Spotlight on Writing

Selling Your House is Like Submitting Your Manuscript

Have you been through the process of selling a house before? Have you realized how similar it is to having your story on submission?

Let me explain.

black calculator near ballpoint pen on white printed paper

You decide you want to sell your home. Just as when you decide to submit your story. You do a little research, see what’s out there, what is selling, and then you take the leap.

You prefect your home/You perfect your story.

You’ve put your house up for sale/You’ve submitted.

Then you wait….and wait….

You check Zillow and Zip Reality, has anyone looked at the listing?/You check Query Tracker and writer forums for response times.

You wait and wait…

Oh, someone is coming to view your house!/Oh, you received a reply that your manuscript was received.

You wait and wait some more…

People have seen your house/People have read your story….

ballpoint pen classic coffee composition


Ohhhh, look someone is making an offer, but first they need to have the house inspected/Ohhh, look someone requested a full!!

The inspector shows up/You submit the full manuscript.

You wait….and wait…AND WAIT….will they like it? What’s wrong with it? What do you need to fix? Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s yours. Will they accept it with some repairs? Maybe you shouldn’t have went with that bold blue/Maybe you shouldn’t have let your main character do that one thing he did.

A lot has caused you stress during this process, so make sure you don’t take the first offer without doing your research. Either way, at some point your house/your story will sell.

person giving keys on man

Happy submitting!!!





Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Interview with Cassidy Carter, Author of LOVE ON LOCATION

20190228_092505Please welcome author, Cassidy Carter to the blog!!! Her newest book, Love on Location releases tomorrow, March 12th from Hallmark Publishing!! Yet, Ms. Carter is not new to Hallmark Publishing. She also wrote The Perfect Catch (based on an original Hallmark movie). Please enjoy her interview!

You live far from any place like Cabins in the Pines, what brought you to write this specific story?

I grew up in the country, and I love the outdoors. And you’ll be familiar with the other inspiration for the setting, Savannah—Flagstaff, Arizona!

I struggled a bit with Love on Location at the start of the process, because I originally envisioned this tale of two best friends (who don’t realize that they’re meant for each other) set in a family-owned factory.  But there wasn’t much fun in that “location,” so the setting was switched to the Cabins in the Pines, a place that I hope the reader will find as engaging as the love story.

How much research did you have to do between the camping and TV production aspects of the story?

My family and I camp quite frequently, so the camp aspect of it is very familiar to me. I used some actual camp layout maps from places we’ve been to plan out what the Cabins in the Pines looked like. As far as the TV aspect, my husband and I watch quite a few business-makeover shows like The Profit and Hotel Hell and, of course, the business-investment show Shark Tank, so that inspired some aspects of Love on Location. And then I did do some research on these shows, but I also tried to keep the technical stuff pretty light in case I got anything wrong!

You are a professional editor, does that make writing easier?

In a way it does, but there are ways it makes things harder. It helps me write (hopefully) pretty clean first drafts, but it also makes me mortified when I miss something obvious. More on that below! That said, when I write, I try to put the words down as quickly as possible, without overthinking or being too critical. During my second draft is when I tend to catch things I wrote incorrectly. And I cringe! But on the other hand, it makes me very understanding of those whom I edit.

When you submit a manuscript and it’s accepted, do they send back edits? (Can an editor be edited??)

There are two types of edits you’ll see back as an author: story-level edits (some call these developmental or content edits) that basically critique and coach on the craft, plot, theme, details, all the nongrammatical aspects of a book; and copy edits, which come after revisions to clean up spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the like. And everyone can be edited. Sometimes, story-wise, you get too close to what you’re writing, and you don’t see a plot hole or a too-vague explanation or a comma splice. I love editors, and I love being edited. I am always grateful for a fresh pair of eyes. Stacey Donovan, the head of Hallmark Publishing, is really a master at this. She gives great notes, pointing out things I hadn’t considered or that I’d missed, and I really feel like she made this story much better than it would have been. (Thanks, Stacey!).

I must mention how jealous I am that you have the privilege of working with Ms. Donovan! Her blog posts are super helpful on many levels. Not to mention she is a joy to interact with on Twitter, and I loved her book, Sunset Cabin!!!

In your opinion, does being an editor make the odds of acceptance higher?

Really good one! I think it helps, because a clean-as-possible first draft is something that will stand out in a submissions pile, and having a publisher know that I have a background in helping others better their books might give me a slight edge, but anyone can have a similar chance. By that, I mean that any author submitting to a publisher can find something to set their query apart. For instance, if you’ve researched really well what a particular publisher is looking for, and you have knowledge or experience that helped you develop a character or write in a setting that fits what they want perfectly, use that! Let’s say you write a book about a plucky lumberjack in an all-woman lumberjack crew, and your book is about the heroine falling in love with the head of the competing all-male lumberjack team at the state logging competition. Adorable premise. But if this is the fictionalized version of how you actually met your husband in the same exact manner? That beats the rules that I can quote from the Chicago Manual of Style any day.

Tell us what drove you to write Love on Location?

Image result for the perfect catchI love Hallmark, and I love sweet romance. After I did the novelization of The Perfect Catch, I wanted to show readers a little more of my style, so I was so thrilled about Hallmark’s move to original fiction. I like exploring the emotional aspects of how two people can come together in the middle of life happening; not always perfect, not always on time, not always without friction—but just when it’s needed.

What has been your favorite place to see/visit?

So far, I’ve only ever traveled within the United States. But I’m so crazy about Northern Arizona in the summer, I’d have to say it’s my current favorite.

What place are you excited to visit but have yet to?

A lot of the big state parks that I haven’t been to yet! I want to hook up the camper and go see Yellowstone, Yosemite, Redwood National.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t think you have the space for me to include everything! I typically get up early, try to wrangle a reluctant kindergartener to school, and entertain a very cheeky three-year old while I juggle editing and writing. I try to split my day between editing, usually during the day because that’s when clients are easiest to communicate with, and writing, which I do in the evenings and at night. I’m a definite night owl, so my day is fueled by lots of caffeine.

Are you the chef in the family? If so what is your favorite dish to make, if not what is your favorite dish to enjoy?

I do nearly all of the cooking. I love to cook, and my husband is not that keen on cooking himself, so we have an arrangement. I cook, and he does the dishes. It’s a great deal. And I cook a ton of different things! I make a pretty killer coconut curry chicken, but I also love to whip up a full-on Southern breakfast (biscuits, gravy, grits, eggs, and bacon).20190228_092521

What is your favorite Hallmark movie?

Edge of the Garden! Have you seen it? Oh my gosh. I don’t want to give the ending away, but I cried.

I have seen it! It is great. My personal favorite is the Vineyard series Hallmark Channel does!)

What’s next for you?

So much. I really want to continue the story of the Cabins in the Pines family, and I’m dying to start a cozy mystery series. I’ll update you when there’s anything new to report!

I’ll be looking forward to new news!! 

Visit Cassidy’s website

Purchase Love on Location from Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Spotlight on Writing

Why. Do. We. Do. This?!


Writers, have you ever been working on a story and stopped to check something, anything else? You should be writing, but you’re not. I’m doing it right now! Manuscript open, pen in hand, mid-edit, when I decide I need to write this post, check social media, oh look dishes need to be washed.

Why. Do. We. Do. This?

Why does the procrastination switch flip so flipping often? (say that ten times fast)

I tried to answer this question on my own. My response is fear, it must be the fear of finishing or fear of finding out that I can’t finish.

The story needs to be worked on, yet there we are, checking this or that.

Now the question is, how do we stop?

I know many put their cell phones away, or turn off their internet. Sometimes that is not enough, because look dishes! Look the floor needs to be cleaned. Oh, laundry!

Does it come down to doubt within our work and our selves? That once we remind ourselves we can do it and not be afraid we can power through the distractions and finish the manuscript?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on WHY. DO. WE. DO. THIS?!

Spotlight on Writing

Virtual Traveling

When I was about eleven years old, in Mrs. Morgan’s class, I had to pick a place to do a social studies report on. Part of that involved requesting travel guides from the place we selected. I picked the United States Virgin Islands (I was obsessed with beach life at the time).

In class we worked on our letter (the days of snail mail) and send it off. The letter explained that we were doing a report and would love if they could send us free travel information so we could cut out pictures and learn about the life there.

You would not believe the look on my face and my surprise when the U.S. Virgin Islands actually mailed me back a whole fat envelope with a letter personalized to me! (I have always and still do love getting mail, today, at 37, I still think…Is that the mailman? Did the mailman come yet? I wonder if there is anything good in there? I even love junk mail!)

Okay, so back to my childhood. I was so impressed by the fact that if you asked for something from a state they would send you a jumbo envelope full of stuff. Part of what impressed me the most was that is was not just some simple little white envelope, but an envelope that required more than one stamp!! (Even now, writing this, I’m excited thinking back on it!!!!)

So what did an eleven year old girl spend her weekend doing? Well, computers and the internet were not a thing then. The information to request travel guides was in two places. The back of non-fiction library books in the geography section or my father’s AAA tourism books. If you think I was excited about writing letters to request these things, wait until I found out that I could go with my father to AAA and request a map and travel book from any place I wanted, for free (I didn’t have to use my allowance!) Imagine a little girl asking her father when he is going to AAA and can I please add some states to your list?! My book shelf soon filled with chubby little AAA books, Montana, Wyoming, Florida, California, etc. Next to those were the road maps.

Those AAA books kept me occupied while I waited the 4-6 weeks for my envelopes to arrive in the mail. Now I must report that I lied in every letter I wrote to the different states. I figured without a good excuse they would not mail me anything. So, in each letter I told them I was doing a report for school and would love if they could mail me a travel guide and map.

Most places were nice enough to send me stuff, some never sent anything (I know, I kept a check list), some sent a postcard back saying if I sent money they would send it (nope, sorry I need my allowance). Yet, none were as stuffed full as the U.S. Virgin Islands. (I thought that maybe word got out through the travel places and that I could not possibly have this many reports for school and thus why some places never sent me anything).

Why am I rambling on about all this??? Well, I still love sending away for free travel guides. As a child I loved to dream about the places I would travel within the United States once I was old enough. (Although I did get to pick a few places for the father-daughter road trips). As I got older I used the travel guides to pin-point where I wanted to live, because I was determined NOT to stay in Washington. And now, I use them to help my writing. To get some “place” to my stories. For now, I can go anywhere for free in my stories. And until I can actually go there, I will at least make my stories as authentic as possible.

Excuse me, I think I just heard the mailman!

Spotlight on Writing

The Truth About Writing 

A few days ago, as I wrote, something profound came to me.

Writing is not JUST writing. Yes, you can sit down and write a story. But, everything before and after is what makes writing… WRITING.

Writing is about the great books you read. It’s about the horrible books you read.

Writing is about the places you go. And the places you cannot go.

Writing is about who you meet. And who you want to meet.

Writing is about television and movies. It’s about the then and now, past, present, and future.

It’s about what is popular. It’s about what is popular to you.

Writing truly is, much more than writing.

Spotlight on Writing

The Upcoming of SEND

Image result for send buttonI have mentioned in a few prior post that my latest middle grade WIP has been an amazing story of beauty to write. It has been, mostly, my only focus this summer. It’s been in the 90’s here in Phoenix as we are mid-way through October, so I am saying it’s still summer (I MISS THE 4 SEASONS!!!!!) I’ve been blessed to have my manuscript reviewed and edited by My Rock (we will go with that name because it’s true for many reasons beyond this manuscript, and no it’s not The Rock). It’s hard to catch every little mistake when you wrote the story and have been staring at it day after day.

I have never had this much fun writing a story! I even created a Pinterest board for the manuscript. You can view it here.

Now I know the manuscript is not perfect, but it is pretty darn close. My nerves are growing as I near hitting the SEND button to get it off to my agent. Will she like it? Will she want me to make changes? Will she submit it to publishers? Will publishers like it?

I’m nervous as can be!!!!

What will I do once I hit SEND? (besides stalk my email and phone). I have another manuscript that needs my attention, which was shoved to the back burner as soon as my WIP popped in my head.

But for one minute in-between SEND and the next WIP, I will take a deep breath, find my center, and cross my fingers!!!!!!


Spotlight on Writing

Facts About the Writer in Me

  1. I read the author bio on the jacket flap at least 3 times in the course of the book. (Before I buy it, mid-way through, and once I finish).
  2. I watch movies and think about how it would have played out as words on a page.
  3. New story ideas come to me when I’m writing a current story, thus throwing my current story off track.
  4. I critique other author’s head-shots/profile pictures. (That one is uber cool/that one looks horrible).
  5. I’ll go weeks without checking Amazon stats, then suddenly start checking every hour.
  6. I ponder which celebrities actually wrote their books and who had ghost writers, then get upset that celebrities get book deals like it’s a Wendy’s drive-thru, yet I love to read their books more than most other books…then I feel guilty about this.
  7. I lose hope in my writing and gain hope like a game of Chutes and Ladders.
  8. Either I accidentally starve myself or I accidentally over-eat when I write.
  9. I’m severely jealous of those who get to write full-time, then wonder about their possible lack of health insurance.
  10. I dream of my stories as movies or TV, then remember when I tried screenplay writing for a year, and it was horribly terribly awful.