Monday, January 23, 2012

This blog is now closed

I'm sorry to announce that The Book Doctor will no longer be running.

In the meantime, I want to thank all of those editors and writers who have contributed, especially Pam and Edie. Thank you both for all your hard work in keeping this blog alive.

Because of the great posts they've shared, I'll leave the blog up for those who wish to look through past posts and learn something. If you would like to hire an editor, feel free to contact the editors (Book Doctors) listed on the left sidebar.

Wishing all of you success in your writing careers!


Sandi Rog

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Gift Certificate for a Detailed Edit!

We at Inspiration for Writers have done something we've never done before and most likely will never do again. But we've done it for the fun of it, for the excitement of it. We've done it as a special Christmas gift to some lucky writer out there. What have we done? Are you sitting down? We are offering a gift certificate for the detailed edit and critique of a book-length manuscript (fiction or nonfiction, your choice, up to 100,000 words) on eBay. The starting bid is just ONE DOLLAR. There is no reserve. If there's only one bid, well, the winner will get a gift certificate worth up to three thousand dollars for that buck. Yep. For real.
The winner will also get the same personal care and professional quality we give every client. 
Want to know more? Better yet, want to submit a bid? Just go to If you have any problems with the link, go and search for item number 90646489420. 
And if you still have problems, email me:

But whatever you do, hurry. The auction will end on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Please help us get the word out by putting this on all enewsletters, list-serves, email groups, blogs, facebook, twitter--anywhere you can. Thanks so much.
Sandy Tritt, CEO
Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Tips to Help You Get Published

by Pam Zollman                                                                                             

1)      Age – Aim High.  Word Count – Aim Low.

2)      Never sleep under the same roof with a rejected manuscript.  Send it out again as fast as possible!

3)      A manuscript in your file drawer is rejected.  A manuscript in the mail is not.

4)      Always have a list of places to send your manuscript.  That way, if it comes back, you can send it right out again without doing more research and using that as an excuse for not resubmitting it.

5)      An editor rarely calls and asks to buy what you have in your file drawer.  So mail that manuscript today.  You can’t sell it if it’s sitting in the drawer.

6)      Enter contests.  Giving yourself a deadline is a good way to make you finish that manuscript.  If you lose, so what?  You have a perfectly good story to submit to other publishers.  Besides, you never know…you might win.

7)      A writer writes every day.  A writer writes the best she can in everything she does.  A writer experiments so that her writing doesn’t become stale.  A writer tries other fields of writing, because she might discover another area she enjoys.

8)      A writer reads every day.  A writer reads in his field to keep up with the market.  A writer reads outside his field to broaden his mind.  A writer reads for research, and a writer reads for pleasure.

9)      Use the Buckshot Method of Submission:  Submit 10 manuscripts to 10 different publishers. You have a significantly better chance of selling than if you submit 1 manuscript to 10 publishers.

10)  The Secret of Successful Writing:  Put the seat of your pants in the seat of your chair and write!

Feel free to contact me, Pam Zollman, if you have problems with your stories.  I'd love to help!  My email address is pam (at) anauthorworld (dot) com.  Visit 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pantser or Plotter?

by Pam Zollman

At our AAWC ( meeting yesterday, we talked about whether we were pantsers or plotters.  These are individual writing styles.  Which are you?

A pantser writes by the seat of his pants -- he just sits down and starts writing, without a plot or knowing exactly where he's going.  He allows his characters to dictate where to go; he loves the spontaneity of his writing.

The pros of this type of writing is the freedom it allows.  You don't have to have anything more than a vague idea in mind before you start writing.  You can allow emotion and intuition to guide you, rather than a formal outline.  You can go off on as many rabbit trails as your heart desires.  Most beginning writers start off this way, and many professional writers still do this.  Any outline they might have, they keep inside their head.  Pantser feel this style of writing gives them the most creativity.

The problem with this kind of writing?  Well, you might wind up with a rambling story and confusing plot.  It may be overwhelming, especially for a beginning writer, to revise and fix.  The inconsistencies and logic flaws can snowball into a huge amount of revision work.  It's easy to get writer's block because you don't know where you're going with the story.  You'll have pages and pages that you'll have to discard because they don't add to your story (even if they were fun to write).

A plotter writes down a detailed outline of his story before he even starts.  He knows his beginning, middle, and end of his story; he even knows all the parts in-between.  He has detailed character sketches, so that he knows everything he needs about each character and how these details will fit into the plot.  All the backstory is worked out ahead of time.  He can catch and correct any inconsistencies or logic flaws either before hand or as he writes.  He can write fast because he knows where he is going and how he's going to get there.  Writer's block usually isn't a problem.

The problem with this kind of writing?  Well, you could wind up with stale prose.  All the creativity went into making the outline.  Sure, you can write faster, but is the emotion still in it or has it all been drained out?  Your brain thinks it's already written the story because of the detailed outline.  You write fast because you just want to get it over with; the love is gone.  You can feel confined to following the outline, even though your characters and your heart tell you to change course.

And then there's the plantser:  that's someone -- like me! -- who outlines her story ahead of time, but not in such detail that she becomes chained to it.  I do a detailed character sketch ahead of time, so that I know my characters very well.  Then I use my characters to dictate my story.  I know my beginning, my ending, and all the major plot points in-between.  But since I haven't outlined my entire novel, I have the freedom of letting my characters dictate much of the story.  However, I don't let them change the major plot points or ending, unless I realize that their way is better It's not always -- sometimes it's just a fruitless rabbit trail they wanted to follow, and I have to know this and stop it before I spend too much time and energy going in the wrong direction.

So which are you?  A pantser?  A plotter?  A plantser?

Whichever one you are will depend a lot on your personality.  For some people, writing any type of outline just kills their creative spirit.  For others, they are totally lost without their guide map, their outline. There is no one right way.  I have successful, multi-published friends in each catagory.

So which are you?  It doesn't matter, as long as you sit down and write.

If you need help with your writing, feel free to contact me at pam (at) anauthorworld (dot) com.

Monday, October 10, 2011

8 Ways to Beat Post Conference Blues

I've been attending large writing conferences for twelve years and they all have ONEthing in common—post conference blues. It’s only natural. A week-long conference is an exciting, grueling experience. Just physical exhaustion alone could get anyone down—add to that the mental and emotional effects and you have the perfect set-up for a huge let-down.

For those who aren’t expecting the post conference blues they can—worst case—derail your writing career for a year or more. At the least they can set even an experienced writer behind several work days.

The feelings can run the gamut of a vague sense of unease to out-right panic. I’ve found that once I’m at home all the nice things people have said about my writing morph into something ugly.
  • They were just being polite—they didn't really like my writing.
  • They don’t really want me to send in that proposal.
  • hey’ll never publish that (article, devotion, whatever) they told everyone to send something in.

All of these are lies. I've sat on the editor side of the desk and believe me when I say this. Less than 30% of the writers I request something from actually send something in. I’m convinced that a big reason is the post conference melt down.

Here are some tried and true ways I’ve found to minimize the effects.

  • Give yourself permission to feel deflated when you get home.
  • Arrange your schedule so you have a few days to recuperate.
  • Pamper yourself. Sleep in, go out to eat, spend some much needed time with family.
  • Before you dive into conference generated work take time to evaluate what happened.
  • Make a list of things you want to accomplish over the next year, next six months and next month.
  • Develop a plan to stay in touch with new friends and contacts.
  • Reach out to others who may be feeling the same way.
  • Take your next steps in small increments.

All of these things can help you navigate the post conference blues. Now it’s your turn. Have you experienced the let-down? If so, what have you found to help you cope?

Sunday, September 25, 2011


by Pam Zollman

When most readers reach the middle of a chapter, they start counting the pages to see how many are left.  They do this to find a good stopping point.  The problem is that sometimes, if the book is slow, the reader will not pick up your book again and you’ve lost him.  The trick to keeping him turning pages and keep your story fast-paced is to use scenes and sequels to create hooks at the beginning and end of chapters.

Your story should start with some sort of hook to make the reader want to continue.  Most often action is used to sweep the reader along.  After using the scene-sequel pattern, you come to the end of the chapter and must decide where to stop.

Chapter Endings:  If at all possible, try to end each chapter with a cliff-hanger to force the reader to turn the page.  The cliff-hangers can vary in intensity, but should make the reader curious enough to find out what happens next.  The best way to do this is to use one of the following:

1)  Disaster – End the chapter at the end of the scene with the point-of-view character being hit with the disaster.  The reader will want to turn the page to see if the character survives it and what happens next.

2)  Dilemma – End the chapter in the middle of the sequel with the point-of-view character having to decide what to do.  His choices aren’t great, but he has to do something!  What will he do?  The reader must turn the page to find out.

3)  Decision – End the chapter at the end of the sequel with the character having made up his mind what he will do.  He’s picked the best of his bad options, and the reader will turn the page to see if the decision was a good one or not.  Plus, now the point-of-view character has a new goal, and the reader will want to read on to see if he can achieve this one.

Ending a chapter with Goal, Conflict, or Reaction are weaker choices.  However, even these can be very effective with the right plot situation.

Chapter Middles:  End chapter 1 with either Disaster, Dilemma, or Decision, so that chapter 2 starts out in the middle of the scene-sequel cycle. By the time the reader reaches the middle of the chapter and starts counting pages, you’ve started the scene-sequel cycle all over again.

Chapter Beginnings:  Whichever part of the scene-sequel cycle you ended the previous chapter with, you start the next chapter with the next part of the cycle.

Next time we'll discuss how to use Scene and Sequel to pace your story.  Feel free to contact me at pam (at) anauthorworld (dot) com, if you need help with your writing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Conference Etiquette

Today I’m finishing up my series on attending a writers conference with a great post from my writing and critique partner—Vonda Skelton. She originally posted this on her blog in 2009. Read the original here. She offers great advice on how to be a gracious addition to any conference!

Vonda Skelton is a national speaker, freelance writer, and the author of four books, including Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe and the Bitsy Burroughs Mysteries for kids. She is the owner of The Christian Writer’s Den Writing Blog, She and Gary have been married 41 years—and they’re still happy about it! 

Conference Etiquette
Here are some suggestions on how to be a gracious receiver of an editor's or agent's or other faculty member's time and input:
  1. Seriously pray about and consider who you should meet in faculty appointments. Don't just take an appointment because there's an opening. I did that the first year. Signed up to talk to just about everybody-even if I had no intention of ever writing what they'd be interested in! Wasted my time and theirs.
  2. Be on time for your faculty appointments and be considerate when the faculty member says the time is up. I think most instructors are like me and try to stay on schedule in fairness to all those with appointments.
  3. Listen more than you talk. Like many others, I tend to talk too much when I'm nervous. And before I learned this lesson, the less I knew, the more I talked! The best use of your time is to make a short introduction, tell a little about your experience, ask a sensible question, and then listen. Don't plan your next question while the person is answering the one you just asked. Really listen. Take notes if necessary. Follow up with other questions as time allows.
  4. If you're getting a critique, don't defend every point the critiquer makes. If you do, you're wasting valuable time you could be using to learn. Of course, you may have questions you need answered for clarification, but don't argue or rationalize every point. Sincere questions are one thing, continually being on the defensive is another.
  5. Realize that instructors will most likely be unable to take your manuscript home from the conference. Remember, you're one person. Multiply that by 300-400 students. If they are interested, they'll give you instructions for sending it to them.
  6. Faculty members love to eat with students, answering questions and giving encouragement. But don't hog the conversation at meals. Occasionally there are those who dominate the conversation, treating the opportunity as one-on-one time.  Not good.
  7. One more thing about meals with faculty: It's really nice when they can get a bite or two of food in.
  8. Be considerate: Don't shove your manuscript in their faces in the restroom. Don't interrupt a conversation or break in line to speak to someone.  Don't bad mouth one instructor to another. ;-)
  9. And a common courtesy that's often missing in our culture today: thank you notes. Handwritten ones are especially nice, but email ones are certainly acceptable. I cringe every time I think of those kind people who invested in me...and yet, I never even wrote a thank you note. Sadly, that wasn't something that I was taught as a child, and I didn't even take such notes seriously until someone mentioned it regarding conferences. Now I try to write notes to everyone who does a kindness to me. Sometimes I forget, but it is something I want to do. They've invested time in me. The least I can do is invest time to write a note.

So there you have it--suggestions on how to present yourself as a professional writer, as well as a kind, considerate person. ;-)

Now it's your turn - have you witnessed any crazy behavior at a writers conference? Have you seen anyone go above and beyond at a conference? I want to hear your stories.