Sunday, March 28, 2010


Wow, getting published. What does that mean? I ask that because getting published means different things to different people. First of all if you love writing, and you do it for the shear pleasure of the art, then publishing can happen for you. You just have to have an open mind, tough skin, and love your art. If you write because you want to be the next big author, who rakes in millions of dollars for your first book, then I am about to hit you over the head with a cold block of reality. That is like hitting the lotto, so if you don’t write because you love it, you are in for lots of frustration.

The steps to becoming published are completely from my point of view, and realize that there are lots of other sources out there and different ways to become published, just make sure that you are open to all.


First you need to finish your book. If you are planning on writing Young Adult fiction, start writing in 12-point courier font, double spaced. Aim for around 69K-77K words. Writers are unique people, and everyone has their own time table. However, if you want to get published, and this is your first time pursuing getting published YOU NEED TO FINISH YOUR MANUSCRIPT.


Before you send your baby out to the world, you need to beautify it. After you wrote it, start writing a new manuscript, take a break from it. I mean it – step away from your newborn masterpiece for at least two weeks. Then print it out (I like to get mine printed in 6x9 book format at a local printer – like Staples) and read it, mark it up in red, and correct it. Please, please, please repeat this at least 3 more times, before you send it off to your BETA READERS they will greatly appreciate it.


Ok, find people you trust to read your work. If you can try to find any friends, family, or colleagues that are willing to review it for you. Then join a critique group, check out some writers website that offer reviews of your work ( is my favorite) or a class that will allow you to present your work for review, as well as read works. Put on your armor and don’t be sensitive (I know it will be hard). Note all the feedback, and keep what is useful while discarding comments that may be just a matter of the reader's personal taste.


You must edit it again. Realizing that your manuscript is a work of art, it must be improved, tightened, and clean up to look as though it is a finish work. Make sure your plot sticks, your grammatical errors are cleared away, and your work reads like a published work of art.


You have got to research, research, read and research again the publishing business. You must decide WHAT YOU WANT to do with your work.

- Whether you want a Large Publishing House to manage your work?

- A small publishing house to manage your book?

- What type of Agent you want?

- What type of book you wrote? YA? Fiction? Chic Lit? Sci-Fi?

- Whether your book is specific to your work, or a knowledge area?

- Whether you want to publish the book yourself?


Some people feel that getting with a huge publisher is the final stamp of approval. However, there are lots of people who just want to write and share their story, and they don’t care if they make millions of dollars from it. So, I say that to make you think deeply about what you want to do with your work. There is one author that published chapters of her book via her blog, and another who published free chapters of his book as a free podcast. They were happy with their choices, because they just loved to write and wanted to share their story.

However, I must say, before you give your work away, please try to pursue getting a Literary Agent, and then landing a traditional publishing company to manage your work. If that doesn't work in your personal time limit, get creative, plow your own path, and do what in the end will make you and only you happy. Remember: if you plow your own path, do your research, map out what success is to you, and at the very least you will learn from your experiences.


This is where only the strong survive. The query letter, or as I say ‘Sales Letter’ that you send to Literary Agents to sale them on the idea of representing you and your book is harder to write than your book. I suggest taking a query writing class, going to author websites and look at examples, or going to author websites and getting their feedback on your letter. The author websites offer free advice, guidance and support. Again, I say be strong, because at this stage - only the strong survive.


Be prepared for a lot of rejection. So suck it up! Got on your armor? Remember, it’s a sales game! Toughen up and never say die! After you have fine tuned and cleaned up your query letter, send it out to agents that represent your genre. Mail out at least five a week, and keep a list of agents that respond and agents that don’t. If you get to about twenty rejection letters, you may want to revise your query letter before sending it out again. Keep querying, until you get signed by an agent.


Then look up publishers that don’t require that you have an agent in order to submit your manuscript. There are several books, websites and writers organizations that have this information available. My first offer for publishing came from a small publisher who didn’t require agent only submissions.


Keep writing, while you continue to submit your first work. Also, re-evaluate the different publishing options available to you. Attend Author Conferences in order to mingle with publishers, agents, and other authors. Join writer's association and personally meet writer's that may have trailed a different path as you have. Re-evaluate what you want from your writing. Pursue contest, writing for magazines, anthologies.


Always keep writing. Do this in order to improve, have more products to sell, and to grow as an author.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Many writers struggle with what they call writer’s block. I call it road block. I don’t tend to have writer’s block. There’s a reason why. The main reason is, as an engineer we are trained to look past the problem, troubleshoot it and move on.

When I’ve spoken to other writers that say they are having a tough time finishing their book because they’ve reached a roadblock, I can usually say – they didn’t do an outline. Everyone has a different method of writing. Why? Well because we are all different. We require different stimulus in order to be creative. However, there are writer’s that write stuff that they hate – yet they finish it. How do they do it?

OUTLINING through it.

Outlining a novel is a sure fire way to actually completing it. The outline is quick and dirty. My outlines are real basic, just a chapter outline. Then I just jot down the major things that have to happen in that chapter. Now I will admit that I go rogue on my outline. When that happens I rework it – even though I just want to write. I also give myself a time limit for reworking outlines.

WRITE through it.

The other method I use is, I just write through it. Yeah, what I write I know sucks – but remember – it’s only a first draft. I will change it, but by writing through it, I can finish my manuscript.

ASK for help.

If you’re at a part in your manuscript that you just don’t know how to set it up. Ask for help. Research online, post a question in your forums, or ask your beta readers or friends. I’ve been able to work through tons of rough spots by just asking someone what they would do.

WORK while on an active break.

Set a time for your break. I use these times to take a class. Work with a critique group. I personally don’t take more than a week if I’m not doing the above. During that time, I may beta read someone else’s stuff. Edit my other works. Research the issue. Read a good book.

Writer’s block isn’t a block. It’s when you’ve come to a point in your manuscript that you don’t know how to play something out. Writing through it works best because you will edit the thing anyway. Remember, you are not tied to your draft copy. The first draft in all cases is never the final. Well written material is usually changed over twenty or so times before it even gets to the point where it’s ready to sell.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

REPO MEN - Movie Review

This movie was on my must-see list. Why? Because as a science fiction author I love science fiction movies. I loved the concept of this sick tale of repo men coming to take back organs. It had potential to be a good movie. It got off to a great start with great actors Forest Whittaker and Jude Law – definitely a great combination. It shows their friendship, their job of going after organs recipients who don’t pay their bills, and it’s brutal – did I say brutal?

Okay, then it happens. The movie makes a turn in such a predictable way that you can tell the writers got lazy. That’s when I wanted to get up. I mean it’s such a bad transition that the movie stops making sense. It just gets – well kinda boring (but gory nasty to boot).

The redeeming quality of this movie – which made me give it a 3 out of 5 stars and say it’s – Okay, was the ending. They totally threw me for a loop with the very ending, and the funny part was – it fit. So if you are in the mood for a violent, twisted, sometimes stupid scifi action flick – check out Repo Men.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Olympic Gold for Cat and Toby - Book Review

Please enjoy the book review below by Carol Upton, my guest reviewer from
Dreams Aloud Promotions,

Olympic Gold for Cat and Toby
Sharon Kay Roberts
ISBN: 1-60838-275-2
Available at and on Amazon

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

What am I doing? I’ve never jumped a horse before! I don’t know what to do. What if he refuses and I fall off. I don’t have a hard hat on. No! Mustn’t think that way. Jessie says throw your heart over the jump and the horse will follow.
~ Sharon Roberts

This engaging book is unusual in the world of teen horse fiction, since fourteen-year-old Caitlin is not horse-addicted nor does she even have any interest in them. She has devoted her life to figure skating in the hope of capturing Olympic Gold. After a deadly car accident in which her father is killed and her own leg amputated below the knee, Cat begins her road to recovery. When her doctor suggests equine-assisted therapy, Cat initially shrugs it off as a waste of time.

Cat’s attitude shifts, as she spends more time with the horses, learning to groom and ride. Jumping becomes her dream, one that is far too ambitious from her mother’s point of view. Cat is spirited and determined to prove herself, yet keenly disappointed over her first attempts in the show ring.

When an abused pinto arrives at the stable, Cat is drawn to him and sets out to win his trust. Toby has natural athletic ability, but he is also challenging to handle. Cat struggles with doubt, yet she believes in Toby. Together, they develop the skills to attempt Cat’s goal of competitive jumping.

Olympic Gold for Cat and Toby is skillfully written and flows easily with a strong pace. Schooling and show sessions are highly realistic – the rider’s body gets sore and falls do happen. Teen and adult readers alike will find a lifetime of inspiration in this story, where difficult obstacles, both literal and figurative, are overcome, and a young girl’s personal dreams realized.

Sharon Kay Roberts has a lifelong passion for equines, starting with the ponies that walk the endless circles at fairs when she was just four. Reading about horses filled the hours she couldn’t be with them. An independent author, Roberts has created a website for independent equestrian authors at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I don’t know where to start. I really wanted to see this movie. It looked like it would be exciting, suspenseful - kinda like one of my favorite movies of this sort, The Sixth Sense (my absolute favorite). In a word – I was disappointed.
I checked the reviews and figured they were decent. (Truth is – I would have gone anyway.)

The movie got off to a pretty good start. Leonardo and his partner set off to investigate an mysterious escape from Alcatraz. They questioned the prisoners, hurt some too, and slowly we saw Leonardo sink into a dismal conspiracy. Unfortunately, it was downright boring. If I hadn’t have spend my $10 I would have left about halfway through the movie. Really, I would have, and I really like Leonardo.

The good part of this boring journey was the twist at the end (If you want to call it a twist – because my spoil sport husband figured out the ending about 1/4th through the movie). All that corny dullness led up to an ending that made seeing the movie worth it. Because the ending was so good, I give this movie 2 starts out of 5. Wait for the video (rent it).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Clubbing – TEEN CLUBS

When I was in my teens I grew up in Washington, DC. We didn’t have teen clubs, but we had GoGo’s. They were rented halls that played GoGo bands. A GoGo band was a band of kids that played on trashcans, paint tins and sang popular songs with a street edge.


I would beg my grandmother to let me go to these parties. It cost about $5 to get in and we would jam pack ourselves into these little party halls to dance. The band would be up on the stage and we would dance to the beat of the drumming rhythm and harsh songs like ‘Run Joe, Run Joe – Police man at the doh.”

Sweat would run down the walls, the musky order of underarms filled the room, and we would dance until we dropped – or a fight would break out.


My kid went to his first night out at a teen party/club night at a local gym. The kid had the time of his life. They didn’t have a live band, but a DJ who played the up to date hip hop music. My son couldn’t stop talking about the dance moves he learned and the many girls he danced with. He’d had a blast.

No fights broke out, no gunfire, and plenty of security. It cost him $10 for a clean safe time.


I laughed out loud when my husband got on the floor (he’s a lot bigger than he use to be) and showed my oldest son how to do a break dance spin for this party night he was going to. When we were young, break dancing came out and we kids tried to use it as a way to defuse fighting – unfortunately that tactic didn’t last long.

My GoGo days came to an abrupt end when the kids stopped fighting at the parties and started shooting instead. My kid now lives in the suburbs, a quiet town that has lots of resources. Lucky for him, he can still get his party on, because security is tight at the place of the event.

I still am concerned though, but the need to give him a bit of freedom (and his pleading to go partying with his friends) have let me sit back and let him experience his first clubbing experience. I remember him telling me that the party was so live – “It was like I was on an episode of Jersey Shore…”

LOL! I remember feeling the same way when I was his age, shaking my thing at the GoGo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


As a member of several great writer forums, I see fellow authors go through the same emotional ride during their writing process. I went through them, others also, and it’s a rite of passage so to speak for a writer.

Writing Your First Novel

Initially, you are so happy that you’ve decided to write a novel. You post the beginnings of that story online – and you think at that moment – that it's absolutely perfect. No edits needed. Then it get’s ripped to shreds, and you want to remove your creation from the boards and cry.

The determined writer, sucks it up (after a good cry, some candy, and a pep talk) and actually finishes the darned thing. Other’s fiddle with it, editing the first few pages or so – it never seems quite right – and alas – they never finish their books. Lastly, some workshop that baby to death, for decades and may never release it to the world.

Querying Agents

The newbie, whips up a letter – that they barely review and sends it out to agents with the expectations that the agents will be calling off the hook. The more experienced writer, painstakingly writes several versions of their query letters – sends it out to others to review/rip up. Then they research agents that are legit.

Rejection from Agents

Every author takes this personal. It’s like being passed over in school by the popular kids. We start to question the worth of our writing, story, our very purpose. Problem is – most of us couldn’t stop writing if we wanted to. That’s why the rejection from the first line of acceptance by the publishing world hurts so much.

Some authors figure that after a hundred or so reject letters, their work is no good - they trunk it. They put it away and decide not to ever pursue selling it again. They continue to write and go through this process all over again. Other authors decide to query the publishing companies directly, rework the darned thing, or to pave their own unconventional path to publication.

Acceptance from Agents

Elation, joy, and then a peacock moment. You strut around your house, yell then scream with excitement, because you are now a member of the ‘in’ crowd – you are validated as a writer.

Lesson from the Wise

When you start the writing journey, don’t take any of those tumbles personal for long. Work at improving your work. Grab every comment, feedback, assistance you can to create a better project. Most writers have edited, beta’d, and reworked their manuscript at least twenty or so times before they even query an agent. Keep your chin up and don’t ever give up. In this business, only the strong survive. Be strong, be determined, and find your own way.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alice in Wonderland – Movie Review

I really wanted to see this movie. I typically don’t enjoy Tim Burton’s twisted stories, but Alice in Wonderland is a twisted tale. What can I say accept, I loved this movie, until the last 2 minutes (read on for my explanation). I was skeptical, but it was beautifully made, the storyline was light and whimsical just like the original.

If you are going to see the 3D version, you may be a little put off. It seemed as though parts of it was 3D and other parts were not. It’s like they added the 3D as an afterthought. Definitely a waste of money, because I wished I would have saved my $3.50 that I paid for 3D.

Alice’s father dies; she spies the rabbit, while preparing to be asked to marry. It was cute and she comes off as a developing hero who’s kinda fanciful. She slips down the hole, while chasing the rabbit, and fights against her destiny as a hero to the white queen.

The tale while she is in wonderland is believable within the rules that are set in that crazy world. However, I was miffed at the falsehood of what happened when she returned. The ending seemed incredibly unbelievable for the time in which the story seemed to take place.

All in all, it was definitely entertaining. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars, because I didn’t like the ending.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


A crush. What does that mean exactly? Well it’s when you see someone and become immediately obsessed with them. So much so, you usually miss the opportunity to actually charm them into wanting you back.


You ever get hit by a lightening bolt? Well that’s kinda what it feels like when you first lay eyes on your crush.

I remember my first crush. I was eleven and the boy had a huge blonde afro and dark brown eyes. I know, don't laugh outloud. Now I laugh at my choices but hey, I was only eleven and the afro was in at the time. It’s coming back though. There are a few boys now that sport them that my daughter thinks are hot.

Anyway, when I first saw him. I think I felt a sharp bolt in the pit of my stomach and butterflies in my chest. It’s a little different for everybody. Just realize that you are struck when you feel something different after your first look at your new crush.


Okay, this is where I messed up a lot in the beginning. When I got around my crush I could never speak. I would stutter, mumble, or just couldn’t get any words out at all.

I didn't know how to play it cool. Therefore – I avoided one on one contact with my crush. Truth is, I was more than happy to sit back and just stare at them. Dreaming up my own fantasies about how they wanted me much more than I wanted them. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?


Now this is where the person with the crush tends to really scare off their target. We get a little obsessive – alright, a lot obsessive. No one is immune from this. Especially with your first crush. You try to hide it, but you and I know that when you are alone, you daydream over and over about the person.

Then, girls, admit it – we start writing the crush’s name and our name in all those game patterns to make sure we are a good match. And if we find through the match up game that we aren’t – we rig the darn game. Then start to write our first name and the boy’s last name with a heart drawn around it.

Hopefully, when you get older, you learn to conceal and control these urges. I did. Lucky for me though, I married my crush. He didn’t realize I had this major crush on him – until – he revealed he had one for me too. That skill comes with age.


Well remember that boy I mentioned. The one I had a major crush on? Well I crushed over him for about six whole months. Until…..I got to know him.

Let me tell you. I didn’t like him one single bit. He was arrogant, mean (he liked to pull my hair and tease me), and he beat me up (we took karate together and the nutso went Bruce Lee on me!).

After getting to know him, I realized that he wasn’t worth my obsessing – and I turned my crushing ways to someone more worthy – Michael Jackson and Prince (smile).


Crushes are usually over quickly. Wasting time salvating over someone that doesn’t like you back is a total waste of energy. I prefer to have someone like me, just as much (if not a little more) than I like them. Why? Well because, I like being someone’s crush. Just as much as I like crushing on someone else.