Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Susan Uttendorfsky
Let your creativity run wild! . . . And let us worry about the little things.
Let your creativity run wild! . . . And let us worry about the little things.


Keep Up Your Writing Stamina

Writing a book is hard work! It can be difficult to keep your stamina up and not let outside distractions keep you from meeting your goals. Occasionally you may feel like the words aren’t coming easily. Maybe you’re worrying about whether or not a contract will come through. Perhaps you got a bad review that has left you feeling stressed.

How do you handle the wait, or that bad review, or whatever it is so the event doesn’t derail your writing?

There is usually some ebb and flow when it comes to writing, and many writers find they need to have balance—and continue to push forward and keep putting those words out there, even if it feels like they aren’t flowing. Practice and determination are vital assets in reaching “The End.”

So, what do you do to help you keep up your writing stamina when you feel distracted?
Add a comment...

How do you handle technology in fiction?

It’s similar to brand names…if you’re trying to date a story, then using specific technology is a great way to anchor a tale in a certain time period. If a character’s favorite plaything is a Commodore 64, then you’re definitely in the 1980s. If they’re playing 45s on a turntable, then you’re probably somewhere between 1950 and 1980.

If you’re not trying to date a story, then it’s best to stick to generics. You can’t go (too) wrong with smartphone, computer, laptop, cell phone/mobile, or device. Technology changes so quickly that specific brand names, or even types of machines, can come and go very quickly.

How have you handled technology in your book?

Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Smashwords Book Marketing Guide 2018

Whether your book is on Smashwords or not, marketing is still marketing. This free guide lists 65 different tips that will assist you regardless of which distributor you use. The first edition of this book was in 2013, and the new edition has been drastically expanded—more than twice the size of the original.

The web page says you’ll learn how to “drive greater reader word of mouth,” “make your book market itself though autopilot marketing,” and “partner with fellow authors on over 10 collaborative marketing opportunities.” I haven’t looked at it and have no connection to the book, but I imagine any author would find something new to try.

The download options are on the link below:
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Close to Finishing Your Book?

Maybe you’re saying, “I don’t know! How will I know when it’s finished?” Here’s one way to tell…

Remember when your book was so cute and tiny? You loved it and couldn't wait to spend every minute with it. Thoughts of it filled your days and nights. Every new achievement was cause for celebration—“It’s now 20,000 words!” or “I’m halfway done writing the first draft!” If you’re in this stage, your book is still an infant. It’s not finished.

Then things got hard and the newness wore off. The first draft was finished, and sometimes when you looked at sections, you beamed with pride. But most of it still had the literary equivalent of sticky fingers and muddy jeans and gum in its hair. When asked how it was coming, you mumbled, “Leave me alone” or “Shut up.” If you’re in this stage, your book is like a nine-year-old child. It’s not finished.

Now you’ve finished your fifth, tenth, or fifteenth revision. Friends and family don’t even ask about it anymore. Other people who’ve read it swear it’s wonderful, but you’re not so sure. After all, you’ve spent all this time—and money—fighting with it. And despite beta reader and editor claims of maturity, it argues with you incessantly, shoves its rough spots in your face, and seems to cause more problems than it’s worth.

Plus, there’s a new “baby” in your life. And this new idea is so cute and tiny…

This is the adolescence of your book. One day you get to the point where you scream, “IT’S FINISHED!!”

Yep. You’re finished.

So how close are you to being finished?
Add a comment...

Asking people to contribute to your blog

While posting contributed material on your blog or website is beneficial to both writer and host, there is some basic information a contributor needs before agreeing!

1. What's your deadline for receipt?
2. How many words do you want?
3. What topic do you want them to write about?
4. How did you hear about them or how do you know them?
5. Who is the target audience?
6. What is the link to the blog or website so the contributor can check it out?

Stating the answers to these questions up front will give your potential contributor all the information they (probably) need to make a decision. After all, you're asking them to put forth time and effort! Additional questions that would be useful (but aren't critical) are:

7. What is your current readership (numbers and location)? (Editors need to know if they're writing for a US, UK, Canadian, or Australian audience.)
8. What links back to their site will you offer in return?
9. Do you need/want a bio (how long?) and photo?

After they’ve written the material for you and sent it, don’t forget these:

10. I got it!
11. Thank you!
12. It will appear on xyz date.

Approaching contributors in a professional manner will guarantee a professional response in return! Have you had good luck in asking for material from contributors?

Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Do your secondary characters ever try to outshine your major characters?

Don’t think you can skimp on their development just because the focus isn’t on them! A blog post said, “You can have just as much fun building and creating your secondary characters and sometimes even more freedom with them.”

Do you have fun with your secondary characters? And how do you keep them in line?
Add a comment...

Post has attachment
Can I use quotes from famous people in my book?

Yes. But consider these issues first.

(A) Is it really necessary? Fiction rarely “needs” quotes from famous people (despite the current epidemic of chapter epigraphs) and non-fiction shouldn’t need boosting from famous people. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, you consider yourself an expert on the topic! Don’t undermine that with other people’s words.

(B) Are you relying on tons of quotes in your book? If so, why? Using a lot of text written by someone else will definitely require permission unless your work is academic or not-for-profit.

(C) Have you researched the quote(s) to be sure the person actually said it and in those exact words? There are tons of incorrect quotes attributed to people floating around the internet. does not count as a professional reference source. :)

After you’ve considered, researched thoroughly, and decided to use a correct quote, you may need to ask permission, so keep good notes. In my opinion, it’s always better to ask permission and be told no than to risk having to remove the content later.

NOTE: This article does not apply to quoting song lyrics or poetry. They are very different situations!

Have you used quotes in your book? What has your experience been with them?

This blog post (not mine!) gives excellent additional information on this topic:

Add a comment...

Medical Research Failures

We all love doing our research, right? Writers joke about hoping the authorities never get a look at their internet search history, but fiction is rife with misinformation about injuries and fights—among other things.

Regarding injury medicine, some ideas find their way into stories by being “common knowledge” or something that’s been played out repeatedly on television. A common one is “popping” dislocated joints back into place; it’s portrayed as painful but simple, and the person then goes on as if nothing had happened.

In reality, dislocations require medical intervention—such as X-rays to check for fractures—and time to heal. Jumping immediately back into the fray is not an option!

Gunshot wounds are another area often misrepresented in the media. All those scenes where someone’s digging a bullet out of their buddy’s shoulder? Overly dramatic. Bullets are left where they are more often than movies would have us believe. Right after a fight, removal of the bullet is rarely the priority. (Gut wounds, on the other hand, require surgery ASAP!)

Do you dig into research or mostly use what you already know?

Read more examples here, if you’re interested (not my blog):

Great FB group especially for this:

Add a comment...

Don’t Be In a Rush to Publish

There’s a simple reason that vanity presses continue to thrive, despite warnings about them being repeatedly passed around—new writer enthusiasm! You’ve put your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into this novel and you’re proud and excited. When one of your query letters receives a response, you’re over the moon! It’s understandable, but it provides an opportunity for unethical individuals and companies to take advantage of that eagerness to be published.

Writing is a skill that takes time and effort to learn, and most first novels aren’t ready for the marketplace. CreateSpace and other outlets have removed barriers to publishing, which means even more new authors can send their books into the world before they’re ready. This reflects poorly on both the authors—who may have great potential, given time to grow and learn their craft—and the self-publishing industry as a whole.

How do you decide if your manuscript is ready for prime time?
Add a comment...

Tell Your Brain to Shut Up!

We creatives can be a fragile lot. It’s ironic that the emotional sensitivity that spurs us to write is the same quality that makes it so difficult to weather the inevitable criticism. And it is inevitable—between readers, critics, and editors—that somebody is going to find your masterpiece less than perfect!

Have you ever gotten a negative piece of feedback stuck in your head, playing on repeat over and over? For many of us, these thoughts tend to snowball, until one imperfect story turns into “I’m a terrible writer” or “I should just give up”!

This is just a trick your brain likes to play on you. Try not to let thoughts like these sink in and become a habit, and remind yourself that it’s just a thought—NOT an objective fact.

Not sure how to tell which thoughts are healthy and constructive self-criticism and which are the taunts of a tiny internal bully? Here’s a test: ask yourself whether focusing on those ideas is helping you achieve your goals, or derailing them.

As long the thought that has you “hooked” is something like, “Must practice showing instead of telling…” or “How can I make my villain more villainous?” instead of “Everything I write sounds like a fourth-grader’s work,” your active writer’s imagination is working for you and not against you.

Have you been able to redirect your thoughts away from criticism?
Add a comment...
Wait while more posts are being loaded