When You Reach One Dream, Set a New One!

” When You Reach One Dream, Set a New One!” by Joan Y. Edwards

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

I had a very exciting weekend at the SCWW Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. I reached a goal I set about 5 years ago to be asked to be a paid presenter at a writing conference! Linda Cookingham, conference chair for this year’s conference, invited me in March 2014 to be a paid presenter from Dr. Bob Rich’s recommendation. Thank you, Dr. Bob and Linda.

This past weekend, I achieved my dream. I gave three workshops during the SCWW conference:

  1. “Get Your Blog Going and Make It Stand Out.” Thank you to the 12-19 people who came.
After "Get Your Blog Going" workshop at 2014 SCWW Conference

After “Get Your Blog Going” workshop at 2014 SCWW Conference

Dot Hochstrasser honored me by purchasing a copy of Flip Flap Floodle and the Silent Auction critique and books. Thank you, Dot.

Dot Hochstrasser honored me by attending the Get Your Blog Going Workshop, purchasing a copy of Flip Flap Floodle and the Silent Auction critique and books. Thank you, Dot.

  1. “33 Ways to Correct, Trim, and Enhance Your Manuscript.” Thank you to the two people who came.
  2. “Add Pizzazz to Your Blog.” Thank you to the 17 people who came.

Half of participants at "Add Pizzazz to Your Blog" workshop at 2014 SCWW Conference.

Half of participants at “Add Pizzazz to Your Blog” workshop at 2014 SCWW Conference. Thank you for participating.

Regina Smeltzer and Joan Y. Edwards after "Add Pizzazz to Your Blog" workshop!

Regina Smeltzer and Joan Y. Edwards after “Add Pizzazz to Your Blog” workshop! Thank you, Regina, for being there for me.”

Barbara Lunow and Anne Hicks Kaylor at supper on Saturday night. We had fun. Thank you for sitting with me.

Barbara Lunow and Anne Hicks Kaylor at supper on Saturday night. We had fun. Thank you for sitting with me, Barbara and Anne..


Now that I achieved this dream, I am setting my sight on a new one:
My new dream is to be a paid keynote speaker for a conference to inspire and motivate people to believe in themselves and their dreams!

It’s important when you reach one dream to set a new one. It gives you a reason to live. Something to look forward to. Please share a dream you reached. Did you set another goal when you reached it? What is one of your present goals? I would love to hear all about it.

When you finish one project, set up a new one.
When you retire, set up a new goal to help others.
When you learn how to bat a ball, learn how to improve another skill in baseball.
When you learn how to create good characters, set a goal to improve a different writing skill.
Celebrate each step you take.
Celebrate each new thing you learn.
Celebrate when you have a plan to keep unpleasant things from happening again.
Celebrate when you have a plan that works to keep you rejuvenated and full of life.
Believe in You!

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


240 Subscribers (Thank you.)

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12 Affirmations for Writers.



Kathleen Burkinshaw Won a Free Critique of 2,000 Words to Celebrate My Blog’s 5th Blogaversary

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Kathleen Burkinshaw Won a Free Critique of 2,000 Words to Celebrate My Blog’s 5th Blogaversary”

Dear Honored Readers,
There were seven people who left a comment on You’re Good. Laugh at Your Rejections. (Happy 5th Birthday Blog):

1.    Dianna Gunn
2.    Widdershins
3.    Dr. Bob. Rich
4.    Megan Vance  – Happy in Him
5.    Kathleen Burkinshaw
6.    Linda Martin Andersen
7.    Ann Stawski

Random.org chose number 5; therefore, Kathleen Burkinshaw won a free critique of 2,000 words of one of her manuscripts.

Congratulations, Kathleen. Thank you for leaving a comment

Thanks to all of you who read and leave comments on my blog. I appreciate you! You give me life. Each of you counts with me; over 170,000 views. An average of 34,000 a year!

Celebrate You
Never Give Up


You’re Good. Laugh at Your Rejections. (Happy 5th Birthday Blog)

Laugh at Your Rejections

“You’re Good. Laugh at Your Rejections (Happy 5th Birthday Blog)” by Joan Y. Edwards  FREE GIVEAWAY Chance. (Details after blog post)

This is the #3 in Series – Famous Writers Recovered from Rejection, So Can You. The series tells you about authors who made it, even though publishers rejected them. You can make it, too.

Gotham Writers Workshop gives you three tips for coping with rejection:

  1. Laugh at your rejections.
  2. Learn from your rejections.
  3. Always have a new project underway, something that will give you hope no matter how many rejections come your way for the previous project.

You may take some consolation in knowing the rejection history of the following  writers and works:

Edgar Allen Poe According to One Hundred Rejections.com, Harpers rejected “Folio Club Tales with the following note: “Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works (especially fiction) in which a single and connected story occupies the whole volume, or a number of volumes, as the case may be.” Poe kept trying and the next year this same publisher accepted his book for publication.

E. E. Cummings (e.e. cummings, Edward Estlin Cummings) wrote The Enormous Room and was unable to find a publisher. Cummings self-published much of his work and struggled financially. In the 1940s and 1950s, his style of writing became popular and he gave live readings before full houses.

Emily Dickinson When she was living, Emily Dickinson had 12 poems published after her publishers changed her wording to match the “accepted rhyming patterns of the day.” All the rest were rejected. Sadly, no one recognized Emily Dickinson’s genius during her lifetime. After her death, her sister found her poems and her first collection was published in 1890.

Emily Giffin wrote bestselling novels Something Borrowed and Something Blue. She had what Emily called a mean agent who just wrote a one-line, they all rejected it. They referred to eight New York city Publishers to whom the agent submitted . Her books, Something Borrowed and Something Blue were made into movies. Interview on Today.com: http://www.today.com/video/today/37130156#37130156

Ernest Hemingway didn’t like his publisher, Boni & Liveright. He purposely wrote a script he knew they would reject called “The Torrents of Spring.” As Heminway planned, Horace Liveright turned him down which broke his contract. Liveright said, “It would be in rotten taste to publish “The Torrents of Spring.” Then, Ernest found Scribner, who published all of his books and every book became a bestseller. Here are three: The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and A Farewell to Arms.

Frank Herbert wrote the Science Fiction book, Dune, after spending time in Florence, Oregon in 1953 to do a magazine article about a United States Department of Agriculture project to stabilize the dunes by planting beach grass. It changed the ecology of the dune areas and was very controversial. This inspired the setting for what Herbert called his “messiah story.”

By 1963, his agent submitted Dune for publication.Two years and 22 rejections later, a publisher accepted it. In the next 21 years, he published six Dune books, over thirty fiction and non-fiction books, and many magazine articles.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby. He received one big rejection that stated, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

Fitzgerald wrote a letter giving advice to a new writer. Every writer can learn from the wisdom of his words.

“You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.”

George Orwell wrote Animal Farm After four rejections, Orwell’s novel was published in 1945. Five years later, a Russian émigré in West Germany, Vladimir Gorachek, published a small print in Russian to distribute free to readers behind the Iron Curtain. And in 1954, the CIA funded an animated adaptation of Animal Farm by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.

Gertrude Stein wrote poems for 22 years. Stein received a rejection letter from Arthur C.Fifeld, Publisher, London for her manuscript entitled, “Three Works.”

I think that Fifeld got carried away in his long rejection. I shortened it here: “I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one…Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one…returning the M.S. by registered post. Only one M.S. by one post.”

Her poetry was not well-read, but one line from it is well-remembered, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. Loveliness extreme.” Nigel Rees says that the phrase in Stein’s poem Sacred Emily describes the artwork of the artist, Sir Francis Cyril Rose. She thought he made nature come alive. Here’s a picture painted by Sir Francis Cyril Rose.

Stein’s only bestseller was the story of her life told through the character named Toklas in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and it won the Pulitzer Prize. She never got her other novels published.

Thank you for reading my blog. Today, October 9, 2014 is the fifth birthday of my blog. Thank you to one of my readers, Widdershins, who coined the phrase “Blogaversary.” So you could call say, “Happy 5th Blogaversary.”

There are other sites that list authors with rejections who never gave up. There are biography sites that you can research your favorite authors to find out how they overcame rejection. This is the last blog post in this series. I hope that reading about famous authors who were rejected and never gave up, inspires you to keep on going towards success in the publication of all your manuscripts.

Thank you for reading my blog and making it grow. I appreciate all of you. It is wonderful that you share my posts with your friends in your online communities: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and emails, etc.  Thank you.

Totals in Five Years – October 9, 2009 – October 9, 2014
Blog Posts 453
Reads 167,207
Highest Reads in One Day 980
Lowest Reads in One Day 1
Subscribers to blog 232
Subscribers to comments 99
Total Comments 4,467

Shares 2,212
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FREE GIVEAWAY to celebrate 5 wonderful years with you:

I am offering a free critique of the first 2000 words of a manuscript as a gift for responding with a comment on this blog post between now and midnight Friday, October 17, 2014. Random.org will choose the winner. I will announce the winner in a new post on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Believe in you and your writing.
Celebrate all that you’ve accomplished: both the big steps and the little ones.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


232 Subscribers (Thank you.)

Please subscribe to Joan’s Never Give Up blog by email from the left-hand column. You’ll receive new blog posts filled with inspiration and information in your inbox as soon as she uploads them.

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12 Affirmations for Writers.


Janis Silverman Won a Free 1000 Word Manuscript Critique

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Janis Silverman Won a Free 1000 Word Manuscript Critique” by Joan Y. Edwards

There were four people who left comments on  7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave

  1. Linda Martin Andersen
  2. Janis Silverman
  3. Nisha
  4. Carole Hopkins Balent

Random.org chose number 2, therefore, Janis Silverman, you won the free 1000 word manuscript critique.  Congratulations! You may send me your pitch, query letter, and manuscript not to exceed 1000 words.

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting on my blog posts!

Never Give Up



7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave” by Joan Y. Edwards

Readers crave surprise. That’s the element that helps a reader stick to a story from the beginning to the very end. Therefore, every good story has the element of surprise. The books that incorporate the most surprises are best sellers.

A surprise is when something unexpected happens that is far from what the reader thought would happen. It adds tension and excitement and keeps the reader actively engaged and committed to your manuscript. Any surprise element must present an image in the mind of the reader. If a reader can’t see the image, they won’t see the connection you are counting on to make your story sell.

Many intriguing two-sentence pitches, hooks, loglines, and short summaries or trailers for books and movies, include or allude to one of these seven elements of surprise.

L. K. Hill quotes Marion Jensen’s view on surprise:Surprise in literature is something unexpected that evokes an emotional reaction in a reader.”

Beth Hill suggests that “you, the writer, include a revelation, introduce a new character, or devise an unforeseen event that is so unpredictable that it even surprises you.” So include unexpected consequences that surround your characters and have the element of surprise in them.

Tracy Richardson shows the powerful and surprising beginning of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love:

  • I wish Giovanni would kiss me.

Tracy points out that this first sentence hooks you right away and her next sentence is a perfect contradiction.

  • Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea.

This beginning shows a good use of surprise.


Here are seven ways to add an element of surprise to your story:

  1. Humor is when you exaggerate the unexpected and sometimes using the power of three to create a funny situation. Humor is shown in action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description.
  2. Shock is when you exaggerate the unexpected so much that what happened is the complete opposite of what a reader thought was possible. It can be positive or negative.
  3. Contradiction is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description that shows when opposite emotions are present at the same time in a character or situation.
  4. Irony is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description which is the opposite of what a reader expects under similar circumstances.
  5. Twist is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description which is the opposite of what a reader expects in this genre under similar circumstances. I think of a twist as having to do with the plot.
  6. Revelation is when you reveal secrets or previously unknown information in your story.
  7. Introduce a new character who is unpredictable in a way that adds tension and validity to the theme of your story.

Here are seven three best-selling books that are filled with surprises:

  1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  3. The Witness by Nora Roberts
  4. The Firm by John Grisham
  5. Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket by Barbara Park
  6. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin, and Randy Travis.
  7. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Readers crave surprise. Incorporate the elements of surprise in your stories and you will have a best seller because it has what readers crave!

Here are three mostly true stories from a few encounters in my life. They are first drafts. I hope you enjoy them. Each of them contains at least one element of surprise. Maybe more.

Expected and Unexpected

While I was in college during the summer months, my grandmother in Ohio loved for me to come unannounced. One Friday afternoon I left Western Carolina College in Cullowhee, North Carolina at 2:00 p.m. and arrived in Eaton, Ohio about 2:00 a.m. about five hours longer than I planned.

I knocked on Mother Meyer’s front door. Several minutes went by. I didn’t hear any sounds from inside the house. Then I heard a key turn as someone unlocked the door. As I stood there with my overnight case, a man I had never seen before peeked through the open door.

“Hello. Is Mother Meyer here?” I asked.

“No, she’s not.”

I proudly stated, “I’m her granddaughter, Joan.”

He looked at me like so what.

“My daddy is John Bernard Meyer.”

No signs of recognition on that man’s face. I thought maybe he’d know my Mother. Therefore, I tried again. “My mother is Ethel Meyer.”

The man with slightly balding hairline crossed his arms, “I don’t know them.”

I pointed to the first door on the left. “Mother Meyer usually lets me sleep in that room.”

I wasn’t getting anywhere. Visions of the nearby motel Mother and I stayed in with bugs crawling everywhere loomed in my head. My face grew white as a misty fog.

“I am John Campbell, your Aunt Betty’s husband. We got married last month.”

“Is Aunt Betty here?”

“She’s asleep.”

“Oh,” I said emotionally wilting into a small pile of rocks and sticky briars.

Then a warm smile donned his face. “Mother Meyer went to visit her daughter, Bea for the weekend. She’ll be back on Sunday. I see that you have your suitcase so you must have planned to spend the night. So come on in.”

I said, “Thank you very much.”

I moved quickly in the bedroom and closed the door. I shouted on the inside, “Thank you, Lord. I don’t ever want to do THAT again.”

That was my last surprise visit to my grandmother’s house.

Who was the most surprised person in this story?

Did I learn my lesson about surprise visits? My lesson came in two installments; one for each side of the family: Meyer and Bruffey.

Surprising Aunt Martha

One Friday in October, I decided to visit my Aunt Martha Bruffey in Kinston, North Carolina. She loved for me to surprise her by coming out of the bedroom in the morning.  Aunt Martha and Uncle Vernon always left the doors unlocked so I would come in through the back door and sneak quietly into my cousins’ bedroom. I’d sleep on a cot there and in the morning, I’d come out of the bedroom into the hall. Aunt Martha would give me a great big hug and say, “What a nice surprise! I am so glad to see you.”

I drove nine or ten hours from Cullowhee, North Carolina to get there. I parked my gray 1950 Plymouth in the driveway and carried my overnight case around back to enter through the back door.

When I got around back, there was a new garage attached to the house. The back door I used to sneak through was hidden inside the breezeway structure that joined the house and the garage. The garage had a door so I twisted the doorknob to the right and pushed it, but it was locked and did not budge a millimeter.

Feeling a little frustrated, I walked to the side door, turned the knob, and pushed on it. Much to my dismay, it was locked, too.

But wait, there’s hope for me. There was still the possibility that the front door was not locked. When I turned the knob and pushed on it, it was locked tighter than a fat lady in a thin girdle.

I didn’t savor the idea of sleeping in my car because wire springs had sprung through the cushions and were not very comfortable. Surprising Aunt Martha wouldn’t be as much fun if I banged on the door and woke her up. She might be a bit grumpy. I didn’t want to scare my three girl cousins, so I stood in front of the four boys’ window on the side of the house. All four of them were sound asleep.

I took a deep breath and knocked on the window.

My oldest cousin woke and said, “My gosh, what’s going on out there?”

He shined a flashlight and saw me standing outside the house lonely and sad.

I spoke softly so I wouldn’t wake up Aunt Martha or the girls. “Please unlock the front door so I can come in.”

When the lock on the front door clicked, he opened it and said, “Joan, what a big surprise!”

“Not as big a surprise as I was to find all the doors locked.”

My cousins fixed up a cot for me so I’d have a place to sleep.

The next morning, Aunt Martha was thrilled to see me. She gave me a big hug and said, “What a nice surprise! It’s so good to see you.”

I was the most surprised person during this visit. The locked doors put a brake on future unannounced visits to relatives. But, I went many times after I told them I was coming.

What was the irony in this story?

Who did I surprise?

How do you think my grandmother and my aunt felt when I didn’t surprise them with visits again?

The Most Nervous Person at the Airport

One time, my friend, Henry, flew into Charlotte to help his boss determine the value of his latest acquisitions for a coin show. Larry asked me to meet him at the airport the next day. He told me his American flight to St. Louis took off at 2:10 p.m. and asked me to meet him about 1:00 p.m. so we could visit before his flight.

I left home an hour early to take notes on the body language of the most nervous person at the airport while I waited for Larry to arrive at his gate of departure.

Men, women, and children of varying ages amused me with their talk and their movements, but they was no sign of nervousness. Instead, moods of calm and excitement filled the air.

One o’clock came, but Henry didn’t.

One-fifteen, no Henry. I listened carefully to the messages over the intercom. None of them said, “Would Joan York please come to any agent at American Airlines?”

One-thirty, no Henry. I paced back and forth near the gate. I anxiously checked the long hallway for a man running to catch his flight. Everyone walked leisurely like they had more than enough time to get to their gate for take-off.

One-forty-five, no Henry. My heart beat a little faster.

As each moment passed, my thoughts went haywire. “What if something’s happened to him? What if he’s been in a car wreck?”

Two o’clock, no Henry. I patted my foot.

The gate clerk called passengers to board the airplane, no Larry. My saliva was so thick, it almost choked me.

The plane took off.  It watched it taxi away from the building without Henry.

They changed the flight numbers on the bulletin board. I twisted my pen like it was a baton. I wrote below “Who was the most nervous person I observed at the airport?”

The answer was “Me.”

Larry called me the next day.

I said, “Where are you? Are you okay?”

He said, “Early yesterday morning, my boss asked him to stay an extra day.”

My response was choppy and sharp, “Why didn’t you call me and let me know? Why didn’t you have the airlines page me?”

Larry said, “I called American Airlines and asked them to tell you.

“Humph! I listened with keen ears to all notices from American Airlines pages. None of them had my name in them.” I didn’t believe him.

“I’m going to take the same flight tomorrow. Will you meet me there at one o’clock?”

“No. The only place I’ll meet you is if you come to my house.”

He said, “That’s a fine way to treat a friend,” and hung up.

I never saw him again. He called wondering if he could spend a week with me while he went to a coin show.

I’m sure you guessed my answer. “Indeed not.”

All was not in vain because I learned many signs of nervousness and I had the wisdom to follow my gut feelings to end that relationship and any others in the future that made me nervous.

What emotions do you think usually precede, follow or go side-by side with nervousness?

What body language means nervousness to you?

What solves nervousness or makes it go away?

I hope my three stories helped you see how an element of surprise can hook the reader’s attention in a story. I hope it sparks an idea to use with your own stories. I think writers may crave surprise, as much as the readers. Let your imagination run around the possibilities. Readers crave surprise. Give it to them. Put multiple surprise factors in your manuscript. “If you put surprise in your story, readers will come.”

FREE GIVEAWAY (This offer is over. Please check later blogposts for more giveaways)

I am offering a free critique of the first 1000 words of a manuscript as a gift for responding with a comment about this blog post. Tell me your favorite surprise, shock, contradiction, twist, an unexpected consequence, or irony in my stories and/or your favorite book or movie between now and midnight Thursday, October 2, 2014.  Random.org will choose the winner. I will announce the winner in a new post on Friday, October 3, 2014.

Believe in you and your writing.
Celebrate all that you’ve accomplished: both the big steps and the little ones.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


227 Subscribers (Thank you.)

Please subscribe to Joan’s Never Give Up blog by email from the left-hand column. You’ll receive new blog posts filled with inspiration and information in your inbox as soon as she uploads them.

Never Give Up image
12 Affirmations for Writers.



  1. “Add a Twist to a Story,” http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Twist-to-a-Story.
  2. Annie Gracie. Writing Romantic Comedy,” 2001, http://www.annegracie.com/writing/comedy.htm.
  3. Beth Hill. “Include Surprises in Your Stories,” April 16, 2012, http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/04/16/include-surprises-in-your-stories/.
  4. Bronwyn Hemus, “Hook Your Readers, Six Tried and Tested Tips,” March 7, 2013, https://www.standoutbooks.com/hook-your-readers-six-tips/.
  5. Cheryl Klein. “Springing Surprises,” http://www.cherylklein.com/surprise.html.
  6. Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. “Add the Element of Surprise,” http://www.netplaces.com/writing-a-romance-novel/the-last-polish/add-the-element-of-surprise.htm.
  7. Elizabeth Spann Craig, “The Element of Surprise,” Mystery Writing Is Murder (blog), August 18, 2011, http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/2011/08/element-of-surprise.html.
  8. K. M. Weiland, “5 Ways to Write Killer Plot Twist,” July 28, 2013, http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/07/5-ways-to-write-killer-plot-twist.html.
  9. L. K. Hill. “How to Use the Element of Surprise to Better Your Writing,” http://lkhill.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-to-use-element-of-surprise-to.html.
  10. “Make a Surprise Ending to Your Story,” http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Surprise-Ending-to-Your-Story.
  11. Susan. “How to Use Humor Effectively,” http://www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html.
  12. Tracy Richardson. (First Sentences) “Where It All Starts,” Article Archive, Just about Write.com, 2010, http://www.justaboutwrite.com/A_Archive_WhereItAllStarts-Richardson.html.
  13. Victoria Mixon. “5 Ways to Make Your Novel Unforgettable,” http://victoriamixon.com/2010/09/13/5-ways-to-make-your-novel-unforgettable/.
  14. Zara Altair. “Twist the Predictable: Create Plot Twists to Enrich the Story Line,” December 20, 2010, http://storybodyguard.com/2010/12/20/twist-the-predictable-create-plot-twists-to-enrich-the-story-line/.

Karen Cioffi Won a Free Critique from Anne Duguid!

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Karen Cioffi Won a Free Critique from Anne Duguid!” by Joan Y. Edwards

Dear Friends,
Thank you to the five people who kindly left a comment on Anne Duguid’s guest interview:
1. Mona Pease
2. Linda Martin Andersen
3. Karen Cioffi
4. Kathleen Burkinshaw
5. Wendy Labarner

Random.org chose the number 3…so Karen Cioffi, you won a free 1000 word manuscript critique from Anne Duguid.

I’ll send you Anne’s email address so that you can forward your manuscript to her.

Thank you to each of you for making Anne feel welcome here.
Thank you, Anne for being a guest on my blog. Be sure and let me know when FriekWeek goes live and I’ll add a link so people can purchase it if they like.

Never Give Up

Interview with Anne Duguid – Teacher, Journalist and Freelance Editor

Anne Duguid Copyright © 2014

Anne Duguid
Copyright © 2014

“Interview with Anne Duguid – Teacher, Journalist and Freelance Editor”

Part of the  Interviews on Authors I Admire Series

Thank you, Anne Duguid, for being a guest on my blog.

I am glad to be here.


  1. How did you do in English as a kid?

I loved English and was always top of the class in my primary school. I read long before I went to school and must have been an appalling PITA. Fortunately, my teachers all had book cupboards and sent me off to read when I was being too much of a know-it-all.

  1. When did you decide to become an author?

I remember the day. I was eight and saw my name in print under a poem in the school magazine. I decided to build on the success and write my first children’s book in the school holidays. The leading character was an elf imprisoned in a cardboard box. Sadly I found no way for him to escape and that was the end of that.

  1. What’s your favorite book? Why?

No, sorry, can’t answer this at all. I read seven to ten books most weeks and the favorites are those which leave me feeling bereft when I’ve finished.

  1. Are your characters based on real people?

I have photos pinned on my cork board to remind me of physical characteristics of my longer-running characters—some of them have been hanging around for years waiting for me to finish their story, poor things. Good job that Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author never found me. They’d still be wandering round. My characters are mostly second-hand, with quirks taken from actors portraying real people.

  1. Did you outline and plan your books before you wrote them or did these stories flow on their own?

I flew by the seat of my pants for the first few books and loved how the characters took over to sort out their own problems but the resulting novels had flaws even I could see, most of them fatal. Now, I outline and plan but not rigidly. There is always leeway for characters to use freewill.

  1. How much research did you have to do for writing and/or publishing your books or manuscript in progress? What helped you in doing your research that others could benefit by your experience?

I try to write from experiences I know about. As a national journalist, I learned how to research quickly, who to go to rather than what to read. This makes the research much faster. There are many Internet sites set up to link authors and journalists with experts in their field, for instance http://www.experts.com/Consultants/Categories

  1. Did you cry while writing one of your books?

Only when I wrote something unbelievably bad and couldn’t work out how to make my words match the image I saw in my head.

  1. Do you have trouble saying goodbye to your characters when the book is finished?

Both when writing and editing, yes. Some characters stay in the mind like friends forever. This is why writing a series is a good option for me. It’s also a proven way to build readership rather than writing stand-alones.

  1. What’s your favorite book you’ve written?

The one I’m writing or editing at the time. So now it’s ShriekWeek—a novella for a Halloween Anthology—but it’s also coming out as a single title in mid-October. It was a challenge to write a cozy mystery in 15,000 words. There are a few unresolved issues but this leaves the way open for later books to fill in the gaps.

  1. What is your favorite genre?
    Only one? Mystery—preferably with historical background.
  1. What’s your advice for outlining a compelling plot?

I start by reading everything there is about plotting lol. The first method I ever used was the Snowflake method and that was an excellent start. I use James Scott Bell’s Revisions and Self-Editing. We recommend it in the Savvy Authors’ EditPalooza workshop to check that everything is in place and fits together.

For the novella I’m writing now, I did a mathematical summary for the outline which I’ll share after the book is released as a free report for subscribers to my blog. It’s a composite of novel and screenwriting plans and it keeps me on track when my characters try to take off in all directions.

  1. Tell us about your job as an editor?

I love content editing, which has to do with the plot development rather than the grammatical nuts and bolts, and freelance for two of the best Indie publishers in the business.

  1. Any hints for writers?

Writers nowadays have to be totally professional, follow submission guidelines and be prepared to be flexible.

If you want to publish without changing a word, use self-publishing. Editors are in place because they know the market and know what sells.

Start the story with the problem that sets everything in motion and move forward from there. Keep back story to the minimum. Filter it in only as and when needed.

  1. Are there submission guidelines for the publishers you work with? Give us links, please.

The competition for acceptance at both The Wild Rose Press and MuseItUp Publishing is high.

Read about each of their imprints carefully to select the right line for your query. Read what is requested and follow the directions carefully.

  1. Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer?
  • This would make a book of acknowledgements in its own right! If it had not been for PubSubbers— www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com —making me feel so guilty and chivvying me along never to give up, I might never have submitted my novel at all. (Thank you. I am so glad Pub Subbers helped you. Hip Hip Hooray for you.)
  • Lea Schizas and the presenters of the Muse Online Writers Conference http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com spring to mind for all the great advice and support.
  • Holly Lisle at www.hollylisle.com whose courses are very comprehensive and she gives great advice and support.
  • Marg. McAlister with her tips and challenges at http://www.writing4success.com,
  • Ruth Barringham of www.writeaholics.net.
  • Reading, reading, reading also helped me.
  • I once had an unnecessarily nasty put down in a critique group which felled me for a bit, but now sits in the back of my mind as motivation to succeed.
  1. What are your favorite blog posts?

Blogs which offer great value and unstinting help to their readers are an outstanding way to increase marketing potential.

  1. Please tell us more about your new book that is coming out October 13, 2014.

ShriekWeek (one word), which I wrote as Anne Knol, was written in answer to a Wild Rose Press call for Halloween themed ​​stories of no more than 15,000 words. The deadline date was six months away so I figured I’d write 1,000 words a week(!) and have two months left for revision. That, of course, did not happen.

I sent in a detailed synopsis, strong with a goal, motivation, and conflict for hero, heroine and villain and a blurb ( one paragraph for heroine’s goal, one for hero’s goal and a final paragraph for the conflict.)

The editor approved them, but changed them as the story developed. My original synopsis was too complicated to develop in a few words and I was forever tweaking blurbs.

In the end I probably wrote twice the number of words needed and spent my revision time cutting back. I hit the deadline at the very last moment.

I read cozy mysteries all the time. Agatha Christie is a great proponent of the cozy mystery genre. Think of Miss Marple or Poirot. The murders take place in the main off-stage, any violence is, for the most part, described, not enacted. The murder is not solved by an official figure, but by a member of the community where it takes place which could be a traditional small town, village, theatrical cast, or a golf club. There is often a sweet romance element, too.

I knew my characters, knew my synopsis, made a file card system for characters and events and still I struggled. The first three chapters came easily but I could not tie all the threads in the final chapters. I was forever forgetting to plant the necessary clues. I just had no idea how difficult it was going to be.

I have a marvelous editor in Nancy Swanson who suggested I write a series to resolve the unanswered questions readers may have after reading ShriekWeek so several of the characters are now to have a book of their own, provided I attract enough readers (hint, hint.)

As an incentive to any writers who buy the book–watch my blog in mid October–I shall share my synopsis plans, blurb thoughts, writing plans/muddles for my second novella as it progresses in a free mini Write Your Own Novella course. I’m going for a summer story so suggest, unless you’re self-publishing, you also choose that time of year or later.

I do recommend keeping an eye out for requests for themed submissions–Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, and Easter are often requested–and remember that your ideas need to be in at least nine months before your chosen date.

And if you’re a slow writer like me, you may find that limiting your word power makes it easier to write more.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Anne, for a wonderful interview filled with great advice and powerful information Cozy Mysteries and about submitting manuscripts to publishers.

Anne Duguid is a teacher, journalist and freelance editor who has been encouraging writers and talking to imaginary friends for a very long time. She blogs at http://slowandsteadywriters.blogspot.com


Anne is offering one reader a free critique of first 1000 words of a fiction or non-fiction manuscript as a gift for responding with a comment between now and midnight September 16, 2014.  Random.org will choose the winner. I will announce the winner in a new post on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

Believe in you and your writing.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


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