Tag Archives: novels

Michele Sayre: Behind the Story – A Book In Search of a Title

Please Visit Michele Sayre’s Website for More Articles and Stories

Around Fall/Winter 2018 if my memory is correct, I came up with the idea of doing a ‘writing book’. At the time I thought it would be a mix of writing instruction and advice with maybe a few stories of my writing time over the years. Then this thought came to me: my relationship with writing is complicated. I thought that would be the hook to make this book stand out but in reality, that’s been a huge wall I’ve had to figure out how to get through. One way I’ve had to figure out how to work through that wall is finding a title for this project. It’s gone through at least two or three titles but ‘Behind the Story’ feels like the fit that I want for it.

But in order to get a handle on this project, I needed a title I could write to. I need titles to write to so when I’m struggling with a title then I struggle with the project itself. So the first thing you can see about writing for me is that my brain works in weird and mysterious ways. Putting that crazy thought process into words is a challenge, to say the least, but it’s one I want to do.

For me, writing is largely instinctive now. I just start out with an idea in my head then sit down and start writing. I trust myself to know when something is working and when it’s not. Like this blog entry here for example has been in the works for a couple of days now with several attempts scrapped. I’m not doing this project to discourage people from writing, or showing off, but instead, I’m trying to put into words a process that I don’t really think through before I dive into it.

In my teens and twenties, and even into my thirties, I devoured everything I could about writing. I read a ton of articles and books, attended workshops and conferences, and studied constantly. Back then I felt like I had to earn my chops by working my ass off studying and writing. I’m glad I did that but it wasn’t a popular decision with some people in my life. In those years I felt like my writing was seen a weapon to be used against me, something to be held against me, something I felt wrong in doing sometimes. It’s taken me a long time to realize that people were wrong to think that about my writing as I NEVER let it get in the way of any responsibilities I had taken on. In those years, I was just told to keep my mouth shut and keep writing.

To anyone who has a problem with my writing, or ever did I’m going to say what I should have said a long time ago: fuck off. Take your stupid bullshit and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. I fought with everything I had to keep my passion to myself and for no damn good reason other than placate someone’s dumb-ass ego.

Like my other writing projects, I’m not writing this book as an act of revenge or any bullshit like that. In addition to trying to illuminate the creative process to help people understand it, I’m also doing it for other creative people like me who’ve taken way too much shit for being creative. I don’t believe every single person has it in them to be creative and curious. In fact, I think there are a good number of people in this world who are the total opposite of that and who sure as hell aren’t shy in expressing that to the rest of the world.

For the longest time, I used to say I just let my imagination run wild and that it was not a reflection of my own thoughts and feelings. But that’s not true and it never was, and that’s another thing I’m trying to put into words with this project. And that I believe is also another reason some people may have had problems with my writing because they somehow thought it was about them. It’s not and it never was. But that barrier had to fall in my mind for me to get to the point I’m at now with my writing, this mix of instinct and the ability to put those instincts into words.


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This article is a reprint of a post from June 22, 2018.


Lynn Miclea

Many new writers and authors often wonder what it takes to be considered a successful author. How many books do they need to sell before they are considered successful? How much money do they need to make in royalties before they can say they’ve really made it? How is success measured?

In our society, and for many of us, success is often defined as money, fame, and power. But I think we do ourselves a big disservice when we define it that way, or base it on specific numbers reached, whether it’s book sales or income.

What about an author who has only published a few books, but they are well-written, filled with heart, humor, and gut-wrenching honesty? What about a new author’s book that opens up unique and fascinating worlds to explore? Or an author’s story that shares the overcoming of a huge difficulty in life that can inspire and help others? Or a new author’s book that touches the lives of others in powerful and profound ways? Would you say they are not successful?

I used to think of success in terms of a huge number of books sold, a steady income from royalties, and being on the best-seller list. However, those goals may be fleeting, arbitrary, unrealistic, and self-defeating – using those as criteria for success can discourage or undermine talented writers, stop them from doing their best, or cause them to give up too soon. You can be successful without reaching those typically out-of-reach goals for most writers – so don’t sell yourself short. And don’t give up.

To me, success is measured in the fulfillment of publishing the ideas and stories within me. It is in producing well-written and memorable books, stories, and articles that I can be proud of. It is in touching the lives of others through my words. It is putting my creative thoughts and imagination into a cohesive and powerful story, and getting that on paper in a way that is touching, heart-felt, and powerful.

Success is not a destination – success is a living, breathing, shifting journey of discovery and creativity that you can choose to be part of.

If you have done your best with as much integrity as possible, are proud of your work, and are happy with who you are and where you are, then you are successful. That is the success we should strive for.  And that is in your hands, within your grasp.

Success is the expression of and explosion of creativity, heart, and imagination, all coming together in powerful and moving stories. It is exciting and fulfilling and continues to unfold in spectacular new ways and in glorious wonder.

Number of books sold? That doesn’t even come close.

Go for real success – the fulfillment of a dream. And that is something all of us can do.

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Copyright © 2018 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.

The Author

LYNN MICLEA grew up in New York and moved to California while in her twenties. A certified hypnotherapist and Reiki master practitioner with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she spent many years working in the medical field and in various offices in an administrative capacity.

After retiring, Lynn discovered and developed a passion for writing, and she is now a successful author with many books published and more on the way. Her two memoirs, one of her family’s experience with ALS, and one of her own journey through open-heart surgery, have received numerous five-star reviews.

She also has published ten sweet, exciting, and fun children’s books, which are uplifting, loving, feel-good animal stories, filled with warm humor, and which are about kindness, compassion, helping others, seeing the best in others, and believing in yourself.

She hopes that through her writing, she can help empower others and add more joy and love to the world. She asks everyone to be kind to each other as we all share this journey through life together.

Lynn currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband.


Learn more about Lynn at her amazon author page here.
And please visit her website at www.lynnmiclea.com for more information on her books.


Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author and WU! admin Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

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People often mix up the terms homonyms, homophones, and homographs. Although these terms are similar and have an overlap, they have specific meanings. This should help to keep them straight.

Basically, homonyms sound the same and have the same spelling. Homophones sound the same regardless of spelling. Homographs have the same spelling regardless of how they are pronounced. And all of these words—homonyms, homophones, and homographs—have different meanings regardless of spelling or pronunciation.

Basically, if they sound the same, they are homophones. If they are spelled the same, they are homographs. If they are both spelled the same and sound the same, they are homonyms. Please note that there is an overlap of these word groups. And please also note that some dictionaries and sources use the word homonyms to mean all of these.


Homonyms are words that both sound the same and also have the same spelling, but mean different things. Examples: bark and bark, bat and bat, lie and lie, pen and pen, ring and ring, tire and tire. Since homonyms sound the same, they are also homophones, and since they are spelled the same, they are also homographs.


  • ball (a round toy for play or sports) / ball (a formal party)
  • bark (a tree’s outer layer) / bark (the sound a dog makes)
  • lie (to recline) / lie (to tell a falsehood)
  • right (correct) / right (opposite of left)
  • rose (a flower) / rose (past tense of rise)
  • tire (to grow fatigued) / tire (part of a wheel)


Homophones are words that sound the same but may or may not have the same spelling, and they mean different things. Examples: blew and blue, do and due, eight and ate, know and no, plain and plane, right and write, threw and through. Homophones are pronounced the same no matter how they are spelled.


  • ate, eight
  • bear, bare
  • break, brake
  • cell, sell
  • dear, deer
  • flower, flour
  • for, four
  • grate, great
  • hear, here
  • mail, male
  • plain, plane
  • pray, prey
  • right, write
  • see, sea
  • site, sight, cite
  • tale, tail
  • there, their, they’re
  • week, weak


Homographs are words that are spelled the same but may or may not have the same pronunciation, and they mean different things. Examples: bass and bass, bow and bow, dove and dove, tear and tear, read and read, lead and lead. Homographs are spelled the same no matter how they are pronounced.


  • bow (decorative ribbon) / bow (part of a ship)
  • content (what is contained inside) / content (satisfied)
  • dove (past tense of dive) / dove (a bird)
  • lead (to be a leader) / lead ( a metal)
  • minute (60 seconds) / minute (tiny)
  • tear (salty fluid from your eye) / tear (to rip)


Basically, homophones sound the same, homographs are spelled the same, and homonyms do both (sound the same and spelled the same). And even though the words sound and/or are spelled the same, they have different meanings.

Helpful Hint: All three words start with “homo” which means “same.” The endings help define what they mean.

—phone means “sound,” so homophones have the same sound, regardless of spelling.

—graph means “written,” so homographs are written or spelled the same, regardless of pronunciation.

—onym means “name,” so homonyms sound the same and are spelled the same.

Note: Some words fall into more than one category. Also, in some dictionaries, homonyms can be used to refer to all such words in general.

Bark and bark are in all three categories: homonyms (sound the same and spelled the same), homophones (sound the same regardless of spelling), and homographs (spelled the same regardless of pronunciation).


Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.


I hope you find this helpful. These tips and much more are also on my website and blog, and also in my Grammar Tips book. Thank you!

Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/
Grammar Tips Book – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N2BQMCG/


Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.


kangaroo word is a word that contains a similar word or synonym inside.

For example, the word aberrant contains errant inside it. Below are a few more examples.


  • Allocate — contains the word allot
  • Charisma — contains the word charm
  • Feast — contains the word eat
  • Observe — contains the word see
  • Prosecute — contains the word sue
  • Rampage — contains the word rage
  • Truthfully — contains the word truly


Please look at the chart for many more kangaroo words.

I hope you find this interesting and helpful. These and much more are also on my website and blog, and also in my Grammar Tips book. Thank you!

Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/
Grammar Tips Book – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N2BQMCG/


In our quest to assist writers in becoming the best they can be and remain motivated, we would like to introduce you to John Chuback, M.D. A cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Chuback found his goals waylaid by his lack of motivation.

In a series of interviews with Paul W. Reeves, host on Impact Radio USA, Dr. Chuback continues his discussion of the tools leading to success with his book “Make Your Own Damn Cheese: Understanding, Navigating, and Mastering the 3 Mazes of Success.”

Please click on the link below to hear Episode #29 of SUCCESS PHILOSOPHIES WITH DR. CHUBACK, the first episode in the second series, and start enhancing your journey toward success today.

DR. JOHN CHUBACK, a cardiovascular surgeon from New Jersey, is the author of, “Make Your Own Damn Cheese: Understanding, Navigating, and Mastering the 3 Mazes of Success,” “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom” and other books.

DR. CHUBACK joins HOST PAUL W. REEVES weekly to discuss his books, “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom” and “Make Your Own Damn Cheese“, each of which explores the human mind and becoming all that you can be.

Throughout this portion of the series, Dr. Chuback will discuss “Make Your Own Damn Cheese“, and the research behind his success philosophies.


Audiobooks on Audible

The Straight a Handbook: The 50 Most Powerful Secrets for Ultimate Success in and Out of the Classroom Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Written by John Chuback, M. D.
Narrated by Paul W. Reeves, Ed. D.

Click for Audible version on Amazon


Previous Episodes of “Success Philosophies With Dr. Chuback”


Dr. John Chuback


Dr. John Chuback was born and raised in Bergen County and graduated from the Dwight Englewood School. He earned his medical degree from New Jersey Medical School at UMDNJ, in Newark. Dr. Chuback then completed a five-year General Surgical Residency at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC). Dr. Chuback is the author of Make Your Own Damn CheeseKaboing, and The Straight A Handbook.

All books are available on Amazon. com. 


Impact Radio USA

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Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day. While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow


Paul W. Reeves 

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Paul W. Reeves, Ed. D. is an author, radio talk show host, educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician.

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s websitehttps://paulwreeves.com for more information on his books and CDs.


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Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!: ATTAIN versus OBTAIN

Writers Unite!’s mission is to offer a haven for writers to share their work and hone their craft. As the writing process is our focus, author, and WU! admin, Lynn Miclea has created a series of “tips, tools, and tidbits” about writing for our members or anyone interested in writing to help improve their writing. Check the menu bar for any tips you may have missed or click on this link.

Writing Tips, Tools, and Tidbits!

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image from Pixabay.


People often mix up the words attain and obtain. They may sound similar and have somewhat similar meanings, but these words are used differently. This should help to use them properly.


Attain means to achieve, accomplish, get an achievement, or reach a goal, usually through hard work. If you mean to achieve something, use attain.


  • She finally attained her dream and became a lawyer.
  • He studied for many years and finally attained success.
  • After years in school, she finally attained her goal and graduated.
  • He attained a higher rank after working diligently.
  • She hoped to attain a high mark on her test.
  • After many years, he finally attained fame through his movies.
  • She worked hard but never attained the recognition she wanted.
  • He strived to attain excellence in everything he did.
  • She attained a high degree of proficiency on the piano.
  • He worked hard to attain his goal and speak several languages.


Obtain means to acquire or get possession of something. If you mean to acquire or get possession of something, use obtain.


  • He obtained the hammer and nails and then hung the picture.
  • The police obtained a warrant before searching the house.
  • He finally obtained tickets to the concert.
  • She obtained the photocopy to show her friends.
  • He needed to obtain the tools before he could start the job.
  • She obtained the key and then opened the door.
  • After he obtained his license, he opened an office.
  • She needed to obtain a passport before her vacation.
  • The detective obtained enough evidence to convict the suspect.
  • She needed to obtain permission before she could go.


In general, you attain goals, but you obtain objects.

If you mean to achieve or accomplish something, use attain.

If you mean to acquire or get possession of something, use obtain.

Hint: Attain starts with an A for achieve or accomplish.

Obtain starts with ob for obtaining an object.

Note: There is some overlap if hard work is involved, such as attaining or obtaining a degree—either can be correct, depending on the emphasis and context. Attaining a degree refers to reaching that level of education, whereas obtaining a degree refers to actually getting the degree or diploma.


Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.


I hope you find this helpful. These tips and much more are also on my website and blog, and also in my Grammar Tips book.

Thank you!

Website – https://www.lynnmiclea.com/
Blog – https://lynnpuff.wordpress.com/
Grammar Tips Book – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09N2BQMCG/

D. A. Ratliff: For the Want of a Crystal Ball

For the Want of a Crystal Ball

D. A. Ratliff

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Writing. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

Ask anyone who has the urge—no, the need—to write, and they will tell you that once that creative need possesses you, you have to write. I feel a compulsion to write and immense satisfaction that regardless of whether anyone else reads my words, that I wrote them.

A while back, a fellow author asked me to write an article about my writing journey for her blog. Like all writers, I had the usual reasons—a love of reading and influences in the form of my father and my favorite elementary school teacher to spur me to write. But what keeps me writing?

As a fan of mystery novels and action thrillers, my reading, when I can find time for it, centers on works from authors like Michael Connelly, Clive Cussler, or John D. MacDonald. Throw in a good sci-fi or fantasy, and I am a happy reader. When the urge to write began to creep into my soul early in my life, I envisioned being a famous mystery author someday. Of course, I was twelve at the time, so I suppose that daydream wasn’t too embarrassing then. Now, that same desire to publish a mystery novel remains, but hopefully without the delusions of grandeur my twelve-year-old self expected.

I have the good fortune (or, on most days, good fortune) to be an administrator for a large writing group on Facebook. There are many reasons that it is an enjoyable opportunity. Engaging with members at all levels of writing is cathartic. Most writers can identify with the confusion and timidity of novice writers as we have all been there. The experienced and published authors offer guidance and encouragement to those of us who strive to publish our first novel.

All right… let’s get personal—my first novel.

That’s where a crystal ball to tell the future would come in handy.

When I first had the urge to write again after many years, and more importantly, the time, I decided to hone my rusty writing skills by writing fanfiction. While working, I wrote many personal and training manuals, newsletters, marketing material, advertising copy, and the like but zero fiction. As there is a distinct difference in writing fiction and non-fiction (although there is a movement toward creative non-fiction, which is another discussion entirely), I felt writing fanfiction about my favorite canceled science-fiction series would be just the exercise I needed.

I jumped in, and by the time I finished, I had written eighty stories (from short stories to novellas). I believed that by not needing to create the characters or world build, I could concentrate on story development. Once I felt confident in my storytelling ability, I began to create original characters to interact with the canon characters and soon moved on to world building. When I decided my skills were strong enough, I embarked on writing a science fiction/murder mystery/romance.

Okay, pretty ambitious combination of genres and only possible because Amazon/KDP provides a platform for mixed genres that traditional publishers and their narrow marketing programs don’t allow. I finished that novel, all 116,000 words of it. I haven’t published it.

Then I began writing a murder mystery with the main character a photographer. A cozy mystery of sorts with romance thrown in the mix. I finished it. I haven’t published it.

Next, another novel, another murder mystery/thriller with the main character a lawyer but the secondary character a police chief. I finished it. I haven’t published it.

And then—a detective murder mystery intended to be a series. I haven’t quite finished it, but… you get the picture.

So why haven’t I published?

Good question.

Why the heck haven’t I?

That’s where a crystal ball would have come in handy. Seeing what my future was going to be might have facilitated planning things a bit better.

I am not alone. Many of us have finished manuscripts we have yet to query to an agent or find a publisher or self-publish. There are some inherent issues with finding agents and traditional publishers, time being one of them. The process of querying an agent, securing one, and having them find a publisher is tedious and anything but fast. Going directly to a publisher is no guarantee that the process will be any faster.

The time and effort to publish the traditional route is a difficult one that requires patience. Besides, writing a query letter and a book synopsis is more challenging than writing a book. I have drafted a lot of query letters and hated each one of them.

That takes us to self-publishing. A more straightforward path but still wrought with problems. I don’t know about you, but I choose my writing to be grammatically and structurally correct. However, when publishing on one’s own, hiring a professional editor can be expensive but necessary. That issue alone can keep us from hiring an editor.

Don’t forget that pesky cover. What do all the “experts” tell us? The cover of our book needs to be catchy, tasteful, and reflect the book’s plot. Well, no pressure there.

This costs money. Money we may never recoup after publication. So what do those who decide I want to publish, and I want to publish now, do? We do the best we can. First, determine a budget and decide if you can live with the fact you may never realize enough royalties from your work to cover the cost of preparing the book for publication. If you can do that, then search for editors who offer a discount or charge little to start with, but don’t forget the adage that you get what you pay for, because it’s true.

Inexpensive book cover designers advertise on several websites, but please be wary of the “cover for Five dollars” mantra. Again, you get what you… well, you know, so always get references.

But that’s not the only reason that many of us drag our heels before we commit to publishing.

In my case, I am fortunate to have friends who deal with the English language and writing every day who are willing to read my work for grammar mistakes. I also embarked upon educating myself on writing cleaner with fewer grammar mistakes and writing proper structure. Do I use a grammar program? Yes, I do, and I realize grammar programs are not perfect, so I rely on the kindness of my friends to tell me to stop writing comma slices. I hear that a lot.

I am also lucky to have some skill with Photoshop and a decent eye, so I create my covers. I still have them critiqued but so far, so good. That saves me money, but the angst of doing a decent job on a cover is always present.

It would appear my procrastination at publishing is moot. Yet, I haven’t published.

What is my problem?

I think my problem is a lot like all authors who are on the verge of publishing. Life gets in the way. Or at least, we allow it to.

I finished the science-fiction novel just as a family issue arose, and I became a caregiver. Then one personal issue and another, and I’ll stop here. There isn’t anyone who cannot identify with this scenario. I like to tell myself that the time I spend dealing with the large writing group, which takes a great deal of my time, is another reason. After all, we have published five anthologies, and the sixth one is going to press. That takes time.

Okay… that’s an excuse.

And now I have run out of them.

It is time to do this. I have always been a proactive person in most situations but a tad lax when it comes to my own needs.

Please don’t do what I have done. Remember, your needs are essential, and for whatever reason you wish to publish, for money, for possible fame, or the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal, just do it. There is a reader out there who will enjoy your story.

Me? I gazed into that crystal ball. I see a published book with my name on it soon.

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D. A. Ratliff

Deborah Ratliff is a Southerner with saltwater in her veins and a love of writing. A career in science and human resources provided the opportunity to write policies/procedures and training manuals, articles, and newsletters, but her lifelong love of mystery novels beckoned. Deborah began writing mysteries and her first novel, Crescent City Lies, will be published in 2021 with a second novel, One of Those Days, to follow. Deborah regularly contributes articles on writing to the blog, Writers Unite! and serves as an administrator on the Facebook writing site, Writers Unite! which has 78,000+ members from around the globe.


Stephen Oliver: Submissions

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Stephen Oliver

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about submissions to agents, publishers, and magazines (APM’s), given that I’m sending out three different books and a whole bunch of short stories to them. I have come to several conclusions about how much work is involved, what information you need to know, and how much preparation you need to undertake.

I now have around a dozen different versions of my manuscripts on the computer. Some APM’s want double-spaced, others 1.5 lines spacing. Some want Times New Roman, others Courier New. Some want indented paragraphs. Others require no indentation but want extra 6-point space at the end of the paragraph. And so it goes.

Then comes the file formats: .txt, .doc, .docx, .rtf., .pdf., attached to email, embedded within it, or uploaded via the submissions page. There are frequently length limits on the number of words or characters in the upload space, often not stated in the latter case.

How much do the APM’s want? Five pages? Ten pages? Thirty pages? Three chapters? Fifty pages or three chapters, whichever is the shorter? The whole manuscript? (Hurrah, but don’t count your chickens yet; I’ve been rejected at this point, too.)

The bios: short, long, one-liners? How much do they want to know? How detailed?

Publishing histories: what have you published? Short stories or books? Self-published or traditional?

Social media links. Are you on Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? Instagram? Are there any interviews available? If so, where? What are the links?

Blogs. How often do you post? Any guest posts elsewhere? Links to them, too, please.

Query letters: do you have a standard template with all the relevant information? Do you personalise them or not? If so, how much do you need to change? Can you establish a connection with the agent? What is the required length, format, and attachment?

Finally, a synopsis: yes, no, partial, overview, extensive? Again, how is it supposed to be formatted?

And I haven’t even mentioned the problems of deadlines and rejections yet.

Some agencies and publishers have deadlines that are months in the future (the record, so far, is over six months). I could live with that were it not for the fact that they demand exclusivity during that very long period. No simultaneous submissions elsewhere are allowed. Some want that exclusivity for shorter periods, while others are more flexible, asking only to be informed if another agency takes the manuscript. Then there are the ones that have a submission period of just a few days.

Many agencies have a policy of not answering when they reject. They tell you that you should consider the work rejected if you don’t hear within a specific timeframe. IOW, you are effectively being ghosted.

Others send rejections that are cookie-cutter cut-and-paste replies. I have received the same rejection email from an agency for two very different manuscripts, and a friend tells me she got the same rejection for her book, too. For the record, my books were Space Opera and Urban Fantasy, while hers was contemporary fiction. I’ve spoken with an agent who confirmed that software is available to automate the rejection process with standardised replies.

Worse are the rejections where there is feedback that makes no sense at all. One publisher has told me to go on a course to learn the basics of English. I want to state that I’ve been writing good English for the greater part of my 64 years of life. Another rejection made me wonder whether they bothered to read the manuscript at all, given that their “critique” appeared to be for another genre entirely.

Not to mention is the research necessary to find out all of the above. If you’re personalising the query letters, how much do you need to know to build a connection with them? Where can you find their formatting requirements? Are they industry standard or something special?

Every single agent or publisher has different requirements. If I weren’t already grey-haired, I would be by now.

All in all, a single query can take between two and six hours to craft. It’s frustrating when your hard work gets ignored or thrown back at you, apparently for some arbitrary reason.

It all means that you have to be passionate and believe in your work. Which, fortunately, I am, and I do.

But it does make me sometimes wonder why I have such a masochistic streak for keeping going. Ah, the joys of being a submitting author.


I’ll discuss things you will need to keep in mind once you are accepted, like working with others, vetting the contract, editing, revising, creating a media kit, etc., in a future article.

Please visit Stephen’s website for more great articles: http://stephenoliver-author.com/

About Stephen Oliver

I’m a ‘Pantser’ (aka ‘Discovery Writer’), meaning that I write ‘by the seat of my pants’.

In other words, I have no idea what I’m writing until I’ve written it. Give me a picture or a writing prompt (a sentence, a phrase… heck, even a word will do) and let me loose. I can come up with something in twenty minutes, 400-500 words to create a new story. I don’t stop there, of course. Those few words can turn into four or five thousand, or more. The next day or week, the Muse will strike again, and I’ll finish it off, creating something weird, wonderful or just plain odd.

Once I’m done, then comes the hard part: turning it into something good. I’ve had to learn that what I wrote initially is only the beginning. Read, revise, edit, wash, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat… There are some stories I’ve gone over dozens of times, and I’ll still find something to improve, on occasion.

So it is that I’ve self-published a self-help book, written dozens of short stories, completed a novel, and am still working on two more. My genres cover science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, humour (very dark), noir, detective fiction, fairytales and fairy stories. Often more than one in a single tale… Oh, and there’s a second self-help book in the works, too.

I came to writing fairly late in life, but that ain’t going to stop me now. As Harlan Ellison once said, “A writer is some poor schmuck who can’t help putting words on paper.” That’s me, because I’ve already written over a million words since I began. I’ll be done when they peel my cold, dead fingers off my keyboard.

Mind you, given the kinds of stories I write, that will probably be because one of the monsters I created finally finished me off…!


Book Reviews on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk”

Impact Radio USA

Join host Paul W. Reeves and Deborah Ratliff for Book Reviews part of a five-part Expert Series.

WU! Admin Deborah Ratliff will review books by Sandra Brown, Nora Robers, and Bradley Wright on tomorrow’s Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA. This is the final segment of a five-part Expert Series.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

11:00 am Eastern Time

(click on the LISTEN NOW button)

Miss last month’s Book Review segment? Check out the podcast here!

Dr. Paul’s Family Talk: Experts — Book Reviews

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

As Martin’s characters says, a thousand lives are waiting for us in books. For the reader and the writers, books are a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and enjoyment.

As part of the Five-Month Expert Series on “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” radio program on Impact Radio USA, Writer’s Unite admin Deborah Ratliff will join host Paul W. Reeves for a monthly book review segment.

September 2020

Camino Winds  by John Grisham 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty 

Listen Now: Book Reviews September 23, 2020

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Camino Winds: https://amzn.to/3cyWWWI
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: https://amzn.to/3cyWAzm
Nine Perfect Strangers : https://amzn.to/335ZAQB

“Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA

Live Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 11:00 am ET

Join host  Paul W. Reeves and his sidekick, Arrogant Al for great music, contests, news, sports, interviews, and jokes! 

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Please note: the images used are free-use images and do not require attribution.