Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Craziest Thing I've Ever Done (in terms of books)

 What happens on Halloween? Kids dress like action heroes and adults act like kids. It's also the day that I issued two new books, Least Trodden Ground and Aunt Madge and the Civil Election. 

Who would be crazy enough to do that? Looking in the mirror, I recognize the face.

Least Trodden Ground has been in the works for months and had the benefit of my Decatur area critique group. (Thanks Angela, Dave, and Sue.) The book combines my love of family history with a mystery set in the Western Maryland mountains -- my home state.

Aunt Madge and the Civil Election is a story I promised when I wrote Underground in Ocean Alley. In that book in the Jolie Gentil series, Jolie tries to solve a murder while Aunt Madge runs her campaign. She dove into the race in her mid-eighties to promote sensible growth rather than see a big development change the character of the town. Election results are unknown at the end of Underground in Ocean Alley.

I knew Aunt Madge's camapaign would be fun to write about, but I needed to "hang the idea" on more than people running around putting up yard signs. And then the U.S. 2020 election came around, and I was tired of listenening to people argue. (Yes, I voted. Of course.)

Why not give Aunt Madge a worthy opponent, but have both candidates commit to a civil election? And throw in some humor. Why not indeed?

To write in a parallel timeline to the prior book, I muted the mystery (didn't want to give it away to people who wanted to read Underground) and wrote Aunt Madge and the Civil Election from her point of view rather than Jolie's.

It's a challenge to write a scene from a different POV -- to write a 17,000 word story that parallels a prior book. Of course there are many dozens of scenes in  this "long short story" that are not in the other book. But concurrent action can't contradict what happened previously. Whew! I made some small adjustments.

I was determined to publish Aunt Madge and the Civil Election before the actual U.S. election, so there were several 2 AM evenings followed by a 7 AM morning. And no input from my critique group! They make everything better.

So, today I have two new publications. Least Trodden Ground is available everywhere and the paperback can soon be ordered at Barnes and Noble. (It's on Amazon now.) Aunt Madge and her campaign are available at most online retailers and will be in paperback in a few days.

To add some extra fun, if you comment on this blog post you'll be in the running to win one of two copies of each book. Our black cat Stella will chooses the winners. They will be announced November 6th.

Now, calm yourself by reading (any) good book!

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To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Dealing with Rejections

     You haven’t fully become a writer until you’ve had work rejected by multiple magazines or publishers. I’ve heard writers say they could paper their walls with rejection letters. Bottom line, if you don’t have a thick skin, find ways to toughen it. Just keep thinking, “Where do I submit next?”

     Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Theodor Geisel) submitted And to Think I Saw That on Mulberry Street (his first book) to twenty-seven publishers and received rejections each time. After what he decided would be the last one (because he wouldn’t submit again), he was walking down Fifth Avenue in New York and ran into a friend. He relayed his situation, and the man told him he had just become an editor at a publishing house and invited him to submit there. The rest is publishing history.

     Rejections don’t mean your writing is bad. 
They simply mean the piece isn’t right for that magazine at that time. They could also be because you didn’t pay attention to submission guidelines, or it could mean your story needs work. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some feedback. Take it with an open mind.

The important thing is to keep writing and submitting!

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To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter

Monday, October 5, 2020

Creating an Online Course During Covid

 I've often given talks on writing and publishing, and enjoy it. I think those will be out for a while, so I redesigned an online course and put it on a new platform, TabletWise. 

Some potential authors have an idea for a book, get right to work, and finish it in a few months. That's not how it works for everyone. Story ideas can come naturally, but it can be a challenge to structure them well. For some, it's even hard to wrap their head (and computer) around the idea. 

"Decide What to Write and Learn How to Publish" guides a writer through the decsion of what to write, offers resources for learning how to write, and then digs into the publishing world. The course has information for those who want to work with a traditional publisher and those considering self-publishing.

In the last few years, the term 'hybrid publishing' has arisen. I've seen a couple definitions. A common one includes an author paying a publishing firm to perform certain functions -- such as formatting and some marketing. The publisher does not accept all authors, and the author makes more per book than with a traditional publisher. 

One way to publish that's laid out in the course is 'author as publishing manager.' If you decide to self publish, you can essentially be your own general contractor -- find people to format, perhaps hire an editor and publicist for specific tasks.

If you plan to do only one book, then working with a hybrid publisher can make sense. If you plan to do several -- and you don't want to perform all roles yourself -- you can manage the process as others perform tasks for you.

If you want to go with a traditional publisher, the course suggests how  to find an agent and offers a list of detailed questions to ask a publisher before you sign a contract.

The course offers a mix of videos and text lessons you can download. In other words, you  get to see my smiling face sometimes. 

You can buy a lot of books and take a lot of classes on writing and publishing, or you can take this course for the reasonable price of $19.99 by visiting Learn Desk. You can learn beyond the course by consulting the list of resources at the end of each lesson.

What are you waiting for? Readers are waiting!

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To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter