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Week 3 of our Novel Writing Month, we hope you enjoy the articles.If you have missed any of our previous articles,  you can check them out here : Week 1 and Week 2


 Book Publishing – What Is The Secret To Getting Your Book Published?

By: Deanna Mascle 

As a three-time published author and creative writing teacher I get asked a lot: “What is the secret to getting your book published?” Many of the interrogators are disappointed, some even disbelieving, when I tell them there is no secret. Getting published is about three key elements and none of them are a secret but all three play an important role. Book publishing requires a combination of luck, timing, and talent.


I know too much about the publishing game (and it is a game as much as it is a business) to discount the importance of luck when it comes to getting your book published. I have watched a lot of authors come and go. I have watched a lot of would-be authors do everything right to exploit their talent and then fade away into oblivion. I have watched a select few authors make mistakes and still come out with successful careers. While luck isn’t everything and should certainly not be a key part of your publishing and writing strategy, you need to allow for an element of luck — whether it is bad or good.


Timing is a crucial part of becoming a published author as opposed to being simply a writer. You could have the best book idea in the world and the most incredible writing talent but if you are delivering a book too similar to one they just bought or published then your timing is bad. Likewise, you could have a good book that hits the publishing house just when they are on a buying freeze and your book could languish for weeks or months — or simply be rejected. The difference between timing and luck though is that you can control your timing much more than you can manipulate luck. Here information is the key. The more research you do into your market then the better able you will be to work timing to your favor. I have a friend who made her first sale by carefully researching the market and delivering to her chosen publisher the perfect idea at the perfect time.


Of course talent is important to getting published and becoming successful. You need to be a talented writer and possess the creative genius to create characters and plots that make for great reading. However, I save this element for last as without luck and timing then all the talent in the world may not be enough to get your published. I think in the end a talented writer could find a publisher but it would be a long arduous process and most writers become discouraged and quit before achieving their goal.


It is possible to become a published author. New writers are getting published every year. It is not easy to get published but a combination of luck, timing and talent can help you get your book published. While you cannot control your luck, you do have the power to control your timing and talent. Work on gathering information and work on your writing. You can succeed at book publishing.


About the author: Learn more about published author Renaissance Woman Deanna Mascle in her blog at


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Don’t Give Up On Writing That Novel

By: Jill Smolinski


Think it’s hard to get a novel published? For most writers, it is – but it’s certainly not impossible. I’ve had two hit the shelves-in 10 countries, and with book club and movie rights picked up. People often ask me how I did it, and the truth is simple. All it takes is, 1) talent, and 2) actually writing the thing.


As much as I hate to admit it, the second is the more important factor.


Fact is, plenty of great novels go unfinished. The statistics are staggering: of those who start writing a novel, only about 3% will finish. And unless you’re the child of a rock star or Shakespeare’s long-lost descendent, no agent or publisher will look at your novel unless it’s complete. Only in rare instances will a publisher make an offer to a newbie novelist based on a partial manuscript.


On my first novel, Flip-Flopped, I actually did have interest from an editor at a major publishing house before I was finished. I’d been taking a writing class, and the teacher passed along a short description of my book to an editor acquaintance of hers, who professed interest. I’d written about 100 pages at the time and was elated – that is, until my teacher added, “Of course, she doesn’t want to see it until it’s done.”


It may seem unfair. If your novel starts with a bang, why can’t you just give a few chapters and an outline? Surely that’s enough to prove your mettle. But publishers want evidence of more than writing skills. They need to see you can go the distance. In the world of writing, a novel is the marathon. A finished manuscript is the only way to show you can cross the finish line in the same sort of shape you started.


It took me two years to write my first novel. Even with an editor waiting – and knowing she wouldn’t wait forever – I nearly gave up many times along the way. A single mom with a full-time job, my only writing time was in the early hours before work and during my son’s naptime on weekends. I not only had to learn novel basics like how to plot and create strong characters, I had to learn how to stick with it.


If you’re struggling with finishing your novel, these tips may help:


1. Tell yourself a little white lie: that you have a real deadline. One of the main reasons writers give up is because they begin to question whether anyone really cares. Pretend there’s an editor or agent waiting, drumming his or her fingers, eager for that completed manuscript to arrive.


2. Set a daily goal. I set a minimum of two hours a day, every day. You may prefer to designate a certain number of pages, such as three to five. Writing is a lot like dieting: people who approach it reasonably on a daily basis are more likely to meet with success than those who try a crash program.


3. Don’t write a novel – write a first draft. A first draft can be imperfect – and in fact, it will be. That’s okay. Just get the pages down. You can fix it on the second draft.


4. Be careful whom you show it to. It can be helpful to get feedback as you go, but choose your readers carefully. Giving your precious pages to someone who is frustrated at their own inability to write a novel is like handing them a gun … pointed right at you.


5. Spend more time writing than you spend planning. It can be helpful to have an outline and some basic research, but typically writers who mire themselves in creating lengthy drafts of what they’re going to write rarely get around to actually writing.


6. Feel the joy. Remind yourself why you’re writing a novel. Few people if any set out to write a first novel because they have to. They do it because they have something to say…a passion for the written word…a dream of seeing their name on a shelf next to writers they admire. Hard work may be the backbone of a writing career, but it’s the joy of creating something amazing that keeps us going.


So keep going!


About the author: Jill Smolinski is the author of the novels THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST and FLIP-FLOPPED. Find out more about her books and get tips for writers at her daily blog at



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Writing the Historical Novel

By: John H. Manhold


For many years, I had written nothing but textbooks and scientific research papers. It was my job and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Several years ago, I retired, but remained quite active and in demand as a consultant. In the more recent past, a number of people seeking my help began to wonder how much longer it might be available, and began looking for a new source.


Having been accustomed to a ten to twelve-hour day, the gradual decrease in workload left me with unwanted time on my hands. From a newsletter I receive as an emeritus member of the scientific society, Sigma Xi, I discovered I was not alone in this situation. Fortunately, my wife suggested I write a novel. The thought to me was quite unique and jolted my own thought processes. After more than sixty years of searching for facts and condensing all verbalization to minimal proportions, would it be possible to write a novel? The writing method was totally reversed. Instead of condensing all of the material, there would be a need to expand it. The thought became more intriguing the longer it simmered.


Historical novels always have been favorites of mine since I first was introduced to Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and then to works of James Fennimore Cooper, and others. If I were going to write a novel, this appeared to be the best type to attempt. Furthermore, research is what I do and have done for many years.


By definition, a historical novel is one whose story deals with people and events of a period preceding one’s own, and more usually by a considerable amount of time. The definition provides a wide latitude in which to operate, and some writers follow only loosely a historical thread.


To me, a novel in this genre must pick its time and follow closely the geography, as well as the mores, of that period. This does not apply to languages, of course. If the time selected is far enough removed from the present, attempts to provide differences not only would be awkward, but usually also would not be well accepted by the reader. The same applies to dealing with a foreign language. Inclusion of too many foreign words or phrases, especially italicized, interferes with the smoothness of word flow in a passage.


With respect to following the mores of a specific period in time, a bit more research may be required than one normally would believe. Mores vary significantly from time to time, culture to culture, and most importantly, from one geographical area to another. And a bit of explanation of the differences easily may be included in the body of your story. I have found that three or four pages of explanatory text often are well received. It may not be totally palatable to a few readers, but overall, most will enjoy learning something new and, if the material can be adequately condensed and included as part of the overall story, as it must be, it often is enjoyed enough to be mentioned favorably in reviews. Similar inclusions are worthwhile if it aids or clarifies a pertinent bit of history.


Geography is the second most important consideration for the historical novelist. One must remember that the world’s topography is, and has been, constantly changing. European countries no longer look as they did even a few years ago. I remember living outside of Marbella, Spain some twenty years ago, in a small villa right on the seashore. I returned there five years ago and could find the place only after an intense search. The area is unrecognizable with myriad small houses crowding the once beautiful and spacious expanse.


So, any persons finding themselves in a similar situation, might keep these thoughts in mind, and prepare to embark on the journey of writing a historical novel. Just remember as an additional aside, that writing about something with which you are familiar makes the task much more enjoyable and considerably easier. Don’t try to write about the ‘Silk Road’ in China, unless you at least have been in similar terrain, and have researched the history quite thoroughly.


About the author: John H. Manhold is a retired professor and scientific journal editor. He is an author of several textbooks, a lexicon in four languages and now novels that often require extensive research. He provides coaching on various types and phases of writing. Please see for more information, and an address.


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