Posted in Publishing, Writing

5 Writing Myths You Need to Bust Now

As I said in my book Permission to Write, there are myths and there are realities. It’s about the difference between how you’d like it to be and how it really is.

What exactly is a myth? It’s a story that may or may not have a basis in reality―a widely held belief that is largely unfounded or false.

In the twenty-first century, when it seems like everyone is writing a book (and publishing it), there are so many myths about writing and publishing that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for any serious writer to know what to believe. Over my 30-plus years of writing, I’ve learned more than a few realities. And what I have learned is that continuing to believe the myths eventually becomes an obstacle for anyone who aspires to write and publish successfully.

Do you know what’s real and what’s a myth in this world of writing and publishing?

I’m not sure where all of the myths about writing and the writing life come from; I only know that new writers seem to have a lot of unfounded beliefs. Here are five tips for busing those myths.

The myths you need to bust now summarized:

  1. Talent is over rated.  Anyone can be a successful writer. The sad truth is that although talent is not enough, it is necessary for success.  And this is true of any field.  Talent can be cultivated.
  2. No one cares about grammar. I beg to differ.  Everyone cares about grammar; it’s just that some of them don’t know about it.  Get out the grammar book.
  3. I write better than most people.  Can you hear me laughing?  As American writing guru William Zinsser says, “Most people have no idea how badly they write.”  And if you don’t know who he is, stop reading and go immediately to Amazon and order his book On Writing Well.  Then read it.
  4. Thousands of Instagram and Twitter followers guarantee success.  Now I’m grinding my teeth.  If would-be writers spent as much time practicing their writing and having it edited by someone who knows what he or she is doing rather than amassing thousands of Twitter followers, success would be more likely. 
  5. My friends think my idea is great, so everyone else will, too. I just have one question for you: how did you get friends with such deep knowledge (backed up by data) about how your target readers will think at any given time?  The rest of us would love to know. 

You might also have other unfounded beliefs about writing success, but these are the ones I see demonstrated most often.

Get over these ones, and you’ll be able to move ahead with a clear view of the future.

Posted in Book launches, Publishing, Writing

My new book launches today: Is it historical fiction? Not so much

Historical fiction seems to be a trendy genre these days. I’ve written my share of historical fiction (Grace Note comes immediately to mind―I mean, if a book set in the twelfth century isn’t historical fiction, I’m not sure what is!).I’m launching my newest book today―Kat’s Kosmic Blues―and I’m wondering if it’s historical fiction to some people. The question is: when does a story qualify as historical fiction?

It seems clear that if a story takes place in the past and is fictional, it must, by definition, be “historical fiction.” But it seems that it’s not that clear at all.

The blurb on Masterclass that leads into Margaret Atwood’s class on creative writing says the following:

Historical fiction transports readers to another time and place, either real or imagined. Writing historical fiction requires a balance of research and creativity, and while it often includes real people and events, the genre offers a fiction writer many opportunities to tell a wholly unique story.[1]

So, any novel that transports the reader to another time and place is historical―except when it isn’t. There seems to be a notion decreed by some parts of the online community that anything set 50 years ago or earlier is historical fiction. But really? If you’re sixty-five years old and lived through the period in question, then, for you, it’s not historical fiction at all. It may not be contemporary, but a story set fifty years ago won’t feel like it is in any way in the same category as, for example, The Girl with the Pearl Earring or The Thornbirds (to mention two of my favourites).

It seems then that what is historical fiction is a bit subjective. And what about a story that starts fifty-five years ago (1965) and sweeps you all the way to 1989? Historical fiction? Probably not. And that’s what I’m launching today.

Kat’s Kosmic Blues, the prequel to The Year I Made 12 Dresses, is really a contemporary book.

In these days of COVID restrictions, we really do have to find creative ways to launch books! Please join me here…


[1] https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-historical-fiction-definition-of-the-historical-fiction-genre-and-tips-for-writing-your-historical-novel#quiz-0

Posted in Backstory, Electronic Publishing, Publishing, Self-Publishing, Traditional Publishing, Writing, Writing books

Helping Writers Means Telling the Truth


Anyone who knows me knows that I was an accidental academic. When I took my first part-time university teaching position so many years ago, I had no intention of making it permanent. I didn’t see myself starting off as a lowly assistant professor making my way up the academic ladder to associate professor and finally the ultimate academic goal: Full Professor. But that’s what happened. You know the old saying… “If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans…” Well, God must be laughing. Anyway, that happened, but that part of my life is also over. And I find myself back where it all began: teaching writing.

Yes, that first course I taught all those years ago was a writing course. You see, I had already begun to carve out a path for myself as a writer. I had published numerous magazine articles mostly in my specialty area of health and medicine, and I had also already published my first book – also in my specialty area. So, teaching writing seemed natural to me. And it still does. However, my venue has changed.

This past year I finally pulled together thirty years of writing and publishing experience to share it with the world. I thought I’d be able to be a mentor to newbie writers just starting out. But something happened.

In the intervening years between when I first established myself as a writer, and today, the writing and publishing industry has undergone nothing short of a transformation. Everyone can be published today. No one seems to need a publisher. Or even an editor. And so many writers are part of an online writing community that oozes self-congratulation and disingenuous positivity about everyone’s writing – all because you never know what someone else might say about your writing. You pat my back and I’ll pat yours, or something like that.

The upshot of this whole project was a book that seeks not only to provide a bit of mentoring to new writers but also to provide a foundation in reality and to disabuse writers these days of some of the myths about fame and fortune as a writer. The book is Permission to Write: How to Write a Book and Other Myths from the Real World of Writing and Publishing. I’ve also decided to share additional materials through the medium of video.

Thus, I’ve begun a 10-part series to accompany the book. The first episode “Want to be a rich and famous writer? Don’t give up your day job” is already up and running.

Today episode number two launches: “Don’t write that book! Or at least don’t publish it.”

So you can see that I don’t necessarily paint a rosy picture for wannabe writers. However, serious wannabe writers will get through them and still want to write that book. Those are the writers I aim to help.

The videos are posted on the Moonlight Press YouTube channel. Let your friends who “wanna write a book” know.