On the Path to Publication

Last summer I finally finished the first draft of my travel memoirs – a book I had no intention of writing. My focus had been on writing a mystery and joining the ranks of my favorite authors. Following a visit to my 50th state before I turned 50 – my own bucket list, if you will – friends and colleagues convinced me that my journey was worth chronicling.

What the heck, I figured. At a minimum, it would be one amazing journal of my visits to all 50 states. Now I’m in a second round of revisions and will be finished by late spring at which time I will begin shopping the manuscript around.

On my best days, I write furiously and happily. On my worst days, I’m filled with angst and doubt about my efforts.


The path to publication is helped when following the advice from published authors. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I’ve learned, I’m not alone. At the recent Mystery Palooza put on by the Sisters in Crime Central Chapter, several authors shared their journeys on the path to publication.All admitted to the same struggles. I wasn’t alone! Their stories encouraged me to keep plugging along. The authors who presented all had from two to 34 books to their name.

When asked about motivation, several responded about the importance of belonging to writers’ groups. I do, and they are right. Each time I attend a meeting I learn something. I also want to have something to share about my progress.

Frances Aylor, author of the Robbie Bradford financial thrillers, said. “I realized I was telling everyone I was writing a book, and it became a point of honor to finish it.” A few of my colleagues inquire every few weeks about my progress. I look forward to the day when I’m holding a copy of the book!

“Being around other writers motivates me,” author Mary Burton said. Every time I see her, she has encouraging words for me, and she has 34 books to her credit! Her next book, “Her Last Word,” debuts May 8.

Heather Weidner said, “It helps to have peers looking at (your work).” Her second book, “The Tulip Shirt Murders,” just came out.

When I shared my draft with my readers, I was apprehensive to get their feedback. What if they disliked it? Instead, they said, “Tell me more. I want more details.” They scribbled notes and suggestions throughout my draft, and I’m rewriting to deliver what they asked for.

I’m on the path to publication. I’ll let you know when the launch party is!

You’ve Got Mail – And More Mail

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with their inbox. I know I do. If I find a webinar about taming my inbox, you can be sure I signed up for it.

I recently did just that through the Career Mastery™ Kickstart 2018 event. Carson Tate, who offers a course in taming the inbox and is the author of “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style” shared some tips.

While most of us are working to be more productive, part of our problem is poor allocation of time, Carson noted. Unfortunately, one size does not fit all. We each need to find the style that works for us.


Carson Tate offers advice on how to tame our inbox. 

Carson encourages us to change our mindset about our inboxes. “You no longer work for your inbox, your inbox works for you,” she emphasized.

I was relieved when she said that the typical inbox should have no more than 50 emails in the inbox. Whew! That’s about where I am by week’s end. The first part of the week my inbox soars with emails. For a long time that frustrated me, but I know now that by week’s end the flow of emails ebbs. Midweek, I set time aside to review my emails for any important ones I may have overlooked. I delete those that require no action and offer no information. When Friday comes, I often walk out the door with 50 emails or fewer. Before the holidays I was down to 18.

It’s important to think about how you use your inbox. For me, it’s a giant to do list. Carson said there is nothing wrong with that, but for that to work, it’s important to move reference emails to a retrieval system. I’ll file emails into folders as needed. Other times, I file the attachment into a Word folder so I can retrieve it later.

She also encouraged individuals to stop starting the day with emails. “Your inbox is everyone else’s to do list for you,” she said.

I hadn’t thought about it that way. I now limit how often I check my inbox so I can work on the projects that are a priority. However, I will admit that I check it more frequently than is often recommended because I work with reporters on tight deadlines and need to be able to respond quickly.

By limiting how often I do check my emails, I am able to advance my goals.

The mail continues to arrive, but I’m processing it more efficiently.

What are your tips for taming your inbox?


5 Tips for a Creative Plan for Your Writing Life – Or Just Life

Working on your career is like working on your story. You need to ask yourself, “What is the ending for my 2018 story?”

Journey1Michelle Mercurio shared that advice during a James River Writers workshop. I found it so powerful I went home and spent a few hours journaling about it. Before long, I had three specific outcomes I wanted to see happen by the end of 2018. More importantly, the outcomes were more than words. I told a story with each of the outcomes, weaving in details and monthly plans. It’s going to be a beautiful journey.

The actual workshop was about scheduling, motivating and organizing one’s writing life, but I quickly found the advice applicable to so many areas. And yes, one of my 2018 outcomes is to have a book contract.

Here’s what else I learned:

A map is useful. Michelle urged the audience to define their buckets and then create an ideal calendar and map out how to fill the buckets.

Accountability matters. Karen A. Chase said when you regularly meet with groups you have to show up or people will ask why you didn’t attend. And when you show up, there are people asking about your progress. I’m finding that to be true with my book of travel essays. I’m making more progress the more I talk about it because people follow up and ask me how it is progressing.

Find your spot. We all need a place that inspires us. Or a place that helps us get unstuck. Or maybe a place that is simply a change of pace. I recently spent a long weekend in the Outer Banks writing. It wasn’t my house so I couldn’t be distracted by things I should do around my house. Instead I focused on my writing. It helped that the weather was lousy and I stayed indoors.

Organize. You can organize your notes and ideas by folders using dates or topics. Michelle prefers to use binders. Others organize electronically. Choose the system that works for you, and, if you need to, Kristina Hamlett said hire someone to help you organize.   

Say no. “We need to say no in order to say yes,” Kristina said. It’s important to make time for writing. That might mean turning down invitations.

With all this planning and organizing, you would think you would be set to write (or whatever your goal is), but avoid the pitfall of overscheduling and making so many lists that you aren’t writing.

“It’s safer to plan than it is to do, but choose writing,” Michelle said.