Thursday, May 31, 2012

Writing Advice from Allison Knight

When I had been writing for awhile, I met an author who could write a book in three or four weeks. But even though I tried to write that fast, I discovered I couldn't do it.

I wasted more time trying to write and everything I put on paper was garbage. I put myself under a lot of pressure and ruined my voice. When I lowered expectations I found my own achievable goal. For me, five pages each day, five days a week gives me a 80,000 word complete novel in four months. I can live with that. I don't need to write a book in three or four weeks, not if I want the novel to be any good. If I decide to write more, or also on Saturday and Sunday, I reach my goal sooner, but I don't have to. I can take the day off and start fresh on Monday. This works - for me. And I can write two novels in a year.

Since I'm a plotter, I have to plan time to research. When I have my outline, my research notes, my character interviews,  I  find I often write more than five pages, but the important thing for me is, I've met my goal for the day, there's no guilt, no let down feeling and I know in four months I'll have a finished novel, ready for revisions.

I'm told pantsers do better with a timer. Yep, one of those kitchen timers you can buy for a dollar or two at a big box store. Ten, or fifteen minutes of writing time twice a day will net about the same number of pages as my five. If you're a pantser, try it. Set the timer and start to write. Most of us can find ten or fifteen minutes a couple of times a day to bang away at a typewriter or computer.

But, don't let my goals determine yours. If you can only do three pages or seven minutes, it might take a little longer, but you'll finish. Setting too big a goal will defeat you faster than anything. I have a couple of incomplete books that stink, to prove it. And the old slogan of 'practice makes perfect' applies here as well. If you start with three pages or seven minutes, and keep at it, you'll soon find you can do more time or more pages.

But beware. There are traps lurking out there. One is saying you don't have time, (you can sacrifice ten minutes of your lunch hour, or wait to start dinner or do the dishes for ten minutes.)  Another is finding something else you just have to do, (like sharpening pencils, feeding the cat, looking through a cookbook for a recipe for dinner tonight), or the big one, reading twitter, or e-mails. Even editing what you wrote last will eat up more time than you think and no, you really aren't writing, you're editing.

When you return to your writing, limit yourself. Read only the last paragraph you wrote. When you finish the novel you can always go back and cut or trim as you need. And here's a trick I learned a long time ago. If I can't think of the exact word I want I'll substitute symbols for the word, the dollar sign or star. When I have my five pages or a couple of minutes, I'll use the find key and look for my symbols. Maybe I won't even want the sentence or scene.

Set realistic goals and go for it. Remember the fable of the turtle and the hare. The turtle won because he kept plodding along. It works. I know for I have eighteen books and two short stories published. And I hope more to come at just five minutes a day.

Heart-warming Romance with a Sensual Touch
Allison Knight (

Monday, May 21, 2012

What's on YOUR Bucket List as a Writer?


 'Bucket List' has, it seems, become a new catch-phrase everywhere. Even the invitation to my 50th HS reunion coming up in October asked for a 'bucket list' of things we still want to do, even at our age. (Avoid doctors? Hope our retirement funds don't dry up? Survive? You get the idea.) But as a writer--ah, that's a whole 'nother subject...

 So, here goes...

10 Things on My Writer's Bucket List
(in no particular order)

  1. Rack up some (really) decent sales on my five published novels. (I know, I know, they're not HOT...sigh.)
  2. Re-write all 6 Penelope Pembroke cozy mysteries and get them 'out there' as an indie.
  3. Keep current with my writing notebook; ditto the writing journal.
  4. Travel to craft/book fairs around the state and sell books.
  5. Meet the writers I've corresponded with via email and Facebook.
  6. Attend as many writing conferences as I can afford.
  7. Start sending out my stash of short stories to various magazines and journals.
  8. Find the right publisher for Four Summer Days.
  9. Attend a writing retreat (The Writers' Colony in Eureka Springs).
  10. Travel and bring home new writing ideas.
There it is, folks. I could probably add more items, but the above list is pretty inclusive. And, what's even better, everything on the list is doable!

What's on YOUR bucket list? Need an entire blog to tell us? Contact me and let me know when you'd like to guest!

Meanwhile, stop by to view the video trailers and read the first chapters of my newest releases,  The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall and Dancing with Velvet, both available for Kindle and Nook as well as from the publishers.

Champagne Books


Monday, May 14, 2012

The Truth According to Old Willie

            “I finished your (2) books and felt like I’d lost a friend when I closed the last one.” So an acquaintance recently wrote after someone gave her my first two books, Where Is Papa’s Shining Star? and the sequel, Finding Papa’s Shining Star, published in 2008 by The Wild Rose Press. Somehow, I felt renewed—they were good stories, carefully researched and crafted—but they were not ‘hot’. removed a scathing review of the first one: basically, there are no sex scenes, and don’t waste your money. Frankly, the sexual attraction between the two main characters evolved and flourished throughout the story, but no, they didn’t hit the sheets until the end--and they were married. Since when is 'fade to black' not titillating?
            As an author, I am realistic about what the majority of readers want, and my books just don’t fit the mold. Most of the ‘action’ doesn’t happen in bed, and my preferred vocabulary does not include the f-word, the s-word, and various euphemisms for body parts. If there is what I grew up thinking of as profanity (but now seems part of everyday conversation), it is in context and fits the character’s thought processes at the time of use. Please understand that if this is what you like/want to write/read, go for it. I don't have a problem with anything anyone else does.
            And no, my books are not Christian fiction, though they contain underlying themes of human and Divine love, forgiveness, and reconciliation, without which life would be mere existence. I couldn’t write for the Christian fiction market, as I understand it, because I write very realistically. (Notice I didn’t say graphically.) I do not infer but rather spell it out, albeit in less-than-flaming language.
            So, as an author, I’m caught ‘between the Devil and the deep blue sea’ as it were. It’s discouraging sometimes, yet a comment such as the one with which I began this blog rekindles my enthusiasm for spinning my little tales.
Am I tempted to stray from my somewhat narrow path? Not for a second. Old Willie (Shakespeare) hit the nail on the head when he cautioned being true to oneself. I may experience relatively small monetary and celebrity success as an author, but the satisfaction is still there—and that’s what it’s all about.
So even if you’re into ‘hot’, cool off this summer with one of my vintage romances/romantic suspense novels. We can all use an occasional change of pace. (Read the first chapter of each book and watch the video trailer at You just might find yourself turning pages, tame as they are!

                                      BUY LINKS

Writing as Judy Nickles:
Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?
Finding Papa’s Shining Star
Dancing with Velvet

 Writing as Gwyneth Greer:
The Showboat Affair
The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Writing is great fun--it's what comes later that isn't so much. Marketing. Promotion. Getting out there and selling that eBook/print book. The guilt that descends like a cloud if you don't do something everyday. It's enough to make a writer seek the deepest, darkest cave and hibernate for a long time.

I frankly admit to being worn out. The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall came out in March, and I've been hard at it ever since. Dancing with Velvet is due out this month, so there's no rest for the weary (or is that, the wicked?) Actually, if my books were more wicked, they'd be easier to sell, but that's another topic for another day. Suffice it to say, I needed a breather--and I took one.

I spent the weekend reading, something I used to do all the time but which has become a guilty pleasure since I took up writing as well. I read TWO books, one written by the new president of the local chapter of the National League of American Pen Women to which I was recently accepted; the other an Agatha Christie novel for discussion at this month's Sleuthers meeting at the library. We read a book a month, discuss it, then watch the movie if one has been made from the book. I feel renewed.

Well, enough whining. What can I share with my fellow authors this week? The March-April 2011 issue of Writer's Digest has a terrific 6-page article on "50 Ways to Build Your Platform in 5 Minutes a Day" (Christina Katz). Obviously, the entire article will take more than 5 minutes to read, but it's worth the time. She divides her tips into several categories:
  • Listen and Learn
  • Create Context
  • Contribute Content
  • Cultivate Community
  • Be Authentic
  • Synergize Connections
  • Produce Yourself
  • Publicize Yourself
  • Pay if Forward
  • Strut Your Stuff
All her tips are tops--but still I cry, "Time, Time, my kingdom for some Time!" (Or was that a horse to take me away to that deep, dark cave...?)

Share your time-tips with others here. If you want to do an entire guest post on time strategies, just contact and tell me when you want to post!

Meanwhile, I've had a sabbatical, and Monday morning it's back to work. Don't forget to visit my website ( to see video trailers for and read the first chapters of the above-mentioned books. That's the sum total of the "promo" I'm doing for today!

See you on the loops and blogways!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Erika Mitchell Shares What She's Learned About Writing

Brooding Genius Not Required

Whenever I tell people I’m a novelist, the most consistent response I get is, “I’d LOVE to write a book.” Every single time, I have to bite down on my tongue to keep from asking what’s stopping them. Probably because I already know what’s stopping them: Work, family, time commitments, fear of failure, etc.
Of the lot of these, the last excuse is the easiest to address. It doesn’t seem like it should be, though, does it? There is undoubtedly something daunting about Writing A Novel. Almost like if you’re not some brooding genius scribbling over a notebook while running frustrated hands through your disheveled hair, you aren’t qualified to be a writer.

I would like to offer a different perspective, however. While it might be cool to be Henry David Thoreau, locked away in a cabin for two years penning masterpieces, it’s not necessary. The only thing necessary to be a writer is to write.Wanna know why?

Because no one ever has to read your writing. It’s true. If you set out to write the Great American Novel because you’re convinced that’s the only thing other people will accept, you will fail. Every time. It’s too much pressure.

If, however, you approach your writing as though no one will ever see it, I absolutely guarantee you’ll have a much better time. Writing with the intention that no one will ever read it is the best way I can think of to ensure you’ll enjoy writing your story.

I kid you not, this mindset will get you through writer’s block, intimidation, and self-consciousness. It’s a huge and unfortunately predominant misconception that you should only write stuff you intend to try to get published. The looming specter of the disapproving publishing house of doom will stymie you every time.
Simply sit down and write. And then keep going. If you get stuck writing a scene you think you should be writing, switch to a scene you feel like writing. You can always go back and fix what doesn’t work, but the purest, most enjoyable parts of the story will always come from a place where the writer is having fun.
So have fun. Even if the story never sees the light of day, you can still hold your head high because you’ve done something 99% of would-be writers never do: You finished something.

I assure you, the finished novel on your hard drive is going to be a thousand times better than the unfinished novel in anyone’s head.