August 16, 2009

Never, Ever Give Up!

If you really and truly want to be a published writer, you will never give up.

My first book, a family saga which I typed on a regular typewriter and sent off in a box to each publisher with another smaller box inside with the required stamps to get it back. When it began to look shabby, I retyped all 500 pages over, redoing a page every time I made a mistake. I did this a lot, since I got nearly thirty rejections before finally receiving a thin business envelope in the mail with an acceptance letter inside.

This happened right after everyone in my critique group told me publishers weren't buying historical family sagas anymore. What would have happened if I'd given up? Nothing, except that my first book wouldn't have been published.

Oh, I got plenty more rejections after that, but I just kept on writing. Fortunately when the Internet and email came into being the process of querying and sending full manuscripts out became much easier and began to find homes for all the books I'd kept right on writing.

Through the years I've met many really good writers, writers who amazed me and I wished I could write as well, who upon receiving two or three rejections decided it wasn't worth the effort. Not only did they not have the joy of seeing their book in print, but they deprived potential readers of a pleasurable few hours.

There is an old adage that says, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." And that's exactly what you should be doing.

No, I'm not a best selling author, but I have over twenty-five books in print and now with the advent of Kindle and other reading devices, many of those twenty-five books are now being read by new eyes.

Why do you write? First, because you have a story to tell. Second, because you hope that someday a reader will be entertained, mystified, thrilled, scared, or inspired by your words. All the more reason not to give up.

You have taken the time to put the words that have been clamoring to get out of your brain onto paper so take the time, no matter how long, to make sure they are in the best possible shape, and then send them out and keep sending them out until someone at some publishing house realizes your words need to be in print--whether it's in a regular book or an e-book.

That's the best advice I can give to any writer.


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August 2, 2009

Creating a Writer's Platform

Writing has become the epitome of entrepreneurial enterprise. If you aren’t already a household name as a published author, you need to start figuring out how you are going to get your name out into the world—before you’re published.

Writing a good story no longer suffices. Don’t get me wrong--you still need to learn and apply craft and write a damn good story. But your book, no matter how wonderfully written, will never move from your desk to bookstore shelves until you can create a demand. This is accomplished by creating a visible presence within the writing world.

As writers, how can we create a platform to launch our writing careers? There is no formulaic answer. You have to find the method that works for you. I chose to do author interviews in my genre. I’ve done columns for several years at print and electronic publications. I've had the opportunity to interview a variety of authors, from debut novelists to veteran New York Times bestselling authors.

I originally did the interviews for a now defunct e-zine, but moved my work to my website, bringing my followers with me. I get added mileage by linking my interviews with the author’s website. I allow each author to use my interviews on their sites in exchange for linking back to mine. I have no problems riding their coat tails. I created opportunities to learn more about my future competition, followed the trends in my genre and established a network of authors that I can turn to when needed during my writing career. In addition, I now have relationships with publicists within both large and small publishing houses. All that’s left is to finish my manuscript and call in the markers.

That's my plan toward name recognition. What are you doing to make your presence known?


July 19, 2009

What Makes Your Novel Different?

While working with someone who was preparing a query letter, I asked, "Just what is it that makes your novel different from all the rest?"

The book in question was a romance novel. Thousands of romance novels are published every year; I wanted the author to come up with one or two sentences that would show the agent she was querying exactly what it was that made her novel outstanding.

Saying a book is an historical romance set in a certain period isn't quite enough, since there are probably lots of queries that come across the agent's desk that fall into the same category. What makes the heroine special? Or the hero? What dilemma do they find themselves in?

I once wrote an historical family saga called Two Ways West that could be summed up with this sentence: Two families travel to California, one by covered wagon across the plains and through the mountains, the other through Mexico and by paddle steamer, facing many obstacles along the way, and finally becoming neighbors in the foothills of the Sequoia.

Because I'm writing mysteries now, I'm far more adept at coming up with a one or two liner (often called the blurb, or elevator pitch) for them.

My latest Rocky Bluff crime novel pitch is: No Sanctuary is about two churches, two ministers, two wives, one murder.

The next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Dispel the Mist could be described this way: While Deputy Tempe Crabtree investigates the murder of a popular female supervisor she has a close encounter with an Indian legend, the Hairy Man.

Not sure that's what I'll use, but it'll be something similar.

The point of this blog is to let authors know they need to be thinking in terms of what they will say about their book that can be condensed to one or two lines that will intrigue and agent, publisher and ultimately the reader.

Writing a synopsis is difficult, but personally, I believe this is even harder. So think about it, what makes your novel different than all the rest?

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

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July 14, 2009

Photos and fun fact of Public Safety Writers Conference are up at

There's also a You Tube video up (search PSWA Conference), Kathleen Ryan's report at , Marilyn Meredith's June 24-29 blogs at

Yes, you can spot me in the crowd!

Marilyn Meredith took notes while I was too busy listening! She talks on her blog about tips from Betty Webb, the Mistakes That Make Us (law enforcement) Cringe, Screen Writing, Getting Forensics Right by Steve Scarborough and the editors and publishers panel.

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Laurel-Rain Snow has a contest give-away for her book WEB OF TYRANNY. She wants to know your favorite summer memory. Go to You can see my entry there!

Contest ends July 31.

Laurel was one of the authors at our Hanford BookFest.

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