Marcy’s Blog

Why I Hate the Jedi

Why I Hate the JediFor those of you who missed it, I’ve been having an…interesting few weeks. You can catch the pertinent details in my post I’m Having One of Those Weeks. Thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages and helped to cheer me up. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Unfortunately, since I wrote that post, my grandma fell and fractured her pelvis. Because I’ve been caring for her, my wonderful husband (and resident Star Wars expert in our house) offered to write a guest post for me to prevent my blog from sitting dormant. So I’ll hand my blog over to him…

(P.S. For those of you who were wondering about the results of the poll I took last week, the results were overwhelming. Over 75% of you like both the writing and the “other” posts and don’t want me to change this blog. So I won’t :) )

Why I Hate the Jedi

And Why I Love the Mandalorians

By Marcy’s Husband Chris

For many Star Wars fans, Luke Skywalker is a hero. He’s the hometown boy who discovers himself and goes on to save the galaxy, starting with a two-meter-wide exhaust port on the Death Star I. But what makes Luke Skywalker able to do these things is that he’s a Jedi, maybe one of the greatest ever. In my mind, it’s quite possible that Luke Skywalker—not Darth Vader—was the Chosen One of the Jedi prophesies.

But he’s also whiny and indecisive. He spends too much time meditating and trying to peer into the Force to find guidance. He lacks the killer edge needed to finish a fight against a deadly enemy.

But the main reason I dislike him is simple–he’s a rotten, stinking Jedi.

You might be wondering whether I’ve had too much ale if I have such a view of the Jedi, and maybe on some counts you’d be right. But I’ve read too much about the Jedi to continue to have a view of them as heroes. So here’s a list of why I hate the Jedi—and why I love Boba Fett’s fellow Mandalorians.

Why I Hate the Jedi

They’re only special because of a random genetic manifestation. The Jedi are only able to do the things they do because the Force manifests itself in them. Take away the Force, and the Jedi are just regular beings like you and me. They generally do nothing that makes them special in the grand scheme of things—they don’t cure diseases, they don’t avert wars, they don’t create inventions that revolutionize the way the people of the galaxy live. In short, they’re only special because of their genetics, and that doesn’t make them very special in my book.

They rely too much on their feelings. From the time they’re young, Jedi are taught to trust the Force, to rely on their feelings. They aren’t encouraged to think for themselves or to develop their brainpower. They don’t know how to effectively analyze a situation and come up with the best solution. And they allow their feelings to drive them, rather than trying to strike a good balance between emotion driving them and logic directing them.

They are hypocrites. This point goes hand-in-hand with the next point. The Jedi profess to holding all life as being sacred, but they don’t seem to live up to that mantra very often. They’re too quick to pull out their lightsabers and lop off limbs or sever heads from bodies. With all their powers, they too often resort to violence. But the worst part of this was the way the Jedi accepted command of the clone army at the start of the Clone Wars. The clones were bred to fight; they had no choice. The clones had no rights, no freedoms, no possessions. The Jedi unthinkingly accepted command of this army, despite having little to no training at leading troops, and got untold numbers of clone troops killed during the war. And none of the members of the Jedi leadership cabal stopped to ask where the army came from, or questioned the use of the Jedi as generals in fighting a pointless war. This is the biggest reason I hate the Jedi.

They aren’t held accountable for their actions. Too many times, Jedi caused massive property damage or loss of life and weren’t held accountable for their actions. When they commit crimes, they don’t have to go to prison the way anyone else would. It’s almost like they feel being Jedi gives them a blank slate to do what they want without thinking about the consequences of their actions or having to deal with the consequences of their actions in any way. They’re above the law, and that makes them selfish and cavalier with the lives and possessions of others.

So there you have it: four reasons why I hate the Jedi. Now I’ll give four reasons why I love the Mandalorians instead—even though they’re almost universally considered to be thugs.

They aren’t afraid to love. Mandalorians love strongly and unflinchingly. They willingly adopt people as their own children, including those they would otherwise hate. They aren’t afraid to wear their emotions on their sleeves, but unlike the Jedi, they don’t let their emotions guild them. Emotions are the Mandalorians’ power source, but their brains remain the pilot. This is how the Jedi should operate.

Family is paramount. Mandalorians are very family-oriented. Their families and their clans are all that matters to them. Fathers take their sons out to teach them their trade, and everyone contributes to the effective running of the homestead. It is also common for a Mandalorian to formally adopt the child of a comrade that was killed in battle—no Mandalorian should be without a family to love them and care for them.

They are a united front. Regardless of their personal feuds, Mandalorians put aside their differences when facing a common enemy or threat. Antagonists become allies, and they apply all of their considerable ingenuity and martial skill to defeating their common enemy. Nobody wants to mess with a combat-ready force of Mandalorians—not even Jedi.

Cin vhetin. This is a phrase meaning “fresh start.” Regardless of who you are, no matter what your past is, once you join the Mandalorians, nobody cares about who you once were. You are now a Mandalorian, and that’s all that matters. This also applies to settling feuds between Mando’ade; once cin vhetin is declared, those two might become the best of friends.

What do you think? Do you still love the Jedi? Do you still think the Mandalorians are violent thugs? Or do you maybe think I’m right?

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I’m Having One of Those Weeks

Chance and Diesel - This is what I felt like last week :)

Chance and Diesel – This is what I felt like last week :)

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Last week, I had “one of those weeks.” Again.

My husband and I both came down with a cold/flu bug that (literally) knocked us off our feet for days. I couldn’t stand up long enough to even cook dinner. Before we were back to full health, one of our cats cut her paw pad and we had to take her to the vet. We came home to find that the snow plow had destroyed our mailbox. Lopped it off right at the ground. The frozen ground. Which you can’t dig a new post hole in for at least another month.

I got up the next day and, thanks to a shower that felt like someone was stabbing me with icicles, discovered that our water heater had stopped working. Just as I got out of the ice shower, my grandparents called to say their ride to water therapy had cancelled for that day and Friday and could I take them? And of course I took them and worked late to try to make up for the time I lost. Last count I had over 1,000 unread emails…if I ignore them, will they magically answer themselves? A girl can hope. (P.S. If you’re one of those emails, I’m not ignoring you. Promise. It’s not you. It’s me.)

To top it all off, our car, which was nearly totaled in my husband’s car accident on February 1st, still hasn’t been returned to us. The repair shop has given us yet another delay and excuse, and since the accident happened four hours from home, we can’t even check on it. I’m starting to think they’re secretly renting it out or trying to source used parts from a junk yard…or maybe that’s just my paranoid writer-brain talking. I think I might be sleep deprived.

By the time the weekend hit, the time change felt like adding insult to injury. I needed that extra hour that we lost.

I don’t normally blog about a lot of the little, private, personal struggles in my life because I know that so many people have it worse than I do. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I have a good life. I’m mostly happy.

But when the cut-paw cat with the cone on her head tried to jump up on the counter and fell in the sink (taking everything on the drain board with her), and I noticed that our teething kitten had chewed the tail off the dog’s brand new toy monkey (along with the cord on my housecoat and the tie on my yoga pants), and I realized that even though I’d managed to get my grandparents’ laundry washed, we ourselves were one (cold) shower away from having to use the spare pillowcases as towels, I think I might have snapped. Just a bit.

So I had to share. Because sometimes “those weeks” reach absolutely ridiculous proportions, and you find yourself sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with the choice of either laughing until you snort or crying until you run out of tears. Maybe both. I’m not admitting to anything. *insert shifty eyes here*

I wanted to let anyone else enduring “one of those days,” or “one of those weeks,” or even “one of those years” know that you’re not alone. I’ve been there too. You’re not being punished. You haven’t done anything wrong. Hang in there. Think of it this way. It has to get better soon…because, after a while, there’s pretty much nothing left that could break, backfire, or be delayed :)

Have you ever had one of those days/weeks? I’d love to hear your story!

I’m also taking a little survey. I’ve been considering making this blog entirely about writing and moving my fantasy, unbelievable real life, and mythology-type posts to a newsletter (that you’d sign up for separately if you wanted to keep receiving them).

I’d appreciate it if you’d take a second to let me know your thoughts on the potential change because this blog is for you as much as it’s for me. Please pick the answer that fits you best. For those of you reading this post via email, please click through and vote.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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Why I Hate Gale in The Mockingjay

The Mockingjay Part 1By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

When The Hunger Games first became popular, readers were drawn into picking sides about who was the best match for Katniss Everdeen—Gale or Peeta. It never reached the level of Twilight’s Jacob vs. Edward debate, but any love triangle encourages people to pick sides.

I always felt like Peeta was the right match for Katniss, but I didn’t have anything against Gale. He seemed like a nice guy, just not the right guy.

When I watched Mockingjay: Part 1 in theater, one line sparked a lot of anger in my towards Gale. (And, I admit, I can’t remember if this line was in the book or not.)

Over the course of the movie, Katniss and the rebels in District 13 watched Peeta on TV. He encouraged the rebels to stop. He spoke out against the rebellion. It was clear the Capital and Snow were doing something to him as he began to visibly disintegrate.

But Gale had no compassion at all. He insisted he’d never say what Peeta had said. No matter what they did to him. He’d rather die.

It struck a nerve in me. I’ll admit that I’m not objective. One of my pet peeves is people who judge others that way. Gale had never experienced what Peeta was going through. He didn’t even know the full extent of what Peeta was going through. He saw one small aspect and felt justified in condemning Peeta.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call wrong wrong. If someone is clearly doing something they shouldn’t, then we need to acknowledge that what they’re doing is wrong.

But life is much more grey than it is black and white. How many hours someone works, the clothes they wear, whether or not they volunteer, how clean their house is…I could drag that list out almost indefinitely.

We can’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in their life so we shouldn’t judge them. The older I get, the more people I meet who are struggling quietly and bravely with extremely difficult situations. They don’t publicize what’s happening. Maybe they’re private people, maybe they don’t want pity, or maybe they know—better than most—that everyone is struggling in their own way and they don’t want to add pressure to someone else.

I wish more people would show mercy and grace, rather than criticizing others when there’s no way they can know exactly what those people are going through.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen (it’s only 99 cents). Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality.

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Are Writing Rules a Myth?

Image Credit: Brad Harrison (www.freeimages.com)

Image Credit: Brad Harrison (www.freeimages.com)

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Because of how many times I find myself having to address the concept of “writing rules” with my editing clients and in the writing classes I teach, I thought it might be time to talk about it in an open forum. Let’s call the elephant out and decide whether to keep him as a pet or set him free.

Are writing rules a myth?

The answer is yes.

And no.

Let me give you an example of a true writing rule.

Internal dialogue shouldn’t be placed in quotation marks because quotation marks signal audibly spoken dialogue.

That’s a rule. Every writer needs to follow it. A rule is authoritative. Unless the rules change, we should follow them.

True writing rules are rare.

Most of the time, what we call writing rules are actually writing guidelines.

That might seem like semantics, but it isn’t.

Writing guidelines tell us the best practices to follow to achieve success. These things should be done 99% of the time. There are exceptions, but guidelines are how you should normally act for the best results.

Rule: Don’t put a metal fork in your microwave because you’ll burn up your microwave.

Guideline: If you don’t want food to splatter all over your microwave, bake onto the sides, and start to stink a few days later, put a cover over your food before you heat it up and use the correct setting on the microwave.

See the difference? It’s stupid to break a rule. If you break a rule, it never comes with good results (unless your desired result is a negative one).

If you violate a guideline, you might be okay. You might not. It’s a calculated risk.

When it comes to the craft of writing, the distinction between rules and guidelines is an essential one to make because I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon among writers. If you call something a rule, when it’s actually a guideline, then without fail a conversation will begin about how we need to “know the rules to break them.” For whatever reason, many writers feel like they need to be rule-breakers.

The problem with that is a big one. We get so bent out of shape by the word rules that the focus shifts from what it should be on—making our writing the best it can be.

And the mantra about “knowing the rules so we can break them” quickly becomes an excuse to ignore good advice for how to make our book better. (Want to tweet that?)

By the very definition of best practice guidelines, we lose that excuse.

If we’re going to stray from these guidelines, we need to make sure we’re getting a bigger improvement from it than we’ll be losing in what it costs because violating these guidelines always costs something. If we’re going to violate them, it should be a conscious, well-reasoned decision. A cost-benefit analysis.

Asking ourselves why we’re violating the guideline and what bigger benefit it’s giving us also helps us avoid another trap called “My book is the exception.”

Since guidelines are normative, but not infallible, the “my book is the exception” thought train turns into a bug zapper for many writers.

“Those guidelines are only right 99% of the time. I’m the 1%.”

You might be. But the truth is that more writers think they’re the 1% than can possibly be the 1%. We are probably not the exception. Our books are probably not the exception. That’s usually an excuse we make because we don’t want to honestly face the problems with our story or our writing. We don’t want to have to revise again. We don’t want to have to put in the grueling work of learning to make it better.

Try that in the rest of your life and see how well it serves you. Quick fixes and ignoring the truth almost always lead to disaster later on.

Don’t try to be innovative in the craft of writing. That’s not where brilliance is hiding, waiting to be found. Be innovative in your plot and in your characters and fresh in the emotions. Those are the things readers talk about long after they’ve set the book down.

I’d love to hear from you even if you disagree with me. What’s your opinion on the existence of writing rules?

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Grammar for Fiction Writers is now available from Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords. (You might also be interested in checking out Showing and Telling in Fiction or Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide.)

All three books are available in print and ebook forms.

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Unbelievable Real Life: A Waterfall of Blood

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Welcome back to the first Unbelievable Real Life feature of 2015!

Because we’re stuck in the doldrums of winter, I thought it might be a good time to explore some very cool wintery spots (no pun intended…well, maybe a little). If we’re going to be buried under mounds of snow, we might as well make the best of it.

Today I’m taking you to Antarctica where Taylor Glacier seems to spew a waterfall of blood.

Image Credit: Mike Martoccia (CC License)

Image Credit: Mike Martoccia (CC License)

Glaciologists and microbiologists finally figured out that the likeliest cause of this phenomenon is an underground lake where the water has a high iron content. As the water interacts with the air around it, the iron starts to rust, making the water look like blood.

Image Credit: Zina Deretsky / US National Science foundation (NSF)

Image Credit: Zina Deretsky / US National Science foundation (NSF)

Have you seen something strange or unusual this winter?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen (it’s only 99 cents). Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality. I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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Creating An Author Business Plan: Choosing Your Stories

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Last month we started writing our Author Business Plan Summary by setting our author goals. Now that we’ve laid the foundation through deciding on our goals, it’s time to take the next step and decide on what type of books we plan to publish.

This can be one of the most difficult things for an author to do. I hope you’ll come by and share your experiences with this part of the process, how you chose what type of books to write, or the struggles you’re facing in doing so.

Click here to read my post on “Creating an Author Business Plan: Choosing Your Stories” at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Grammar for Fiction Writers is now available from Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords. (You might also be interested in checking out Showing and Telling in Fiction or Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide.)

All three books are available in print and ebook forms.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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The Hobbit and the Love of Money

The Hobbit Battle of Five ArmiesBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

A commonly misquoted Biblical passage is that “money is the root of all evil.” The actual passage is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).

When we’re talking about money, that’s an important distinction to make. Many wealthy people give generously and live frugal, moral lives. Having money doesn’t necessarily make us evil.

And money isn’t the root of all evil either. It isn’t always at the root cause of murder, for example.

But loving money can lead to all different kinds of evil. Everything we love competes with everything else we love for the position of priority in our lives. If we love money, we can end up loving it and valuing it more than our family, more than our friends, more than our honor and morality.

That’s what happens in The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.

Once Smaug, the dragon under the mountain, is killed, Thorin Oakenshield (the new dwarven king), Bilbo, and the rest of the dwarves take possession of the mountain and the treasure within it.

The treasure goes to Thorin’s head. He refuses to honor the agreement he made with the nearby city of men. They helped him, and thanks to his meddling with the dragon, their city was destroyed. The survivors are facing winter with no home. Thorin refuses to take them into the mountain or to give them the money he promised so that they can get a fresh start.

He won’t return the jewels that rightfully belong to the eleven king either, and he stands by and watches as hundreds of dwarves, elves, and humans are slaughtered by orcs. All he cares about is making sure his treasure is secure.

While I was watching the movie, the friend I was with leaned over and said “what people won’t do for money, eh?”

Her words burrowed inside, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking of them because I know someone who seems to love his money almost more than he loves anything else. To him, having wealth is a sign that someone is a “good man.” He spends hours worrying that someone is going to steal his money from him. He trusts no one. And when he gives his money away, he does it to try to earn God’s favor or to buy respect, loyalty, love, and obedience from the people around him.

It makes my heart hurt for him. You can’t buy those things. At least, when it comes to me, they’re not for sale. And money, or the lack thereof, doesn’t prove that someone is a good person or a bad person.

He reminds me so much of Thorin. Or perhaps I should say that Thorin reminded me so much of him.

At the end of The Hobbit, Thorin was redeemed, but I don’t think it’s as easy in real life. Once the love of money has hold of us, it’s much harder to see it and change.

It served as a good reminder for me of where I want my values to lie.

Has a movie ever reminded you of something important?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen (it’s only 99 cents). Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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A Chance to Win One of 15 Great Writing Resources

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Even though this isn’t my regular day to post, I wanted to let you all know about an opportunity. From February 14th to February 28th, you can enter to win one of 15 excellent ebooks about writing and marketing your fiction, including two of my Busy Writer’s Guides. Take a look at what’s on offer!

 

group promo2

In case you want to know more about any of these books, here are the links:

Captivate Your Readers by Jodie Renner

~ Fiction Attack! by James Scott Bell

~ Outlining Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland

~ How to Market Your Book, by Joanna Penn

~The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

~ Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, by Janice Hardy

~ Grammar for Fiction Writers, by Marcy Kennedy and Chris Saylor

~ Fire up Your Fiction, by Jodie Renner

~ Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives, and Other Introverts, by Joanna Penn

~ The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction, by C.S. Lakin

~ Writing a Killer Thriller, by Jodie Renner

~ The Positive Trait Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

~ Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide, by Marcy Kennedy

~ 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, by Bryan Cohen

~ The Negative Trait Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

To find out how to enter, you’ll need to visit the site of the talented Jodie Renner. She put this fun event together to celebrate the release of her newest book Captivate Your Readers. Winners will be drawn on March 1st.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? You might also want to check out Showing and Telling in Fiction.

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What Cupid Teaches Us About Love

Image Credit: Vinicius Fujii (www.freeimages.com)

Image Credit: Vinicius Fujii (www.freeimages.com)

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. My husband and I don’t exchange Valentine’s gifts or plan an evening out, and I think I might be a bit miffed if he bought me a box of overpriced chocolates or a marked-up bouquet of flowers that he could get for half the cost a week later. I realize I’m the exception in this. I’ve always been practical.

But it’s not just my practicality that makes me shy away from the Valentine’s Day hype.

One of the iconic symbols of Valentine’s Day is the cubby, arrow-wielding Cupid. For me, Cupid represents everything I dislike about Valentine’s Day.

Cupid has wings because lovers are flighty or fickle. Cupid is depicted as chubby and boyish because love is irrational. He’s often shown as blindfolded to represent that love is blind to the flaws of the beloved. His arrows wound the heart instantly, and nothing else is taken into consideration.

In other words, Cupid isn’t the representative of love, at least not of the kind of love that makes a marriage last. He’s the representative of infatuation, a “love” that’s swayed by the emotions and by circumstances.

Like Cupid, Valentine’s Day isn’t about love. It’s about infatuation and endorphin rushes. Anyone can woo for a day, but it takes something deeper to endure for a lifetime. Our culture likes to emphasize this day to the point where succeeding on Valentine’s Day is sometimes valued above the day-to-day sacrifices and acts that exemplify true love.

But there’s one thing I think Cupid can teach us about love. As a character in mythology, Cupid plays a minor role. His main purpose is to set the plot in motion.

Likewise, infatuation is what sets most of us on the path that will eventually lead to marriage, but it’s only the start. It’s the inciting incident. The ignition for love, but not the definition of it.

Somewhere along the way, Cupid needs to grow up. He’ll need to take off his blindfold so that he can see the flaws of his beloved and either accept them or help to overcome them. His body will need to be hardened and his wings lost by walking the path of life with someone else, enduring the challenges that come.

That’s more romantic than Valentine’s Day, not less. And it happens every single day.

How would you sum up love? What does it mean to you to love someone?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen (it’s only 99 cents). Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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Creating An Author Business Plan: Setting Your Goals

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

In my last post, I announced that I was going to start a series helping busy authors write their author business plans. I’m excited to be back now, facing 2015, and diving in.

The first section of your author business plan is your Author Business Plan Summary. Because it actually contains a lot of different information, I’m not going to cover it all today. That would be overwhelming and make this post much too long. Remember that this is about breaking it down into manageable, unintimidating pieces. One small bit that you can do each day.

Eventually, your summary will include your goals, the types of books you plan to publish, your target number of releases per year, your audience, what outside help you plan to hire, the form and method of distribution for your books, and how you’ll deal with income. You’ll likely end up giving a paragraph to each.

Today we’re going to focus on your author goals. If you look back at my opening post “Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing an Author Business Plan,” you’ll remember that we’re focusing on what I called the “career writer” and we’re looking at this from the perspective of someone who wants to independently publish (or hybrid publish). A career writer is someone who views their writing as either a full-time or part-time job or wants it to be one. They want (and need) their writing to make a profit.

If you’d like to read the rest of this post, head over to Fiction University for my monthly guest post–Creating an Author Business Plan: Setting Your Goals.

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Grammar for Fiction Writers, is now available from Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords. (You might also be interested in checking out Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction.)

Both books are available in print and ebook forms.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

Enter your email address to follow this blog: