Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, June 27, 2014

Writer's Block

I’ve always been leery about the idea of writer’s block.  It’s a fun excuse to use when your writing is not going well, or not going at all, but if you transfer the idea of being “blocked” to other professions it seems a bit dramatic to claim that one has writer’s block.  Claiming to have it also helps one to avoid looking at the real reasons one’s writing isn’t progressing as expected.

Take for example a writer working for a marketing firm.  If this writer told her boss or client that she had writer’s block they might not have a job or a client for very long.  If an ER doctor said she had “being-a-doctor’s block” all kinds of bad things could happen.

So, what’s really going on with any kind of professional block?

Well, I think that as humans, as talented as we might be, we all have limits and guess what?  Writing is really, really tough work.  I think there are lots of folks who think writing is easy and when they sit down to write that Great American Novel that is going to make them rich and famous they’re stymied by how hard it is and often dismiss it as writer’s block.

Now to be fair, writer’s block was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler as a “condition.”  Here’s the Widipedia link:

And, yes there are some very famous writers who have had this “condition.”  Of course, some of them were also heavy drinkers!

But, in all fairness part of this “condition” does seem to be associated with professions in the world of music, art and literature where coming up with original ideas and being creative are essential elements of producing the end product such as a novel,  painting or song.

So, in my opinion, the first task if a writer is “stuck” is to figure out what is actually going on with their writing process and perhaps even events in their life at that time that might be distracting them from writing. 

Many, many articles and books have been written about how to overcome writer’s block and a recurring theme is to have a plan for your writing project.  This goes back to process and might be that an outline, a commitment to write so many pages a day or week, etc., will “unblock” the writer, but whatever it is, it should be something that will not cause the writer even more anxiety and therefore fuel writer’s block.  Yes, it can be a vicious cycle sometimes and that’s one of the reasons writing is hard work.

Just in case, here’s a recent article by Andrew Lewis Conn that suggests 7 ways to beat writer’s block:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Can Happen In One Year? by DL Larson

My book, Promises My Love, has just celebrated its first birthday! My book launch happened June 22, 2013, at the Book Mouse, Ottawa IL.  Promises My Love was the top seller at the store that week!

It's been an interesting year, a strange one too, branching out on my own as an indie. I miss the security of having a publisher to help set up outings. At the same time, I learned much. Promises My Love had a 12 week blog tour, something my other books never had.  I found a place to launch my book, an independent book store close to home. My previous launchings were quite different. My first, I hosted in my home and over 200 folks attended. It was fabulous and fun. My second, I held in a restaurant and hosted a dinner later. Not much money stayed in my pocket from that adventure. Again, it was a great time to celebrate with my family and friends. 

I've only entered my book in a few contests this time, due mostly to not staying on task. I wanted to send it to many contests, but failed to follow through when the time came. I have no one to blame but myself for those failed opportunities. My library director encouraged me to send Promises My Love into the state wide contest held by the Illinois Library Association. I was happy it finalled.  

Promises My Love received some great reviews ... 
from Devotional Thoughts: "life is precious, and nothing is too dark to make the conscious decision to end it all... The author does an excellent job at illustrating her point through an amazing story of family, tragedy, and true love."
from Reader Views: "... the author takes you inside the mind of each character so you can see the world through their eyes and experience what they are feeling ... I truly enjoyed reading this novel, inspite of the pain of what the characters were experiencing, the strength of the love from others around them felt very heartwarming. While this is not a light story, it is definitely one that will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished."

Those few reviews and others like it, propelled me to continue into the next book. My next installment is in its final revision stages. It should be further down the avenue toward publishing, but again I am the only one at fault for that. My editor waits for my revisions. In the last few months I realized I've stopped doing one very important thing in my writing. I haven't set deadlines or goals for completion. I have always been a goal setter and can't say why I lapsed so badly this time. This one misstep has hindered my progress. I have to readjust my priorities. I must set a deadline for completion.

This blog will serve to remind me to stay on track. I'm excited to tell the rest of the story in my next book. My goal is to finish my revisions by the end of July. This may prove to push me over the edge since I have too many things going on right now. I must set my goals and stick to them. I need to finish this project and move it into the next phase. Until then, please consider reading, Promises My Love this summer! It's available in paperback or in e-book form.

Promises My Love is available on

Happy Birthday, Promises My Love!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Just Do It

I woke up with a summer cold today. I didn't feel like getting up, but knew eating breakfast would be best for me.

Then there was the matter of Rascal, my dog. I could throw her into the fenced yard and let her do her thing, but she looked forward to her walks and I knew one would be good for both of us.

I was right on both counts. Rascal ran around the house in jubilation afterward, and my head actually felt clearer. To make things even better, I took a cough drop.

The same is true about writing. It's so easy to play on the Internet or decide to tackle jobs around the house instead, but if you're a writer like me, the best medicine is to start or finish a book. Sometimes it's hard. You might have an idea for a book, but don't know how to start it. Or, you might be stuck somewhere in between and can't seem to get the right words out.

Just do it. If not, it'll never get done, and you'll feel worse for not having made the effort. And, after you've finished writing your book, get an editor for that extra help to make sure it's polished.

Find all of Morgan Mandel's romances and
mysteries at her Amazon Author Page:

Excerpts are at:


Twitter: @MorganMandel

Monday, June 23, 2014

Five Character and Book Facts

I'm playing a blog game over at my other blog today that I thought I'd share.

The Fives - share five facts about your current work-in-progress, then tag five friends to do the same. Link to the previous person's post also.  A  fun way to share about your work and learn about other author's works.

Please take a look --- as some of you are tagged! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Procrastination by Margot Justes

Editing a manuscript is not for the faint of heart.  I've been working on my novella for far too long and have barely made any headway.

This weekend is free and I planned to spend it in my office, but I decided to bake bread  instead. Anything to delay the editing. It's called procrastination and I'm really, really good at it.

Next, laundry beckons, maybe pasta sauce is on the agenda today, grating cheese to go with the pasta, have to go food shopping to get the ingredients, and in the process I had a few cups of coffee already, and cleaned my office. You get the drift, anything else but writing.

Now I'm tired and out of things I'm willing to do, and it’s still morning. Novella awaits,  and I’m looking for other things to do. Anything to postpone sitting down at my desk and staring down a blank page. The sheer terror of silent characters.

I’m going through a dry spell, writer’s block, whatever you call it, I’m in it.

The next step for me that usually works is re-reading the manuscript, and get back into the story and the characters, and catch up with their lives. That is what I intend to do after I have a couple more cups of coffee. The other option that sometimes works, is to start another project, and set aside the silent ‘family feud’ in my current WIP.

As a writer, I should be used to this, it has happened before, and will happen again-yet it is something that I have never quite gotten used to.

I have dust bunnies in my living room, time to go downstairs and dust...I never thought cleaning would be preferable to writing...wait, it isn’t.  On the other hand, I usually come up with some terrific dialog while cleaning.

Procrastination is an effective tool to a clean house.

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Blood Art
A Fire Within
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

Friday, June 20, 2014


So, I was poking around at and clicked on the Self Publishing tab and I received a notification that PW Select is now part of BookLife.

Interesting, hey?

You may – or may not – recall that PW Select started as Publishers Weekly’s marketing program for self-published authors and an opportunity for “indie authors to submit their books for a PW Review consideration FOR FREE!” 

Please forgive the cynic in me but I’ve always considered FREE to be a four-letter word in all possible ways, but to be fair the offer is clear that it’s the consideration that is free.

Well, bump over to BookLife and you’ll see that – at least at first glance - that it’s another site to offer services to indie authors.  I’m beginning to think that the business to be in might be the offering-services business and not writing or self-publishing because it seems like another one of these businesses (offering services to self-published authors) is opening if not weekly then monthly.

Now, my cynicism aside, if Publishers Weekly can’t offer it in a way that matters I’d be very disappointed.  The site – which is currently in Beta mode – does offer some interesting help and support for indie authors but do keep in mind that their business model appears to be selling services to those indie authors, and hey, why not?

Any indie author out there will have to admit at some point that writing the book is only half – or less – of the battle.  Cover design, editorial support, marketing, etc. are all incredibly important.  Then there’s the issue of being discovered by readers.  The real question for indie authors is how much of this type of non-writing work do they want to do, and more importantly, how much time do they actually have to do it.  You can’t sell a book that isn’t written to readers – well, not really.  We could break for a philosophical discussion here but I think you get the drift of what I’m saying.

So, the BookLife site does add an interesting opportunity for indie authors, but it’s a lot more difficult to sort through those opportunities as more and more players join the growing field of self-publishing services.  I’m still adjusting from the drama of paper or plastic at the grocery store!

Ah, such is the life of the indie author!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What Are Your 'Crutch Words?' by DL Larson

            I'm in the midst of having my next book edited. Well, I use that term loosely. My editor waits for my revisions. She has done her part and now I need to do mine. I procrastinate not because I dread doing the revisions, okay, maybe a little. But the fact is she's found my 'crutch words.' The words I over-use when writing my draft. Most writers do this, it's nothing new. I knew what my 'crutch words' were before she began her process of editing. It didn't stop me from using them again, over and over.

When I edit another person's work, I find their 'crutch words.' Usually I smile, thinking I'm pretty good at this editing thing. By the fifth chapter I want to pull my hair out for discovering another nest of over-used words. I think, how could the writer NOT SEE THIS??????

I know the answer. My brain, and yours too if you're a writer, likes to keep going, staying in the flow of words to create a new page, a new chapter and finally a new book. Or rather ... a draft of a new book. The simple words splash across the page as I spin the plot, forming words on paper before the thoughts disappear or slide away. I'm not interested in exact descriptions at this point. That will come later in my revisions. If a big powerful word comes to me, I'm elated, if not, I use a simple word and keep going.

What I find humbling and humorous is my inability to see all my crutch words. I labor over my revisions, until finally, I think - there! That's what I meant all along. That descriptive word is so much better. I continue on, believing I've found all my crutch words. I let things rest awhile and attack it again a week or so later. I'm appalled at what I've missed. I revise again, and again. There! That should do it. I'm ready for an editor.

I'm sure I've found all the little mistakes. I'm pretty good with grammar, typos and such. But I still slide right over my crutch words. Somehow, I don't SEE them. It's a mystery to me. I'm looking for them and still don't find all of them. How can this possibly be?

So, you guessed it, my editor found several over-used words in my manuscript. LOOK seems to be a favorite of mine. My characters look up, look down, look all around. They look in, they look out, they look like fools looking all about!! One would think I would have noticed this foible. After all, I was LOOKING for them!

So, my point is, never, never, miss this needed step in your writing process. Let a professional edit your manuscript before you call it finished!

And if you're feeling brave today, share one of your crutch words with us!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Amazon Only by Margot Justes

My books were out on Amazon, KOBO, Barnes & Noble, and all the other available venues. It was easy since my formatter did everything for me, but last week I switched to Amazon only.

I started paying attention to the e-mails I received from the other companies, advertising books for sale, and I noticed it was the same everywhere, all the bestsellers were being promoted, not a midlist author among them.

It was the same everywhere except on Amazon. I saw my books being advertised along with others. That is a brilliant and savvy move on Amazon’s part, because among those lesser names could be the next huge bestseller. Why is it that only Amazon recognizes that possibility? Where are the others? Why is Amazon the only one giving midlist authors a chance to build their readership?

I fully recognize that bestsellers make money, they sell large numbers of books, and this is a business, and as such must turn a profit to survive. But surely there is room for a different voice, a new breath, those writers that aren’t main stream but have something to say that may not be quite middle of the road, but may succeed beyond expectations. Surely that is how a business grows, and markets expand.

Amazon recognizes the value of smart advertising, and in reality it costs them little to add a few new writers to their ad campaigns. Why can’t the others do the same?

They made the decision for me, I have more to gain when I give Amazon my exclusive rights. Amazon offers KDP Select, Paid Library Lending, discounted or free promotion days; it’s up to me to decide how to market my books. I have plenty of opportunities to promote within Amazon, and with their resources I’m better off.

The issues about market and pricing control are complex, and many claim Amazon wants to control the market, currently the battle with Hachette is an example. In reality what company wouldn’t want to be in Amazon’s shoes?

From my perspective, as a small midlist author, I’ll stay with Amazon only, for growth and potential new readership, at least they give me a chance.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within

Friday, June 13, 2014

Independent Bookstore Day

On July 12, 2014 a number of Chicago independent bookstores will start the first Chicago Independent Bookstore Day.  This comes after independent bookstores in California had great success in their own California Bookstore Day in May 2014.  The overall goal is to have a National Bookstore Day in the future.

The California event was amped up with a literary scavenger hunt that was quite popular with younger readers and one of the bookstores produced a short theater piece for customers and yet another devised a literary trivia game.  Early reports are that the independent bookstores all enjoyed increased foot traffic and sales.

So, what does this mean for authors?  Well, it depends on how much you the author/writer value booksellers.  I personally think that they and librarians are angels and it’s a win-win situation when we all work together.

Self-publishing has made it easier than ever before for authors to claim that status of published, but there are so many people doing it (good, bad & ugly) that it’s easy to get lost in a sea of title noise and manipulated rankings on a variety of sites and bestseller lists.

So, becoming a published author is one thing but becoming a discovered published author these days is quite another.  One thing that hasn’t changed in my opinion is that booksellers and librarians still are a vital piece of the "discoverability" equation for authors.

Here’s the link to the Chicago article:

Here’s the link to the article detailing the success of the California Bookstore Day:

Here’s the link to the website for the California Bookstore Day event and organization: