Manuscript Master List

A year ago if you’d asked me how I track my submissions I would’ve said Query Tracker or nothing. Literally, I had nothing else. If you’ve used Query Tracker it’s a great platform for finding an agent, less so for a publisher let alone a magazine submission. So here I am a dozen months and […]

Competition versus Contest

Have you ever felt no matter how hard you work at it your writing it never seems to come out on top? Agents reject your prose, your Twitter pitches stagnate unheard, and editors point out a lack of sparkle.

Take heart, writing is a contest not a competition.

According to here is the definition for each:

Competition: A rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common, usually resulting in a victor and a loser but not necessarily involving the destruction of the latter.

Contest: A struggle for victory or superiority.

See the difference?

A competition implies a winner and a looser whereas a contest is a scale of superiority. In publishing there are MANY winners, not just one, and it’s often subjective. Again, from

Subjective: existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought.

Are your following me? This means that not only do many people get published each year, but also not everyone agrees on it. Some will love your story others will find it just okay. And it’s OKAY! Your writing is not going to appeal to everyone and it shouldn’t.

Take some joy in this subjective creativity contest and keep looking for your tribe of readers who agree you are the superior victor.

It could take some time, and will take lots of practice but you will find a group of people your words resonate with. Don’t give up, not now, not ever.

Happy Questing!



Death to Stock Photos!

No more stock pictures! Chant it with me! Not only do stock photos cost money but they are marginally relevant to your post. Who’s with me? Howrah! Before we charge off into battle together let’s get our gear in order so we can take down this photo monster with minimal damage to ourselves.

Get your gear:

  • A camera, smart phone, iPad- I don’t care. If it takes pictures you can work with it. Mostly I use my phone. And it’s not a super fancy one, just a basic smart phone. I know all the photographers out there just died a little on the inside but for a non-photo blog anything will do.
  • Editing software. If you want to pay for something like Photoshop go for it but it’s not necessary. I use apps like Avery, SketchUp, Over, & Pixler. All are FREE for the basic versions. Download them and see what you like working with.
  • Time. Yes this will take some time. At the start, it can be trial and error. Please be patient. How long is it taking you to find a decent stock photo? Forever, right. Why not invest that time in learning how to make your own pictures instead?

Moving on to the battle plan of picture taking:

I take pictures everywhere I go. If you think you live in a boring place, YOU ARE WRONG. Every place I have been has its own beauty. You just have to see it.

We all have unique places we go and things we see. Capture those moments at different angles. The way the windows are broken in that old building. How those marble stairs go up to the post office. The way the trees move in the wind today. Or how that dandelion grows out of the concrete even when it shouldn’t. The sunrise and sunset are visible to all of us. Take the extra few seconds to snap a picture of the beauty around you.

If you want to be more creative, stage something. Get a good flat background (I like to use a weathered board I have), put it in your yard on a bright day and set an object on it. I did this for my post Villainous Names with a piranha my husband owns. It fits with the theme of the post, and was not something you would ever find in the stock photo selection.

The key is to see things from a new perspective.

Here are some ideas to try out in your editing program:

  • Change the colors or remove them
  • Mess with the sharpness
  • Mix up the contrast
  • Add a quote, saying, or sticker.
  • Coat it with a whitewash and write your post title over top
  • The options are endless

Whatever look you love and want to use consistently–do it! It’s your blog and you can make it the way you want. If you see other pictures you like think about what effects you can layer over your photos to make it appear similar.

Try this! Charge off into the sunset with your camera and a world of new photos in your wake.

Comment if you have any questions about our pictures and how we achieve the looks we do. I like to use free apps and Amber is a Photoshop pro. For Photoshop, Amber recommends creating an action for your blog pictures. You can see some samples here. Between the two of us we can get you on the right track.

For Example: The photo for this post was taken in Raleigh, North Carolina at an old grain mill. Amber snapped it when I was taking in the beauty. I used my phone and the Aviary App ( Effect-Signature-Cruz and a sticker). That’s it. A free picture that took maybe 5 clicks to put together. We didn’t stag it or plan this photo out. We were having fun together and Amber saw an opportunity and capitalized on it. You CAN do this!