Hump-Day Help: Advice From the Doers! (Part I)


Welcome to the last June edition of Hump-Day Help! Today I’m going to share with you some awesome words of wisdom…but they’re not really from me.

So before I set out for ConCarolinas, where I was to teach a class on the beginning steps of turning a hobby into a career (which we’ve talked about here on MW a lot, so I’ll not rehash except to say that what I mean is, “Hey, you need a website, and social media presence, and business cards, and…” so on and so forth) I asked friends of mine IN the business of writing/editing OR acting/directing/producing what advice they would give someone going into their field. Today I am going to share the first half of the information they sent me. The second half will be in July.

Why? Because I have around 3400 words of advice and writer/actor/editor info to share! YAY! And some of them are from writers here at Magical Words! Double YAY!

OK…let’s get started! We’ll end with me but we’ll start with a woman I admire more than just about anyone else in my world. I want to be this woman when I grow up…the incomparable, Faith Hunter…


Learn how to introduce yourself in a one-on-one situation. It sounds so easy but most people don’t do it right, and they lose a chance to bumbling. And don’t tell me you can’t. This is not a gift sent down from Olympus. It can be learned. Ask someone to teach you. Tips:

* Look them in the eye.

* Learn how to SHAKE a hand. Stop offering a limp fish. The fingers and thumb have a slight curve when offered and apply pressure when flesh grips flesh. A handshake is firm, but not painful. The grip part lasts two to three seconds. Then LET GO.

* Do not touch the other person again.

Tell them in a calm, well enunciated voice, your name and genre. Say, “Pleased to meet you.” If they ask what you write, now is the time to tell them. Have your 3 line short blurb memorized. Practice.

Faith Hunter / Author of the Jane Yellowrock series, Soulwood series, & Rogue Mage series / Penguin-Random House Publishing /

**Be yourself and stay true to yourself.**

– This is not your life. This is your job. Work hard at your job, love your job. Go home to your life.

– Find the value in your own ideas and thoughts… Then create your own work.

Sarah Mack / Actor-Writer-Producer / /

I would say network as much as possible if you can. Try and go to casting directors directly and read for them, if you can get in the room. You have to put yourself out there. Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. Definitely make a solid reel. And try to promote yourself in the new digital age.

Kara Rosella / Actress-Stuntwoman-Model / IMDb


Talent will only get you so far. If you really want to succeed, you have to work. Plain and simple. Someone with mediocre ability and a strong work ethic will go further than someone who is talented but not willing to put in the work. If anything else makes you happy – go do that.

Melissa McArthur / Author /

If anything else makes you happy – go do that.  It’ll be easier. But if this is what you were put on this earth to do, let nothing stand between you and greatness. The best among us have come from the most humble beginnings. It has so much less to do with talent, and so much more to do with being willing to work every day to be the best you can be. Hone your craft. Bust your ass. Accept no limitations.

John Hartness / Author-Publisher / Falstaff Books /


My advice is to get used to being poor. This isn’t meant to discourage you from chasing the dream of your art being a career, on the contrary, it’s advice to prepare you to achieve it.

Artists are frequently starving, it’s a thing. Even highly lucrative fields of artistic endeavors like filmmaking and advertising are built on the backs of unpaid interns, apprentices, and people making very little money. You have get used to living on little money that comes on uncertain schedules.

But, this isn’t the dire situation it sounds.

This is freedom.

This circumstance allows you to adjust your mind and spirit and embrace the act of creation that you express in your art. Life is about so much more than materialistic pursuits. You are an emotional and spiritual being and that is the part of you that an artistic lifestyle brings out and making it your career means you are sharing that with people who cannot tap into it on their own. Your art will be the conduit for someone else to connect with the primal act of creation.

And that is the best currency of all.

Be free and be rich.

James R. Tuck / Author of the Deacon Chalk series with Kensington Publishing / Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane with Titan Books / / Also writes under the name Levi Black with TOR Books (The Red Right Hand)

Do not compare yourself to others. Do not compare yourself to others. 

Do. Not. Compare. Yourself. To. Others.

When you compare yourself to other people, you are never getting the full picture. Whether they’re a celebrity, or a friend, or someone you went to school with, you aren’t seeing everything that happens to them. You see a seemingly never-ending stream of success as they move from one wonderful thing to the next. You don’t see their moments of doubt, of fear, of anxiety. You don’t see the days where it’s hard for them to get out of bed, or where they’d rather just binge something on Netflix. You see, “Oh, they just booked a national touring production. They just filmed their own movie. They just won an award.”

And you can forget that everyone struggles, just like you. And if you start beating up on yourself because you don’t think you’re as successful as your friends, or because you don’t feel like your career is moving forward fast enough, you can get to a very negative place where making art can be unnecessarily difficult. Because instead of using your energy to create, you’re using your energy to tear yourself down by comparing yourself to an idealized version of other people.

The only person that you have all of the information for is yourself and you are the only person you should make comparisons with. Am I better than I was yesterday, or last year? Have I grown from this project? Did this make me feel artistically satisfied? Okay, now how can I be better?

Because when you stop looking to other people for the markers to success and start looking to yourself a few things will happen. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your own artistic process, about what helps you get things done. And with better self-knowledge will come better artistic expression. One that is unique to you and what you have to offer, rather than trying to mimic what someone else has done because you think it’ll bring you success.

George Wolf once said, “It’s like standing in a huge casino and everyone has a slot machine. And you’re feeding your slot machine and nothing is happening and all around you people are hitting the jackpot and getting all this stuff. And you’re going, ‘well, I want to go over there to that machine. It’s obviously a better machine than mine.’ But stick with your own machine. It may take you longer. But when you hit, you’re still yourself.”

Sarah Murdoch / Actress / New York, NY

My advice would seem to be contradictory, but bear with me. It comes in two parts. Part 1 is simple: Create what you love. Follow your heart, your muse, your creative process, whatever you want to call it. Allow your passion and vision to guide you. Because trying to imitate others or appeal to a given market is only going to rob your work of that passion, which will be reflected in the finished product.

But then part 2 would seem to contradict this: Listen to the critiques you receive from colleagues and experts, and learn from them. Because while the original vision can and should be entirely our own, we — all of us — can still learn from the feedback we receive from others. Art is interactive. It begins with creative vision and it ends with artistic choice — both entirely our own. But in the middle is an interactive process by which we learn and grow and improve our work.

David B. Coe / Author of the Case Files of Justis Fearsson /

Earning your stripes is better than it sounds.

Often we want a windfall of fortune to land upon us. Sell that first book. Get that first big acting gig. Book that first major stunt job. Make those millions! Right? As great as having that happen right out of the gate can be, it rarely happens, and it jips you of something greater: earning your stripes. Or rather, earning the reverence of others who look up to you for your work with time and experience. You’ll notice flash-in-the-pan actors/musicians/writers sometimes disappear or have no staying power. IF that is the case, it’s because they didn’t earn their stripes. You see, there’s nothing wrong with starting small and moving your way up the ladder. I’ve always said that I want to earn what I get and as frustrating as waiting is, the end result shouldn’t be your only goal, the journey should be too.

Enjoy your journey, growth, the ups & downs, and the people you meet as you move toward each of your goals. It will make all the difference in the end…and think of all the great stories you’ll have to tell.

Tamsin L. Silver / Writer-Director-Producer-Teacher / Author of the Windfire series, Mark of the Necromancer, and other books & stories / /

Well, that’s it for me this time around…write hard, bathe in imagination, and stay tuned for the second half of these great words of wisdom that’ll be coming at you from the likes of Gail Martin, A.J. Hartley, Melissa Gilbert, Sharon Stogner, Sam Ogilvie, Mark A. Rose, Lucienne Diver, Lauren Steinmeyer and Janine K. Spendlove!

With love and unity, no matter your race or sexual preference/identity,

Tamsin 🙂

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Originally from Michigan, Tamsin L. Silver writes YA Urban Fantasy novels (listed above), Historical Fantasy (The Curse of Scáthach), and a 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.


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