike up conversation with these writers, to make them feel less awkward and alone.The response is almost always positive. They’re eager to discuss their work and sign it with a personal note penned just for me.

Almost every time I do this, over the course of twenty years or so, I get the book home and find it not worth reading. This assessment is subjective of course, and it’s never based on the subject matter, but always on the way the author treated the subject, used language, or crafted the story. I can never bring myself to dispose of the books, so I donate them in the hopes that they’ll find the right readers.

Many of these books were self-published, and some were published by big name publishing companies. There have always been self-publishing success stories, just as there have always been conventionally published books that were pure dreck. (Don’t tell me you’ve never picked up a book in a bookstore and wondered how that writer ever got a publishing deal.)

Self-publishing earned the reputation of not being able to pass muster with the publishers. Anything good to come out of that was considered an exception. Fortunately, that’s changing. Seasoned authors are taking advantage of the indie publishing and self-publishing opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago, and holding onto more of the income their books generate. New authors are using self-publishing as a means to garner recognition, and perhaps a contract, from traditional publishers.

There will always be poorly written books for sale, and now that self-publishing is easier than ever and can be done for free, we can expect thousands more unworthy books to hit the virtual shelves. The best way for serious writers to continue to diminish the stigma that taints self-publishing is to self-publish the best work possible. Many readers sitting at home downloading books on their kindles and other electronic reading devices don’t care who published the book. They just want it to be good.

Here are my latest indie published offerings.

Go write something!


Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Career, Indie Publishing


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Note to Self: Trust Your Writer’s Instinct

When I first started as a creative writer, I took a lot of classes and workshops. I was so close to my own writing, so invested in my lofty goals, I often failed to see my own shortcomings. Even when I did, I was quite good at rationalizing them away, hoping no one else would notice. I needed an instructor or classmate to point out cliches, poor word choices, logic gaps, unintentional humor or total lack of humor, flat characters, lack of texture, and all the other things that can make your writing a bore.

Receiving criticism and using it to make my work better helped me learn to find those problems for myself. Critiquing my classmates’ writing allowed me to develop an even sharper eye for all those details, and eventually I got to the point that I didn’t really need anyone to show me where my work was falling short. In almost every case, the things they circled and outlined and questioned on my drafts were things I already knew weren’t right. I may not have known just how to fix them, but I was aware that they needed to be fixed.

I still get feedback from my writing friends and from some great readers I’m fortunate to have in my life, but I don’t depend on it. Instead, I’ve learned to be my own best critic. Rarely does my writer’s instinct let me down.

Go write something!


Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Fiction, Writing