Tag: Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

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July 15, 2019 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , ,

Want to know a secret? Volunteering can be your ticket to building a creative career platform.

Other professions have embraced the nonprofit strategy as personally fulfilling and professionally strategic. Lawyers work pro-bono, doctors cross borders to help those less fortunate, retired business people and teachers mentor those who need help starting their businesses or getting over a hump.

But nonprofits need more than counsel, they need the kind of exposure writers, filmmakers and artists can provide. Whether you’re looking for that first portfolio piece or expanding an already established career, aligning yourself with a nonprofit offers you a wealth of creative opportunities. Since you might know others in creative careers,  here are some suggestions for writers, filmmakers, artists and even chefs and gardeners because creativity is never limited.


Profile a volunteer

Interview the administrator

Chronicle the history of the nonprofit

Write the newsletter

Write content for their website/blog

Spotlight the success stories of clients



Paint a mural

Design a fundraising invitation

Photograph the clients

Hold art/photography classes

Design a nonprofit’s newsletter

Design a non-profit’s logo


Cook for a fundraiser

Landscape the building

Provide floral arrangements for benefits

There is no limit to the benefits you will receive by volunteering your creative services. You will build your portfolio, be introduced to businesses and clients that are ready to pay for your talent, and, above all, you will have made a difference with your words, your images and your creativity. There is no lack of drama at a nonprofit, all you have to do is seek it out.

Eric, my son and Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Albania, writes plays about his experiences. They are produced in Hollywood and the proceeds benefit the village in which he lives.

Sam, a well-known musician, teaches children stricken with cancer how to play the guitar. Because of his volunteer work, the local newspaper did a front-page article on his efforts.

Cheryl, an aspiring filmmaker interviews people in an assisted living facility and runs those interviews on her website calling attention not only to rich histories but also to her talent behind the camera.

Jackie painted a mural on the wall of a local library. She was credited for her work by the library and her work is seen every day of the year not only by those who visit the library but people who walk and drive by.

The next time you’re looking for a way to showcase your talent, look no further than your community. Your portfolio – and your heart – will benefit from your generosity.


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1 Email, 6 Authors, 2 Thrilling Bundles

October 15, 2018 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , ,

When I received an email from best selling author Melissa F. Miller asking me to join a book bundle with thriller authors Pamela Callow, Diane Capri, Colleen Cross, and Pamela Samuels Young, I jumped at the chance.

We released Legal Action ($2.99) and Legal Briefs  ($.99) earlier this month. Legal Action is a set of six full-length novels; Legal Briefs is a bundle of novella’s and short stories. I like to think this two pronged approach is unique. I certainly thought the addition of Legal Briefs was genius. I attended the NINC (Novelists Inc.) conference in Florida mainly to meet some of these ladies. The experience was fabulous, but even without face-to-face meetings this bundle would have been a great collaboration.


  1. Melissa had a vision that was easily communicated and she offered an administrative option (important for me).
  2. Participants spanned a spectrum of one genre which meant sharing readers might overlap but would probably not completely duplicate audiences.
  3. Each of us had similar marketing tools in place and were comfortable using them.
  4. A basic plan was agreed to as a foundation that could be built upon.
  5. A price structure was  agreed to that met the objective of widening our audiences.
  6. Trust, respect, and communication made the process  simple, enjoyable and effective. David Miller (administrator) created covers, social media images etc. leaving the authors free to write new material for the Briefs bundle.


If you want to participate in a boxed set with other authors take it upon yourself to start the process. Offer a proposal that is both creatively exciting and purposeful in marketing. That will begin the conversation.

One last thing. Google the title of your bundle before it’s set in stone. Imagine our surprise when we found out that Legal Briefs was also the title of a number of erotica novels. At least our cover stands out. Though if we had an image of a man in his underwear on the cover maybe our reach might be greater.

So Bundle up. It can be a wonderful experience.

P.S. Offer the administrator a percentage of any profit. Their work is invaluable.


USA Today & Amazon best selling author Rebecca Forster

Follow Rebecca or contact her at www.rebeccaforster.com






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Just a Thought

July 15, 2018 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , ,

I am a huge fan of the Wall Street Journal Review section. Reading it reminds me that there are brilliant and talented authors around the world and if I want to protect my little patch of literary real estate I better keep upping my game. The Review is also my favorite bookstore. I often order a new book the minute I read about in the WSJ. But what I really, really love about Review is that I am inevitably inspired by something I read. This morning, it was a quote attributed to Thomas J. Watson Senior, Former CEO of IBM.

“The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough. . .knowledge is the result of thought.”

This is from a new book by book by Bradley R. Staats entitled Never Stop Learning: Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself and Thrive. In his book the author argues that human beings are preprogramed to ‘act’. In fact, Mr. Staats believes we human’s have an action bias and that, by giving into it, we might be doing ourselves a disservice. By not thinking we could miss our goal because we’re moving simply for the sake of moving.

Boy, did that hit home.

I’ve been obsessing over my new project, typing for days, gaining word count, moving forward – except I’m not really getting anywhere. I have been screaming at myself to WRITE when what I need to do is whisper, think. In order to think, I have to ask myself the right questions, take the time to ponder them before I answer and, most importantly, understand why the answers matter.

I have a plot but not a theme. The plot, after all, isn’t just about action but about building a stage on which the characters will reveal themselves to the reader. And what about dialogue? I know I can write appropriate thriller dialogue but will it be fitting and true to characters that I have nurtured over the course of a seven book series? Should I be driving headlong into word count or taking more time to choose the right ones that will drive the story forward most dramatically and efficiently?

I guess I have a lot of thinking to do, but thanks Mr. Staats for reminding me that busyness is not the same as accomplishment.

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The Long Hot Summer . . . and writing by Jina Bacarr

July 11, 2017 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , , , , ,

Ninety degrees.

In the shade.

It’s been a hot beginning to summer here in SoCal. Perfect time to write . . . or maybe not. It’s hard to think when you’ve got a cold pack on your head, but it’s even harder when you’re writing about Christmas.

Oh, is it. I keep forgetting to put a coat on my heroine or remind her not to forget her gloves. One good thing. The year I’m writing about — 1943 — there was little if any snow in my heroine’s part of the world. Pennsylvania Dutch country. But it was cold. 17 degrees at night. So I fill her up with hot soup — and thank God, coffee wasn’t rationed as much by ’43, but there’ s no hot cocoa. Chocolate went to the servicemen in the form of a D Ration bar — chocolate and filled with vitamins.

The best part about writing this story about a second chance at love via time travel is the love scenes.

Plenty of hot kisses to go around.

So the morale of my little tale is: whether you’re writing about summer or winter, make sure the love scenes are hot!!


Speaking of hot, reenacting the Civil War during the summer months can raise the temps, too, especially if you’re thrust back in time to the Battle of Antietam in 1862.

Like my heroine in LOVE ME FOREVER.

Love Me Forever is a big family saga with lots of angst and sexy heroes…if you like Civil War time travel, two wild, feisty heroines and the men they love, it’s on sale through today, July 11th, for 99 cents!

I’ve worked on this book for a long time…in between other books, always hearing no publisher wants a Civil War book, but I didn’t want to give up on my two feisty heroines and the military men they love…a story that spotlights the women of the Civil War.

I didn’t give up and Love Me Forever was selected as a Kindle Scout Winner!

Family is the theme of LOVE ME FOREVER. Two very different women, Liberty Jordan and Pauletta Sue Buckingham, with different ideas are thrown together in a mad, crazy scheme of spying, lost love, and passionate desire for what they can’t have.

The men they love.

Do they get their men?

Well, it is a romance, but it’s also a wild dramatic journey based on actual events in the Civil War. Liberty and Pauletta Sue will make you cheer, then cry, then hold your breath when it looks like all is lost…

LOVE ME FOREVER is available on Kindle and KU and is 99 cents through July 11, 2017.

Ends at midnight!

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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author: Jennifer Lyon

December 22, 2009 by in category Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author by Shauna Roberts tagged as ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Jennifer Lyon

Jennifer Lyon always wanted to be a witch. When her witch powers didn’t materialize, she turned to creating magic in her books. Soul Magic (Ballantine Books) debuted in October, the second in an enchanting, passionate supernatural series. Jen also has a super secret alter ego known as Jennifer Apodaca, the author of the award-winning Samantha Shaw Mystery Series.

If you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

Once when I was a teenager and complaining about something or other, my mother stopped what she was doing and said, “Whoever told you life was fair? Quit whining and work harder.”

Boy, I had no idea back then how much that advice would end up shaping my career. I’ve had my share of setbacks, some which were my mistakes and others that were beyond my control. But each time, I heard my mother’s voice say, ‘Quit whining; work harder.’ And each time, working harder paid off–and sometimes not in the way I expected.

That’s my mom’s advice. Now here’s a few of the things I’ve learned so far, things that I wish I’d known or fully grasped before I published.

1. Write faster and learn to juggle. Everyone says this, but I have to stress it. Like it or not, it takes at least two books a year to really build a strong fan base. And once published, you must juggle other things along with the writing, such as revisions, line edits, copy edits, galleys, and promotion.

2. Build a team. This has two parts. Part one is your professional team, which consists of your editor, agent, research contacts, web designers, or designers for bookmarks, whatever you need. I try to keep a Rolodex of people I can rely on in a professional capacity. Part two is friends and critique partners. I have many, but there are about five core people I critique with and go to for advice or just to talk to. I can trust these people implicitly.

3. Be flexible. Few careers in publishing move in a straight line. There will be changes; editors leave, agents retire, lines close, the economy tanks, a genre suddenly stops selling–it happens. Every day. It’s taken me a while to learn to roll with these things. Canceling a series or rejecting a project is just part of the business. Stay flexible and move on.

4. Be professional, reliable, and self-confident. The first two I did from the start; the self-confident part has been harder. I have learned to project a bit more self-confidence in dealing with editors and agents. It makes everyone feel more secure if the author is reasonably sure she can do something.

Lack of self-confidence caused me to turn down an anthology I probably should have accepted. I wasn’t sure I could make the deadlines, which is really valid. However, it was with a New York Times bestseller, and that exposure may have been worth the risk.

5. Make decisions based on facts and research, not emotion. In the changing face of publishing, it’s a little harder to grasp all the facts. But the old adage still applies: ‘If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably false.’  Do your research, really listen to people with experience, and try to base your decision on facts, not emotion. Before I sold to a traditional publisher, I went with an electronic publisher that was less than reputable because I just wanted to believe and ignored some red flags.

6. Don’t give up. Ever. If one thing isn’t working, then you need to step back and evaluate the project. What’s not working? The idea or the execution? If it’s the idea, consider putting it away and working on something else. If it’s the execution, then roll up your sleeves and get to work. Abandoning a project that isn’t working is not giving up. It’s simply a risk that didn’t work. Take what you learned and then turn the next project into a success.

So that’s it. And for the record, I’ve done okay with the ‘work harder’ portion of my mom’s advice. But I still have a tendency to whine.

Thanks so much to Shauna Roberts for having me as a guest today!


You can learn more about Jennifer and Soul Magic at her Website and blog at http://www.jenniferlyonbooks.com/. You can find Soul Magic at your local bookstore as well as online from Amazon.com and other online stores.

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