Friday, August 28, 2015

Huge Thanks!

Image result for thank youI'm absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the reaction to my guest post for Gordon Wilson's blog about why I'm going indy on my third book. Writers are so interested in what the real world of publishing is like.

Because we only ever hear the happy stories - usually hard cases that ended up being huge successes. 

Like J.K. Rowling who was rejected 12 times.  Stephen King who had 'Carrie' rejected 30 times. Or Robert M. Persig's cult classic 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair' which got rejected 121 times! Even James Patterson's first novel had 32 different rejection letters. This list about famous rejected authors from Buzzfeed is fun to read btw.

All these stories have happy endings, of course. Which is why we all know about them. And these are the ones we remember, the stories that fuel and inspire us. Stories that - for better or worse - make us believe with all our hearts that getting published will be our happy ending too.

I know that's what I believed when I inked my first book deal. That all my problems would be over. But the real world of publishing is - as my first editor told me after my novel tanked -  'a tough business.'

My problem was this: because I believed all these fantasies, I was so ashamed it never turned out that way for me. I thought there was something 'wrong' with me. I felt like such a failure, I actually stopped writing fiction for years. 

I don't think I ever would've shared the story about why I'm going indy if Gordon hadn't reached out to me on Twitter, just casually curious about my decision. 

I'm so grateful to him!! He's written a guest post for me too. But I'm right in the middle of editing for my beta readers and I want to be able to devote as much time to getting his post right as possible. Twitter, Facebook and share widgets included!!

(Which I haven't figured out how to do yet! Great idea, self-publishing, when I don't know how to attach a freaking Twitter widget.)

But I hadn't blogged in a while so I just wanted to touch base and say THANK YOU!! I feel so grateful for all the support and interest in this story. 

Because there are waaaaaaay more writers out there with a story like mine than Stephen King's. 


Here's Gordon's blog Firetok. Since I guested, he's already got some great new posts about horror - and other musings on being a writer. Check out his first book Firetok on Amazon too. I've already ordered it and can't wait to jump in. Looks like a spine-tingler!!  

Here's Gordon on Twitter @gordona_wilson

Hit me up too @SLMcInnis. Some day - very soon - I'm going to figure this widget thing out!! Promise! 

If you haven't seen it, here's that post 'The Top 5 Reasons I'm Self-Publishing - Instead of Going Back to the Big Guys' on

By the way, don't let my story discourage you. Publishers are ALWAYS looking for great first-timers - and some of you will hit it big! :) 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

2 Uber-Editing Techniques

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I'm going to be putting up Gordon Wilson's guest post about self-publishing in the next few days. In the meantime, he's got a hilarious post about robo-tweeting on his blog,

I'm in the middle of editing for my beta readers this week. I'm not sure if I love this part - or hate it. I was depressed yesterday. Feeling okay today. It's like editing makes me have temporary bipolar disorder or something.

When I'm revising, two things that have always helped me 'see' things I missed a hundred times in manuscripts.

1) Different font.

Although I usually write in Times New Roman 12 pt, when I'm revising work, sometimes I switch to Arial 10 pt. The crispness of Arial helps you see things in a different way.

2) Reading aloud.

I've heard about this tip for editing manuscripts for years. But for the first time, I'm actually using it for the full book. Sitting in my office, murmuring to myself until my throat gets dry. I can't believe the awkward phrasing and redundant sentences I'm able to fix this way.

My husband thinks I'm crazy of course, but that's no biggie.

If you haven't seen it, check out my guest post for 'Firetok' author Gordon A. Wilson. My Top 5 Reasons for Self-Publishing - Instead of Going Back to the Big Guys.

Hit me up on Twitter: @SLMcInnis

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Better than the Real Thing

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Twitter friend, writer and blogger Gordon Wilson put up the guest post I did for his blog yesterday.

It's all about why I'm self-publishing my next book. The top 5 reasons anyway (because there are more!).

We've had lots of great reaction to it already.  It seems people are very curious about the traditional publishing process. It's like some secret club everyone wants to join ...

I was so grateful to Gordon for the opportunity to share my reasons for going indy. SO grateful! It's funny, I don't think I ever had a single day on either of my publishing deals that was so purely enjoyable.

Even when something good happened - say US WEEKLY chose Devil May Care as a Hot Book Pick - there was always something that went wrong that day, too. Some publishing surprise I  hadn't been prepared for.

So a whole day of great things? It's a good omen for going indy I think! Thank you! :)

If you haven't already, check out the post on Gordon's blog!

He's also published a book - FIRETOK - which is getting great 5 star reviews! I'm looking forward to reading it! Check it out on

Follow me @SLMcInnis - I'll hitcha back!! :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why I'm Self-Publishing!

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So sorry I've been out of touch this week! I've been working on a guest post for another blogger named Gordon Wilson!

It's called The Top 5 Reasons I'm Self-Publishing Instead of Going Back to the Big Guys. It's my first guest blog post so I've spent quite a bit of time this week on it - which explains my being AWOL.

But it should be getting posted tomorrow - or soon - so I'll send a link when it's done. It was cathartic for me - and it'll be really informative for any writer. Whether you're considering going indy or not.

Here's Gordon's blog It's full of witty, honest observations about life - and writing!

Please give him a follow!  On the blog or on Twitter! @gordona_wilson

Thanks! Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Easiest Plot Trick Ever: Open/Closed

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I want to share an easy tip for finding plot twists that work in your books.

It comes down to what I call open ideas and closed ideas. 

Whether you're just starting a book or stuck on what comes next, this is a simple way to discover what's best for your story - and for you as a writer.

First of all, I almost never move forward without thinking: What do want to see next? What would turn me on as a reader? What 'feels right?' 

Sometimes the answer comes easily, but when it doesn't I search for 'open ideas.'

Say you're writing a legal thriller about a woman named Jenny. She's a divorced mom and a teacher just living her life.

Somebody on the teaching staff is killed and Jenny is drawn into the investigation.

Okay - fairly straightforward plotting. But what next? At a point like this - if inspiration fails me (i.e. the perfect idea doesn't occur to me right away), I start going down dozens of 'rabbit holes' trying to think what could happen next.

James Patterson does the same thing, writing down all the different ideas that come to him - often choosing the most surprising one.

I haven't written down options yet. Maybe I should. I've just always worked this way, so I can go down lots of rabbit holes really quickly, discarding ideas that don't work and searching for new ones that might.

What I'm looking for are 'open' ideas. In other words, ideas that lead to more ideas and move the plot along.

So say our teacher Jenny is investigated for the murder - she's found guilty and goes to jail.

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To me - unless you want to write a story about a jailbreak (which maybe you do!) - this is a 'closed' idea. It doesn't really lead to anything else. Jenny's just in jail. End of story.

However, if Jenny is a suspect and might go to jail, this is a more 'open' idea. Because it brings in new characters like lawyers, investigating cops, other suspects (Did her ex-husband try to set her up?), the emotional stress it causes her kids - and of course, her own living hell.

So Jenny being a murder suspect actually opens up more dramatic potential than her going to jail - so it's an 'open' idea.

Unless of course you do the jailbreak/Orange Is the New Black thing - in which case, go for it! It just depends on the type of book you want to write.

Most rabbit holes lead to dead ends. Because you realize, well if 'A' happened, that story arc would just end right there. No use doing that. It's a 'closed' idea.

So you keep going down rabbit holes. You go down the next one, following it in your imagination logically. If that happened, then this would happen, then this would happen ... then this and this and this would happen ... Think how every idea affects each character and the direction of the overall story itself.

Sometimes you'll find the perfect idea that really inspires you immediately. (Love when that happens!)

But it will often take more work. More rabbit holes. More thinking about potential outcomes (or causalities).

But when you find a rabbit hole (or idea) that leads to many different outcomes, there's more opportunities for drama there. So chances are this is a rich idea to develop.

There shouldn't be so many possibilities that it's overwhelming or confusing for you. It should make sense - but still have lots of potential for surprises. It should 'feel right' for you.

btw - this can work on a large scale, for whole plot lines. Or on a small scale for linking individual scenes. Whether you jot the ideas down or just run through them in your mind when you're daydreaming, try it out. I find it makes plotting much easier - and more fun!

Follow me @SLMcInnis - I'll hitcha back!! :) (Yes, I'm still trying to figure out how to put the Twitter widget on this blog. I'm not here for my tech wizardry - obvs.)