Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August IWSG and Celebrate the Small Things

Good Morning, Insecure Writers! What's new and exciting? It's time to spew forth our worries about all things writerly. Thank you to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh and his merry band of co-hosts: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery.

August's optional question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

Pitfall #1: Thinking publication is a good idea.

Chester Zoo

Do you have the emotional skin of a rhinoceros? The patience of Job? Absolutely no expectations of success? 

If you can answer "yes" to these questions you are a liar might be ready to attempt publication. 

But why? Why put up with the heartache and headaches of querying agents who, for some odd reason, always start their rejection with "Thank you...". Instead of cushioning the blow, I'd prefer a succinct "Nope", unless they have a specific nugget of advice, which is rare. 

Why agonize for hours how to "personalize" a query that will most likely get rejected? Why spend eons pondering the mind-numbing options for self-publication/marketing plans?

STOP NOW, BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! Go back and edit you story again. Stay in your happy place. 

Pitfall #2: The query letter

Nothing Beats a Fountain Pen

You've spent weeks writing the thing. You've had it proofread by at least three, eagle-eyed fellow writers. Should you hit send? NO. FOR THE LOVE OF CHRISTMAS, DON'T DO IT!

The second you do, you'll realize you misspelled the agent's name, or forgot to change the agent's name from the last version of your query, or that somewhere in there is a "to" where you need a "too". The second you think a query is done, put it to bed for 24 hours. At least. 

Pitfall #3: The Twitter Pitch Event

Twitter icon fluffy

I've mentioned this one before. At least 3 times. So let me repeat it again. Twitter Pitch Parties often involve agents and publishers. Getting a "like" is so exciting, you'll want to send off your query/partial/bio the absolute second you get noticed, just in case the "liking" party comes to their senses and realizes their mistake.

Don't do that. 

Research your "liker(s)". (Hmm. That sounds vaguely dirty.) If you want an agent, query them first. If you want a publisher, make sure your book fits their requirements. Decide if you're cool with their quirks--like an upper word limit of 85K or possibly raising a sum of cash via GoFundMe to pay for publishing costs.

A Little Luck

Good luck. (You'll need it.) 


This weekly blog is an opportunity to share the good things in life, be they big or small. It's hosted by the amazing Lexa Cain and her co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog.

This week I'm celebrating:

1. An Awesome Read:

Gill Sims wrote this hilarious take on parenthood that will make you believe she's been secretly watching your family and taking notes. I brought home a copy from the library and every time I turn around, my husband has spirited it away to a quite corner to read. Grr. Give it back, now. MINE!

2. Completing a big project.

My mom gave my daughter a bit of cash for her birthday with the suggestion that she might like to start a succulent garden. Yeah, right. Like that was ever going to happen. 

Then the row of holly bushes on the side of my house up and died on me. So my daughter demanded asked if we might put in a garden there. 

And we did:

It's a big area. The entire project took about a month.

The most expensive part was a pallet of flat rocks. We found the stumps and curling bits of bark at a recycling center. 

This was my daughter's idea: a pallet garden. Yep, the very pallet the rocks came on.

Another of my daughter's creations: the broken pot planter. She broke it (and glued parts back, oops) by herself.

This hidden staircase is my favorite contribution.

That's not water, it's plastic wrap and polyurethane. 

White sand and glass beads plus more polyurethane make a sparkling faux river. Apologies to the environment.

Requisite fairy house.

My back is killing me and I may never get the dirt out from under my fingernails, but it was totally worth it. Now if I could just get the chipmunks to stop destroying everything... I swear, they must think we did all this just to make them a fabulous playground. Come on, garden supervisor, go get 'em!

Chipmunk? What chipmunk?


Have you published your writing yet? Good or bad experience? How do you relieve the stress of parenting? Alcohol or chocolate/sugar? Like to garden? Know how to get rid of chipmunks?


  1. Love the garden!
    I so do not have a thick skin. Trying to get my book published is going to be terrible!

  2. The garden is amazing! I love the broken planter and the "waterfall." :)

  3. Your garden is so cute! I want one like that now.

  4. Oh wow that garden is wonderful! I hope Kitty does his/her job and the chipmunks go find a new playground. What an amazing accomplishment for you and your daughter.

  5. I love the garden and it’s so creative! My daughter has aittle fairy house in ours so too and i hope the supervisor doesn’t nap through all the work lol. Love Your publishing tips. I have decided an editor is the best thing for me to keep me from most of those blunders :)

  6. Thanks for the laugh along with great publishing tips! Loved it and the garden - to die for! What an awesome project for you & your daughter to share. Gardening is my passion - right after writing. I'll definitely be looking at adding something similar to my garden next year.

  7. What a magical garden! Great tips for writers, by the way.

  8. I could wallpaper my living room with rejection letters and emails. Self publishing or going with a small publisher like Leaping Lemur is the way to go.

  9. I've always said that I should have taken up coal mining. It's so much easier, and you get paid regularly. Great garden.

  10. Your advice was amusing by so true. And I love the garden. Your daughter did good and is so creative.

  11. Don't do it! Turn back now.
    That is an amazing garden.

  12. The garden is beautiful!
    Great advice, as well.

  13. That is a great garden. Totally worth the hassles in doing it. And you did it with your daughter. Good memories.

  14. Gorgeous garden. It's a lot of what I aspire to for my own backyard!

    Yeah, research, revision, and developing a thick skin is definitely good advice.

  15. What a beautiful garden! (My own garden is a project I didn't get to this year, but a random huge pumpkin is still growing out back.) Love you advice! Everything takes time and thick skin. Chocolate is my soother of choice. :)

  16. Great advice. Those old query letters always cause me trouble.
    Love your garden. It's beautiful.

  17. You're hilarious, Tamara. (you are a liar, lol) Great advice on waiting to hit send. I always do this. Great pics, too!

  18. What a lovely garden, Tamara.You have an awesome mom,too. And great writing tips too.

  19. Love your take on query letters. Depressing and laughable. The pics are lovely.

  20. Bwahahaha! You are exactly right on all points! Especially the luck part.

    Kudos on the garden. I love the repurposed pallets. I hate hate hate yard work, but when it turns out like yours did, it's [almost] worth it. We have some of those robo-destroyer chipmunks, too. I so do not appreciate Chip and Dale.

  21. I'd rather write than prepare for submission, lol. Ghads, to work and heartache.

    What a beautiful garden. Love all those nifty ideas. I don't have chipmunks in my yard, but the yard supervisors consistently ignore the birds that dive at them and leave presents all over the lawn furniture.

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  23. I've never been published (at least not where I've been paid), but you gave some good professional advice.

    My kids are all grown and gone. Now it brings me a smile watching grandchildren grow.

    I'll take a drink every so often, but I'm not really much of a drinker. Sugar or chocolate is definitely preferred.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  24. I like all the photos...they are so good. And excellent advice!

  25. What a magical garden. It took a while to create- but it is beautiful. I love all the little touches that make it unique. Bravo!

    Great advice to new writers. :)

  26. Impatience is always my downfall. I hit "send" before proofreading properly - which is fine for things that can be edited or deleted but not so good for emails to important people! By the way, love the garden!

  27. Nice garden. Seems like you live in a better climate than I do, though this summer has been warmer and drier than usual. Much apreciated >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  28. Well that was not entirely encouraging but it made me laugh! Your fairy garden looks wonderful, so creative.

  29. Tons of proofreading and a thick skin are definitely necessary for anyone who wants to publish. I love your garden! I wish I had a greener thumb. So nice you were able to create it with your daughter.

  30. I personalized my query this last time, and oh boy, did it work!!! Take the time and keep doing it right:))


I will do everything in my power to visit commenter's blogs unless I've been abducted by aliens or my children get sick. (If my children get abducted by aliens, I will be very busy, of course, catching up on my sleep.)