Who Are You Writing For?

Who are you writing for?

This is a question that gets asked a great deal on a writers’ site I frequent. I have always answered, rather flippantly, ‘for myself’. Yet I am now beginning to wonder if, by writing for myself, I am missing a trick.

After receiving multiple rejections from literary agents both in the UK and the US, I’m having to rethink my whole writing process. My novel is historical, it is romance, yet the two main characters do not get together at the end – and there will be a sequel. My novel is also long, at almost 100k words, and that doesn’t fit a romance publishing model either. It is not your regular, expected story for an historical romance and although I like the story and I wrote it for me, I wonder if I should now focus on writing genre fiction for the sake of publishing and earning a crust or two. Publishers seem to want only sure-fire bets since they are looking for the next big thing, and therefore unwilling to take chances on a lowly newbie. I don’t know why they are so intent on having books in nice, neat little boxes; I’ve always hated being put in a box, and now my novels can’t be either! Oh well.

I started writing years ago because I couldn’t find a romance novel that related to me and the life I have. I wanted to write about women who have precious few choices in their lives and the consequences of the choices they do make. I wanted to write about women who struggle with issues I struggle with (relationship issues where I have little choice, dreams and desires versus reality, e.g.) and see if they found an answer I could adapt for my life.

Should I keep writing the stories I want to read, or should I adapt my work to fit a genre in the hope I can make some money and increase the options I, and my children, have? It’s a dilemma I know that faces many an author, including Ottessa Moshfegh, and I don’t know what to do. Ottessa decided to write a genre novel, albeit one that turned out to be nominated for a Man-Booker prize…I’m a slow writer, so anything I do will take a while. Any ideas?

My Dad asked me what, as an author, I want to be known for.

What do you want to be known for in life?


Writing a Book is Easy.

Or at least it seems easy in comparison to the tasks we’re faced the-endwith once we type ‘The End’.


If you’re an author or have friends who are authors, you know exactly what I mean.

thOnce the story is written, everything else you need to get that baby out into the world makes the time spent on your laptop, legal pad or typewriter (remember those?) look like a cakewalk.

If you decide to publish traditionally, you’ll have to make sure your manuscript it correctly formatted down to the exact font, spacing, margins, etc. There are strict guidelines that you’ll need to adhere to. Not to mention querying publishers, waiting for replies and dealing with rejections. Continue reading

Novel or Novella? by Matt Mansfield

So I’ve been thinking about this story idea since I was in college (for those who don’t know me well, that was 26 years ago) and I finally wanted to sit down and write the darn thing.

The story is a young adult urban fantasy with a dash of sci-fi and I’ve always envisioned it as one book. Recently however, I’ve been exploring the publishing world and wandered across an interesting approach: serial novellas.


Continue reading

One Reason We Write — Awards by my friend Phyllis Humphrey

As I’ve done several times before, I’m devoting a blog post to winners of writing contests, this time the Anthony Awards – mysteries – from Bouchercon. Next time I’ll list winners of the Macavity Awards and Barry Awards.

Reblogged from http://phyllishumphrey.blogspot.com/2015/10/anthony-awards.html

Anthony Awards

 Bouchercon – Raleigh, North Carolina
October 8-11, 2015
Continue reading

No man is an island… by Cayenne Michaels

Entirely of itself,

Every man is a piece of a continent,

A part of the main.

John Donne

It’s something we take for granted in our everyday life. Most of us, at least. We might feel like eccentric outsiders. I can’t be the only one that has a tendency to occasionally withdraw from conversations, and the apparent lack of interest have caused some tense moments now and then. But you see, in my head an irresistible scene is taking form, where the most gorgeous man says the right words at the right moment, and I join my own heroine in a swooooon– Continue reading

One Year Later—An author’s reflection—by Mika Jolie

Happy Publishversary to me! No, I didn’t coin that word, credit goes to a reader. I’m just borrowing it. Twelve months and three books later, here I am, an actual published author with a wonderful extended family, that includes readers, fellow writers, editors…the list goes on. I’m grateful and appreciate everyone that has become a part of my extended family.

And get this…next year, I actually start making public appearances. I’ve already booked three events. Gasp!


Back on July 21, 2014, my first novel The Scale was published. To my surprise, people actually bought and read the book. My first novel.


Now, you may ask why the surprise?

Well, here’s a list for you:

  • Minka has major self-esteem issues
  • She secretly pines for her twin sister’s fiancé
  • She’s rather on the selfish side (At least I think so. Others might disagree)
  • Then enters Jason—I’ll leave it at that (If you want to know what happened, The Scale is currently on sale for $0.99 until the end of August)

Book Cover - The Scale_Teaser

So what have I learned during this journey?

Well, people I may never meet  have become my extended family. The amount of support I received when my father became ill and since passed away was out of this world.

Be kind and genuine. Social karma and relationship serendipity goes a long way. No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to or only cross your mind when you need publishing advice.

Build your own platform—this is all about long-term marketing, building your brand and a platform for your books. A big part of that is having a polished, interactive website. Always refer readers back to your website. Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media are great as well, but they don’t belong to you. Rules are always changing and one day any of these social media tools may not be around.

This is my current website: www.mikajolie.com but it’s still getting a makeover. Check it out and let me know what you think. While there, sign up for my newsletter so we can stay in touch.

When it comes to writing, as you write your first draft say yes to every new idea, this is not the time for self-judgement and being critical. Let your creativity flow! As my old English teacher used to say, don’t try to fix things as you write that first draft, it’s like trying to run and tie your shoe laces at the same time.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober Hemingway

If your reader has to check the thesaurus every few words the meaning, power and beauty of what you are writing will be lost. By all means use an expanded vocabulary in your creative writing but show a little restraint. Readers want to fall into your writing, get lost in the world you paint – too many archaic words will get in the way. Though I must admit I have a thing for words like “Pulchritudinous”, “quaffed”, and “tincture”.

As for outlining—I am the worst! I say do what works for you. Some writers start with careful planning; others begin with a feeling or a single sentence and let it grow like crystals on a string. Sometimes work appear organically. Both methods work for different types of creative writers. Find what works for you!

Oh and there’s that whole marketing thingie…that may have to wait for my next publishversary.

Happy Writing!

Mika Jolie



Creativity Postponed

When I was a schoolgirl, long ago, I prided myself on the ability to write an essay of any length required on any subject, no matter how obscure or silly, without having to think long about it. Not for me the agony of staring at a blank page and wondering what to put on it – my subconscious would supply words, almost as easily as water spouting out of a tap. Writing stories was just as easy, and more fun.

Sounds like I should have become a writer, right? Unfortunately there were serious obstacles. Family expectations urged me towards a supposedly more secure, prestigious career. I thought I could always come back to writing later. During the first years of full-time employment I wrote on the side, mostly stories and articles. When my career led me to Manhattan for three years, I submitted some of my works to editors. Like any other aspiring writer only just learning their craft, I received rejection letters – “would like to see more of your work” was the best I could do.  Meantime my job got ever more demanding, and then children came along.

But though there were years when I didn’t write fiction, except inside my head, I always kept reading. Thousands and thousands of books.

Now I have at last come to a point when I took a step back from the day job and bought two years of free time with my savings –  and finally settled down to write. Is it any wonder that all those repressed works now come shooting out at surprising speed? It turns out that you can postpone creation, but if you are lucky it is still there, patiently waiting.  Except that these are not exactly the same books I could or would have written decades ago; I look at my abandoned projects, for instance a  thriller parodying work inside the United Nations, and I could not for the life of me finish it in the spirit in which it began. On the other hand, what I write now draws on the experiences and insights of the past decades, and hopefully has gained some depth. I’m still working hard on improving the technical aspects.

Right now  I am completing a book I began in 1999 in Copenhagen, and find it is not easy to reconcile the older parts with the new. I have changed in fifteen years, and the characters I envisage today are not quite the same in consequence. While I am determined to rescue at least that favourite project from limbo,  it would be easier and faster to write something completely new.

Given the time pressure, self-publishing is the obvious choice for me. Receiving feedback from unknown readers all over the world within days of publication of an Ebook gives me a thrill, and to hear that someone enjoyed my writing is great motivation to carry on.  With traditional publishing, even in the best case, I would still be waiting for a release date of the first book.

Over the past few months I have concentrated on Regency Romance, and under the pen name of May Burnett have published three in June, August and September respectively. They form a series , the Amberley Chronicles, though each is self-contained. If all goes well, in the month of October two more will come out, the fourth of the series and a standalone regency, Lady Susan’s Bargain. When I have ten regencies under my belt, I may turn back to urban fantasy or YA, just as much fun to write but harder to sell. How long will I be able to keep up the pace of one short novel every month? Maybe with enough practice I can do even better…

The lesson, if any? Take your pick:  It’s never too late to make childhood dreams come true. When you have a gift, it should be used. If you wait long enough, the technology that will make your goals easier to achieve may come along.

Or simply, go and write NOW. Who knows if it will still be possible tomorrow.