I’m a full-time freelance writer. That means that I have two or three articles due each week and I work with a variety of editors who don’t really care that I have other deadlines. They are only concerned that I meet their deadlines.

Trying to do this week after week can be daunting if you don’t develop coping mechanisms and prepare yourself.

Here are some tips that I use to meet my deadlines without losing my mind.

Break down each project to smaller pieces. For instance, when I’m writing an article, there’s research, interviewing, writing and final preparation that needs to be done. I use daily “to do” lists, so I can list a small piece of each article on the list and accomplish something for each project daily. It keeps each project moving forward.

  1. Set mini-deadlines. Using the smaller pieces for each article, I set dates to have each piece completed by so that I can complete the entire project with time to spare before the entire project is due.
  2. Build in extra time. When setting those mini-deadlines, I plan it out so that I am finished the project a few days before the entire project. This buffer time allows me time to fine tune a project or deal with any unexpected delays such as not being able to get a hold of someone I need to interview.
  3. Don’t take on too much. As Dirty Harry used to say, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Know what you have due around the same time each new projects you might take on would be due. Know how productive you are and what your general schedule is. There’s only so much you can do no matter how prepared you are so make sure you know how much you can handle before you take on a project.
  4. Go with the flow. While having little deadlines is nice organizational tool, if you find yourself in the zone with a project, don’t worry about the deadline. Just keep writing. You can adjust your deadlines later.

Juggling multiple deadlines can be tiring, but it can be done. The more deadlines you have, though, the more organized you will need to be.



10550837_892137040815989_4726715983921528619_nLuckily, I don’t know if any of my books or articles has ever been plagiarized. Maybe that means my writing isn’t good enough to be copied.

I have been accused of plagiarizing myself, though. I tried pointing out that plagiarism involves copying another person’s work without permission. Not only was I not another person, I gave myself permission to use part of another of articles in a different article.

Some writers have had to deal with much worse. Rachel Ann Nunes writes romantic fiction. It’s not a genre that I read, but I’ve met Rachel at a writer’s conference where I spoke. She’s a nice woman and definitely didn’t deserve to have one of her older books copied in many cases verbatim. To make matters worse, rather than apologize and try to make amends, the offending author went on the attack, making accusations against Nunes and posting poor reviews of her book.

It’s a scary story to read, much more so because it’s true. I’ve included the link to the extensive blog post that Nunes wrote that details the entire story. Take a few minutes and read through it. If you feel moved to do so, leave Nunes a word of support and encouragement in the comments.

She deserves it for having to put up with all of this.



When I started out as a writer, rejection letters were commonplace and usually they were simply form letters. I got a sense of dread seeing them arrive in the mail. I didn’t want to read them, but I had to see if it was a rejection or acceptance.

I knew my writing was starting to get better when the editors started adding little notes to the rejection letters like “Almost” or “Keep trying”. Then the rejection letters started becoming specific to my submission.

Finally, I started getting those treasured acceptance letters. Nowadays, I get more acceptances than rejections and I even get editors asking me to take on assignment.

That doesn’t mean that I still don’t get rejection letters. They don’t bother me, though. I’ve developed ways of dealing with them over the years that work well at keeping me focused on the positive.


Keep things in the mail

When I started writing, I would send out a short story and then wait for three months before I heard back a rejection. I spent those months wondering and worrying about what the editor was going to say.

After I had a few stories written, I got into the habit of not worrying about the stories that were in the mail but finding markets for the new stories that I was writing.

As soon as a story would come back in the mail, I would simply send it back out to the next market. By not having to focus on the rejection and let it get to me, I started focusing on the future and finding new markets. With dozen of queries in the mail at any one time, I don’t have time to focus on a single rejection.


Have a list of markets

After I send a story out to the magazine I most wanted to see it published in, I would create a list of additional markets. When I would get a rejection letter, I would simply prepare the story for the next market on my list.

By keeping a list of my top five or ten markets, I didn’t have to look at an unsold story sitting on my desk.

I always have a new market to send my stories to so I don’t worry about a rejection.


Enjoy positive comments

When you do start getting personalized comments on your rejection letters or even personalized rejections, pay attention to the comments. Some of them can help you improve your writing. If the comments are positive, enjoy them. Let them inspire you to write more and write better.

If an editor is interested enough to write you something personal, it means that he or she is interested in your writing. It is a market worth trying again.


Keep writing to remind you why you do it

Don’t let an editor’s opinion make you doubt your writing ability. Write because you love it and want to do it. Keep at it. This is probably the best way to keep from feeling down because of rejection. Write because you love it. Write because you want to do better.


My internet went out on me this week. Well, it didn’t actual go out as much as it was cut out. Literally. A township crew doing some work on the street in front of my house cut through the cable running internet service to my house and a few of my neighbors. I’m not sure how badly my neighbors were affected, but it killed my productivity during the day. I tried shifting some of my work around to do non-internet projects, but I was still left without e-mail. It was very frustrating and it made me realize just how dependent I am on the internet. I market my books, communicate with people, research projects and more on the internet. Without it, working from home just becomes sitting at home.

That dependency made me nervous when I read a Washington Post article about how a solar storm two years ago nearly caused a catastrophe because it would have fried anything plugged into an outlet.

The internet is a great thing. It has made me more productive and allowed me to pursue my dream of writing full time, but it has also made me dependent on it being available. I’m like the puppet and the internet is my strings. If the strings are cut, I can’t do much.


The author at a small, history oriented festival that turned out to be successful for his bookselling efforts.

I’ve been increasing the number of book festivals and other festivals that I’ve been attending to do book signings. Some are very successful for me. Some I just barely break even at, and others, are complete flops.

The flops can be soul crushing, but I have come to realize something as I’ve increased my appearances. The number of pages views of my books and online sales increase after a festival, even a festival that’s been a failure. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’ll go back to the flop festivals. However, it does make attending the break even festivals more attractive to continue attending.

Another benefit that I’ve found in attending these festivals is that I get leads and offers for speaking engagements. These speaking engagements are always successful. Even if I don’t get paid a stipend for speaking, I sell my books afterwards.

A third benefit to these festivals is that I sometimes get leads for future story ideas.

On the flip side, festivals take up a lot of time and cost money to attend. This summer, I have a festival every other weekend, on average. The costs definitely add up as I do more festivals.

Overall, I think writers should definitely be putting themselves out there in the public and doing book signings at festivals where your potential readers attend. Just remember that sometimes the best festivals aren’t book festivals. You may find a craft or street fair that draws in a lot of people who like your books.

Logans FireThe other day I got an e-mail from a woman whose granddaughter had just finished reading my first novel, Logan’s Fire. It was a YA novel published in 1996 so it’s 18 years old. The book has been out of print for at least 10 years. It was nice to be reminded that copies of the book are still out there in libraries, on eBay and on Amazon.com.

The fact that the grandmother said her granddaughter loved the book and wanted to read more let me know that the story of a young man dealing with the consequences of setting a poor example for his younger sister still holds up and can interest a new generation of teens.

What makes me sad is that I always wanted to turn the book into a series featuring the three men who help the young teens. It would have been along the lines of the old “Highway to Heaven” television series with a teen focus and differing time periods.

I tried. I really tried. I wrote about half a dozen follow-up novels. I agreed to keep the series focused on the present day. However, I couldn’t get it past a committee that needed to be in unanimous agreement on a new book. It really irked me when only one person on the committee said “no” for a lame reason.

So the series fizzled and I moved onto other genres. However, in today’s world of small presses and self-publishing, I’ve been thinking about doing the series myself. Heck, I’ve already got six books that just need re-editing and updating. I should even be able to reclaim the rights to my first book since it has gone out of print.

That series may still see the light of day yet and go on to entertain a different generation of teens.

Here’s the original guest blog for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Have you ever done a blog tour?

I decided to hire someone to help me set up a blog tour and I’m nervously awaiting the start of it not knowing what to expect. However, although I maintain a blog, I have very little clue for how to set up a tour. It seemed like a lot of ground work would need to be done and, quite frankly, with my crazy schedule, I was willing to hire someone to do it for me. Plus, I figure it will get me exposure with some new blogs.

I actually was surprised at the different types of tours available. You can get tours that focus reviews, interviews, excerpts, giveaways and articles. I selected one that is a mix so I can get my feet wet with everything.

I’m curious if any other writers have done a blog tour. How long did it last? Was it useful? What did it involve? This is all new to me so let me know your experiences.

Originally posted on Elodie Nowodazkij:

This is a bit self serving :-) but people have asked how they could help me and I thought instead of answering privately, I’ll do a post to also possibly help other authors out there. This is only what I learned so far…feel free to add more in the comments :-) I will then add them to the list to keep a list as updated as possible…

Dahlia shared some of her wisdom the other day on Twitter.

View original 503 more words

61YCasIvf9LI may catch some flak for this, but I didn’t really like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I just finished the book and found myself wondering why I had wanted to read it. Before I started reading the book, I didn’t know much about it. I knew it was very popular, had a great title, and had been made into a movie. I had the impression that it was a true crime story.

Now, first off, let me say what I liked. I though John Berendt’s writing was great. I loved his description and I loved the picture he painted of the many characters in the story. In that regard, I hope some of his writing talent rubs off on me.

However, as a true crime novel or mystery, I think the book fails. The crime in the story didn’t happen until well into the story. There was no mystery to who committed the crime. The question was whether it was self-defense or not. Once the book moved into this phase, I found the most-interesting part the fact that there were three trials.

I just seemed to think that such wonderfully drawn characters deserved a better story than a simply murder trial. It would be like having Scarlett and Rhett without the Civil War. Though Gone With the Wind was character driven, the war setting brought revealed aspects of the characters that might not have been revealed otherwise. Other than Jim Williams’ reaction to his trial, I didn’t think that the trial revealed anything new about the characters.

I know a lot of people loved the book, though. So if I am missing something, please let me know how you see the book.

Lock Ready Cover ShotHere’s the cover art for my new historical novel that coming out next month. Lock Ready is my first historical novel in seven years. It’s also been 10 years since I wrote my last Canawlers novel.

Lock Ready once again return to the Civil War and the Fitzgerald Family. The war has split them up. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md.

Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband.


Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.


I’ve had fun writing about the Fitzgeralds over the years, but at this point, I see this as my last Canawlers novel. I do have an idea for a non-fiction C&O Canal book, but it will still be years before it comes out. Until then, I hope you enjoy my three Canawlers novels and one novella. The best order to read them in is: Canawlers, Between Rail and River, Lock Ready and The Race.

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