Archive for April, 2013

Some of the best writing advice I ever got was from my recently departed mentor, Nick Pollotta. Granted, just about EVERYTHING he imparted to me was worth listening to! Today, though, I want to talk about the importance of knowing when to keep your mouth shut.

We all know we should remain positive as a public figure. Keep the chin up, be disappointed in a rejection but go after the next brass ring. But what about public forums? While some are fine for a bit of grousing, make sure they’re private forums and not filled with people who work where you do. 

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a publishing house, a retail store, or an aerospace manufacturing plant. You do not grouse publicly about them. Yes, you want to vent because you didn’t get the vacation time you put in for, or you got passed over for a promotion. But doing so in a public forum (a blog, FB, etc) is going to backfire.

More and more companies are forming social media policies, and will monitor their employees online. If you’re constantly complaining, don’t be shocked if they call you on it. 

Nick’s advice to me was to always be polite and professional. No matter what. Sales could be catastrophically bad for six months to a year at a time, but I should always, ALWAYS, maintain a positive vibe about my publisher in any forum they’d potentially see me posting in. In doing so, I’d gain a reputation of willingness to work with my publisher, not against them. I’m not sabotaging my own sales.

There are some that will disagree with me. I realize that. My opinions are just that, opinions. The benefits of holding my tongue, though, outweigh the risks. Reputation is EVERYTHING in the business, second only to your skill as a writer. And it can make people overlook that talent if I were to be snarky.

Everyone has bad days. There are days, yes, I’ve wanted to pull my hair out for various reasons. But I take a step back, walk away from the computer, regain my composure. Then I’ll calmly talk to the person who’s driving me to the brink of insanity. I won’t give up my principles and professional ethics. The high road’s sometime’s lonely, but the view’s a lot better.

In other news….

Things are moving forward with ‘Mark of the Successor’! I’m looking for a few reviewers willing to read an ARC and post their review within 1-2 days after the ebook is available. If interested, drop me a note at katemariecollins@gmail.com.

I’ve got a blog tour starting soon, to promote the upcoming release. The grand finale of the week is a visit to Authors on the Air (google them – Pam’s got a fantastic show!) and a virtual release part on FB. Should be tons of fun!



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Hey everyone! I told you earlier this week that I’d have a guest and here she is! Lori Verni-Fogarsi is an author, speaker, and small business consultant. Her latest novel, Unexpecting, just released on April 18th. She’s doing some wonderful promotions this month to celebrate, so stop by http://www.loritheauthor.com/unexpectingrelease/ and get in on the fun!

Onward to the interview!

1. What got you started writing?

Strangely, it wasn’t even planned! Back in my early twenties, I owned a dog training school and started a monthly newsletter to market to my clients, vets, etc. I was surprised when I began receiving requests to write for other publications, too! Over the past twenty years, my writing career has progressed to include many articles in magazines and newspapers, a weekly syndicated newspaper column, one nonfiction book and two novels, my blog, and more! (Who knew?!)

2. Do you have any rituals (music, quiet house, computer vs. pen/paper) you use to help get you ‘in the mood’ to write?

Not really. I do prefer quiet and I get the majority of my writing done during the day when my kids are at school, or I work at the library while waiting for my daughter who is in dance classes, or when we’re up at our lake house. However, overall, my best writing is done when I don’t pressure myself. Sometimes the words just fly, and if they’re not I try not to stress about it and just work on other things instead, like editing, other projects I’m working on, or even just clearing my head with a little fun time on social media!

3. Do you outline your stories, or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Initially, I write by the seat of my pants. Then, when I’m “done,” I create an outline from what I’ve already written. This helps me identify weak areas that need to be built upon, and redundancies than need to be chopped. Finally, I print a hard copy and use a different color highlighter pen for each character, which allows me to go through and make sure their personalities, speech patterns, and habits are consistent throughout.

4. What was the most surreal moment for you once you were published?

I can’t narrow it down to one… I have to name two! First, it was my launch party for “Momnesia,” when over 100 people showed up and everyone was so excited about my book! Additionally, I still have surreal moments every time I receive a letter from a reader saying how much they enjoyed it and/or a glowing review from an industry professional or perfect stranger!

5. What mistake do you see new authors make the most often? How can they avoid making it?

Without question, it is not investing in a professional editor to ensure that their book is just as cleanly edited and proofread as any traditionally published book. If one’s goal is to be a professional author, it’s important to provide quality material that people will enjoy reading, feel good about recommending to others, and will make that person want to look for your other/future works. How can it be avoided? Easily! Hire an editor! (By the way, people often worry that this is going to cost thousands of dollars, but it doesn’t have to. I welcome writers to contact me if they’d like to be put in touch with my editor, Clarice Joos, who is fantastic, reasonably priced, and has done a great job on all of my books!)

6. Is there a genre you would never write, or one you want to try?

I don’t have the imagination for science fiction—neither as a reader nor a writer. As for writing in a new genre, I anticipate that I will stick with nonfiction and women’s fiction, but hey, ya never know!

7. Most new authors don’t have much of an idea on how to market their books. What advice can you give them from your experiences?

My best advice is to be genuine as you develop relationships. You want to “build your social media presence,” but it needs to be done in a quality way. Rather than just going around liking things and asking people to follow you, take the extra step to get to know the person behind the blog, take the time to make interesting comments on blogs, Facebook posts, etc. Get to know other authors and bloggers, and identify ones who have quality material you will feel good about helping promote… then do it, just like you would want them to do for you!

8. Tell us some about the new book! What inspired you to write it?

LOL! I basically started with my worst nightmare as a base idea, then just ran with it from there! With my daughters being 12 & 15 and my stepsons being 18 & 20, there has been much (uncomfortable!) discussion in our household about safe sex, staying out of trouble, responsible behavior, not doing drugs, etc. I thought about what a story it would be if I were to imagine somehow getting “stuck” raising an unexpected baby “from scratch,” and as the story progressed, I integrated other things that would be real dilemmas if I were ever to be faced with them. (Hopefully not!) It’s been a real eye-opener because, as I wrote the story, I had to think about how I myself would handle such things if they came up, whether or not the main characters would handle them that way or differently, etc.

9. What can readers expect from you in the future? 

I have several ideas on the fires. I’m considering another novel, “Dadnesia,” which would be written from the perspective of a driven guy who is so caught up in being a husband, dad, and family provider, that he struggles with “who he is” as a person. (Kind of like “Momnesia” but completely different because it would be from a man’s viewpoint.) I have a giant list of men dying to be interviewed and for me to write this book! I also have two different ideas for nonfiction books, which I’m not sure whether I’ll pursue. One would be a compilation of life experience advice from people of all walks of life. Another is a handbook series for teens, beginning with “The Party Animal’s Guide to Beginner’s Party Animalism,” which would provide suggestions of how you can be a “real life” teen or twenty-something who has fun, but knows how to do so in a way that doesn’t ruin your life. Not sure whether I’ll do this, but it’s an idea that’s been forming in my head lately!

10. Which do you prefer? Coffee, tea, or something else?

Coffee all day, pinot grigio all night. Although I do force myself to drink water in between!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Lori! Wishing you the best with Unexpecting and your future!

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First off…check it out! It’s the cover for ‘Mark of the Successor’!!!!!!!!!!! I’m absolutely in love with it, if you couldn’t tell. LOL

I was talking with the lovely Pam Stack from Authors on the Air (check out her show here – http://authorsontheair.com/) and the subject of peer review came up. It’s a worthy topic, one that I decided to talk about today.

I’ve met and read a few authors who, for whatever reason, didn’t get a peer review of their manuscript before releasing it to the world. In my opinion, that is one of the WORST decisions any writer can make.

No one writes the perfect story in a first draft. You need to let fresh eyes read it, and use their honest feedback to improve your writing. Not just in this one story, but overall. Once mistakes are pointed out to us, we try not to repeat them. I’m not always successful at that. Which is one reason I send my stories off to be critiqued by some wonderful fellow writers each time.

What may make sense to you may not to a reader. Logic jumps only work if they make sense. If you create a character who abhors violence and weapons, they should shy away from using them. Readers are going to pick up on that, and shake their head when that person is an expert marksman later in the story.

One of my bad habits in first drafts is overusing a single word or phrase. I just don’t see it when I’m writing. My crit partners do, however, and call me on it.

Revisions are part of the job. Editors will be assigned to you at your publisher, yes. But they are not there to rewrite your story for you. Find yourself someone you trust to give you an honest opinion before you send it off. Don’t go with someone who is going to praise your work and not give a single suggestion. That’s only going to help your ego, not your writing. You want someone (or several of them) who is not afraid to tell you, “Hey, take this out. We already know they’re fighting dwarves from the previous sentence”.

Some of the benefits of peer review? Not having your m/s rejected because of huge spelling errors or repetitive phrasing. Having a writing style that editors want to read because they don’t feel like they’re having to lead you by the nose to get things presentable. Increasing your reader loyalty for putting a quality story out there.

In other news, I’ve got an interview this week! That’s right, you all get a bonus post from me. Expect it to go live on Wednesday the 24th…should be great fun!


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It wasn’t the best weekend of my life. My friend, my mentor, my writing ‘Big Brother’, Nick Pollotta, lost the good fight. He’s now on the next part of his journey. 

I can’t say I knew him well, or that I was part of his inner circle. There are those who mourn him more than I do, knew him better, have more memories to console them. Me? I’m just a fan who got lucky when he took her under his wing.

I’d decided months ago that my next book, “Mark of the Successor”, would be dedicated to him. I even put in a quote from a small conversation on FaceBook that he and I’d had. While the casual reader won’t have a clue what it means, it meant something to me. And, I hope, would’ve meant something to him.

A few weeks ago, I let his wife in on the dedication. My thought was to enlist her aid to make sure he saw it when the book released. I have her words that it would’ve touched him a great deal, even though he’ll now never read it himself. There’s a little bit of comfort in that.

I have every intention on continuing with the dedication as it reads now. I don’t plan on adding anything additional. If I’m truly lucky, maybe Nick’ll decide to come haunt me a bit.

I never met him in person. Only heard his voice via a few podcast interviews he did that I was able to listen in on. But he was ever so generous with his advice to me, even before I was published. He gave me an insight into this business that remains priceless. When I got my first contract offer, I sent him a message. I was hoping he could let me know what he wished he’d done differently now, after years in the business, that I could do at the start of my career. He’s been someone I could go to with questions about how to present myself as an author, develop the public persona, deal with the ethics of reviews.

My last message from him was less than a week ago. I’d finally posted the particulars of my new job with Solstice on my FB page (the ‘normal’ one, not my ‘official author’ one), and he offered me his congratulations.

I’ll admit it. As the Solstice Shadows line is for paranormal books, I was really hoping I’d see his name on a book in my slush pile one day. That would’ve been a big day for me as an EIC, to read a new submission from one of my favorite authors.

Last night, I did a Sending. Not that he needed the help going on this new journey of his. I’ve never seen anything in him that led me to think he was lost. But it helped me let go. The pain is still there. It’s not nearly as sharp as what his wife or family feel. I can’t even imagine the hole he’s left in their lives.

I do, though, feel a sense of obligation. I need to repay in kind the grace he showed me. I don’t have a huge fan base. Maybe I never will. But I need to be as generous, kind, and open to helping any author who might contact me as he was towards me. He showed me an amazing amount of support and encouragement, and it would do a disservice to his memory if I couldn’t show that to others.

Be well, my friend. Let there be peace for you at last. The #1 Minion of Team Tuna Fish will continue the work you started.


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I have news to share this morning! As of last week, I am now the part-time personal assistant to Melissa Miller, CEO of Solstice Publishing. As part of my duties, I’ll be filling the role of EIC (Editor in Chief) for their newest line, Solstice Shadows. I’m stoked! Head over to the Solstice website, check out the submission requirements for the line, and start sending in those paranormal stories!

On to the topic for today!

There’s a lack of common sense in the world today, and it’s bleeding into our writing. To fight this, authors need to think about the words they put down on paper (virtual or otherwise) before they do. Sometimes, reading a section aloud helps. 

For example, if you’re sitting there talking with your friends around the living room, are you truly going to say their names each and every time you talk to them? 

“Sally, I love your hair!”

“Thanks, Jane. My new stylist down at La Grande Dame is Louis. He’s amazing!”

“I can tell, Sally! Is Louis at La Grande Dame taking new clients?”

“I don’t know, Jane. I can call La Grande Dame and see if Louis is taking new clients for you next week.”

Anyone else ready to throw something at my blog post yet? 

When you write, the best way (in my opinion) to breathe life to your characters is to use common sense and have them react, speak, like those around you. Readers are intelligent, no matter what age group you’re writing for. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to spell out things for them. They get it. They retain it. 

They’re going to understand  you.

“Sally, I love your hair! Who’s the new guy?”

“Thanks! Louis is a genius! So glad they hired him.”

“He’s down at La Grande Dame, right? Over on 5th and Main?”

“Yep. Give them a call, Jane. Not sure if he’s taking new clients, but I wouldn’t wait. The man’s going to have half of Georgetown wanting him by next week.”

That sounds more natural, more like me and my friends would talk. It’s giving out more information about who these women are. The flow is better, not stilted or formal.

It won’t make the reader want to throw their e-reader out a window.

I’ve read books that have done that. It’s frustrating, no matter how much it cost you. Even free does not make up for a book being poorly written. Engage your reader, draw them into your world, let them get to know your characters like they were old friends.

After all, what author doesn’t want to hear from someone that their characters stuck with them for decades?


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First, the good news! My editor for ‘Mark of the Successor’ has returned the manuscript to me. To my utter amazement, she found nothing that needed changing. Of course, me being me, I still found three or four really small issues (extra word in a sentence, chapter headings not centered) that I corrected. I will admit, though, my writing ego was slightly inflated to know I got it cleaned up enough that she found no errors.

I’m not the most confident author out there. I grew up in an era where the bully was someone who threw punches, stole your lunch money. Words weren’t seen as painful. And there were a lot of words thrown my way. 

Because of this, I’m a little paranoid some days. And judgmental. I’m usually ready to guard against the backhanded compliment, the person who says they’re a friend when all they want to do is bring you before class to mock you. I tend to talk down about my own abilities, make a joke out of myself, before someone else can.

When I grew up, you didn’t brag about your accomplishments. But there’s a fine line between bragging and being confident. Sometimes, I’m afraid I’ve crossed the line and offended someone to the point they want to avoid me. This is not a problem they have, but one I do. 

Even ‘friends’ in grade school would call me stupid, lazy, dumb. But I still hung out with them because, well, they at least answered my phone calls or talked to me at recess. When this is what you’ve heard from your ‘peers’ for your entire childhood, it sinks in.

A few years back, I went to my 25th high school reunion. A good friend of mine, one that has been a constant voice of real support since junior high, and I went back out to our high school. I stood on the balcony overlooking the area where we sat during graduation and realized I was still trying to impress those who gave up on me in kindergarten. I was still wanting to hear them say I was worthy of their friendship.

And I realized that I didn’t need it. No matter what I do, they will forever see me as the dumb fat girl who won’t go farther than some cashier job at the local discount store. 

Yes, I still have days where my paranoia comes out. Despite having an amazing group of friends now who support me in more ways than I can count, I wait for the other shoe to fall.

I really need to change that.


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