Writing World Newsletter Archive
Return to Newsletter Index · Home


                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 13:04          13,220 subscribers         February 21, 2013
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
details on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editors.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No material published in this newsletter may be
reprinted or posted without the consent of the author unless
otherwise noted.  Unauthorized use is a copyright infringement.


THE EDITOR'S DESK: The Secret of My Success? by Moira Allen 
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Mentors in Your Masterpiece, 
by Victoria Grossack 
FEATURE: Write Yourself a Letter, by Noelle Sterne
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Starting Again, by Dawn Copeman
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf   
you ask yourself five important questions. Stephen King and J.K.
Rowling did this, and look where they are now. Find out how to get
the writer's life you've only imagined and avoid regret. 
Get published. Get paid. Create manuscripts that are ready to
submit to editors and publishers. Learn the techniques from an
experienced professional writer - online or by mail. 
Free Writing Test offered. http://www.breakintoprint.com/W3519
* FEEDBACK. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* CONTESTS. Over 50 contests are always open and free to enter.
* FUN! Get feedback, enter writing contests, and learn.
DON'T GET SCAMMED!  Choose the right Self Publishing Company for
your book. What you need to know before choosing a self publishing
company and the questions you should ask.
WRITERSCOLLEGE.COM has over 60 online courses. Prices are low. If
you can reach our web site, you can take our courses. 

The Secret of My Success?

A couple of weeks ago, I received a flattering invitation to do a
guest post for a new blog from Dog Ear Publishing, who handles the
POD edition of my very first book.  According to the invitation, my
book, "Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet," was a "Dog Ear
Success Story!"

It's nice to be told that you're a success.  It's even nicer to
actually BE one.  The question is, how does one determine if one is
-- or is not?  More precisely, how does one determine if a
particular project -- a book, a play, a poem -- is a success?

According to Dog Ear, my book qualified as a "self-publishing
success story" because... wait for it... it sold more than 600
copies in 2012!  Wow!  In self-publishing terms, this isn't just a
success, it's a HUGE success.  While Dog Ear didn't provide any
statistics on how many of their authors have achieved this
distinction, I can guess from other research that the answer is
probably "darn few."  Authors like me make publishers like Dog Ear
blissfully happy: If I make money, they make money, and they'd love
to have me come back.

If, however, my book had been published by a traditional,
commercial publisher, and had sold a grand total of 600 copies in
2012, it would be regarded not as a success, but as a colossal
failure.  Far from making money for my publisher, I'd have cost
them a bundle, and if I were to come back with another proposal,
I'd find the door slammed in my face faster than you can say
"rejection slip."

So what does this mean?  Am I a success, or a failure?  Does it
depend simply on the definition one chooses?  It would be nice to
get touchy-feely at this point and declare that "traditional
definitions of success" or "other people's definitions of success"
don't matter, and it's up to us to determine our own measures of
success and satisfaction.  And to some extent that's true: We can
waste a lot of time jumping for marks on the wall that have been
drawn by someone else.  At the same time, it's (nearly) impossible,
in such a media-driven, celebrity-conscious society, to attempt to
form a personal concept of success that hasn't been influenced to
at least some extent by our social perceptions of what makes one

Consequently, I get numerous e-mails from would-be writers who are
convinced, for example, that their book will be the next "J.K.
Rowling" (or, in some unfortunate cases, "the next hary poter").  A
few years ago, it would have been "the next Stephen King."  And who
amongst us, as an author, wouldn't like to have at least a fraction
of Rowling's success?  (I don't say "who wouldn't want to BE
Rowling," because whenever I see her in a public appearance, her
"deer in the headlights" expression leads me to believe that some
aspects of success may not be as pleasant as the media would have
us believe.)  

At the other end of the scale is the author who is willing to say,
"I wrote the book I wanted to write, I self-published it at great
personal expense, three people have read it (one even finished it),
and at least one person besides my mother thinks its brilliant, so
I'm content."  It's nice to imagine we might achieve this degree of
zen-ness with the universe, but... well, frankly, if that WERE
enough for you, you wouldn't even be READING a newsletter that aims
to help you become more successful, now, would you?

So how can one define success?  

First, let's be clear about something: I'm talking about the
success of a PROJECT.  There's a profound difference (often ignored
by new writers to their emotional peril) between assessing the
success of a particular work, and asking the question, "Am I a

The e-mail from Dog Ear caused me to take a step back and look at
this particular project again.  Never mind whether Dog Ear
considers it a "success story" -- do I?  If so, why?  I was pleased
to discover that, in fact, I DID consider the book to be a success.
 I could spend quite a few words telling you the reasons why.  But
what came to me was one not-so-obvious factor that, to me, sums up
whether a project is "successful" beyond all other measures of
things like readership and reviews and revenues and so forth.

My book is successful because it doesn't need me anymore.

As writers, we're bombarded with advice about how we need to do
this, that and the other to promote our work, get noticed, build a
platform, and do just about everything short of sacrificing a live
blog to make a project a "success."  So it seems to me that one
very real way to measure whether a project IS a success is when we
don't need to do that anymore.  My Dog Ear book is successful
because of the work I've already invested -- and since this book
was first published more than 25 years ago, I have indeed put a lot
into it.  But today, it maintains a level of readership and revenue
that I'm happy with, without requiring my constant attention.

And that, I think, can sum up quite a lot of success stories. 
Think about it -- J.K. Rowling isn't wasting a lot of time today
flogging "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."  She doesn't have
to.  It sells itself.  Stephen King isn't setting up a Facebook
page for "The Stand."  Agatha Christie died without ever having
heard of Facebook, yet her books may well be in print for the next
millennium (if Dr. Who is to be believed).  

The day may come when my book is no longer selling 600+ copies a
year.  When that happens, I'll need to decide whether it "needs me"
once again -- or whether its time has come and gone.  That's
another thing about success: It isn't guaranteed to last forever. 
For a writer, the best form of success is often not perpetual, but
serial.  Success isn't just about making one work into a hit.  It's
also about being able to move on -- because that's the only way to
achieve the NEXT success.  However you define it!

-- Moira Allen, Editor

Oh, well, we never REALLY stop promoting, do we?  You can learn
more about Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet here:

Find out more about Dog Ear Publishing here:

(I don't have the link to the new blog yet.)
This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained.  (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here:

Over 400 editors contribute their unique news and views each year.
That's news and views to improve your chances to get published.
Monthly newsletter. Get an issue for FREE.  


INTRODUCING KBUUK, the simplest and quickest way to get your
independent ebook marketing efforts off the ground.  Create a
professional author profile page, access to professional services
such as epub formatting, cover design, and promotional support.


Mentors in Your Masterpiece

In this column we'll examine a type of character who appears in
many stories: the mentor, and the benefits and challenges of using
this archetype.  In stories -- the term is also used in business --
mentors provide advice and assistance, usually to the protagonists.

I'll draw most of my examples using Dumbledore from the Harry
Potter books, Yoda from "Star Wars," Gandalf from "The Lord of the
Rings," and the "original" mentor, whose name has morphed into this
meaning, Mentor from "The Odyssey."  Homer's Mentor is the probably
the one least well known today, so here's a brief explanation of
him (her): Mentor was actually the goddess Athena, disguised as a
mortal male, so that she could appear to Telemachus, the son of
Odysseus, and give him advice, assistance and encouragement.  

Warning: spoilers abound below!

What are the typical characteristics of mentors?  As the mentor
imparts wisdom, the mentor should be both learned and experienced. 
Often stories display evidence of learning and experience through
objects such as an immense library, experimental equipment, magical
devices, and so on.

Usually mentors are significantly older than the hero.  Sometimes
they are so old that the only way to show him is to use a wizened
puppet, such as Yoda in "Star Wars."  From my readings of the Harry
Potter books, Dumbledore's age seems to vary in the earlier volumes
(J.K. Rowling admitted in one interview she's not great with math)
but in the last volume she fixes it by attaching events in
Dumbledore's youth to a certain period.

Mentors are frequently powerful.  Both Gandalf and Dumbledore are
extremely talented wizards, while Yoda is a Jedi Knight.  Mentor of
"The Odyssey," as he is really Athena, is actually divine.  

Mentors often speak cryptically, at least from the perspective of
the hero.  This may be partly because the hero may be too young and
too naive to understand what the mentor is saying.  It may also be
true because the mentor may have so much information to convey that
it is difficult to choose which information to give first.  

Functions in Story
Mentors can have extremely important roles in your story.  They can
be instrumental in getting the hero started on his/her quest, such
as when Gandalf makes Bilbo pretend to be a thief in order to march
off with 13 dwarves on a great adventure in "The Hobbit," and then
gives Frodo an even more significant assignment in "The Lord of the

Besides imparting wisdom, background information, and setting
protagonists on quests, mentors often:

TRAIN THE HERO.  Consider the time that Luke Skywalker spends with
Yoda, learning to be a Jedi Knight.

GIVE COMFORT AND SHELTER.  In an adventure story mentors often
provide an important respite from danger and despair.  They often
also supply a hot meal, a bath, and a chance to sleep.

HELP IN TIMES OF GREAT DISTRESS. Every now and then, when it seems
that all is lost, mentors show up and slay monsters or point out
which path the hero should take.  Sometimes they do this by
actually appearing; another way they can assist is by heroes
remembering tools given to them, or words of wisdom that were
confusing when heard but which now make sense.  However, your
heroes should not be rescued by their mentors in every perilous
situation; if so, there is nothing left to admire in the hero. 

Whether or not you believe in the divine, the idea of an extremely
powerful being occasionally appearing to assist the deserving is
extremely comforting. 

Key Mentor Plot Problem
A plot issue that needs to be addressed in nearly every story with
a mentor is to show why, if the mentor is wise and powerful, s/he
is not taking up the quest her/himself.  There are nearly as many
answers to this question as there are stories.  Here are a few:

DUMBLEDORE.  Dumbledore actually does do as much of the work
himself as he can, destroying one of the Horcruxes, and spending
time training Harry Potter.  However, the series is set up with
Harry Potter as "the Chosen One" -- since Voldemort tried to kill
him -- so there is no question but that Harry has to be the one

GANDALF.  Frodo is the first bearer of the Ring to receive it
lawfully, unlike the previous owners, who mostly committed murder
or other crimes to possess it (even Bilbo took it without the
permission of the previous owner).  The circumstance of legal,
rightful acquisition means that the One Ring has less power over
Frodo than it has over previous owners.  Furthermore, Gandalf fears
the power of the One Ring, so he does not accept responsibility
himself, but does what he can to assist Frodo Baggins in the quest.

MENTOR/ATHENA.  As Athena is a goddess, she does not fear anything
from mortals, but she is concerned about the opinions of other
gods.  Poseidon, in particular, is annoyed with Odysseus for
blinding his son the Cyclops, and this limits, in part, what Athena
can do for her favorites. 

Other reasons to keep the mentor from helping too much include
being too busy; otherwise ineligible; or even lack of interest. 
You will have to figure out how exactly you are going to get your
mentors off your stage.

Death or Removal of the Mentor
Frequently the mentor either dies -- or at least appears to die, as
Gandalf does in "The Lord of the Rings." This is emotionally
devastating for the hero and often for the readers.  I remember
reading a kid's review of "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince"
and how angry and upset he was with Rowling (as well as with
Severus Snape) for killing off Dumbledore.

Yet removing the mentor can make the story.  First, it's
emotionally powerful, which is always an opportunity.  Second, the
removal of the mentor provides new challenges for the hero.  S/he
has the chance to grow, to struggle on and to learn, to persevere
when all seems bleak.  In many senses the hero cannot become an
adult while the mentor is still around; the removal/death of the
mentor is an important part of many coming-of-age stories.

Return of the Mentor
Frequently the mentor, despite being dead or gone, returns in one
form or another.  Gandalf returns in "The Lord of the Rings." 
Tolkien explains that Gandalf never actually died.  Rowling's
seventh book, "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows," is more about
Dumbledore than any other novel in that series, despite the
character's death in the sixth.  We learn about Dumbledore's
childhood via memories of his friends, family and Rita Skeeter's
biography.  We encounter him in Snape's memories, in Harry's
near-death experience, and even the portrait in the Headmaster's
office at Hogwarts.  Furthermore, the three main characters spend
chapters speculating about him.  I adore the Harry Potter books,
but while reading the last volume I could not help thinking that
for a dead wizard, Dumbledore sure talked a lot!

There are several reasons that a story may be improved by the
return of your mentor.  First, the mentor is often the source of
explanations.  Second, the main character, having gone through the
coming-of-age experience, needs to meet the mentor as an adult -- a
completion of the circle.  Third, the readers often yearn for this,
because at the end of the long struggle they want to go home.  It
is emotionally satisfying to sit down and chat with the mentor,
especially in books for children as the Harry Potter series.

Nevertheless, some authors resist resurrecting the dead, and turn
instead to other ways to evoke the aura of the mentor.  Perhaps
there is a letter or a message.  Perhaps the mentor appears in a
dream or a hallucination.  Perhaps the hero takes over the duties
of the mentor and lives now in his home.  Perhaps the hero simply
stares at an old photograph and considers what he would tell him if
he could.

Wisdom of the Mentor
The mentor is frequently supposed to be extremely wise.  This means
that we, as authors, are challenged to be as wise, because we have
to give our mentors words to say that that can pass for proverbs. 
Here are some recent classics:

Yoda: "Do, or do not!  There is no try."

Dumbledore: "It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far
more than our abilities."

Gandalf: "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve
life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out
death in judgment." 

Aspiring to such pearls may be daunting, but I think we should try!
(Unlike Yoda, I respect those who make an effort -- for if you
never try, you will never do.  Besides, writers can edit.)   A few
good phrases -- hopefully great ones -- may turn your work into a
masterpiece, into a story that resonates with your readers long
after they have stopped turning the pages.  

Metaphors be with you!  Until next time.


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English
Literature at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and
articles in publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I
Love Cats. She teaches a variety of writing classes at 
http://www.coffeehouseforwriters.com/courses.html.  Victoria
Grossack is the co-author of the Tapestry of Bronze series
(Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes; Arrow of
Artemis) based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. 
Besides all this, Victoria is married with kids, and (though
American) spends most of her time in Europe.  Her hobbies include
gardening, hiking and bird-watching.  Visit her website at 
http://www.tapestryofbronze.com, or contact her at tapestry (at)
tapestryofbronze (dot) com.   

Copyright 2013 Victoria Grossack

This article may not be reprinted without the written permission of
the author.

Link to this article here:

your story's foundation, create enthralling characters, make the 
most of setting, and craft the most important elements of a tale 
to create marketable stories and novels.  This hands-on online 
workshop runs March 1-25 and has limited enrollment, so sign up 
NOW! Free story critique! Details at http://tinyurl.com/bfrvb75



Lawsuit Filed to Place Sherlock Holmes in Public Domain
Author Leslie Klinger has filed a lawsuit requesting that Arthur
Conan Doyle's detective creations, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor
Watson, be placed in public domain.  The author claims that as over
fifty stories featuring the famous detective are in the public
domain already, so should be the detective and his biographer.  For
more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/WWorldholmes

Maryland Claims Copyright on School Essays
Apparently the State of Maryland is trying to claim copyright on
all things created by students or teachers within schools: artwork,
essays, computer programs etc. For more on this frankly bizarre
story visit: http://tinyurl.com/Mlandcopy

US Bookstore Sales Fell in 2012
Figures from the US Census Bureau showed that sales of books from
bookstores fell by 0.5% in 2012 to $15.21 billion. This was the
lowest reduction in recent years, which could be interpreted as a
sign that bookstore sales might be stabilizing.  For more on this
story visit: http://tinyurl.com/bookstoresales


WRITING A MYSTERY OR CRIME STORY? Forensic Science for Writers: A
Reference Guide can help. Based on a long-running course offered
in colleges and universities, this survey shows you how to create
believable plot twists and enhance your stories with realistic
forensic details.  Available from Amazon and other bookstores.
For details visit http://forensics4writers.com/the-book


Writing Jobs and Opportunities
30 Days to Sanity Stories
Do you have heart-warming, insightful and powerfully moving stories
about how to stay sane in this chaotic 24/7 world?  A co-author of
the New York Times Best-selling book series Chicken Soup for the
Soul is currently seeking stories to be included in 30 Days to
Sanity, an online stress/resiliency program. Now you have an
opportunity to contribute to this new online program by sharing
your strength, insights, knowledge and wisdom.

What makes a good 30 Days to Sanity story?
A Sanity Story is an inspirational, true story that opens the heart
and re-kindles the spirit.  It is the personal account of an event,
an obstacle overcome, a strategy to remain sane, or a lesson
learned that helps the reader discover basic principles they can
use in their own lives.

Some of the topics we will include are: Getting to Know Yourself,
Your Needs and Your Dreams, Getting Your Priorities Straight,
Learning to Listen to Your Heart, Discovering Your Passion, Setting
Aside Time Just For You, Balancing Work and Family, Building a
Soulful Community, Learning to Love Your Body, Taking a
Mini-Vacation or Playcation, Setting Limits Both at Work and at
Home, Putting Technology to Work for You, Making a Meaningful
Contribution to the World, Growing From the Bumps in Your Life,
Making Technology Free Times to Truly Connect, Creating a Space
Just For You, Making Sacred Time for Your Family, Eliminating Time
Wasters and Energy Suckers, Managing Technology, Banishing Your
Guilt, Celebrating Your Gifts and Strengths, Expressing 
Appreciation to a Friend or Loved One, Asking for Help or 
Support, Discovering an Attitude of Gratitude, Using Life 
as Your Teacher, Cultivating Compassion or humorous stories 
about funny things you've done while stressed.

What we're looking for are "teaching tales" that inspire the reader
to draw their own conclusions and insights from the story itself. 
We are looking for real-life anecdotes that are instructive--a
personal wake-up call that is enlightening.  No preaching or
philosophizing, no fables, just good old fashion storytelling that
is based on true experiences.

If you have a great story and would like to be included in 30 Days
to Sanity, please send your stories to: 30 Days to Sanity at Box
31453, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1453 (please keep copies as we are
unable to return submissions). Or e-mail stories to Stephanie 'at'
30daystosanity.com The maximum word count is 1200 words.  For each
story selected for the program a permission fee of $100 will be
offered for one-time rights.  There are no limits on the number of
submissions. Stories must be received no later than May 1, 2013.

Women, Work, and the Web: 
How the Web Creates Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Book Publisher: Scarecrow Press

Seeking chapters of unpublished work from writers in the United 
States and Canada for an anthology. We are interested in such
topics as: Women Founding Companies Existing Only on the Web; 
Women Working on the Web With Young Children or Physical 
Disabilities; Woman's Studies Resources and Curriculum 
Development Webmasters; Women as Founding Editors of 
Webzines and Blogs; Surveys/Interviews of Women on the Web.

Chapters of 3,000-4,000 words (up to 3 co-authors) on how the 
Internet has opened doors, leveled the playing field and provided
new opportunities for women, are all welcome. Practical,
how-to-do-it, anecdotal and innovative writing based on experience.

We are interested in communicating how women make money on the Web,
further their careers and the status of women. One complimentary 
copy per chapter, discount on additional orders.

Please e-mail two chapter topics each described in two sentences by 
March 28, 2013, along with a brief bio to smallwood'at' tm.net 
Please place INTERNET/Last Name on the subject line; if
co-authored, paste bio sketches for each author.

Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers
Book Publisher: Scarecrow Press

An anthology of unpublished 3,000-4,000 word chapters by
successful, retired writers from the U.S. and Canada 
(up to 3 co-authors) previously following other careers 
than writing.  Looking for topics such as: Business Aspects 
of Writing, Writing as a New Career, Networking, Using Life 
Experience, Finding Your Niche, Getting Published, Following 
Dreams Put on Hold, Privacy and Legal Issues, Working With 
Editors, Time Management. With living longer, early retirement, 
popularity of memoir writing, this is a how-to for baby boomers 
who now have time to write. Compensation: one complimentary
copy per chapter, discount on additional copies.

Please e-mail two chapter topics each described in two sentences by 
March 28, 2013 with brief pasted bio to smallwood 'at' tm.net
placing RETIREMENT/Last Name on the subject line. If co-authored,
pasted bios for each.



Enroll FREE in a 14-part 'mini course' in short-story writing
success. This highly acclaimed Writers' Village 'Master Class'
shows you how to get published - profitably - and win cash prizes
in fiction contests. Discover how to open a chapter with 'wow'
impact, add new energy to a scene, build a character in moments,
sustain page-turning suspense even through long passages of
exposition... plus 97 additional powerful ideas you can use at
once. Enjoy the course without charge now at:


FEATURE: Disheartened And Dragging? Write Yourself a Letter

By Noelle Sterne 
When I scanned the mail the other day, one letter caught my eye. I
couldn't quite place the handwriting and tore open the letter. To
my shock, I saw I'd written it to myself.  

Maybe I should have recognized my own handwriting, but it was like
seeing yourself reflected in a window. Even though certain aspects
look familiar, most of us don't have a clear picture of what we
look like or write like.  
Three weeks earlier, a particularly important writing project had
been rejected. After I poured out my despondency to a friend, she
suggested I write a letter to myself extolling my virtues and mail
it without a second glance or draft. Desperate, I followed her

Now when I saw the letter, I remembered writing and mailing it. But
the mind is a marvelous, perverse organ, often defying logic. And
writer and reader are two different creatures. Now, as intended
reader, I felt I was looking at the letter for the first time. 
In the past, I'd occasionally fed myself words of praise, but they
always got towed under by the persistent waves of doubt and whipped
by the accusing winds of audacity. Only now, seeing the scrawled
self-acclaiming phrases, did I begin to believe them and,
amazingly, felt uplifted.  
Writing yourself a letter isn't a new antidote in the writer's
self-help bag of tonics for depression, futility, blocks,
purpose-clarifying, or other occupational ills. The letter can be
used by any creative individual to support, encourage, and affirm.
In The Artist's Way, my favorite book for "creatives," as Julia
Cameron calls us, in one of her weekly tasks, she assigns such a
letter. Anticipating objections, she says that writing and mailing
a letter to yourself "sounds silly" but, as I discovered, "feels
very, very good to receive." 

Why Bother?
"Jeez," you're saying, "With all I have to do, I can hardly squeeze
in some real time for my writing, painting, music, dance, pottery .
. . . Why should I fool with a letter to myself?"        

Here are only a few reasons:

1. It makes you write about your blocks. If you've been having
trouble, the letter pushes you, not unpleasantly, to get the flow,
or the brushes, going. 

2. You can scold yourself or spill out your frustrations and
betrayed hopes without suffering through anyone else's
well-meaning, superior advice.
3. It nudges you to face your unproductive behavior and
self-indulgent attitudes -- procrastination, failure to stick to a
creating schedule, yielding to childish grief that you're not in a
gallery or command huge sums for your paintings, even though you've
done nowhere near enough work to get so much as a sketch taped to a
4. With your soul clean and confessed, in the letter you can now
commit, or recommit, to correction and new action. 
5. Without inviting the muffled giggles or outright scorn of
friends and family, you can enunciate on paper exactly what you
want -- the well-worn but still precious ideal day/life. 
6. When you describe your perfect day on paper, you're visualizing
your ideal creating time and activities and affirming that you do
indeed deserve them.

What Should You Tell Yourself in the Letter?    
You've probably already thought of several things. Cameron suggests
two. Your adult self can address "your inner artist" about the
dreams you want to make real. Or you can write as a best friend
suggesting "a few simple changes" in your life toward achieving
your dream.  You know them: solid regular gym sessions, more (or
less) sleep, tactful withdrawal from a friend who calls five times
a day or the committee sucking all your energy, cooking fewer
gourmet meals (your family/relatives/friends will still like you),
or other adjustments that give you more time, creative space, and
focus for the work your heart cries out to do.

You can also address yourself as if you're 90 looking back. Or
write your letter as an "artist's prayer," as Cameron does in a
powerful poem.  Or write out unabashed declarations of your
artistic pluses and successes. How often do we really acknowledge
ourselves for accomplishments, even those as small as setting up
our easel or buying a new piece of software to track our

So, the purpose of the letter to yourself is to make you feel
better, remind you of your all-important life vision, and conquer
those teeming demons of self-doubt. The letter bolsters, motivates,
heartens, inspires, and chides you into more work, better work, and
more consistent and daring work.  

What Others Have Told Themselves 
Many types of letters to yourself will work. I asked a small
writers' group to write to themselves. To help you to your own
letters and learnings, here, with permission, are excerpts that
apply to any of us creatives.  

One author wrote to himself from a simulated advanced age: "Don't
make the daily excuses. They add up to a wasted life. Don't do what
I did and live each day only to get through it and for creature
comforts. You still have time. Your yearnings to create won't
disappear, nor will your gifts. They're waiting patiently for you
and, with the least encouragement, will rush to express. Take hold
and don't lose your dream."
Another writer instructed herself in the need for balance and
self-nurturing: "Listen to music again. Read the books you like.
Instead of stupid television flipping, you know how fulfilling a
symphony or well-written paragraph can be. Take a course. Get
outside and enjoy the air. Go play with your husband. Sit in a
field and write. Breathe."

A third underscored visualization of the ideal life: "Keep
dreaming. Dream that you can be and are what you want to be. Dream
you're writing exactly what you want to NOW, and keep returning to
this dream. Eventually it will become what you are."

A fourth cheered on: "You're on the right path. Keep seeing your
path with passion and purpose. Whatever writing you're doing, do it
wholly. Whether you judge it 'creative' or not, you're developing
and enriching your gift. Believe in it and yourself to do it."

Your Turn 
Go on -- give yourself this gift. Take about a half hour, settle
into a spot you love, and begin. Once you finish, fold the letter
into an envelope (somehow e-mail isn't as powerful), and mail it. 
When, in a few days, you quizzically peer at the dimly familiar
handwriting on the envelope, as I did, and then open and read your
letter, I guarantee you'll be astonished. You'll also be bolstered
and buoyed, moved and humbled. Your creative fires will flare and
fuel your dedication. You'll fashion a schedule for your current
project and stick to it. And, more than ever before, you'll accept
and value the person who wrote that letter. 

Copyright 2013 Noelle Sterne

Author, editor, ghostwriter, writing coach, and spiritual
counselor, Noelle has published over 250 published fiction and
nonfiction pieces in print and online venues. She has contributed many guest
blogs and writes a column in Coffeehouse for Writers, "Bloom
Where You're Writing." With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for
over 28 years Noelle has guided doctoral candidates to completion
of their dissertations. Based on this work, her latest
project-in-progress is a practical-psychological-spiritual
handbook, Grad U: Complete Your Dissertation -- Finally -- and Ease the Trip for
Yourself and Everyone Who Has to Live With You. In her current
book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams
(Unity Books), Noelle draws examples from her practice and other aspects
of life to help writers and others release regrets, relabel their
past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. Visit Noelle at 

Link to this article here: 
For more advice on breaking writing blocks and recharging your
writing battery read:  
http://www.writing-world.com/life/blues.shtml and 


ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL!  To celebrate the anniversary of "Freelance
Fee Setting: A Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price NOW,"
the Kindle edition is priced at just 99 cents throughout the month of
February!  Hurry - this offer is only available for Kindle and is
only good through February 28!  Order now at http://tinyurl.com/86qfupw.


The Inquiring Writer: Starting Again
By Dawn Copeman

Last month our question came from Alex, who wrote: "I used to be a
freelance writer; that is to say I wrote in my spare time and
enjoyed moderate success submitting articles to magazines on health
and cookery.  However, for one reason or another -- work, family,
moving -- I have been out of touch with writing for the past 7
years and now I want to get back into it again.  I find, however,
that the writing world has moved on incredibly and I now feel quite
a dinosaur.  Even some of the terminology has changed!  I don't
even know where to begin these days -- traditional mail based
queries?  Do I need an online portfolio? All my clips are paper
based and old -- will that count against me?  Should I just start
again from scratch or build on what I've already done?  Any help
from people who've returned to writing or editors gratefully

Paul thinks that "Starting again has got to be easier than starting
from scratch. You at least have clips this time.  You can prove to
editors that you can deliver. You don't need to worry about social
media, twitter feeds etc. to be a freelance writer; the only thing
that is important is whether or not you can write. You can, so get
back out there."

Sam advises Alex to "Get a website. Scan your magazine articles and
put them up on your site.  Refer editors to your website so that
they can see your clips.  This also shows that you are aware of the
modern way of doing things."

"I can sympathise with Alex," e-mailed Sunita. "When I started out
I was published online and in magazines.  In some ways, I think
being published quite early on in my career actually harmed me.  I
began to fear that I wasn't good enough and would be 'found out' as
a fraud and not a real writer at all. 

"This fear stopped me from submitting queries to editors, even
those with whom I'd built up a relationship.  I withdrew, instead,
into the world of the content mills.  No-one knew my name.  The pay
was less, but the work was constant and I didn't have to query to
get it. 

"I thought this would help, but it didn't.  Instead I found that
the fear has got worse. I found myself worrying about being
rejected by the content mills and so ended up taking lower- and
lower-paid jobs as I didn't believe in myself as a writer anymore.

"Things came to a head for me last year.  With SEO work drying up
due to the changes in Google the amount of work available through
content mills was drying up too and what was on offer was at such
low rates of pay it wasn't worth the effort.  At around the same
time I caught up with an old neighbour who had moved away.  He
asked me about my writing and said how much he'd enjoyed my old
column in the local paper. 

"He was truly baffled as to why I wasn't writing it anymore.  He
told me to go back and re-read all my work and see how good a
writer I was.  I did.  I spent several days re-reading my stuff and
then plucked up the courage to start querying again. 

"Having been out of the 'game' for five years, I feared that I'd
left it too late to get back in -- but I realised, eventually, that
good writing tells.  I scanned my magazine clips into my computer. 
I got a simple Word Press blog put my clips on there. 

"I bought a copy of Writers Market, subscribed again to Writers
Weekly and started querying again.  Terminology changes, but topics
don't and neither does the ability to write well.  I have now been
published in a few magazines and on websites and am hopeful to have
a column in the next few weeks.  I would advise Alex, to dust off
her clips, believe in herself and start querying again."

Wow. Thanks for sharing, Sunita and thanks for the good advice.   

Now onto this month's question from Jaime, which could also prove
useful to Alex. Jaime wrote: "I've come to realise that I need a
website.  I know it will be easier to refer editors to a site with
all my clips, but I don't have a lot of money, only basic IT skills
and have no idea as to how to set up a site where I can showcase my
online and offline clips in one place. Does anyone have any ideas
to help me?"

If you can help Jaime, or if you have a question you would like to
put to our Writing-World community, send me an email with the
subject line "Inquiring Writer" to editorial 'at' writing-world.com

Until next time, 



Copyright Dawn Copeman 2013  
Dawn Copeman is a UK-based freelance writer, copywriter and
ghost-writer who has published over 300 articles on the topics of
travel, cookery, history, health and writing. An experienced
commercial freelancer, Dawn contributed several chapters on
commercial writing to Moira Allen's Starting Your Career as a
Freelance Writer (2nd Edition). She edits the Writing World
newsletter and can be contacted at editorial "at" writing-world.com
and at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dawncopeman
This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained.  


SERIOUS ABOUT WRITING? Join the National Association of Independent
Writers and Editors, the professional association with a
career-building difference. We partner with you to create a
strategic online presence with genuine credibility. You get a free
NAIWE-linked website (and more) so you'll be where people come to
find writers. Join us today at http://naiwe.com!


A publishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.


If you want some down to earth advice on writing songs, then this
could be the site for you. Song writing workouts, a free eBook and
links to other recommended sites for songwriters. 

This site is for anyone who wants to learn how to write a British
sitcom.  It has articles, interviews, hints and tips and a

A similar site for American humor writers, humorwriters.org also
has articles, interviews, tips and a newsletter. 


To Win" features over 1600 contest listings for writers worldwide. 
The current edition has more than 450 NEW listings.  You won't find
a more comprehensive guide to writing contests anywhere.  Available 
in print and Kindle editions.
Print: https://www.createspace.com/3778183
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B007C98OUA/peregrine

This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 
For a guide to nearly 1600 writing contests throughout the 
world, see Moira Allen's book, "Writing to Win: The Colossal 
Guide to Writing Contests"
DEADLINE: April 1, 2013
GENRE: Poetry
DETAILS:  We seek today's best humor poems.
PRIZE: $1000 and publication on winning-writers.com. Ten runners-up
prizes of $100
URL:  http://tinyurl.com/Wflomp

DEADLINE:  April 15, 2013
GENRE:  Short Stories, 
DETAILS:  "Oz Fiction" is defined as any story about or pertaining
to the Land of Oz as originally created by author L. Frank Baum in
the book 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' and its sequels, but entries
need not be confined to Baum's vision. Submissions about or
pertaining to the Land of Oz in any of its forms will be accepted.
Stories may follow on from Oz books, Oz plays, Oz movies, Magic
Land, or any other fictional version of Oz. 10,000 words maximum.
PRIZE:  $100, $50
URL: http://tinyurl.com/Ozfiction

DEADLINE: April 15, 2013
GENRE:   Nonfiction
DETAILS:  "Oz Nonfiction" is defined as any essay or article about
or pertaining to the Land of Oz as originally created by author L.
Frank Baum in the book 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' and its
sequels, but entries need not be confined to Baum's vision.
Submissions about or pertaining to the Land of Oz in any of its
forms will be accepted. Essays and articles may follow on from Oz
books, Oz plays, Oz movies, Magic Land, or any other fictional
version of Oz. 10,000 words maximum.
PRIZE:  $100, $50
URL:  http://tinyurl.com/Ozfiction
DEADLINE: April 15, 2013
GENRE: Nonfiction
OPEN TO: Student Authors: Currently enrolled undergraduate and
graduate students, students who have graduated within the past
year, and students currently on leave from school are eligible.
DETAILS: 1,000-2,000 words Travel essay.  Think about what you were
looking for when you were planning to study, travel, work, or live
abroad as a student.
PRIZES:  $500, $150, $100 and $50
URL: http://tinyurl.com/SNFTravel

DEADLINE: April 30, 2013
GENRE:  Poetry
DETAILS:  The Tapestry of Bronze is sponsoring a series of
international poetry contests to celebrate Greek and Roman
mythology and the Olympian gods. The subject of the current contest
is Hephaestus (also known as Vulcan), the God of the Forge. 30
lines max.  There are two age ranges under 18 and adult.
PRIZE:  $50 in each category
URL:  http://www.tapestryofbronze.com/OdeForm.html

DEADLINE: May 31, 2013
GENRE: Short Stories and Nonfiction
DETAILS:  "200-500 words of readable, well-written, even beautiful
writing."  You can enter more than once, but only the first entry
is free. 
PRIZES:  $200, $100, $50 and publication in The Vocabula Review.
URL: http://www.vocabula.com/popupads/VRWritingContest.asp

AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

The Cosmic Machiavelli, by Thejendra B.S.

Jewels of the Sky, by Catherine McLean

Meg the Egg, by Rita Antoinette Borg

Find these and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know: 
just click on the link below to list your book.


on how to reach more than 140,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Readers are welcome to forward this newsletter by e-mail IN ITS
ENTIRETY.  This newsletter may not be reposted or republished in
any form, online or in print, nor may individual articles be 
published or posted without the written permission of the author
unless otherwise indicated.

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com) 

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2013 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor