I’d love you to check out my site. I’ve got a blog going and info on the books I’ve written and published dealing with some of the adventures I’ve had. My friends always say, “How did you find the courage to do that?” and I reply, “My parents taught me to be fearless!” When I’m not working on the next Great American novel, I’m playing innkeeper at Cliff Cottage Inn, the B&B I started in 1992 after spending 7 years single-handing a 35-foot sailboat in the Pacific.

My Blog

Tips For Beginning Writers {and reminders to all writers}

I found this on the Smartblogger site written by Glen Long and the info is very helpful to me. I have been ignoring the muse for many months, haven’t even looked at the book I had finally felt was complete about the first phase of the sailing adventures. So, here’s a good start to our journeys as writers!

Beginning writers are at the start of an exciting journey, and it may be one that lasts a lifetime. With that in mind, here is some advice for writers at the start of it all that they can return to throughout their writing, says Glen.

Perseverance and Making Time
Writing requires a number of skills. Many beginning writers may imagine that one or two of those skills will be the keys to success. A natural way with words or storytelling or perhaps a knack for meeting people and making the right connections while networking will make all the difference.

What may surprise you is that the two things that matter the most are perseverance and making the time to write. If you continue on this path throughout your life, you will meet many talented unpublished writers along the way. You might feel jealous of some of them because they seem so much better than you were when you were starting out. You might be amazed at the fact that some of them are easily as good as any published writer you have read.

However, some of the most talented writers that you meet will not persevere. This can seem like a tragedy, but it isn’t necessarily. Sometimes those talented writers give up because they are discouraged, and that is unfortunate, but others simply find that they have other things they would rather do with their time. Writing can be difficult and lonely, and it is little wonder that some people find other pastimes more appealing.

If you are able to persevere and find time to write, you will have mastered two of the most difficult aspects of writing. Finding time does not mean you have to give up having a family or a social life although it may mean you have to give up a few favorite TV shows or get up an hour earlier each morning to make time for your writing. Throughout your life, you may find yourself needing to make small adjustments to your life to allow room for writing within it, but this can be one of the most valuable gifts you can give to yourself.

Even with this perseverance, there may be stretches where you have to put writing aside to attend to other concerns such as family, career or education. Just because you have to do so for a certain amount of time does not mean that you are not a writer or that you are not cut out to be a writer. The key is to return to it as soon as you can.

Comparing Yourself To Other Writers
The short version of this section would be to simply say don’t, but it is more complicated than that. One thing that often hampers beginning writers is looking at the work of their favorite writers and becoming discouraged with their own drafts by comparison. However, it is important to keep two points in mind. One is that you are comparing your own early drafts to their polished final products. You have no idea what their own early drafts looked like. The other is that you are comparing yourself at the start of your writing career with experienced professional writers at the height of their talents. Even the very best writers did not start out writing at the level that you see when you read their published novels.
You should also resist the urge to compare yourself to your peers. Every writer brings unique strengths to their work, and there really is enough writing success to go around. If you envy what a writer at your stage can do with character or language or plot, ask yourself what you can learn from that writer. Celebrate the successes of your peers, because they show you what you are capable of.

Classes and Workshops
Classes and workshops can be valuable as long as you are prudent about them. Some writers seem to be eternal students, drifting from workshop to workshop as though they are going to happen upon some magical teacher or formula that will give them the key to the writing kingdom, but they never seem to gain the confidence to stretch beyond that point.

Classes can be wonderful for teaching technique, giving you time and space and inspiration to write, and providing the opportunity to meet and share with other writers. But in the long run, it’s not how many classes you attend that make you a writer, and some of the best writers never had any formal instruction. You still have to sit down and consistently put words on the page.

Listening To Others
People will give you writing advice throughout your life but never as much as when you are starting out. Unfortunately, at this stage, it can be difficult to know what advice to heed and what to set aside. Here are a few pitfalls to beware of.

Watch out for advice that tells you that there is only one way. Advice that insists that you always have to outline, that you always must write a draft straight through without stopping or that you have to write every single day is all well-meant, but it is also advice that does not work for every writer. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to write; there is only the way that works for you.
However, because you are a beginner, go ahead and try those things that people advise you to do even if they couch them in absolutist language. It may not be true that every writer needs to write daily, but it may just turn out to be true for you. Most writers really do need to barrel through first drafts without stopping to ensure that they complete them. This is a great time for you to experiment and find out what works best for you.
Beware of bitterness. Like all artistic endeavors, writing can be difficult and discouraging, and the extrinsic rewards may be few and far between. Along the way, you will meet bitter writers who have nothing but negative things to say about the path that you are on and will do their best to discourage you. The truth about writing is that few writers become rich or famous from what they do. You must find joy in the work itself.

Trying To Do Too Much
One of the most overwhelming aspects of writing for beginners is the sense that there is just so much to learn. After reading a book about writing or having someone critique your manuscript, you may feel like you are frantically trying to bail out a boat that keeps springing leaks. Tackle character and over here you’ve lost control of your plot, and now they’re telling you that you need to take a look at language and theme and imagery too. Who wouldn’t be frustrated?

It’s normal to feel this way. Writing is hard, and sometimes you feel as though you can’t do anything right. When you feel overwhelmed by all of the elements that you need to pay attention to, stop trying to pay attention to them all. Focus on one thing at a time. Just for now, try to write the best-developed protagonist that you can or work on your narrative drive or just play with sentences. This is not a race. Writing has a big learning curve, but the wonderful thing about it is that it is something you can spend your entire life learning new things about.

Find A Community
It used to be that writers generally had to live in large cities to connect with a like-minded community, but the Internet has changed all this. Today, it is possible to form relationships with writers no matter where you live. It’s important to do this not for reasons of networking or promoting your career although those can be side benefits. You need to find a community because writing can be lonely and difficult, and the company of your fellow writers can be one of the best bulwarks against discouragement. Other writers can act as sounding boards, first readers, and advisers and may become lifelong friends. It’s one of the many perks of this journey upon which you are embarking.
Writers start out as passionate readers, and maintaining that passion during the ups and downs of a few years or a lifetime of work can be challenging. Knowing that your passion and energy for the writing life will ebb and flow just as it does for other things in life can help. Even if you have fallow periods when you are not doing much writing, know that a writer’s subconscious is always hard at work storing up details and making connections for when you are ready again. By harnessing perseverance, focus and the support of others, you can look ahead to a challenging but rewarding writing life.

E.B. White on “A Writer’s Time”

A Writer’s Time

There is nothing harder to estimate than a writer’s time, nothing harder to keep track of. There are moments—moments of sustained creation—when a writer’s time is fairly valuable; and there are hours and hours when a writer’s time isn’t worth the paper he or she is not writing anything on.

I love the writings of E.B. White and it is so true what he says about time. I haven’t been working on my book for quite awhile now. I have put everything else before it. I tell myself I have no time to work on it because my B&B inn is “eating my lunch”. Or I tell myself that by the time all the inn work is done, I am too tired to sit down and write. These excuses have been keeping me away from what I love most to do…write. And then I start beating up on myself because I am not writing. I remember a moment when I was sailing my 35-foot hot pink boat alone in the Pacific, wondering why on Earth I was out there in the “Big Blue”. There was just a whisp of wind, my sails were struggling to stay filled, and I was trailing my hand over the side to cool off. I asked The Great Creator, “What do you want me to be doing? I feel like I am being useless….that there must be something more than just adventuring down the Southern Hemisphere, chasing off drugdealers and out-sailing pirates. The seas were still, the air seemed to stop and I heard, “Write to glorify my name.” “What do you mean, ‘glorify’? I asked. But there was no answer. Strange to say, about a year or so later, still waltzing down huge waves, I asked the question again and got the very same answer yet again. Strange….

It’s A Constant Struggle To Get It Down

It’s A Constant Struggle To Get It Down

Here’s a quote I can relate to:
“We’re all there trying to make the story, novel, or chapter as good as it can be. It’s a constant struggle to get it down, get it clear, and understand that your intentions are the same, whether you’re an undergraduate writing a short story or a writer with seven published novels. The continually reassuring thing is that we’re all novices when we start a new work.” ALICE McDERMOTT

I’ve had my current manuscript in the works for years, having been distracted by major life crises or other important things (like when my daughter was killed by a drunk driver, or in order to survive, trying to start a new B&B business and all the work entailed with keeping it going, etc.). And then I finally get the book done and am told by publishers, agents and others in the field that it is way too long….nobody reads long books anymore, they say. So I had to chop it in half and try to make the first half a good read. It was back to being a novice again. Well, when I wake up in the morning, I always feel like a novice struggling through this Life thing, so no wonder it also applies to my writing. Sometimes, it’s just OK to sit back and ponder those peaceful becalmed days I spent while sailing alone in the Pacific for 7 years…no huge waves to struggle with, no fears about whether or not the sail would blow out, no thoughts about the past or future, no worries that my coffeepot would crash to the floor. Becalmed, I could just lie on my back on the soft cockpit cushion and watch the clouds above playing with each other…there goes a dog, no it’s a cat; there goes a little girl skip-roping, no it’s a boy chasing a tiger, no an elephant.

Revenue Streams For Authors

Stephanie Chandler, founder of the Nonfiction Writers Association, has presented some good ideas as additional money streams for authors besides book sales. Here, verbatim, are her ten top suggestions:

Says Stephanie, “The reality is that it’s hard to make money on books alone. As authors we need to incorporate additional ways to earn money. Following is a list of some of my favorite revenue stream opportunities for authors.

1. Niche Books and Ebooks – Many authors are quietly making lots of extra income by producing short books and ebooks based on niche topics that aren’t widely covered. For example, the folks at food-allergy.org produce niche books about—you guessed it—food allergies. If you’re an expert in a topic that isn’t widely covered in books, consider producing your own niche ebooks and books. 2. Workbooks – One of the wonderful benefits of workbooks is that they have a high perceived value, which means people are willing to spend more on them. It’s funny since there is usually 50% to 75% less text in a workbook than in a typical trade book, but perhaps we’re willing to pay more because workbooks are interactive. Workbooks can make great add-on items to your main book, giving you the ability to upsell by offering a bundle for sale when you appear at events.

3. Professional Speaking – Pro speakers earn $5k to $10k and up for keynote presentations, plus have all of their travel expenses paid. This is a powerful market opportunity for authors with expertise in their field.

4.Teleseminars and Webinars – Early on in my author career, I built my mailing list by offering free teleseminars. And while these events are often free in exchange for an email address, you can also produce a series and charge for them. A great example comes from SpeakerNetNews.com. Here you can attend teleseminars and webinars for $15 to $35, depending on the topic. Event recordings are also archived on the site for sale, producing ongoing, passive income (the best kind of income!).

5. Online Courses – Training courses are hotter than ever, and they can be delivered in numerous ways. If you don’t yet have a big audience, consider teaching a course with Udemy or Lynda.com. If you have already built a solid platform, then you can earn more by hosting your own courses. You can manage this with a service like Kajabi, or put the pieces together and host on your own website. Courses can range from two to twenty weeks, can be delivered by teleseminar, webinar or video, or can be self-study programs. The possibilities are abundant!

6. Certification Programs – If you have a proprietary process or system you’ve developed—one that others would like to follow—consider creating your own certification program. Author Jim Horan did this after publishing his excellent book, The One Page Business Plan. He noticed that fellow consultants were coming to him, asking if he’d teach them his process. Jim ultimately created a certification program, which has resulted in many consultants across the country teaching his process and promoting his brand.

7. Information Products – Info products can come in the form of special reports, whitepapers, event recordings, templates, databases of information, and any other way you can compile and deliver information digitally. Authors like Karl Palachuk, a consultant to technology company owners, earn thousands of dollars each month selling digital product downloads.

8. Membership Program – These work by creating a membership platform (typically some sort of membership software built into your website, such as Wishlist Member), and providing valuable and unique information for your members. Examples include HerbMentor.com, a member program for herb gardeners, and One Fit Widow, a supportive group for widows who want to improve their health.

9. Subscription Program – Monthly subscriptions are hot right now. You can have boxes of healthy snacks delivered to your door, boxes of treats for your dog, local organic fruits and veggies, and well-known subscription services like Dollar Shave Club. What could you offer on a subscription basis? Barbara Winter has been publishing her wonderful Winning Ways printed newsletter for many years.

10. Corporate Sponsorship – This is really the granddaddy of all revenue streams for authors. Big companies want to reach their ideal audiences—and when you amass a good-sized audience, they’ll want to work with you. As an author with a large audience (high website traffic, large social media following, etc.), you are known to big companies as an “influencer.” And they want influencers talking about their brands. I’ve personally earned hundreds of thousands in corporate sponsorships over the years, getting paid for sponsored blog posts on my website, serving as a spokesperson, conducting media tours, producing video tips, delivering webinars, hosting Twitter chats and more. The key here is to determine which companies want to reach your audience and then find the right contact (typically someone in the marketing department) and pitch your ideas. Hint: PR firms that represent big companies are also on the hunt for influencers AND fresh ideas to bring to their big clients. Bring compelling ideas to the table and this can be a slam dunk for you. – See more at: http://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/10-hot-revenue-streams-for-authors/#sthash.JvoQsUu0.dpuf

To be quite honest here, I’m just trying to keep my day-job business going and have trouble dedicating time to working on my book so it would be difficult to take on any of these ideas right now. But when I no longer have my B&B (Cliff Cottage Inn), these revenue stream ideas will sure come in handy!

Advice To Writers: “If You Want to Write …”

“If you want to write, it must be the thing not that you want to do, or would like to do. It must be the thing you feel you have to do. It must be that without which you could not live. If you’ve got that, then it’ll be all right.” CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
This is so true for me. When I am working on my book or other writing, I always feel like I’m doing what I was born to do. I feel energized, excited as to what might next show up on the page, happy about what I am doing, and thrilled that I am able to write something that just might entertain or help a reader. Unfortunately, I have another full-time labor-intensive business (I own Cliff Cottage Inn, a B&B in Eureka Springs, Ar) and sometimes the inn “eats my wellll, breakfast”. I know I was given a gift…the ability to write a good story or article. I know I must dedicate a certain amount of time a day to work on my writing. And yet, sometimes days, even weeks go by when I am so busy at the inn that I don’t do anything on the book or article I have already begun. It sits there, waiting in my computer and the longer I stay away from it, the worse I feel. I get antsy, discontented, even miserable because I believe the muse inside me is struggling to get out and I”m not allowing her to do so. Then, when I feel so bad about ignoring her and she starts to claw at my guts to escape, I finally give in to her and return to my writing. And then, all is well with the world. Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way”, talks about how creative people put all kinds of roadblocks up to avoid working on their creative projects. Artists do it, writers do it, musicians do it…I just wish I could finally get it that I need to set aside a certain time each day to work on my writing and not allow anything to come in the way of it…nothing at all! Then I know I will be a lot happier person for I will be sharing the gift I was given with others.

Advice To Writers from James Baldwin

Every morning, I get some wonderful snippets of advice from well-established writers and here’s the one for today:
“The hardest thing about writing, in a sense, is not writing. I mean, the sentence is not intended to show you off, you know. It is not supposed to be “look at me!” “Look, no hands!” It’s supposed to be a pipeline between the reader and you. One condition of the sentence is to write so well that no one notices that you’re writing.” JAMES BALDWIN

When I first started writing, I thought I had to use those long fahncee words I had heard when I was a kid going to school in Scotland. For some reason, over there in Britain, people seemed to speak so much better than we did in the USA. Maybe it was their accents that impressed me so much as a child. Well, I eventually became a journalist in Philadelphia and found out that the readers appreciated my use of common ordinary words a lot more than when I used those big long words. I think in the beginning of that career, I was just trying to impress the readers because I wasn’t yet confident as a writer. Today, I love the simple words but occasionally, I can’t help myself and toss in one of those big words I learned (also as a kid) when I was studying for the National Spelling Bee contests I entered every year. In fact, I’ll never forget how to spell “daguerreotype” which was the word that cost me the California championship when I was in sixth grade. I had forgotten that hidden “e”. Worse yet, my “boyfriend” at the time got it right. Grrrrrr!I guess if I were to offer any advice, myself, I’d say, I agree with Mr. Baldwin…keep focusing on the pipeline to the reader and avoid too many of those long convoluted words.

Pitch Sessions to agent = requests for more!

During the three-minute pitch sessions to an agent (or several) included as part of the San Francisco Writers Conference fee, one NY agent asked me to send her some scenes from my book, an L.A. agent asked me to send the entire manuscript, another NY senior literary agent asked for a copy of my Book Proposal, and another agent said she would be interested if I could cut the book down from its present 128,000 words to 90,000 words which I’ll think about later if I don’t drum up some real interest as it is.
I’ve sent off everything to the first three and already heard back from two that they want it sent to their specific emails (not just Submissions), one also wants my Book Proposal, and another said she was swamped and I should contact her again next week to remind her. This is ever so encouraging after having sent out some 60 query letters last year and only receiving form “thanks but no thanks” letters. PS Two weeks have passed and no word yet from anyone, but they say it takes time. I just got back to Cliff Cottage Inn, the B&B I have owned now for 23 years in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (a Victorian artist colony)and after being gone almost four months, there is a mountain of mail and bills piled on the dining room table. Soooo, my book has had to be to the side temporarily until I can get caught up with my B&B (which pays the bills so I can spend some time writing!) It’s amazing that while at a conference, one gets all fired up to work on a book and then after a few weeks pass, the motivation slips away or is stolen by other pressing things like another business. I sure hope I won’t let the B&B steal all my creative time! It will require discipline.

San Francisco Writers Conference 2016

Just left the San Francisco Writers Conference. We’re travelling in our RV back to Arkansas, sitting in a beautiful county park site just outside Tucson, looking out at all the amazingly varied cactus. The mountains here are stunning as well. I’ve had a chance to let everything I heard at the SF Writers Conference sink in and have come to the conclusion that it was a fabulous experience. I attended the conference with my husband, Carl Rohne, also a writer who has been working on his book, “I Can Do That!”, about the 20,000-mile honeymoon we took back in 2010 in our first RV, from St. Louis, across Canada and up to the Arctic Ocean, all around Alaska and back down Route One to San Francisco.
At the SF Conference, I met many other writers working in all genres. Heard some incredible presentations by agents from NY to LA. Attended workshops given by traditional publishers as well as those who offer hybrid and self-publishing, and met a plethora of professionals in the industry who offer services such as content development and strategy, publicity and promotion, author website building and SEO, and experts on social media and author platforms. It was a lot to take in. One of the neatest things was when we arrived, the first person we saw a NY agent whom we met a couple of years ago at the St. Louis Writers Conference. At that conference, I attended every workshop she presented and learned an unbelievable amount about writing and publishing. At that conference, she asked us both to send the first few chapters of our book to her for consideration which we did but didn’t hear anything back. As soon as she saw us in SF, she told us she had taken a year or so off due to family illnesses and wanted to chat with us as she had all the info with her we had previously sent. It didn’t matter to me if she had liked my material or not — I had learned so much from her at the St. Louis Conference and she had so inspired me back then that I was simply delighted to see her again. We met with her later and she was generous with her time and extremely helpful, suggesting we both write articles for major magazines/newspapers since both of our books had neat things that would fit beautifully into articles.She said it would help build our author platforms and get us some publishing credits. When I mentioned I had taken everything out of my book about my teenaged years as the mascot to the Beat generation writers and about Ken Kesey taking me under his wing for protection, all with the blessings of my father I had him meet, she immediately broke in and said I should write that all up as an article.

Tax-Deductible Expenses – Tips For Writers

This is from a link I got from the San Francisco Writers Conference Newsletter and has some valuable tips for writers as you prepare your income tax. I’m including it below verbatim:

Are you a professional writer? That is, is your writing activity a business? If so, there are many deductions you can take to reduce your taxable income for the year, and thereby reduce your taxes. These deductions are quite valuable–for example, if you’re in the 25% tax bracket, each $100 in deductions saves you $25 in income tax. It will also usually save you about $15 in self-employment taxes as well.

Common deductions taken by writers include:
Office Expenses: If, like most writers, you work at home, you may be able to deduct the cost of your home office. This deduction is particularly valuable if you are a renter because it enables you to deduct a portion of your monthly rent, a sizable expense that is ordinarily not deductible. If you rent an outside office, the entire cost is deductible.
Depreciation: When you buy property for your writing business that will last more than one year, you may deduct the cost a little at a time over a period of years. This process is called depreciation. Examples of depreciable property often used by writers include computers, cell phones, and office furniture. However, you don’t always have to depreciate long term business property. Small businesses have the option of deducting the entire cost of such property in a single year under Internal Revenue Code Section 179 or using bonus depreciation This enables you to get a big deduction in a single year rather than spreading it out over several years.
Supplies: Supplies are business items that you use up in less than one year. They include everything from paperclips to postage stamps.
Subscriptions: You can deduct the cost of magazine, journal, newsletter, and other subscriptions useful for your writing business. This would include, for example, the cost of any magazine to which you may wish to sell a freelance article.
Research Expenses: Professional writers may deduct their research expenses such as the cost of books or hiring a researcher.
Legal and Professional Services: You can deduct fees that you pay to attorneys, accountants, consultants, and other professionals if the fees are paid for work related to your business.
Insurance: Self-employed people, including writers, are also allowed to deduct 100% of their health insurance premiums from their income taxes. In addition, If you have a home office, you may deduct a portion of your homeowner’s insurance.
Websites: You can deduct the cost of designing and maintaining a website you use to promote your writing business. You can also deduct your Internet hosting fees and the cost of obtaining a domain name.
Outsourcing: If you hire people to help with your writing business, you may deduct the cost as a business expense. For example, you could deduct the cost of hiring an editor to edit your work or a proofreader to proofread it.
Agent Fees: If you have a literary agent, you may deduct all the fees that person charges.
Business Travel: You may also deduct your expenses when you go out of town for your writing business–for example, to attend a writing-related conference or workshop, conduct an author’s tour, or do research or interviews for a specific article or book. These expenses include airfare or other transportation costs and hotel or other lodging expenses. But, you may only deduct 50% of the cost of meals when you travel for your writing business. If you plan things right, you can even mix pleasure and business and still get a deduction.
Meals and Entertainment: The days of the deductible three-martini lunch are pretty much at an end. To deduct the cost of a meal in a restaurant or an entertainment event like baseball game or theater visit, you must have a serious business discussion before, during, or soon after the event. Moreover, you may only deduct 50% of your business meal and entertainment costs.
Home telephone expenses: You get no deduction for a single phone in your home; but you may deduct the cost of long distance phone calls and special phone services you use for business such as call waiting or a message center. You may deduct the full cost of a second phone line you use at home for business, including a cell phone.
Local Travel Expenses: Local travel may include trips to your publisher, to pick up office supplies, or driving to libraries and bookstores. You may deduct trips by car or public transportation. If you like recordkeeping, you can keep track of all your car expenses to figure your annual deduction. But, if you’d rather not keep track of how much you spend for gas, oil, repairs, car washes, and so forth, you can use the standard mileage rate. When you use the standard rate, you only need to keep track of how many miles you drive for business, not how much you spend on your car.
by: Stephen Fishman, J.D.

You can tell it’s Spring…the deer are awake & hungry!

Our neighborhood deer is trying to steal my peanuts!

Our neighborhood deer is trying to steal my peanuts!

I don’t believe in feeding wild animals because I feel it disturbs their normal methods of hunting and foraging. But this guy came right up to me when I was snacking on some peanuts and just wouldn’t leave. I finally gave in and let him have one and he almost followed me into the kitchen trying to get more!  We have 9 deer living on our inn property and although the guests think they are cute, sometimes I wish I knew a hunter because they eat all my flowers and bushes. Over the years I’ve tried every method known to gardeners: one season, I scattered 200 bars of Irish Green soap in all the gardens (the guests kept asking why I had soap in the gardens! Didn’t do any good. The next season, I hung bags of garlic juice from all the bushes and plants. It was fairly expensive as the bags were flown out from Oregon. Didn’t do any good. Another year I had special sprinklers set up to spray the deer. Didn’t do any good. I finally gave up last year and just sent up prayers that they would dine elsewhere. This winter, they devoured our holly (thorns and all!) and last summer, they decided roses were tasty. We just planted a lot of pretty pansies to brighten the gardens and already “someone” has eaten a bunch of them! Oh well, they were here first, right?

Sandra’s Books

“A Cook’s Tour of Epicuria — One Woman’s Adventures”

A Cooks Tour    

"Thy Sea Is So Great”

Sandra and the Skipjack