Win 1 of 10 copies of MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

Fan of women’s fiction and movies like Sliding Doors?

This MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE giveaway is for you. Win 1 of 10 copies! Ends June 2/15.

“Entertaining and unpredictable; Reid makes a compelling argument for happiness in every life.” —Kirkus, starred review

MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE is available 7/7 (Atria/S&S) in a store near you. If you don’t win, don’t forget to pre-order!

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From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Liferaises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Why You Can’t Quit Your Day Job. Yet.

contract signingMany writers think their day job is getting in the way of their writing and count down the days until they can quit because that big book deal is on the way, right? Wrong, for now.

(I should preface this with: Some writers have the luxury of external support, have modified or flexible work schedules that allows them to time to dedicate to their creative projects. Day job or not doesn’t make you more or less of a writer.)

I’m a fan of suggesting writers keep a job, volunteer, or engage in other intensive hobbies for the following reasons….

Keeping your day job has many benefits:

  • Inspiration via interactions with people other than your family and settings other than your immediate location.
  • Steady income that you can rely on.
  • Routine–it’s never a bad thing to have some structure in your life. Even if that means knowing you can only squeeze in a hour or two of writing every other day.

When you quit your day job you have to get your inspiration from sitting at your writing desk all day, your income will come in crazy spurts and there will be many lows, and you suddenly have no routine and the norm becomes sleeping in and working in your PJs all day.

I’m a big proponent, if you can, to keep your day job for as long as you can. Once your writing income surpasses your day job income and you have a multi-book contract where you can plan out your income for months and years to come then it’s time to think about whether you need that day job. And many writers still keep theirs.

Getting paid in publishing looks like this:

  • Getting your advance paid in thirds (or fourths!): part on signing, part on delivery and acceptance of the manuscript and part on publication (and sometimes 3-12 months after publication). That money, on average, is divided up over the course of 1-3 years. Plus, your agent or lawyer gets some too.
  • Twice yearly royalty statements, but only once you’ve earned out that advance. Royalties go towards earning back the money paid out in advance. So sometimes books earn out and you see that money in a year or two, but sometimes they never earn out. It’s not something you can plan on unless you have a royalty-only publishing deal.
  • Foreign publishers, if you’re lucky enough to get some translation deals, don’t pay quickly. If you get a deal in Italy or Greece you’ll get paid, on average, 8-12 months later then you’re supposed to. Foreign money is always “bonus money.”

My experience with debut authors is that sometimes when they quit their day job before getting published their books start to be about the idiosyncrasy of daily life with their kids or their spouse/partner. When what we need is big idea debuts that are about more than the mundane things of daily life.

Q: Do you look forward to being able to write full-time?

Win 1 of 10 copies of THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD!

Women’s fiction and suspense readers! A giveaway is happening!

Win 1 of 10 copies of THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD from Goodreads. 

“This is a powerful thriller about buried secrets that painfully resurface, innocence lost across the generations, and the terrible price we pay for growing up and growing older.” — David Bell bestselling author of The Forgotten Girl

“Nostalgia wrestles tragedy in this haunting tale.” — Kathryn Craft author of The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy

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THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD is available 8/4 in a store near you.

A haunting story about the destructive power of secrets, this accomplished and gripping suspenseful women’s fiction debut is perfect for fans of Lisa Scottoline and Heather Gudenkauf

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her—but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. Caroline’s coming-of-age story, mirrored with Jo’s troubled teenage past, makes for an enthralling read that is impossible to put down and hard to forget.

10 Steps to Overcome Writer’s Block

writing top 10 by Brian ClarkFind yourself looking at a blank screen a lot lately? It happens to all of us. (I have to write proposals, catalog copy, and pitches too!)

So what do you do when you’re stuck? Here are some great tips for overcoming the dreaded writer’s block.

Join the club that knows how to defeat those obstacles and has learned to look forward, not back:

1. Acknowledge the feelings and try to get to the root of them: Are you nervous, anxious or unsure about your story? Are you scared that it won’t live up to reader’s expectations? Are you looking at the clock and–knowing you have limited time–watching the hands move around? If you’re truthful about your reservations you can recognize and move past them.

2. Forgive yourself a perfect draft: No one writes a clean first draft. It’s called a “Shitty First Draft” for a reason. Read some Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird is a must!) and learn that perfect doesn’t exist. Especially in art.

3. On a separate piece of paper drill down on your true intentions: What are you truly trying to say? Can you boil it down to an overview? Be clear about your goals and try to sort out a new way to tell that truth.

4. Build a new routine: No one says that the routine that’s worked for you in the past is always going to work. But forcing yourself to work is the only way you’re going to get there. Gillian Flynn, author of GONE GIRL, says: “I could not have written a novel if I hadn’t been a journalist first, because it taught me that there’s no muse that’s going to come down and bestow upon you the mood to write. You just have to do it. I’m definitely not precious.”

5. Embrace free writing or stream of consciousness: Give yourself permission to get off track, with the purpose of it getting you back on track. Learn about free writing and let your mind wander where ever it wants to go. Reignite your imagination. Write about dreams, memories or ramble off a stream of consciousness.

6. Set deadlines to get work to your agent, critique partner or writing group: Internal deadlines can work for some people, because we don’t want to let others down.

7. Write something, anything: Like free writing, Maya Angelou says: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”

8. Solve the problem in your story: Go back and see what you’re hung up on. Do you not believe yourself? Then re-write that section again until you’re happy with it and can move on.

9. Butt in chair: Many successful writers (with deadlines) believe the only way to get things done is to tell yourself that you’re going to do it. Barbara Kingsolver says: “I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done.”

10. If forcing yourself to sit at your desk doesn’t work, then take a creative break: A creative break is one where you go do something else, but keep your mind open and give ideas space. Instead of watching a movie or TV, meditate or take a walk. Don’t fill your head with someone else’s words, fill your head with your own and let the words come to through the open window of this “creative break” opportunity.

Further reading:

10 Great Writing Tips, in Quotes

85,000 Words, Written One at a Time