Are you a Part-Time Writer Looking for Inspiration for 2014? You’ve Come to the ‘Write’ Place!

I’m starting of the year with a guest post from Nikolas Baron, from Grammarly.com. Have you heard of them? It’s a great site for writer’s who need help proofreading their work. From blog posts to essays, they’ve got the tools you need! But first, get inspired to start 2014 off the ‘write’ way!

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The Part-Time Writer

part_time_writerBeing a writer is, for many, a lifelong dream. Writing for payment is a thrilling accomplishment, but it’s usually soon followed by the realization that most writers do not make a living from writing alone. In fact, many writers pursue a separate, unrelated career while writing part-time, whether as a hobby or as a secondary source of income. For the part-time writer facing deadlines, a quality online spelling, grammar, and plagiarism checker can be a valuable tool. Saving time is just one aspect of creating success as a writer, however. Writing takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn the craft.

Being a writer is an admirable goal, but it’s not a realistic one. How does one become “a writer”? There is no pill, no bottled potion to be ingested, that will magically bring about the transformation. Becoming a writer begins with picking up a pen; but, having taken that first crucial step, the aspiring writer will discover that the journey has just begun. First, the writer must decide what type of writing he or she wants to do. Fiction or nonfiction? Short stories?

Articles? Novels? Each type of writing requires a unique skill set, and there is a distinct path to follow to the individual definition of success for every writer. It’s important to study the craft and read within and outside the genre to become a well-rounded reader and a better writer. Wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. It’s important to decide upon a genre and a style that best suits the writer’s individual dream. Becoming a writer is a dream. Transforming an abstract desire into a concrete success takes deeper thought.

Once the budding writer has decided upon writing mystery novels, for example, the next step is to set some goals. Novices may want to keep the goals reasonable, setting themselves to the task of writing for a set amount of time per day or obtaining a certain word count, depending on the time that can be found in between other obligations. Some professionals suggest that writing every day is critical to success, while others claim that a certain amount of time must be invested. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Time and discipline are important, but the definition of success is an individual one that only the writers themselves can create. Goals create personal milestones, giving the writer a measuring stick against which to check progress. Setting the goals is entirely up to the writers themselves.

Time can be a precious commodity in our fast-paced world. Between work, family obligations, hobbies, volunteer work, and other commitments, the idea of finding time to write might seem out of reach. However, it can be done. It may be necessary to write out a simple schedule, noting work, family obligations, and other time constraints, and then consider the blocks of time that are not already committed to other pursuits. Television viewing might have to be sacrificed. Getting up a little earlier in the morning, for a morning person, or staying up a little later in the evening, for a night owl, might be an option as well. Moreover, a shorter lunch break might provide some time to indulge the muse.

Time, however, is not always the only consideration. Many writers need to “warm up” to the page, to shift gears from their day jobs into the mental work of writing. It is necessary not only to find time to scribble a few words on a page but also to find long enough blocks of uninterrupted time suitable for writing. Indeed, protecting the quality of one’s writing time is as important as finding time to write in the first place. If writing is not a priority and if the commitment is not as firm as the Saturday-morning golf game or the monthly martini lunch with the girls, it will never get off the ground.Marjorie Facklam, author of numerous children’s books, began writing while raising her five children, with several still in diapers. If a harried mother of five can find time to research and write rhyming science picture books like Bugs for Lunch while chasing toddlers and maintaining a household, any writer can find time in their schedule. Often, the question isn’t one of time, but of commitment.

Connect with  Nikolas Baron on Google+      Plagiarism Checker

nick-Grammerly Guest posterAbout the Author:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter and follow this blog!

MJ

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#TeaserTuesday- A Heart Not Easily Broken- Here Comes the Drama

Life… Love… Laughter… Drama…..

These are the emotions felt in  A Heart Not Easily Broken…this is NOT your typical Romance.

My past #TeaserTuesday posts have primarily focused on the happy and romantic aspects on the book. Today I am sharing a more dramatic part of the story, when things go from bad to worse.

Excerpt:

I awoke with a start. My heart raced, my head and body ached. It took a moment for the nightmare to dissipate and realize I was alone in my bed. But the moment I closed my eyes, images of my dream bombarded me, sending me back to that hallway.

And then I heard it, the ringing of my cell phone. I reached for it and saw Brian’s cheerful smile on the screen. My finger grazed the talk button. My need to hear his voice overwhelmed me, but if I answered now, I would spill everything and our relationship would be over.

I closed my eyes and prayed for strength as the phone continued to ring. When it stopped, I waited until it notified me of a voice mail. I held the phone and listened to his message.

“Hey, baby, it’s me. Tonight was awesome! I wish you could have been here. I have so much to tell you, and you won’t believe everyone I’ve met. I can’t wait to talk to you. I didn’t mean to try and wake you because I know you’ve got a busy day ahead. Did you get your badge? I called Javan, but he didn’t answer. Don’t worry; I know you’ll do well in class. Just hang in there, okay? I’ll send the money in the morning. Until then, I plan on dreaming about you. Good night, Ebony. I love you. ”

Tears flooded from my eyes and the lump in my throat made it hard to swallow. I wished more than anything in this world I could have been with him tonight.

I wished I’d paid for another ID.

I wished I’d just bought the damn book in the first place.

I wished he would have had a roll of condoms and not emptied my bag on the floor.

Oh. My. God. I sat up so fast my head began to swim.

Condoms.

Javan hadn’t used any. He’d been reckless and didn’t pull out and…

I leaned over the edge of my bed and searched frantically for the trashcan. To my surprise there was still something left to vomit.

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BUY your copy of this Amazon Bestseller for $3.99 today! For REVIEWS, SAMPLE CHAPTERS, and LINKS of all formats…all with just ONE-CLICK! 

Life on this Side of Publication: Part One- Playing the Query Game

For a while, I never thought I’d have a blog title like this, but it’s a blessing to be able to talk about life on ‘the other side’….

First, let me start with a recap of the past ten months.
I began sending query letters for my manuscript, A Heart Not Easily Broken, at the end of February. For those of you who have gone through that race, you know what a headache it can be. Its tries your patience, creates a crap load of self-doubt, and often you find yourself ready to throw in the towel.  Rejection after rejection pops up in your email, leaving you afraid to even open it.  Honestly, it’s hard to know what type of rejection letter is worse: standard form or one that has a little bit of a personal touch….either way, no is no.
I received both. It was disheartening to continue to have the standard forms instead of the ‘we don’t like it because…’ Who’s to say they even took the time to read the first line of the query letter you put your blood, sweat, and tears into writing?  How easy is it to look at something, decide you don’t have time to read it or the genre itself is not what you’re looking to fill, hit the reply button, and copy/past a rejection letter? Heck, my 10-year-old can do that! Out of the 70+ query letters sent, only four took five minutes out of their day to give me an explanation as to why they didn’t ‘feel’ my story. For that I was grateful.
I know, it sounds weird, but hearing them say why they didn’t like it gave me the fuel I needed to make changes to the next query letter or the story itself and try again.
Patience. Persistence. The will to try again.  (It makes a great mantra!)
Yes, I cried, had bad days, days filled with multiple rejections within hours of each other, as well as some that just flat out made me laugh.  It’s a part of the process. (The one that made me laugh was not a form rejection, it pretty much said, “Um…no.”)
Then one day, I got it…the email from an agent that said, “I’d like to represent you…but….”
Yep, that’s right there was a but.
‘But’…your story was good (she requested to read the full manuscript), BUT, I don’t know how to market this. I can submit it here (not naming the publisher, but I will say it was only to the few publishers who focus on African-American authors), but you’ll have to REDUCE YOUR WORD COUNT and this part, (the catalyst to the life changing event, the heart of the story which is in the middle of the book), will have to be changed to the end so the hero comes riding in on white horse. (Therefore turning the novel into a typical romance story, following all the genre guidelines).
Um…okay…

OR for your story to be submitted to the BIG SIX as Women’s Fiction novel, (which was what I wanted in the first place), you’ll have to add about 20,000 works (Not a problem!!!)….BUT…..You’ll have to change from 1st person to 3rd person…regardless of which publisher we submit to.
*Crickets chirping*
The Butterfly Memoirswas built on stories told in a first person narrative. Turning that to a third person would destroy the concept of the series and the one point I was unwilling to negotiate…ever.
I respectfully said, “No thank you.” And kept moving.
Did I have a moment of doubt in my decision? Of course! After all, an AGENT had not only expressed interest in my work, she’d also requested to read the full manuscript and liked it!
As an author seeking publication, you relish the idea of having a professional take a look at your work, and if you’re comfortable enough and are willing to be flexible – albeit to a degree – once you sign a contract, the publisher and editors will at some point suggest, or insist, changes be made to make the storyline better. (If you are in no way willing to be flexible and listen to what others have to say, don’t waste your time…self-publish. But understand it’s an editor’s job to streamline your work, not re-write it. If they feel the need to do that, then most likely they will not accept the job.) By no means am I telling you to give the publisher/editor reign over your work!  It’s your baby, your heart and soul, but they know how to make it work best. If there is something you are not comfortable with in changing/deleting during the editing process, stick to your guns and find an amicable solution. If not, then be aware that publisher/agent/editor may not be the right one for you. Once the contract is signed, it’s like a marriage…all parties involved are looking to get the most out of the arrangement. Being stubborn or unreasonable can lead to divorce.
I will say this, even though I was unwilling to negotiate the change of POV in my writing, I did appreciate the suggestions the agent made and took from it what I was willing to work with, made the adjustments and continued to query.
Two months later, I was at a point where I realized no one would be willing to ‘break the rules’ of general romance writing and publish someone who not only wrote in 1st Person, but did it from multiple points of views while addressing a very sensitive subject. I was nearing the point of giving up.  Several e-publishers had showed some promise by responding to the query and request a full read. But once they read it, the response was, ‘we don’t have time to put into supporting your project’. 
What does THAT mean? They didn’t have the resources for an editor? They didn’t like the idea the story was a part of a series? They didn’t have the finances to market me? Of course no one gave specifics. Well, at least they replied.
Sigh.
Then one day I received an email from a very enthusiastic owner of an e-publisher whose acquiring editor had not only read the manuscript, she’d fallen in love with it. Was I available? My first question was of course, did I have to change to 3rd person. The answer: NO! Man do I love my publisher! Thank you 5 Prince Publishing!!!
 As I said before, signing a contract with a publisher, whether big or small, is like a marriage. I am fortunate to be able to say my ‘marriage’ has been one of great benefit to all parties involved. I love my editor! June is a wonderful woman who has expressed as much love of this project as I have. She in no way has been hard to work with, is very supportive, and willing to listen to my questions and suggestions. She’s pointed out things in my manuscript that I, even as the author, missed completely, even after 4 years of re-writes! That is exactly how an editor/author relationship should be!
Stop by next week for part two of this blog: Life on This Side of Publication: Part Two – To Publication and Beyond!
             
MJ
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A Heart Not Easily Broken Release Party!!!

Yes! It’s finally here! The release of my debut novel, A HEART NOT EASILY BROKEN!

Four years….

That’s how long it took me to take a suggested hobby and turn it into more than I ever expected it to be…

Thank you to my family, all of my friends, old, and the new ones I’ve met along the way, for your support!!!! I would never have gotten this far if it wasn’t for your undying love and support!

So without further ado…(because I swear this sounds like I’m standing on a stage accepting an award…ROTFL!) I present….

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge. 

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust. 


Amazon     Barnes & Nobel     Smashwords   iTunes (coming soon!) 

Available in eBook, but paperback is coming soon! Don’t have an eReader  yet? Don’t worry! There are FREE KINDLE APPS for your laptop, iPad, Tablet, and Smartphones? There’s even one that allows you to read on your browser!


Don’t forget the blog tour! For blog stop information and information about the contest, check this link for details!!!! Drop by, say hi and don’t forget to comment! (See contest rules! Every comment gives you the opportunity to win!)
Today’s stops are: 




Oh yeah, there’s a PARTY OVER AT MY PLACE!!! Well, my Facebook Author Page that is! Drop by and say hi! I’ll be there from 8pm-10pm EST! See you there! 



MJ
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