Tag Archives: novel writing

Resurrecting Creativity

We officially passed the mid-point of the year (June 25) and my Year of Nurturing is still in progress… (what was your theme??)

So, I naturally gravitate to words like Zen, Spirit, Peace, Calm. I clicked on a link from Pinterest that had Zen and Writing in the title and landed in an article titled: Zen Power Writing” 15 Tips on How to Generate Ideas and Write with Ease. The blog post features tips mainly for article- and blog-writing, but I found this tip handy for my procrastination on my novel…

9. Leave end and beginning to the last. We can get stuck if we start at the beginning. The beginning is supposed to introduce the theme. But at the start of a writing project we may not know exactly what we’re going to say. So, it’s best to write the introduction later on. Once you have completed your first draft, it’s time to add an introduction and a conclusion. The intro can be short but it needs to say why your theme is important, or to outline the benefits that follow from reading your piece. The conclusion should tie it all together.

Do you procrastinate on any particular part of your writing? Beginnings? *raises hand* Middles? Ends? Editing? Querying? Maybe just sitting down with a vague and clichéd idea?

I’ve been struggling with resurrecting and developing my creativity since New Year’s Day, (2011 was filled with family and job drama, leaving me in an artist’s drought.)

I’ve made some false starts and some interesting, helpful discoveries. Wanna go on the ride with me? Come back tomorrow…

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Filed under Inspiration, procrastination, writers block, writing inspiration, Year of Nurturing

Is it Planning – or Procrastination?


“Life is too short to waste. Dreams are fulfilled only through action, not through endless planning to take action.”  ~ David J. Schwartz, Trainer and Author

“Transformation isn’t a future event, it’s a present activity.” ~ Jillian Michaels, Fitness Guru, Author of “Unlimited”

“Planning is nothing but procrastination in disguise… Failure doesn’t come from poor planning – it comes from the timidity to proceed.” ~ Scott Ginsberg, “The Nametag Guy”


These are just a few quotes I reread daily to get my head in check. I am THEE Queen of lists and planning to a fault, I now realize. Overplanning, procrastination, over-responsible, not finishing projects: these are all traits of ACOA’s (Adult Children of Alcoholics) yet I struggle with denial. Anyone else do this?

Once I push past the “preparation” that pulls on every. fiber. in. my. being, I actually get a lot of real work done. For me, this means writing new or revised scenes for my LAKE-RESORT Novel. This Sunday, I sat on my patio in the gorgeous fall weather and wrote long-hand 8 notebook pages of  a pretty tense scene between my teenage protag and her estranged mother. The key for me? Don’t over think it and don’t work on the computer (the internet is called the Web for a reason!)

How will you push past the planning and onto productivity today? Share your tips and tricks!


FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS! Just sign up! ; )



Filed under Advice, emotion, goals, Novels, procrastination

5 Prompt Friday

   5 writing prompts to jolt your mind and soul:

  1. The lady with the red umbrella stood at the corner again.
  2.  Bobby’s blanket still smelled of Johnson’s & Johnson’s.
  3.  For a complete examination, please complete this form.
  4.  When I talked about him, Jenna’s eyes lit up.
  5.  “Dear Jorge, I am breaking up with you. Please give back the prom ticket I bought. Michael needs to use it.”

What prompts can you share?


SUBSCRIBE! And the Muse Fairies will visit you at night….


Filed under 5 Prompt Friday, writers, Writing prompts

Friday Finds: Found on Twitter

A little birdy told me…

Found because of twitter (my new bff!) :

what this YA agent looks for in the first 5 pages

recipe for best-selling novel (cute!)

will my book hook an agent?

Researching best lit agents for your book

And when your work is done… a bit of fun!

2 free audiobooks a week thru summer – YA titles and classics

got paranormal smarts? Book recc’s for a paranormal summer

for a fun read and book recc’s!

Leave a comment

Filed under Advice, books, Friday Finds

First step to Clarity: Decide What you WANT

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want. Ben Stein

If you ‘ve been following my blog at all since Dec 31, you know that 2010 is The Year of Clarity. What does that mean? For me, it means to get back to my roots of writing and submitting fiction, narrowing my niche to better  build my platform and before deciding to take on any more, put heavy decisions through a “filter” to discern if  new writing or teaching gigs  fit my “ecosystem” for my ultimate writing goal. What I want is to finish and publish my novel and inspire young writers in my community, with the long-term goal of continuing in these areas to eventually replace my full-time job.

Clarity also means to simplify: my goals, my lifestyle, my space and my relationships. Focus on the things that bring me most joy. This weekend, that meant hanging with my sons: window shopping and walking through parks and an old 16th century graveyard, visiting the library, and reflecting on the school year about to come to an end.

I bring “clarity” up again, because Christina Katz is talking about it in this week’s issue of The Prosperous Writer. What clarity means to us as writers. What does it mean to you? Perhaps after journaling about it, you’ll hit an epiphany. As I did on April 28 of this year:

{journal excerpt}


I am so happy today! Excited with the idea that I WILL be writing a book. A novel I scribed in November 2008. It’s been fermenting in my hard drive. Hate the title. I’ll have to think of something catchy, deep and relative to the mood of the book.

Yes. Today I took the next step in finishing my first novel. I printed each of the 15 chapters, along with unconnected scenes, story map, plot outline, setting and each main characters’ description – from the forms I completed on storyright.com.

I was so afraid to look the mss. over after November 30 2008 struck midnight and I uploaded the whole messy beast into NaNo’s official word count thingamajig. I never looked back. Until today. And I like what I see. I like it a lot! : )


Filed under Advice, Believe, Deadlines, Novels

Author Interview and Book Giveaway: Sandra Lopez

Today, please welcome young author, Sandra Lopez, as she offers advice to fellow young writers on the process of writing a novel, the work of revision and the perseverance of landing an agent and a book deal (all while attending college!)

Sandra C. López was born and raised in Hawaiian Gardens, California. She learned to read at two and strived to achieve the best grades in school. Her free time was spent reading, writing, and drawing. Sandra managed to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and enter college. Her first novel, Esperanza: A Latina story, was published in March 2008 while she was still in college. Now, this young writer is a graduate of Cal State University Fullerton with a BFA in Animation and Illustration, and she is anticipating a promising career as a writer and an artist. Beyond The Gardens is the follow up sequel to “Esperanza.”

Brief Synopsis:

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceañera.

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic, who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is.
What’s a girl to do?

Interview by  Mary Jo Campbell

Tell us about your writing background: when did you realize you wanted to be a writer? Who is your biggest influence?

SL: For me, being a writer was not part of the plan. I’ve always had a deep admiration for writers since I was two, and I always thought you had to have been born with a natural talent for it. I never thought that I could be a writer. It was just impossible and unthinkable. So I kept on reading instead. I didn’t discover the works of Latino writing until I read Sandra Cisnero’s The House on Mango Street (one of my favorite books, BTW) in college. Then I went to on to the works of Luis Rodriguez and Gary Soto and many others. It was at that time that I realized I was only reading about Latinos that were either assimilating to American life as an illegal immigrant or trying to survive in a Los Angeles gang. What about the young Latina that just wants to go to school? That’s how I came to writing Esperanza. Of course, my intention was not to get it published. I was just going to leave it on the shelf and let it collect dust forever. But I thought: Why not? Send out some letters and see what happens. After about 30 rejection letters, I was about to give up on the whole thing; then I got a call from the editor at Floricanto Press. “Send us your manuscript,” they said. So I did. Then four months later, I was offered a contract. Two and half years later, Esperanza: A Latina Story was a published paperback. And all this happened WHILE I was still in college.

I guess my biggest influence was…..ME. Other writers may have floated my dormant aspiration to the surface; but I was ultimately the one that made that flying leap over the water and allowed my bursting creativity to breathe.

Let’s talk about your writing process. Beyond the Gardens is the sequel to Esperanza, a Latina Story. Did you know there would be a sequel when writing your first book? When working on the first draft, do you pre-write or outline or just freewrite without a plan? Do you revise as you go, or get the whole rough draft completed, and then go back for revisions?

SL: I realized Esperanza’s story would continue right after the publication of my first book. Esperanza is a precocious and intelligent young kid, who is blind to her own potential. However, she is very ambitious in her studies. All she wants to do is go to school and learn everything she can. Her dream is to be an animator and “work for Bugs Bunny,” as she describes. But she figures that because she is a Latina coming from a poor Mexican barrio, her destiny lies in the fast-food industry. To her own surprise, she gets accepted to the Atkins Art Institute in Los Angeles. And that’s pretty much where Beyond the Gardens begins.

When I first started planning it, I began with an outline to organize my thoughts on the story (something that progressed and changed as time went on.) Then I used what a fellow writer calls, “throwing up on a page.” I just allowed myself to write freely without worrying about spelling, grammar, or any of that. The ironic is that the free writing stage sometimes deviated from the outline as I suspected it would; but it still worked for me because writing is like starting a painting—you almost always begin with a light sketch in pencil before covering the canvas with brush strokes.

When you get to the revision stage, you begin the real but fun work. For me, revising is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I added a piece here, took out a piece there, chiseled this one to make it fit here, and so on. I worked from middle, beginning, and end (I say it like this because I didn’t revise from A to Z; I worked in sections, tweaking the parts I like and wanted to keep.

Having a novel published at a young age gives hope to other young writers out there. How long did the whole process take, from idea to publication for your novel, Beyond the Gardens?

SL: At first, I started writing the novel right after the publication of Esperanza. I worked on it for about a year, then I stopped to go back to my studies. Then, as graduation approached, I came back to the manuscript, referring to my old college notes as frequently as I could; and then I worked on revisions for another year and half. Publication took about another year.

What steps did you take in finding an agent for your first novel and how do you work with your agent to promote your books?

SL: I published my two books without the help of an agent. I’ve actually received more support from my fellow writers and devoted readers than I have from my editor. I have been the only sales person for my books. I am my own agent and marketing specialist; I book the events and handle author fees; I organize the panels and help new writers get some exposure; I do it all.

What advice could you offer a struggling young writer?

SL: Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Finding an agent or editor is like finding a job—you will have plenty of rejections before finally convincing someone to hire you. Also, don’t write what you think will sell. A lot of editors and agents will turn down a good manuscript because they feel there is not a market out there for it. Don’t worry about the market. Writer the stories that you want to read. Write want interests you not an agent or editor. Another thing I tell aspiring writers is to write because they love it. If it makes you feel good, then do it. Life is too short not to do what you want. Don’t wait ‘til retirement, you might not live that long. Do it now!

From your viewpoint as a student, what tips can you offer teachers trying to share the love of creative writing with their class?

SL: I’d say encourage your students read books outside the class syllabus and allow them to express themselves through creative writing and share it with everyone.

For more information, please visit the official website of Sandra C. Lopez

You can order Sandra’s books here:

Dulce Bread & Book Shop

ISBN-13: 9781432746988
Published: Outskirts Press

OR, take a shot at winning a copy!

One copy of Beyond the Gardens will be given away at the end of the tour to the blog reader who visits the most blogs hosting Sandra Lopez throughout her tour and leaves a question or comment for Sandra at each blog.

Virtual Book Tour for Beyond the Gardens by Sandra Lopez:

Monday     April 26     Bonnie S. Mata     http://authoroffaith.blogspot.com/
Tuesday    April 27     Mayra Calvani     http://www.examiner.com/x-6309-Latino-Books-Examiner
Wednesday     April 28     Christina Rodriguez   http://www.christinarodriguez.com/
Thursday     April 29     Lori Calabrese     http://loricalabrese.com/blog/
Friday     April 30     Mary Jo     https://writerinspired.wordpress.com/
Monday     May 3     Erin O’Riordan     http://www.erinoriordan.blogspot.com/
Tuesday    May 4     Joylene Nowell Butler     http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/
Wednesday     May 5     Terri Lee-Johnson     http://www.browngirlspeaks.com/book-speak.html
Thursday     May 6     Romina Tybitt     http://www.mamaxxi.blogspot.com/
Friday     May 7     Leslie Toledo     http://thatchickthatreads.blogspot.com/

“Readers can’t help but cheer Esperanza on as she

finds out what life is like Beyond the Gardens. Funny, smart,

and heartfelt—all that you want in an inspiring story.”

—Margo Candela – Author of Underneath it all and

More than this

“An emerging Latina voice, Sandra Lopez continues

to inspire with her latest work, Beyond the Gardens. Her

words are soulful and her images resonate with passion

and humor.”

—Ray Michael Baca – Author of Brotherhood of the



Filed under Author Interviews, books, Give Aways

A Week to Remember: The Plot

Arch2Traditionally, I’ve never been one for using outlines before writing. I always felt that it stunted my flow of muse; shorted out the creativity and freedom and surprise of not knowing where my story was headed.

However. I competed in NaNoWriMo last November and learned my lesson. All the freedom and creativity I could muster wasn’t going to get me past the “honeymoon” phase of writing a novel. The nooks and crannies of the character’s motives and inner thoughts needed to be mapped out or they’d fizzle on the page, left untouched due to frustration and boredom.

So, on Day Two of the Young Writers’ Summer Studio, we discussed the Plot Arc. Drawn on my board as a roller coaster, I plotted out the points of the arc: The Beginning (Introduction to the character and their world), The Inciting Incident (the moment the main Conflict is mentioned), The Rising Action (The bulk of the story which details the conflict and how the main character and minor characters are affected by this problem,  The Climax (that ultimate battle where everything comes to a head and the main character either wins or loses), The Falling Action (how all the characters fare after the climax) and The Conclusion (all loose ends wrapped up, all questions and issues resolved, once way or anther.)

I then introduced the young writers to my favorite writing tool: Note Cards!

They were excited to spread out and utilize all the couches, chairs and window seats of the clubhouse. With note cards and plot arc in hand, the students were instructed to write one scene per note card and arrange the cards in the order they thought was most interesting.

How proud I was to see these young writers flex and meld with the tools given to them to fit their style and practice of writing. I was also in awe with how quickly they mapped out the plots. Sure, there were questions and switching of scenes; but no second guessing, no doubt about what their stories would become. I learned from these writers the true essence of creating: love of the craft and belief in oneself.

To be continued, tomorrow…


Filed under Advice, Novels, teaching

Book Blog Tour: Danette Haworth, Author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening

Tour #2 on the Summer Book Blog Tour presents an Author Interview with Danette Haworth: author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening

Danette Haworth webshotDanette Haworth was first published at six-years-old, when she created a comic book series starring Peter Pan. These marvelous adventures usually ended with a defeated Captain Hook raising his sword, shouting, “I’ll get you, Pan!” Her mother still has the first edition, so carefully colored and stapled all those years ago.

Danette’s degree in English landed her a job as a technical writer, which was a fun position because she got to play in tank simulators and explain to scientists that possessive its does not have an apostrophe. She later worked as travel writer and a freelance writer/editor.

VioletRaines-coverHer debut novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, was published by Walker Books for Young Readers, Fall 2008 and will be followed by The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness (2010) and Me and Jack (2011).

Danette will be popping in throughout the day, so feel free to leave a comment or ask her a question or two!

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell

MJC: I love your “About Me” page on your website.  Readers can really get a sense of your good nature and humor.  Have you always written light-hearted humorous pieces?  What kind of advice can you give those of us who take ourselves (and our writing) too seriously?

DN: Thank you! When I write, I take on the mood of whatever I’m writing, so light-hearted pieces are great to work with. One thing I liked about Violet Raines was being able to be stubborn and feisty through her character. She’s so bold!

On taking one’s self too seriously—I don’t have any advice! I tend to take things seriously myself, especially things I’ve poured my heart into. My mother can let things roll off her back; not me, I feel every bit of it. I really do believe creative people are sensitive—that’s our weakness and our strength. Sure, maybe we take things too seriously, but we also pick up on nuances that others might miss. We’re a bit more raw in that area, but as I said before, it’s actually a strength and a gift. I would never trade it in!

MJC: Good point. I wouldn’t trade my sensitivity for anything, either! The book video produced by Scholastic Books is exciting!  Can you tell us how you became involved with Scholastic Books for your book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning?

DN: I received an email from my editor asking me if Scholastic reps could visit and film me for their video. I was like Yeah! Of course! When the crew of three arrived, I felt relaxed, eager. They’d read my book, and I’d read some of the books written by authors they were set to record. The sun shone, birds chirped, and my hair turned out well. Then they turned the cameras on and my mouth went totally dry!

Larry Decker, Scott Bennett, Juan Cruz were professional and nice. They wanted to see the Econlockhatchee River, which was the inspiration for the setting of Violet Raines. I couldn’t wait to take them there. Larry thought it was beautiful, and it is. Oaks and palms hang over the river, forming a canopy in places. Egrets and other fishing birds wade in the shallows for lunch. We didn’t see any alligators that day—I think Scott was hoping for at least one!—but I was relieved, being the smallest and probably the slowest in the bunch.

They filmed for several hours and somehow, in editing, took out all my um, uh, what was the question? They made me look good and I LOVED the lightning effects they added to the sequence. They did a great job!

(Check out the book video here!)

MJC: You said in a recent interview, that Violet just “walked into” your head one day. Did the rest of the story “write itself” or did the characters stump your flow or theme you were trying to follow?  What was your novel writing process in regards to outlining; rough draft writing; research for setting/characters; revision, etc?

DN: When I got a hold of Violet, she was so complete, so real, I could have dropped her into any situation and I would have known exactly how she would react. Boy, was she feisty! I wanted to come up with a story that would be a match for her.

I wrote a brief outline before drafting detailed character sketches, which then led to a full outline taking me all the way to the end of the book. Having an outline keeps me immersed in the book. I know what I have to accomplish today, and when I’m done writing, my mind wanders down the path of where I’ll go tomorrow.

Sometimes a character will pop with something not on the outline, and I follow that new direction to see where it goes. Who knows? There might be something exciting down that way! I never feel dictated to by the outline; I look at it as more of a guide.

As far as research, it’s true you should always research, even if you’re writing about your own backyard. For as well as I know the Central Florida area, I still researched things like lovebugs (When do they swarm? Lovebug—is it two words, one word, or hyphenated?); Detroit and its monorail system; alligators; and, of course, lightning!

MJC: Like myself, many writers have full-time day jobs that take us out of the house, but wish to make that leap to full-time writer.  Can you tell us what steps you took to make the transition and was there anything you wish you knew then?

DN: The transition for me took place when we started having a family; I always wanted to be home when I had kids. But I still wanted to keep my foot in the door, so I took on freelance editing and writing assignments, doing what I liked (and getting paid for it!) while babies took naps.

The main change for me was giving up work I could count on to taking the risk on my dream: writing a novel. I’m so glad I did!

The only thing I wish I knew then is relax! After I sold Violet Raines and the final draft was accepted, I’d never been through a copyedit before or any of the proofreading rounds. I pored over the pages when these things came through; it seemed as if the entire success of the book depended on if I kept this comma or deleted it! I went through the pages with a red pencil, and when I tried to copy the manuscript, none of my marks were visible! So I sharpened my pencil and pressed hard over all of my marks to make sure they’d show up. By the time I got done, the manuscript looked like a toddler had been through it with a red crayon! How embarrassing!

MJC: I’ve read that you are working on a second novel, The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness (another great title!)  Can you tell us a bit about this upcoming novel? Is your writing process with this book similar or different to the process used for Violet Raines?

DN: Thanks for your compliment on the title! The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness is set in north Central Florida, in the hills (Yes! Florida has hills!) near a freshwater spring. In Blueberry Goodness, a girl who lives in a dilapidating, antebellum hotel meets an eclectic group of friends, including a teenage runaway.

My process for this book was different from every other piece of writing I’ve ever approached. I knew the characters; I knew the beginning, I knew the climax, the denouement, but for the life of me, I couldn’t draft the full outline. For weeks, I struggled with trying to format the story arc so I’d have an outline for support. I knew what I wanted to happen in the story, but I was blocked as far as getting it down in outline form, which scared me—I’m used to having that guide.

Finally, I said Forget it! I started writing. Staying on course without the outline was easier than I thought it would be. I still explored new paths when they popped up, but it was easy to recognize directions that were purely tangential. At the end of each writing session, I’d scribble some notes to myself about what I just wrote, what needed to be adjusted, and what needed to happen tomorrow. So instead of having one big outline, I had guidance in bits and pieces, and it worked.

MJC: That is fabulous! You experienced novel success working both with and without an outline.  What advice do you have for young writers who aspire to be published in fiction?

DN: My advice to young writers is to look now for opportunities! With the explosion of online magazines, there are more venues now than ever before for young writers. Do your research; don’t worry (at first) about the paycheck, but look at the quality of the stories being published and make sure you’d be proud to have your story there.

Don’t forget about opportunities close to home: class newsletter, community newsletter, contests or columns for young people in the local paper, yearbook, school blog, etc. All these places provide the experience of writing, being edited, meeting deadlines, and the best one—having other people read and enjoy your writing!

MJC: What else is next for Danette Haworth? Please let us know about your tours, appearances, etc!

DN: The biggest thing for me is finishing up Blueberry Goodness and then moving on to revisions for my third book, Me and Jack, which comes out with Walker in 2011.

I recently filmed a short video for Mom’s Homeroom on encouraging and keeping your children interested in reading. Later this year, I’ll be in Philadelphia to speak at the National Council of Teachers of English conference; next April, I fly to Chicago to participate in the 2010 International Reading Association conference.

In the meantime, I’ll be blogging and updating my website! Please come visit me at Summer Friend or my website, Danette Haworth.

Thank you so much for having me, Mary Jo! It was fun!

Be sure to check out Danette’s website for dates and places of her continuing blog tour…


Filed under Author Interviews, books, characters, Fiction, Get Published, Inspiration, Novels, Platform/Marketing, writing inspiration

Blog Tour: Author, Sybil Baker

The Life Plan‘s author, Sybil Baker, joins us today on Writers Inspired to share her writing processes, experience with a small press and her history with Virginia Tech.

rockpointreadingbakerSybil Baker spent twelve years teaching in South Korea prior to accepting a position as an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after earning her MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. During her extensive travels throughout Asia, she became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing. Her novel The Life Plan was recently published by Casperian Books. Her fiction has appeared most recently in upstreet, and the anthologies And Now for a Story (Casperian Books) and Motif: Writing by Ear (MotesBooks). Her essays have recently appeared in Alehouse, Segue, A Woman’s World Again (Traveler’s Tales. In 2005, she won the Grand Prize in Seoul’s essay contest. Her essay on American expatriate literature appeared in AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle in September 2005.


Enjoy this interview on the novel writing process and be sure to check out the very cool book trailer at the end.

Sybil will be answering your questions all day, today, Friday April 3 – so don’t be shy!

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell


Sybil, thank you for stopping at Writers Inspired today on your book blog tour, promoting your new novel: The Life Plan.


We hope you can share some of your novel writing and publishing and marketing experiences with us.

MJC: I see from your blog and website, that you’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction for some time.  Have you written and/or submitted previous novel drafts for publication, before The Life Plan?

SB: I submitted earlier drafts of The Life Plan to a few agents when I was living in Korea, and while I had some positive response I didn’t find an agent who was interested enough to take me on. When I moved back to the States, I thought I’d try small presses before querying agents again, and I was fortunate that Casperian wanted to publish the book. I also wrote a novel more than 15 years ago that I sent out to a few places back then—it was very different than this novel—much darker and more “literary.” Again, that novel had interest from a few places but not enough to pursue publishing. While I was living in Korea, I wrote regularly but did not submit my work for years because of the time and expense. Now that so many places take electronic submission I expect it’s easier to submit internationally, but when I lived there I had to use snail mail, purchase International Reply Coupons for return postage, and pay a lot for postage—so I spent most of my time writing instead of submitting.

MJC: Your world travels obviously influence your fiction, but can you tell us how globe-trotting helps you market yourself as an author?


SB: First, I have friends and family who live all over the world—from Italy to Afghanistan, so I have a built-in international network to promote my book. For example, in May we’re visiting family in South Africa (where my husband is from) and my mother in law is planning several parties and promotional events for my novel.


Second, as evidenced by the success of Eat, Pray, Love, I think women’s global fiction and nonfiction is gaining in popularity. My experiences living and traveling abroad have allowed me to join that niche market and help me market myself as a global fiction writer.

MJC: Do you have a regular writing schedule? Give us an example of “a day in the life of Sybil,” while writing The Life Plan. Are you a fan of outlining your fiction or just starting with an idea and seeing where it takes you?

SB: When I started The Life Plan in fall 2004 I was also working on a short story collection, and so for about nine   months I alternated between the two projects. I wrote the first draft of the novel and its revisions when I was teaching at a university in Seoul.

I usually set long-term goals and then break those down in to weekly or daily goals. So for example, I may decide to develop an outline or draft in the summer, then break that down in to shorter daily or weekly goals. During my semester breaks I’m able to work longer hours and so can increase my weekly or daily writing goals.

When I’m in full writing mode and have a complete day to myself, I usually wake up, make coffee, check email, check the news, then spend mid to late morning writing. Then I’ll go for a run, do some yoga, and write more in the afternoon. If I’m teaching or have other things going on, I try to squeeze in a few hours in the morning or evening.


I’ve become a believer in some kind of outlining or plotting before writing the first draft. Outlines are like a map to help you stay on course—of course you have the power to throw the map away or take a different road, depending on what is happening in the novel.

MJC: As writers, we tackle the sensitive topics, hoping to bring a universal truth and understanding to our readers.  I read that you are a graduate of Virginia Tech.  Do you think you would ever write about the horrific shootings that happened there either from a fiction or non-fiction view?

SB: It’s strange because not only did I graduate from Virginia Tech, but as a freshman I lived in the dorm where two of the shootings took place. Cho Seung Hui was a Korean American who grew up just a few miles where I did in Northern Virginia. I was living in Seoul at the time and the Koreans were horrified at what had happened—they were sure Americans would hate all Koreans after that.

I hadn’t thought about writing about it since I’m one of many graduates, but now that you mention it, I should write an essay about it as I’m connected to what happened in so many different ways.

MJC: What’s next for Sybil Baker? Any appearances, links or promos you’d like us to know about?

SB: After this blog tour I’ll be in South Africa for a month then will be back in the States—I’m planning on reading this summer at any place or anyone that will have me, and I’d love to work with any book club that is interested in the novel. If the book club is within driving distance, I’ll make a personal appearance; otherwise, I’ll be happy to appear via Skype. There’s a book club page on my website for any groups who are interested. And please check my blog or Facebook for updates on readings and blog visits.

Here are my links:


For book clubs: http://www.sybilbaker.com/bookclubs.html

My blog: http://sybilbaker.blogspot.com/

Website: www.sybilbaker.com

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RVu8VbHEbY&fmt=18

Thanks so much for having me!


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, characters, Fiction, Get Published, Inspiration, Novels, Perseverance

Blog Tours and Book Giveaways!

42-18845069(photo courtesy of Corbis Corporation)

I’ve become a book blog tour groupie!  Stop here to read Q&A’s with some fascinating authors, and have a chance to win their books!

Book Blog Tour Schedule:

Friday, January 30:

Janice Lynne Lundy is an inspirational speaker, interfaith spiritual director, syndicated magazine columnist, and the author of four self-help/spiritual growth books for women. Her newest book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be, has just been released by Sorin Books.In the meantime, visit her blog: www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 4:

Ruth J. Hartman was once “normal.” She perceived the world around her as any other person would—until she turned 27. My Life in Mental Chains is moving and tragic, yet in the end, it’s an uplifting story of personal faith and inner strength. Ruth’s insight will be a great comfort to OCD sufferers, their families, and their friends. In the meantime, visit her website at www.ruthjhartman.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 12:

Kim Hix is the mother of a very special young boy who struggles with emotional difficulties. He has experienced an array of moods from an early age, which include rages, depression, anxiety, and drastic mood shifts. No One is Perfect and YOU are a Great Kid is a lovely book written about Zack, a young boy who struggles daily with ever changing moods. He tries to understand why he gets very sad, upset, discouraged and angry in response to what most would consider insignificant events.  In the meantime, visit Kim Hix’s website: Intense Kids, Great Kids

Tuesday, March 17: (St. Paddy’s Day)

In Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers, acclaimed Southern story writer and novelist George Singleton serves up everything you ever need to know to become a real writer (meaning one who actually writes), in bite-sized aphorisms. It’s Nietzsche’s Beyond Good & Evil meets Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. It’s cough syrup that tastes like chocolate cake. In other words, don’t expect to get better unless you get a good dose of it, maybe two. In the meantime, visit George Singleton’s website: www.georgesingleton.com

This is going to be a blast!! *If you are an author with a new release and would like to stop here on your book blog tour, please email me at mjcwriter at comcast.net.  I’m a gracious hostess : )


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, contests, emotion, Give Aways, Inspiration, writers, writing inspiration