Making Money Mondays and Uncle Sam

Top Ten Tax Tips

Do all or some, but always number one and number two. And for all you giggling 8 year olds … yes I said number one and  number two.

  1. Save every meal receipt (if it pertains to writing) for every meal at every event, every con, and on the road before and in between and after.
  2. On receipt document date, time, total, and who you were with.  A lot of receipt ink no longer lasts. Faded receipts are useless.
  3. If you count off your clothing as a tax deduction, make sure the clothing is worn only at what counts as work.  Con costumes, con clothing, con shoes, have their own place in the closet. If I use it in everyday life, it doesn’t go in Con clothes and I don’t count it off.
  4. Count gas or mileage. Keep receipts (ditto on ink problems) or good records.
  5. If you know how to make a spread sheet of expenses, do it.
  6. Keep receipts (ditto on ink) from the bars.
  7. Hotel, tips, parking, valet, etc. can go, dated, on receipts or spread sheet.
  8. If you can (and feel that your credit situation should) get a credit card for business. I have a card I use for business and it’s so easy to match receipts up to lines on each bill.
  9. If you go paperless, know that you will have to print records. I do both, just in case.
  10. Keep records of the books you give away. Because you will likely give some away to fans or even to VIPs who might want to make a movie of your book. (Rolls around on the floor laughing hysterically.)  It could happen, right? Right?

And if you didn’t see this? >>>————————————————->>>BOTE-Cover

This! It’s out now.


Pop Culture References and Dating a Book

fbi-glossaryFirst, let’s be clear that I’m not suggesting that you take your book out to dinner and a movie and possibly a little nookie on the side. That would be oh so weird and also wtf? No, I’m talking about relevance and putting in references or language that doom your book to being considered old fashioned or out of touch after being out a few years. This isn’t usually a problem for second world fantasy, but often is a problem for SF, UF, contemporary fantasy, and most any contemporary novel. That’s because trends change, fashions change, language changes, and what’s ‘cool’ changes.

Now there are some things you’re stuck with. If you’re writing a book set in 2016  Greece and use current descriptions (which you’d have to do), ten years from now, when hopefully Greece isn’t flooded with refugees trying to escape certain death, Greece will look considerably different. What if you had written about the twin towers that no longer exist, even though no one could ever have predicted they’d be gone? As time goes on, readers might not accept your world building or see your book as dated, possibly irrelevant. Possibly the reader won’t understand at all if the landscape has changed dramatically. Not just physical landscape,  either, but cultural, political, and economic.

Other ways you can date the book is with language. Specifically, references to current language that may not survive. Think seventies. White people called crackers. Jive talking. Or the eighties: totally bitchin’, gag me with a spoon, or psych! Then there are the nineties: da bomb, yadda, yadda, yadda, or tight. The first decade of the millenium: fo shizzle, cray-cray, and peeps. A lot of trendy sayings that were EVERYWHERE for awhile, are simply gone now like they never were, or considered ridiculously out of touch.

Those words do evoke a certain moment of time, which is terrific if that’s what you’re doing–a period piece. But if you’re trying to teen slangmake your book stand up for as long as possible, you’ve got to be careful with how much you ladle out, or decide if you want to use something that works across a longer period. Dissing, for instance, has lasted longer. Or cool. Or something that’s more fixed to your character than to a time. Of course, using slang and colloquialisms to situate a person’s heritage and frame of reference can be very useful. (But be aware that a word like dude, which goes back almost a hundred and fifty years, probably won’t be received well in a book set at the time of the world wars. Same with the word fag, which was the word for cigarette, but obviously carries other connotations now.) For instance, in my Horngate books, Tyler slips back into his Texan heritage sometimes, using Texan sayings and patterns of speech that make the reader know exactly where he’s from.

The next issue that can date a book is pop culture references. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s TV. I was teaching one year when I realized that The Brady Bunch had ended long, long, LONG before any of my students were born. (So that Steve Buscemi and Danny Trejo Brady Bunch commercial is fairly meaningless to a lot of people who never watched it.) Most of those same students hadn’t been old enough to see R movies in the theaters before they came to college. They wouldn’t get a lot of my movie references from movies I watched before they were born, or when they were ten. Especially the Monty Python ones. Or music references. And I probably wouldn’t get a lot of theirs, since I don’t listen to a lot of pop music and I don’t see a lot of movies these days–there are so many and also so many books. Books win.

All this raises the question: how are you supposed to write a book that will stand the test of time and yet be in the contemporary world?

plattersSometimes you use all that contemporary and trendy stuff because it’s necessary and hope your books holds up. A lot of snappy contemporary books–snarky romances and a lot of YA books, for instance, often fall into this category–you have to use contemporary references. Maybe you try to choose those that will be most memorable for your target audience. So if you’re selling to 30-50 year old women, maybe you don’t use Bruno Mars as your male heartthrob musician reference. Maybe you use Justin Timberlake or Sting, Prince or Eminem, Dave Grohl or Trent Reznor. Make your references suit your audience and try to use someone that overlaps between age groups. Justin Timberlake works for that, as does Dave Grohl.

I like to use references to things that hopefully lots of people know. Disney references, for instances, will stand up awhile. I use Scooby Doo references because not only aged folks like myself, but young kids like my daughter, watch it. And since that’s been the case for decades, I think it’s fairly safe for awhile in the future. Movies that are classics that everyone tends to know or the same with books. Something that stays in the culture. Like the roadrunner and coyote. Oprah. That sort of thing. (Though I think Oprah is falling off the radar now). I use food references that aren’t going to go away all that soon–Twinkies, for instance (though yes, I know, they almost did go away).

If you reference The Game of Thrones, while popular now, it’s still a specific niche and nobody might know much about the red wedding or Jon Snow in a few years once the show ends. Likewise, political references that are very timely won’t last. Many people don’t know who Monica Lewinsky is or why anybody cared about her. Nor do people really remember Dan Quayle who was infamous for misspellings, oxymorons, and malapropisms. Culturally,  he trendy things don’t really stick with us unless they’re around for a loooong time.

When you read a Jane Austen novel, most of them are accessible and while certainly knowing more about the culture will aid in the richness of understanding, it isn’t necessary. It feels contemporary because in many ways, the story is timeless and the characters feel modern in their sensibilities.

One of the best ways you can handle pop references is to keep them generic–a boy band instead of Backstreet Boys. Hair Band instead of most eighties rock bands, really. You can avoid name brands, as well. Or throw in names that don’t matter. For instance, does it matter if your character throws Tide or some other detergent in the washer? You can use that sort of specific to help set the scene, but the name brand doesn’t really matter. Readers will get the idea. You can even use made up names for brands.

In the end, you choose what you want to use, but it’s always worth combing through in your revisions and examining which references you used and if you still think they are your best choice.




author pic francis

Diana Pharaoh Francis writes books of a fantastical, adventurous, and often romantic nature. Her award-nominated books include The Path series, the Horngate Witches series, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and Diamond City Magic books, and the Mission: Magic series. She’s owned by two corgis, spends much of her time herding children, and likes rocks, geocaching, knotting up yarn, and has a thing for 1800s England, especially the Victorians. For more about her writing, visit She can also be found on twitter as @dianapfrancis.





Quick-Tip Tuesday: Self-Editing Redux

David B. Coe/ D.B. JacksonChildren of Amarid, by David B. Coe (jacket art by Romas Kukalis)As I’ve mentioned here plenty of times in the past couple of months, I’m in the process of editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. The Author’s Edit of Children of Amarid, the first volume, has recently been released by Lore Seekers Press; I’ve just finished my revisions of book II, The Outlanders, which should be out in early October; and I’ve begun work on the third book, Eagle Sage. We’re hoping to release it in December.

When discussing self-editing with less experienced writers, I often start by saying that the secret is creating distance between the writing experience and the editing experience. Without that distance, the manuscript feels stale, and I’m unable to see the mistakes I might have missed while drafting the book. And, for me at least, the best way to facilitate that distancing is to put the manuscript away for a while.

Clearly, not everyone has the luxury of putting a book away for twenty years as I have with the LonTobyn books. Editing these books was relatively easy because of how much time had passed. There were literally entire sections of the books that I didn’t remember writing. It was almost like editing another writer’s work.

But in most instances we’re fortunate if we can put a book away for more than a few days. I like to wait for six weeks after finishing the writing before I go back and revise a manuscript, but sometimes I simply can’t. The deadline looms and I have little choice but to edit sooner. So how do I create enough distance from the writing process for my editing to be effective?

Again, for me the key is making the writing and the editing as different from each other as possible. I write on a keyboard and computer screen. I compose in my head. And I do just about all of the work in my home office. So, in creating this artificial distance between the two phases of my artistic process, I do things differently.

If I write on the keyboard, for editing purposes I’m best off reading the book in paper format. I know: Printing out our books is time-consuming, expensive, and generally a pain in the ass. But seeing the book on paper, rather than on the screen, allows me to spot things I might otherwise miss.

I’ve also found that changing venues helps me experience the manuscript as if it’s new. As I said, I write in my office, so I’ll read it over in another room in the house. This is a small thing, but I do find that working in different surroundings changes the feel of the book just a bit. I suppose I could go elsewhere to do my editing, but I have to keep in mind . . .

. . . That I also like to read a manuscript out loud when I’m editing. This is probably the most important of the techniques I use to create that crucial distance. When I read my work aloud, I hear things that I would otherwise miss — words I’ve overused, repetitious phrasing, awkward syntax, poor dialog attribution, passive constructions. I don’t need to read in my public reading voice, which is pretty loud. I can read it in a whisper and it still works. But still, if I’m in a public space, people tend to look at me funny. You know, more than usual. This is why I choose another part of the house, rather than another place altogether.

Again, my goal in all of this is to distance myself from the writing and thus see the manuscript as if it’s new to me. It’s a conceit, really. It’s my book; how new can it be, right? Actually, you’d be surprised. I’ll admit that I do my best to build a six week hiatus into my writing schedule so that I can put the book in a drawer for that amount of time. The other techniques I’ve mentioned here do work — reading aloud in particular. But at least in my view, time is essential for giving me a new perspective on my work.

So put your completed manuscript away for a while when it’s done. Read it out loud. Read it off a paper copy in another part of your home. Editing your own work is no substitute for being edited by someone else, preferably a professional. But it is an essential skill that all writers should master.

Keep writing!

Making Money Mondays – Cultivating True Fans Through Patreon

I’ve been talking about this concept of True Fans for a while now, and if you’re tired of reading about it, just hang out for a bit, there’ll be new content tomorrow at the latest. Because this is important stuff, especially for someone who wants to make a living as a writer. I often say that I’m nowhere near the best writer out of any group of my friends, but I’m pretty successful. I measure that success in whether or not the bills get paid, because this is how I feed my family. I no longer have a day job, and at this point I’ve worked for myself for too long and I’m pretty much unfit for any other work environment, so I’d better make this work. So I’m not going to try to teach you how to write. There are lots of people on this site who are better at me than that.

But I will teach you how to build a career, and this concept of cultivating and engaging true fans is a big part of it. This week we’re going to talk about a website that has changed the game on fan cultivation and engagement – Patreon. At it’s heart, Patreon hearkens back to a long-standing tradition in the art world, that of patronage. While this comes from the Latin word “patronus,” it has little or nothing to do with Harry Potter. In the olden days, artists had patrons. These patrons paid artists a stipend so that they could live and work without the pressures of a day job. In return, the patrons had access to the artists, got paintings done for them, and received a level of prestige from being associated with the artists.

Patreon translates that into the modern world. It is a website where creators introduce themselves, offer themselves up to the masses, and say “hey, I’ll give you a level of access that is unavailable to the general public if you help me pay my bills.” I have a patreon page (hint – the link goes to MY page, not the general page – this article is all about how to cultivate and engage with true fans, so I’d be missing an opportunity if I didn’t point you there first) and I consider my page to be pretty successful. Like with all social media and fan engagement, consistency is the key. I get more pledges when I produce more rewards, just like I get more eyeballs on my blog posts when I don’t miss weeks posting here, and when I post to my personal blog every other week when I’m not here.

With Patreon, you as the creator set the levels at which people can donate, and you structure your page with rewards for each donation level. On my page, I have active donation levels at $1, $5, $10, and $20. I have levels higher than that as well, but nobody has signed up for them at this point. There are two ways to structure donations – monthly and project-based. Since I release books every month on average, I chose to accept donations monthly. Kameron Hurley has built her page around releasing projects, and she gets a bunch of traction with that. She produces stuff most months, so her pledges end up being about the same cost to her patrons as mine, but folks don’t get charged anything on the months she doesn’t produce. My patrons do pay on months I don’t produce, but I try to make it up to them with months like September, when I plan to have at least two new releases that month.

Between July 29th and September 15th I plan to release three novellas and one novel. I do not plan on sleeping much, since there’s also a Dragon Con in that time frame. But I digress.

It’s important with Patreon to keep your reward levels at something you can actually do, so mine end up being fairly modest. For $1, you get your name included in the thanks of every book I self-publish or release through Falstaff Books during the time you are a patron. For $5, you get that, plus a free backlist ebook each month, and you get entered into a drawing to win a free autographed print book mailed to you. It might be a book I wrote, it might be a book I bought at a con, it might be a book someone gave me. So it might be autographed to me, and then I’ll counter-sign it over to you! Basically, I have too many books in my house, and this is a way to give them good homes. The $5 level currently has the most patrons.

For $10 each month, patrons get my Bubba the Monster Hunter and Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter novellas free and before release day. So anyone who is already a fan of those series can become a patron, and for a few extra bucks each month, they get the books early. My Queen of Kats novellas and New Knights of the Round Table novellas are also included in this level, plus $10 and up Patrons get to help me name characters! I’m always working on new character names, and now I’m going to my patrons for help. All this is in addition to the other rewards.

The $20 level is my highest active level, and that gets patrons free electronic copies of ALL my books before they release, including my Black Knight Chronicles books. That means that those patrons will get a surprise in their mailbox this week, because Man in Black is slated for release on August 15th (the day after my birthday!), and I have the e-files ready to go out this Wednesday. That also means if you read this article and think that sounds awesome, you should pledge right now. Operators are standing by. The $20 patrons also get all the other rewards, and once a year they’ll get a download code for a free Audible audiobook. I get a lot of these download codes when I upload an audiobook, so I give them away to help promote my Audible stuff.

Those are my currently active levels. I have other levels, which include having breakfast with me at a con, or even me taking patrons to dinner when I’m in their city. So far, not one has taken me up on those, so I’m working on retooling the higher levels to make them more attractive.

But the one thing being on Patreon has done for me as a creator, in addition to giving me around a hundred bucks each month, which directly translates into being able to attend at least two additional conventions each year, is it has allowed me to directly connect with fans in a closer and more consistent way. When I send out a patron email, it’s a different style of communication than when I’m sending out my monthly newsletter. It’s less formal, more “behind the curtain,” because these are people that are already invested in me and my work. These are not people that I’m trying to sell to, these are people that are already buying, I just need to make sure they know about the project. So I can be more relaxed with them, let the guard down a little, and connect more deeply. My patrons are fans, but they’re a different level of fan, and that type of connection and interaction is what slowly converts people into True Fans.

Remember, True Fans are the people who are evangelical about your work. They are the people who are personally invested in your success, and what will make some more invested than literally putting their money where their mouth is?

As usual, I’ve run long. Short answer – I’m a fan of Patreon, it has allowed me to expand my travel schedule and hopefully will let me keep doing more conventions. So go check it out, and if you want free stuff, sign up! But while I’m digressing, another way you can make money on Patreon is signing up other creators. So if you think this sounds cool and want to sign up for a Patreon account, you can sign up through my affiliate link and I’ll get a little kickback on the patron pledges you get in the first 30 days. The way it works is if you get more than 30 patrons in the first 30 days, we each get a $50 bonus. get 75 patrons, we both get $100. Get 250 patrons, we both get $500. So if you’re interested, and want to use my link, we could both get paid.

Next time on Making Money Mondays, we’ll talk about email lists, newsletters, and MailChimp. So you should make sure you’re on my mailing list before then, so you’ll know what I mean when I mention things like BookFunnel.

John G. Hartness is a teller of tales, a righter of wrong, defender of ladies’ virtues, and some people call him Maurice, for he speaks of the pompatus of love. He is also the author of the EPIC-Award-winning series The Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books, the Bubba the Monster Hunter series of short stories and novellas, the Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter novella series, and the creator and co-editor of the Big Bad anthology series, among other projects.

LATEST RELEASE NEWS – Check out Modern Magic, a 12-ebook box set featuring John, Gail Martin, Karen Taylor, Julie Kenner, Rick Gualtieri, Erik Asher, Stuart Jaffe & more! On sale at Amazon for only $2! 

Heaven Sent is available exclusively on Amazon! Check out the latest volume in the Award-Winning Dark Fantasy Series! 

Man in Black available 8/15 wherever books are sold! In book #6 of The Black Knight Chronicles, Jimmy Black is the new boss, but uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, as Shakespeare said. Monsters in the sewers, demons in the orchestra pit, vampire bikers, and Hell on Earth are just a few things Jimmy has to deal with while he tries to regain the trust of his best friend and somehow patch things up with his girlfriend. All this, and more ass-kicking than a WWE pay-per-view in Man in Black! 

It Takes a Village

“In the end, what makes a book valuable is not the paper it’s printed on, but the thousands of hours of work by dozens of people who are dedicated to creating the best possible reading experience for you.”

John Green

Part of my background is in theater, and I have spent considerable time on both sides of the curtain. There’s a lot of glamour and glitz when you’re playing the lead role — roses and spotlights, applause and curtain calls — but there’s a whole lot of “not much” when you’re working backstage. One of the most underappreciated roles in the theater is the role of stage manager. If you’re not familiar with the role, a good stage manager is the glue that holds the whole thing together, the one who knows everything there is to know and fills in wherever there’s a lack. But, there’s also the lighting and sound crews, the set designer, the director, the costume designer, and so many more. It takes all of those people to make the show work.

I remember one distinct moment where the entire cast had gone onstage for a final bow, and I was the only one left backstage, the stage manager. The crowd was clapping, and I took off my headset and just stood in the wings and watched. It was a beautiful moment, one I will never forget, but it wasn’t about me. I was a part of the whole, but I wasn’t the one on stage, the face of the show, so to speak. (And that’s okay. I am an introvert and am quite happy behind the scenes!)

Writing a book is much the same. While there are parts that are solitary (like writing a play or working to memorize lines), there are many parts that aren’t. It truly takes a village to make a book.

Alongside the author, who we will compare to that lead role from earlier, are many others who have worked to make a book come together. You have editors (sometimes several of them, depending on how much and what kind of editing you’re getting), a proofreader, a formatter, a cover designer, a publisher, a marketing person, and so on. But, unless you’re in those fields, chances are that you never hear about those people. For example, do you know who did the copy editing or cover art for the latest James Patterson book? Or who was the agent who sold Stephen King’s The Stand? Those people all played an important role. But Stephen and James are the ones we remember, as we should because there wouldn’t be a story at all without them. All of those people who have touched that book in some way are connected to it. Or, at least, that’s how I feel about projects I work on.

One of my writers, who I now consider a good friend, posted on Facebook that she’d gotten a rejection on a story. I immediately messaged her and asked which story it was. Her reply was, “It wasn’t our story.” I was relieved. I want to see that story succeed, and I want that writer to have success. That short exchange was the catalyst that got my mind thinking about how invested so many people can be in a project but many people, even the writer, may not even realize it. It may just be me being crazy, but I cheer a little louder for those projects I’ve touched, not because I want the recognition, but because I helped. (Remember the Shake and Bake commercials? “It’s Shake and Bake, and I helped!”) I’m a helper. That’s what I do; it’s who I am.

I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I know if I’ve been involved with any project in any capacity, I follow it. I want to see if it experiences success, and if not, why not? New projects from writers I’ve worked with, even if it’s not a project I’ve worked on directly, always spark my interest. I watch to see how they’re doing because I like to see them succeed.

When I worked as a stage manager, one of my favorite feelings was the end of a show where everything had gone right — no one had missed a cue, there weren’t any “wardrobe malfunctions,” and the beat was just right for that audience on that night. Even though I wasn’t out on the stage taking a bow at the end, I smiled and my heart was full because I knew that I’d taken part in something special. I think writing is a lot like that, but I’m not always sure that those who are on the outside see it.

I’ll be honest. I am not really sure where I’m going with this post. I’ve been editing all day, and I’m kind of tired. The point I want to make is that John Green is right. A book is worth far more than the paper (or pixels) it’s printed on. It’s a labor of love that a lot of people care about. So, when you’re writing, remember that you’re not alone. You have people behind you who want to see you succeed. And give them a hug when you do…because they’ll be proud of you.

Have a great weekend folks. My daughter turns eleven on Sunday, so I will be busy working as part of the village it takes to pull off a tween birthday party!


Explaining the No

Back in June, we opened submissions for the upcoming Weird West anthology, Lawless Lands, from Falstaff Books. We’ve had a lot of stories roll in, some of them great, some of them okay, and some of them pretty terrible. Yeah, I said ‘terrible’. Despite all the advice we here on Magical Words (as well as lots of other writing sites all over the net) have offered over the years, there are some writers who are just NOT. GETTING. IT. And that breaks my heart. As an editor, what I hope to find every time I open a story file is that incredible story, the one that makes me race through to the end and then read it again because it was that good. The one that leaves me in tears because it touched me so deeply. THAT story. But sometimes writers send in pieces that make me stare at the wall and ask ‘What were you thinking?’

Let’s talk about that.

First, I want to bring up word count. We say, on our submission guidelines, that we are looking for stories of 3000 to 7000 words. Seems fairly straightforward, doesn’t it? So why would you want to send me a story that comes in far below the minimum?  Sure, we said we’d entertain the possibility of something slightly outside the guidelines, but we meant we’d look at a story that’s a little over the limits. If we said 3000 is the shortest story we want, then your 600 word piece is going to have to blow my everloving mind to impress me. If we said 7000 is the maximum, then your 10000 word saga had better hit the ground running and never let up.

Next up…the definition of ‘story’ is ‘an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.’ Okay, I’ll stipulate to that being a bit broad. However, when I say ‘story’, most people know what I mean. When I say ‘poem’, again, most people get the difference. So why are you sending me poetry when I asked for stories?  Just don’t, please. For the love of all that’s holy. Send your poems to a poetry journal and send me stories, and we’ll all avoid the head-against-the-desk bruises.

Now this one may upset a few people and I hate that for you, but it’s important that you listen to me. Women in the days of the US Western expansion were just as tough and brave as the men. They had no choice but to be. Yes, some of them worked as prostitutes. But they also served as barkeepers and merchants and doctors and schoolteachers and ranchers. If the only women in your story are sex workers, you’re doing a disservice to our history and 50% of the readers who’ll encounter your story (not to mention irritating the three female editors you’ve asked to look at your work.) If your story revolves around a prostitute, make sure there’s a good reason. Something other than, “that’s all women could be out west.” Because that’s just not true.

Another thing I’d like to point out is diversity. The American west was chock full of all sorts of people. There were Native Americans of all different tribal cultures. There were escaped and freed black slaves trying to rebuild the lives. There were Chinese workers and Irish refugees and Hispanics from the former New Spain territory. With all this fabulous storytelling fodder to work with, why do we receive so many stories about white cowboys? I’m not saying we won’t accept a story about a white cowboy. It’s just that I’d hate to ignore all the possibilities that exist for your story to be different, incredible, totally stunning. Branch out, y’all.

And here’s the last thing…when we receive your submission, we respond with an email letting you know that a) we appreciate you submitting to us, and b) we will send you an answer no later than October 31. We mean that. You may get lucky and hear from us earlier, but it takes time to read each story properly, and there are three of us. We each have to read your story, make our notes and then discuss between us the merits. All three of us may not agree, and that adds to the time it takes. Submissions close at the end of September, so one month on top of that is more than fair.  Please don’t start writing to us on October 2 demanding to know why we haven’t sent you an answer yet. If we’ve been on the fence about your story and you start acting like a prima donna, that may be enough to push us over onto the rejection side of that fence.


Hump-Day Help: Rejection isn’t Failure

MW PicRejection sucks. There is no doubt about it. And people tell you to not have a thin skin and move on…but for some that’s really hard. I started auditioning for shows at the age of 11. If I were to count all the shows I didn’t get cast in between then and when I hung my theatre hat up for awhile, we’d be here all day. And I’ll let you in on a secret, there were times I cried over not being cast…and I’m talking as a young adult, not when I was 11. It’s your passion and you want to be good at it, so to be told you don’t fit what they want for a show, it crushes you.

But here’s the thing…I auditioned for the next thing and the next and the next, and you know what? I started getting cast more. Part of that came from doing shows in really small roles (I was a singing flower in a Christmastime play where I only stuck my face through a hole in a fake wall and sang…) to get to be seen by and work with more people (some of being cast is being great to work with and a director knowing that) to build up my experience. Thing is, I pushed forward with a, “Oh, you don’t think I’m good enough for your show…well watch how I will be next time!” And I picked myself up and I auditioned again, took classes, watched great actors do their thing…etc.

I’m sure you already see where I’m going with this…but stick with me…

With writing, we have to work the same way. Mind you, you’ll get more rejections than an actor does (depending on how talented they are, how often they audition, and how often you submit work) because you’re sending out the same thing to many people looking to give it a nice home. But rejection does NOT make you a failure. Here, let’s say this out loud…


Make that thing you motto! Type it up and paste it around your home…

No…wait…it’s missing a section…

Let’s try this again…we’ll say THIS out loud:


I fell in love with this article/video the other day on Facebook and I talked about it at my Birthday brunch last weekend. You can watch it HERE. It’s the CEO of the Spanx company talking about how her father taught her and her brother about failure…and it’s brilliant. Watch it if you have not done so yet.

And no, you didn’t grow up learning this way (or maybe you did and 3 cheers for your parents!) but you can learn new tricks. You’re never too old. Not for changing careers, not for changing where you want to live, not for changing how you look at life…NOT…TOO…OLD.

Great story:

A friend of mine I met at Dragon Con a few years ago wanted to be a writer. She came to Dragon and attended panels and started a blog reviewing books…and by the next year she was getting real traction with big names on it…but her writing was still her passion. It’s her 3rd years now and I just found out she has two short stories coming out! I am so excited for and proud of her! (and she’s likely reading this and knows it’s her and forgive me darlin’ for using you as a great example) The reason is because she has a hunger for what she wants. She keeps pushing, learning, toeing doors open, getting out there and submitting, and things are happening for her! Not as fast as she’d like (but nothing goes as fast as we like and nothing we want to go slow does that either…tis the way of the world, right?) But here’s the thing…she is making progress and that is because she is living by this example above…even if she doesn’t realize it.

If you don’t try you cannot succeed. To give up is to let others win. I don’t care if that “other” is a voice in your head saying “you can’t do this…you’re not good enough” vs. a real person in front of you or people online…for that voice inside has more sway than most anyone else and that’s something we have to learn to ignore. It’s fear talking. It’s exhaustion talking. In some ways you could say it’s the devil talking. It’s the negative side of you…and that side will get you nowhere. Women have this in excess. Men, you may not know this, but women have that voice all the time. Allison Armstrong teaches a class called Understanding Women and she speaks about our inner perfect woman…who has a comment/criticism for everything…others, ourselves, and she has high standards. Could be a result of estrogen…maybe when we lose some of that in age she’ll shut up more…cause SHE IS DESTRUCTIVE. And so is the devil on your shoulder who tells you to quit.

So try. Fail. Fall on your face! Learn from it, get back up, and flip that failure the bird with a kiss on top because the next time you go out and try, you’ll be better, stronger, and you won’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love. Just remember this…it’s important to love you for you…sales or no…you are more than just your books and we writers tend to write like we’re running out of time (and yes, that song in Hamilton hits me every time…if you don’t know it…HERE ya go!)…and maybe we are and maybe we’re not, but enjoy the journey, even the tears of defeat. For when those tears dry and you go sit back down at that keyboard, you just won a HUGE friggin’ battle!

Plus, it’s okay to wait for things and not WIN the lottery on day one…for when you finally get to where you’re going, it will have been earned and you’ll look back at each battle and know it had a purpose. And again, another Hamilton song comes to mind…I’ll leave you with it…HERE. By the end of this song I will have tears quite often more for how it speaks to me than the show, but that is the beauty of music, yes? Maybe it will speak to you too. Oh, and in case you’ve not heard this soundtrack to Hamilton or seen the show (yeah, I know tickets are near impossible), know that it’s not just history, the show is a love letter to writers (that is exactly what Lin-Manuel said in an interview, FYI) so I really can’t recommend it enough. :)

Anyway…before I go off on Hamilton tangents, or more than I already have…

That’s it for me this time around. I have a feeling someone needed this today or it wouldn’t have flowed out of my fingers so fast. So write hard, bathe in imagination, and FAIL…then get up and get back to work. You only loose if you do not try. Don’t let the negative voices win…they’ve not earned it!

Fave line from the song, The Battle of Yorktown in Hamilton that I feel applies right now to how I feel:

See, that’s what happens when you up against the ruffians
We in the shit now, somebody gotta shovel it!
Hercules Mulligan,
I need no introduction
When you knock me down I get the f*ck back up again!

Here’s to getting back up again! MW bio pic of me


Tamsin :)


Originally from Michigan, Tamsin L. Silver is the creator/writer of two YA Urban Fantasy Series, Windfire and The Sabrina Grayson Novels, as well as the Web Series, Skye of the Damned. She graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in Theatre/Secondary Education and a minor in Creative Writing/Shakespeare. She has taught both middle school and high school theatre and run two successful theater companies, one of which in the place she currently lives: New York City. You can learn more about her and find links to all her things