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

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 15:06           13,371 subscribers          March 19, 2015
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     To Quit or Not to Quit, Part I
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION, by Victoria Grossack     
     Writing in Pairs
     Design Time
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To Quit or Not to Quit?  Part I...

In the previous issue, we ran a question from Shiela J. about
"giving up."  The question has drawn a large response, which I'll
summarize in our next issue.  For this issue, I'll offer my own
thoughts on the question, which is reprinted below:

I have a question for your readership that may seem a bit
depressing, but is rarely asked in the writing community - at what
point should an author give up writing?  

I can hear gasps and immediate response of 'never,' but let me
elaborate a bit.  I make a living as a professional nonfiction
writer.  But what I LOVE writing is fiction - adult and children's
stories, poetry, even a novel that earned a bit of local media play
and good reviews. Yet, despite a social media presence, website,
and word of mouth, it's almost impossible to reach a wide net of
readers (unless your book happens to be a soft porn phenomenon and
gets mainstream media attention that leads to a movie deal).
Yes, authors can keep on writing because they have a passion for
it, but when does it become an exercise in futility?

Should you quit?  Should you give it all up as an "exercise in
futility"?  Should you abandon the field to the soft porn writers
of the world?  The obvious answer to that, of course, is that no
one CAN answer that question but you.  But before you do -- before
you try to find a "yes or no" to the question of quitting -- let me
pose an alternative.

Instead of quitting, consider CHANGING.

If writing is no longer bringing you joy, and the process of
striving for success seems futile, something is clearly going
"wrong" in your writing life.  It may not be your writing itself
(though that's always a possibility) -- but something needs to

It may be that your expectations need to change.  Few things are
more frustrating than having expectations that are not being met,
or that cannot be met.  Ask yourself what, exactly, you expect to
achieve as a writer -- and then ask whether, at this time, you are
on a path that can lead you to that desired achievement.  The
answer may not actually be "no" -- the answer may be "not just now"
or "not yet."  

It may be that you need to re-evaluate your timetable for success. 
You may feel that the success of your dreams should have happened
already -- but, clearly, it has not.  Does that mean it never will?
 If nothing else changes, then -- possibly not.  The only real data
point that you have, however, is simply that you're not there YET. 
And that means that the only real QUESTION ahead of you is -- where
will you go in the future?  

It may be that you need to change your priorities.  You mention
that you earn a living as a nonfiction writer, but what you "love"
is fiction.  That line suggests that you don't, in fact, love the
work you are doing as a nonfiction writer.  However, if that's what
is paying the bills, chances are that nonfiction writing is
consuming a sizeable portion of your time.  

However, "writing for a living" consumes more than time.  It
consumes energy -- specifically, that part of your energy that is
used in the writing process.  When your work is done, I'm betting
that you often find that you have little time, energy or enthusiasm
left over for the writing you "love" -- and the writing you love,
most likely, always has to take second place to the writing that
pays the bills.  

It's hard to make a success out of something that doesn't have top
priority in one's life.  It's also hard to make something "top
priority" when it doesn't pay the bills.  Sometimes, there's just
no quick way out of that trap; the "writing you love" has to wait
until other things change in your life.  But it's worth examining
ways that you can shift the writing you love to the writing that
gets top priority in your life -- even if that means finding some
other type of job (specifically, NOT writing) to pay those bills.  

It may be that you need to change your use of "non-writing" time. 
You mention having a social media presence.  This often means that
one is investing a huge amount of time and effort into PROMOTING
rather than WRITING.  I realize conventional wisdom these days
insists that you simply MUST focus on "connecting" with your
readers -- but the reality is that you won't have readers to
connect WITH if you're not WRITING for those readers.  Speaking for
myself, I'd much rather have a new book from my favorite author
than a Tweet or Facebook post! If Facebook isn't fun, and writing
is... then ditch Facebook and write!

It may be that you need to change WHAT you are writing.  If you've
been focusing on adult fiction, consider a switch to YA or even
children's fiction.  If you've been writing short fiction, consider
another novel.  Experiment with some different forms and styles. 
Consider putting aside every idea you've been "planning" to write
about, and give yourself time to discover something completely new
and different.  It can be hard to get excited about ideas that
you've been "meaning" to write about for years; sometimes it takes
something that is utterly outside your "usual" type of work to
spark fresh excitement.

And, finally, it may be that you need to change HOW you write --
i.e., you may need to improve.  It might be that you could benefit
from a class, or a critique group, or a book.  Writing is always a
matter of walking that tightrope between "I am a good writer" and
"I can become a better one."  

Will making changes like these ensure that, one day, your book will
be raking in six figures and movie deals?  Of course not.  But the
one change you can make that will absolutely guarantee that WON'T
happen is this...

You can quit.

Copyright 2015 Moira Allen

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:

How Do You Define Success? - Moira Allen

Fireworks or a Working Fire?  (Or, Bestsellerdom vs. Longsellerdom)
- Moira Allen

THE MARCH ISSUE OF VICTORIAN TIMES is now online! Meet a dog
orchestra, take a peek at fashions from the early 19th century,
visit an Anglo-Californian ranch, read the childhood memories of
children's author E. Nesbit, explore Victorian crewel patterns, and
meet a turtle named Douglas.  Plus, of course, recipes, history,
folklore, household hints and much more!
Visit http://www.VictorianVoices.net/VT/issues/VT-1503.shtml to
download the free electronic edition or access the print edition.

Stop struggling to come up with a fantastic title for your book 
STORY TITLES. Make your title stand out, determine genre specifics, 
learn what to avoid, and much, much more. Available at:  


Kids Love to Be Read To
Amongst the many interesting findings of Scholastic's survey, in
conjunction with YouGuv, on family attitudes and behaviours
relating to reading for fun was the discovery that older kids like
to be read to as well!  While 54% of kids age 0-5 are being read to
at home, that number declines to 34% for kids ages 6-8, and 17% in
kids ages 9-11.  Yet 40% of kids in the 6-11 age range (and 83%
across all age ranges) say that they wish their parents would
continue reading to them.  Many found that this was a special time
of interaction with parents.  So, parents, don't stop!  For more on
this survey, visit 

PubSlush Funds NaNoWriMo
The PubSlush Foundation, "a global pre-publication platform that
offers crowd-funding and pre-order options for authors and
publishers," has awarded a $10,000 grant to NaNoWriMo (National
Novel Writing Month).  The purpose of the award is to fund "future
literacy initiatives," including the Young Writers Program.  It has
also partnered with NaNoWriMo to promote its crowd-funding program
to NaNoWriMo participants. For more information, visit 

CleanReader "Sanitizes" Books
Wish that e-book didn't have so many instances of the "f-word"?  Of
course... There's an app for that.  Clean Reader is a free app that
enables you to choose how "cleaned up" you'd like a book to be. 
Apparently you have to actually buy the e-book from the Clean
Reader store (so much for "free") -- but once you do, you can then
specify whether you'd like it to be as is ("Off"), "Clean,"
"Cleaner," or "Squeaky Clean."  The app is designed to obscure
various profanities or obscenities, as well as "racy" anatomical
terms, "different names for deity," and racial slurs.  The app
currently expurgates some 100 words and phrases, with more being
added.  Find out more at http://tinyurl.com/lnh9by4

Cervantes' Tomb Found?
Forensic scientists in Spain believe that they may have located the
long-lost tomb of Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote." 
Cervantes was recorded as having been buried in 1616 in Madrid's
Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, along with his wife and
several others.  The coffin was moved in the 17th century when the
convent was rebuilt, and subsequently lost track of.  Now, a team
using infrared cameras, 3D scanners and ground-penetrating radar
located a burial site in a forgotten crypt.  In one of the 33
niches in the crypt were found a collection of bones matching the
description of the group of burials that included Cervantes.  The
remains are in such a bad state of preservation that, at present,
it is impossible to separate the bones that might be those of
Cervantes from the others, though researchers hope that DNA testing
may make this possible in the future.  For more on this story,
visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31852032

WritingCareer.com is a free online resource to find paying markets
for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report
on current needs of editors and publishers who are open for
submissions, pay competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees.

by Victoria Grossack


You've just finished the draft of your chapter.  Now you have to
put it away for at least a week, because only then will you be
ready to revise.  But you're bursting with impatience.  Wouldn't it
be wonderful if a helpful elf would come along to keep working on
it?  Some creative spirit who cares about the story as much as you

If you have a writing partner, this can happen! 

As the saying goes: "Two heads are better than one."  But there's
another, just as true: "Too many cooks spoil the broth."  What
makes the difference between bad soup and good writing?  I have
thought about this long and hard over the years, because, as most
readers of this column know, I frequently collaborate with Alice
Underwood, especially on our Tapestry of Bronze series. 

Ingredients for Successful Collaboration
RESPECT.  This is the primary ingredient in any good working
relationship.  If you don't have mutual regard for each other's
abilities and personalities, then you have no business
collaborating.  Constructive criticism is one hallmark of respect. 
I look forward to reading my partner's next draft; while I may find
ways to enhance it, I'm sure it will be interesting.  When she
balks at something I've written, I try to understand her
objections.  I know she's a smart cookie, so I had better take her
comments seriously!  If my partner's work needs improvement, I
point it out tactfully.  After all, in the next scene I write, I
may commit some basic error -- I want correction but I don't want
her to come charging at me. 

Respect, however, needs to be balanced with honesty.  One of the
things we have learned to do is to speak up when we feel that
something isn't working.  On a recent project, Alice was unhappy
with the title, and rejected several versions until we came up with
one that worked.  We both insisted on changes to scenes that the
other had written, and in some cases it took serious persuasion. 
Occasionally we go to a third party for an opinion, making sure we
put the case as objectively as possible.  We do this because we
both want our novels to be the best they can be -- we don't want
our egos to get in the way.
On the other hand, I make sure to praise Alice for sections that
she has done particularly well, and she returns the compliment. 

TRUST Ė IN WRITING.  Trust in your co-author's integrity is key,
but it also makes sense to put your agreement in writing.  Alice
and I have had more glory than money, but we are careful about
making sure that we're both mentioned in contracts, particularly
with agents and publishers. 

MUTUAL COMMITMENT.  When we consider actual assignments, we
evaluate the work we're thinking about taking on.  This is
especially important with a long-term project.  We ask ourselves if
we're both ready to commit the required time and effort.  Do we
each have something to contribute?  Do we share a similar level of
excitement and enthusiasm?  This is something that each partner has
to consider, because it is not fair to the other to start a project
and not to see it through.

METHOD MATTERS.  Once we take on a major project, Alice and I take
a methodical approach.  We usually start with one or more general
discussions, after which we separate to mull things over privately.
 One of us then drafts an outline.  Sometimes we ship this back and
forth several times.  We then confer again, work out a few more
details, and divide the labor.  With the basic structure in place,
we wiggle our fingers and get to work.  As one of us finishes a
section, she sends it to the other.  The recipient makes detailed
comments and revises as needed and passes the section back.  When
we get to the final draft, we review everything word by word. 

We have also worked out our own way to keep things from becoming
confused. There's a version number at the end of the file.  If one
of us has a comment or a question for the other on a particular
passage, we sometimes offset it in the file by using double
parentheses ((like this)), often prefacing detailed comments with
either "V" (for Victoria) or "A" for (Alice).  We also use the
tracking comment feature in Word.

Having a good writing partner is great, but not everything always
works out.  Here are some potential problems or issues and some
suggestions on how to deal with them.

THE STORY IS NOT YOURS.  In the end, the voice of the story belongs
to neither of us.  Alice prefers certain words and has certain
patterns in her sentences that are not mine.  I am sure she feels
the same way about my words and my sentence patterns.  It is
peculiar to work long and hard on something and yet not have it be
completely my own.  On the other hand, in our case at least, the
novel is usually much better than either of us could manage on our

SERIOUS ARTISTIC DISAGREEMENTS.  Alice and I were stuck, for
months, on something fundamental to "Antigone & Creon: Guardians of
Thebes."  We were in agreement on one of our first scenes, in which
Antigone was being walled up in a cave to die -- told from her
point of view, and a simply horrifying passage as she says good-bye
to sunshine -- but we were divided on how to continue.  I wanted
the other characters to talk to her, through the wall.  After all,
Antigone is one of the main characters and so it seemed wrong to
ignore her for most of the book.  Alice thought that Creon would
never tolerate people hanging around in front of his niece's tomb,
and would send his soldiers to haul off anyone behaving so

We were at an impasse.  We recognized the validity of each other's
arguments, but stubbornly clung to our own positions.  I finally
remembered something that the local archaeological director had
shown me when I visited Thebes, Greece: something that allowed us
to hide those conversing with Antigone yet still permit those
conversations to happen.  Recalling this genuine feature of Thebes
-- I only wonder why it took me so long to remember it -- not only
made the story possible, but made it a lot better.

So, one solution to a serious artistic disagreement is to keep
searching for another option.  A second solution is to offer to
write a draft of a scene with the proviso that you realize that the
scene may get cut.  A third solution is to yield.  When you write
with another person, you may not always get what you want.

WEAKNESSES MAY REMAIN WEAK.  Description is not my forte, but for
years all I had to do was include the phrase "add some description"
in a passage and it would magically appear.  Recently I started
tackling some solo fiction projects -- Alice and I share many
interests, but we don't overlap on everything -- and I had a rude
awakening when I was forced to assess my own descriptive ability.

acquaintances who have hinted, over the years, that they would like
to collaborate with me on something.  Usually I think that these
co-author wannabes are not right for me.  I may have little
interest in the project that they are suggesting.  I may think that
they are simply not good enough writers.  I may -- ahem! -- not
even like them enough to want to work with them on something long. 
Writing with someone else is an oddly intimate activity; sometimes
I feel as if Alice and I share the same brain.

strike you as a good potential co-author, you're going to have to
learn how to write with that person.  Alice and I had collaborated
on other projects quite successfully together before we attempted
"Jocasta," including a project related to our profession, and then
several smaller non-fiction pieces.  But when she suggested that we
attempt "Jocasta" together I was initially skeptical, and we had a
lot to figure out. 

writing partner quits, then you can take over the project if you
have the interest, the ability and the energy.  However, you should
document the fact that the other person has quit and has given up
rights to it.

It is trickier if you reach the end of a project and one has done
far more work than the other.  What should you do?  My
recommendation is that you talk it out.  If one person is doing far
less, but still contributing, you can compromise by giving the
partner who has worked harder on a project more of the proceeds. 
For example, instead of splitting royalties 50-50, you can opt to
share them 60-40.

Having another person sharing your joy and frustration is also
wonderful.  With many people, I don't talk about my writing; I know
I'm imposing.  But Alice understands how I feel when we get a good
review, or when the agent calls with good news, or when we have to
wait because a manuscript is out there and we can do nothing but
wait.  More importantly, she can also enter the same imaginary
world with me, for she knows the characters as well as I do. 


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
such publications as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
She is the author of Crafting Fabulous Fiction, a step-by-step
guide to developing and polishing novels and short stories that
includes many of her beloved columns. With Alice Underwood, she
co-authors the Tapestry of Bronze series (including Jocasta,
Mother-Wife of Oedipus; The Children of Tantalus; and Antigone &
Creon), based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. Her
independent novels include The Highbury Murders, in which she does
her best to channel the spirits and styles of Jane Austen and
Agatha Christie, and Academic Assassination (A Zofia Martin
Mystery). Victoria is married with kids, and (though American)
spends much of her time in Europe. Her hobbies include gardening,
hiking, bird-watching and tutoring mathematics. Visit her website
at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com, or contact her at tapestry (at)
tapestryofbronze (dot) com. 


Copyright 2015 Victoria Grossack 

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author. A version of this article appeared at
Fiction Fix.

Link to this article here: 

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Get one-on-one
guidance with Victoria Grossack's personal writing class; visit

Double Vision: The Secret to Forming a Successful Co-authorship -
Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson

Questions to Ask Before Collaborating - Moira Allen

struggle to keep your butt in the chair? Contact me through my 
website and let me know what's got you down; we'll brainstorm a 
way forward with a coaching regimen designed just for you!
Victoria-Lynn Winning, Writing Coach - http://vlawinning.ca 


44 Posts That Will Help You Escape the Content Mills and Make a
REAL Living as a Freelance Writer, by Linda Formichelli
An excellent compilation of posts and, er, ahem, ARTICLES (we're
not all blogs, Linda) that are designed to help writers discover
opportunities in the freelance world.

473 Rejections Later
This is a very brief interview with author Kate DiCamillo - but I
thought it was worth including in light of the ongoing discussion
of "to quit or not to quit."

Kindle Cover Disasters
OK, it may not make you a better writer, but it will give you a
moment of fun (unless of course your cover makes the list...)


EVERY WRITER NEEDS A HOLIDAY!  "The Writer's Guide to Holidays, 
Observances and Awareness Dates" offers 1800 events worldwide --
Instant inspiration for those days when you can't think of anything
to write about!  Holiday topics are a favorite of editors, so fuel
your inspiration and jumpstart your articles today!  Available in 
print and Kindle editions; for more information visit


By Aline Lechaye


Whether itís for a book cover, a website design, or just for fun,
at some point during your writing career you've probably found a
need to design something. If you donít think of yourself as
"artistic" or if you're not software-savvy, you probably found the
process painful. But not to worry, we've got you covered for your
next project. Read on for some simple generators and resources that
can instantly and easily provide the style you're looking for. 

The Hipster Logo Generator (http://www.hipsterlogogenerator.com/)
is a free and simple-to-use logo generator that makes logo
designing a breeze. Choose a base shape, add some decorative icons,
add text, change the colors to your liking, and then simply click
"Generate Logo" to download the finished product (and also to see
how well your design ranked on the "Hipstometer"). To be honest,
the number of options for shapes, icons and so on is somewhat
limited, but that could probably work in your favor to keep designs
simple and uncluttered. There is no need to register or log in to
use the Hipster Logo Generator, but you will have to download your
logo designs right after you make them as they will not be saved by
the site. 

The Cool Text Graphics Generator (http://cooltext.com/) is similar
to the Hipster Logo Generator in that it is simple to use, but
focuses more on text design. You can choose from a variety of logo
styles (basically just fun font designs) to get started before
typing in your text and adjusting font size and color to generate
your logo. The generated logo is kept for only one hour if you
don't click "Get HTML code" to get a permanent address. The site
can help you share your design with your friends via email,
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The nice thing about the Cool Text
Graphics Generator is that you can go back and edit your logo if
you want to change it after seeing the final product. 

Even the plainest of backgrounds can be transformed instantly by
the right font. Font Squirrel (http://www.fontsquirrel.com) has a
great free collection of fonts that are worth checking out. The
classifications and filters to the right of the page make it easy
to narrow down what you're looking for, and you can also search
fonts by language if you want to. No need to register or log in to
use the site. Some downloads are off-site. 

Another font site is 1001 Fonts (http://www.1001fonts.com/). Their
font categories are really cool (you can find fonts by decade, by
mood, and by theme, among others), and downloading fonts is a super
easy process -- just click the green download button to the right.
No need to register or log in to download fonts, although you can
if you want to. Site members can favorite fonts and participate in
discussions about fonts in the site forum. 

FontSpace (http://www.fontspace.com/) has a collection of over
26,000 free fonts uploaded by designers all over the world. On each
page you can see how the font looks on different backgrounds and
also read a brief description of each font provided by the
designer. No need to register or log in to download fonts, although
you have to log in to favorite and comment on fonts. 


Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye at gmail.com


Copyright 2015 Aline Lechaye 

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


on how to reach more than 100,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


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Copyright 2015 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