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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I've got a great guest post by author Corrina Austin and a giveaway of her MG historical CORNERS. It sounds like a fantastic story to transport us to the late 1960's. But before I get to Corrina's guest post, I've got my IWSG post and Follower News.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are:  Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

Optional Question: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep writing?

Well, since I am a contract writing with 15 or more articles that I must write each week, I have learned to write through the good times and bad. I don't pick all my topics and don't always love them. But once I get into my writing, I just plod through. And writing is actually comforting, sort of like comfort food, when times are tough.

When I can get to my own writing, I find going back and editing the last chapter I wrote can help me get back into it even if I'm struggling. I'm more willing to follow my critique partners' advice and just change things lately, so that is making less rainy times for me. Not that I've been writing much for me. But I'm in heavy-duty planning for my mom's move from Florida to independent living next month. I have to do all the work of it, so I just can't do anything about the lack of time for me right now.

What about you? How do you get through your rainy times.


Rebecca Douglas recently released DEATH BY ADVERB, her new adult cozy mystery. Here's a
blurb: JJ MacGregor doesn’t actually want to kill her annoying boss, but someone did, and now JJ needs to find the killer before more people end up dead. And here are a few links:

And the first two books in the series are on sale for 99 cents through April. Here's a few links:

Now, let's get onto Corrina's guest post.


I knew that I was a writer when I was eight years old. I was outside, sitting in the lower branches of a willow tree. It occurred to me that I was “in the willow’s lap.” It was such a cool thought that I had to write it down. Once I connected to the thrill of the written word, I wrote constantly. I would write on coloured pads of newsprint, the backs of old calendars my mom saved for me, and in the left-over pages of the used school notebooks the teachers let us take home in June. I was writing novels by the time I was twelve. I would go to the Homework Room at school during recess and work on a story rather than go out to play. As a teenager, I would write in the evenings after homework and I would often look up from my notebook to discover that it was very late and I should have been in bed hours ago. Even now, that is something I love about writing—getting lost in it until I’ve lost all track of time. It is escapism at its finest.

I write for myself first. If it becomes something marketable, that’s a great bonus. I’ve tried to write to specific markets before and it can be done, but there is an element of forcedness to that. I far prefer the natural flow process of writing a story that is begging to be told, as though writing it isn’t even a choice.

I received an acceptance for a children’s picture book when I was eighteen years old--the very first press I’d submitted it to. I wrote the story as part of a project I was working on in a Canadian Literature course I was taking in high school. I even received an advance for that book. Unfortunately, the press went under before they could publish it. The title of that story was “Marbles, Puppy Tails, Nose Trees and Bubbles.” I don’t have the original manuscript any more. After that first acceptance, I learned that my easy success had been a complete fluke! I was doomed to decades of rejection. I wish I had kept track of all the rejection letters and emails I have received from publishing companies. There were several times where my hopes were lifted after learning that my work had made it to editorial review. I sincerely appreciated the editors who found time for some feedback in those “we thought your book had merit, but we will have to take a pass” responses. I learned that my writing was often perceived as strong and engaging, just not “the right fit” in most cases. If not for

those comments, I might have come to believe that my writing skills fell short of “published author” material, and I would likely have given up. I did persist and had some short stories and articles published. I also won a short story contest in my community. I received two grants from the Ontario Arts Council for a novel in progress. My “real” job in the school library made it possible for me to advance my resume as a book reviewer for School Library Journal. These small successes helped to fire my drive to push on and publish a novel. I took a sabbatical for one year when I was teaching and devoted my days to writing and submitting. My novel “Corners” was born out of that year off. Once the final draft was complete, I started shooting it off regularly to different publishers. It took a few years to find success with that particular manuscript and I was delighted to receive an offer from Dancing Lemur Press. I have several other completed manuscripts I’m still trying to find homes for. I should be focusing on that task, but as per usual, I would much rather be writing and I’m presently spending my afternoons on another novel-in-progress.

Researching and submitting to presses is tedious work. Many writers have an inherent talent for this

process, but I am not one of them. The legwork of finding a publisher is a crucial aspect of being a writer, and the challenge is that every press has different requirements and expectations for author submissions. Writers who want to be noticed by a publisher must respect their submission guidelines and follow them in order to be considered. I have learned to pay attention to what presses are asking for when submitting. If they ask for a synopsis and three sample chapters, then that is exactly what I will need to send. I have come to realize that I will make a good impression when it is obvious that I have read and respected submission guidelines. I also try to write solid proposals and synopses for my manuscripts. Most publishing companies will ask for one or both of these things. I try to keep proposals and synopses on the brief and concise side, at the same time ensuring that what I do write is interesting and engaging enough to capture an editor’s attention.

It is important to carefully record submissions, including dates, rejections, and feedback. If a writer doesn’t do this, it is entirely possible to send a manuscript back to someone who has already rejected it a year or two before. As a writer (as in any job), I want to make an impression as a professional. I keep a simple chart in my computer files and update it with each submission. It can be something as simple as that, or just a ruled notebook. Just commit to recording everything that goes out and comes in. And be prepared to wait for responses. They can be a year or more in coming. Some presses won’t even respond at all if they are not interested in a manuscript. Be aware that some presses will not read simultaneous submissions, which means they do not want to consider work that is being considered elsewhere. If you can’t live with that (and I personally cannot), refrain from sending your work there.

I’ve learned the importance of accuracy when writing from a historical perspective. “Corners” wasn’t as challenging in that regard because I drew from my own experiences as a child growing up in the 1960’s. I have written stories set in more distant time periods, using old yearbooks and manuals and archives to ensure that my information is correct. If I want to be credible as an author, then my facts must follow suit. I have had that unpleasant experience of reading a book, becoming engrossed in the story and then being jerked out of the book’s world by an obvious historical error. A writer should avoid disengaging his or her readers like this. For the time we are reading, we want the book’s landscape and characters to be real.

Another thing I learned from working with an editor on “Corners” is that although song titles can be referred to in a novel, lyrics cannot—unless you are prepared to pay songwriters hefty sums. I was not prepared to do that. I imagine most writers aren’t. I was disappointed when I had to weed through the first draft and take all the song lyrics out. I had researched them carefully and tied them in directly to what was happening in the story.

One thing I have grown accustomed to is to not to take rejection personally. Initially, it stings. It’s hard to read a two-sentence form letter after the monumental effort of writing an entire novel. Rejection gets easier with practice, and I advise prospective authors to accept that you may very well have plenty of practice! Persistence will pay off, somewhere along the line. And if you are fortunate enough to receive some feedback, implement those suggestions. It is important to be open to helpful criticism. These people know their business.

In this age of social media, the author must be ready to take on a substantial role in promoting his or her work. Gone are the days when the publishing company takes all of the marketing on. It’s become more of a partnership now. Authors are expected to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to promote their work to their followers. They are expected to organize signings, readings, book launches, write guest blog posts—anything that can improve sales. There are countless opportunities to promote your book and sell more copies—which is a win/win for everyone!

My novel “Corners” was released in print and electronic versions on March 6, 2018 and is classified as “Middle Grade Fiction.” I did not write the book with this audience in mind, but Lesley at Dancing Lemur had the expertise and experience of judgement to target this age range. The characters in the flashback scenes of the story are children and so the age designation makes sense. I do hope that adults will find the novel engaging, too. Set in 1969, it has a lot of nostalgia as well as themes present in a difficult childhood that many will relate to. An adult looking for a book without gratuitous violence and graphic content would enjoy the book. Look for it on Amazon in the U.S. and Chapters/Indigo in Canada.

Here is the blurb on the back cover:

Everyone needs their own special corner...

It's 1969 and ten-year-old Davy is in a predicament. With two weeks remaining of the summer holidays, he's expelled from the public pool for sneaking into the deep end and almost drowning. How will he break the news to his hard-working single mother? She's at the diner all day, Davy has no friends, and he's too young to stay by himself.

The answer lies in his rescuer, mysterious thirteen-year-old Ellis Wynn. Visiting her Grammy for the summer, Ellis offers to babysit Davy. She teaches him about "corners"-forgotten or neglected areas fixed up special. Together, the kids tackle several "corners" and Davy learns what it means to bring joy to others.

Davy begins to wonder, though. Why does Ellis want to be his friend? Why doesn't she ever smile? And is Davy just one of Ellis' "corners?"

You can find Corrina at:

Twitter (@corrinaaustin)
Instagram (@readingcorners)
Corrina Austin Author (Facebook)
My blog https://trustcake.wordpress.com/
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Corrina-Austin/e/B071ZZJ7NW

Corrina and her publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, have generously offered a hardback of CORNERS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through April 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 9th I have a guest post by debut author Alexa Donne and her agent Elana Roth Parker and a giveaway of a query critique by Elana and BRIGHTLY BURNING, a YA romantic science fiction by Alexa

Monday, April 16th I have an interview with author Jerry Mahoney and a giveaway of his MG science fiction BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE

Monday, April 23rd I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with associate agent Jennifer March Soloway

Monday, April 30th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop!

Hope to see you on Monday!


Suzanne Furness said...

I feel a bit like that, writing is a good tonic for me too. Although I have been in a dry patch of late, but things are looking better and I'm feeling more positive. Sounds like you are busy with your mum's move at the minute, hope it goes well.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's a shame song lyrics are so costly.

Your experience as a librarian and writing review for Library Journal paid off. It's no surprise that Library Journal gave a wonderful review of your book.

Natalie, I know what you mean by forcing yourself to write through the not-so-fun stuff. Thank you for featuring Corrina today.

nashvillecats2 said...

One can never accuse you of being lost for words Natalie. With all the writing contracts you're involved in. Enjoyed your post immensely.


Yolanda Renée said...

Congratulations on Corners, Corina! Great post, I know most of us can relate to that writing journey. I love using songs too and was also disappointed to learn I couldn't use the lyrics. Music sets the time, mood, and the even the scene. Enjoy your books release!

Natalie, I do concur - reading is the best way to get out of a writing slump. But when other life issues interfere, it's just a time issue. Wishing you all the best for the changes that are happening!

Jennifer Hawes said...

You're absolutely right. We must keep writing no matter what! And reading really helps us dig deeper and trudge along.

Christine Rains said...

I've learned to just to push through too, Natalie. While I can find inspiration fairly easily, it is me who has to write onward.

Congratulations to Corrina! It's very important to remember not to take rejections personally. Great guest post.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Good luck getting your mom moved in. Those are the sort of things we have to pause for. I rarely don't feel like writing. What I get fed up with is marketing and being sociable-- though I like people, but when I'm moody, I just want to be left alone to write.

The lap of the willow...how perfect indeed! Best of luck to Corinna!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We do have to partner when it comes to marketing.
I didn't know my books were space opera when I submitted. A wide audience found them though, so believe a large audience will find yours, Corrina.

Crystal Collier said...

Your mom is coming to Florida? Where? You should come too. ;)

That's what I do too--when getting into my writing, review the last chapter then go forward.

Corrina, I'm there with you. I started early and never stopped...for good, that is. There are always pauses, eh?

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, fifteen articles a week is quite a bit.

How are you? How is your novel writing going?

Gwen Gardner said...

You sure do a lot of writing. Good for you for plodding on even when you don't feel like it. Good luck with your mom's move!

Congrats on your new release, Corrina!

Sherry Ellis said...

So nice to see Corrina featured here! Her book is really good. I'll have her as a guest on my blog next week.

Chemist Ken said...

15 different writing jobs a week? That would drive my muse totally crazy.

And congrats to Corrina!

Brenda said...

I like Corina's comment about being in "the willow's lap" and post on her writing path. Hope everything goes well with your mothers move and your plans. Wishing you all the best.

Raimey Gallant said...

Corners sounds lovely. Lately, to get me through slumps, I've been audiobooking, puzzling, audiopuzzling. :)

Cynthia said...

Good luck with moving your mom to independent living next month. I love your analogy of writing to comfort food. I know what you mean.

I like Corrine's idea of writing for herself first.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Like Raimey, I listen to audiobooks a lot because I can do other things while I listen. Bravo to you having someone waiting to publish your articles. Wonderful! Good luck with your mother's move. I hope it goes smoothly.

Pat Hatt said...

We have to keep on a writing indeed.

Sometimes life sure can suck the time away, but that doesn't mean we stop.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Congrats to Corrina. Her book sounds amazing. Sorry about all your time demands. I hope your mom likes her new place.

Olga Godim said...

Like you, Natalie, I found that editing what I wrote the day before often helps me to get into the mood for today's writing, although many writing teachers recommend not to edit at all until you finish the entire story. I guess it works differently for different people.
And 15 articles a week - it's amazing. As a journalist, I write a few articles a month and feel that it is enough. Sometimes, when two articles cram together into one week, it is very stressful. I can't imagine writing 15 every week.

Jemi Fraser said...

historicals are so tricky to write! Corners sounds terrific!
Good luck with your mom’s move Natalie!

Nas said...

Congratulations on Corners, Corina!

Great post, I know most of us can relate to it. The writing through good times and bad.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Congratulations, Corrrina. Your book is wonderful. Thanks for giving us the background on how you wrote the book. Very interesting.
My best to you Natalie in getting your mother moved. That is a big job. Blessings to both of you.

Mark Murata said...

A nice post. A quiet account of the realities of being a writer.

Cathrina Constantine said...

15 articles! Wow!! I can see why your personal writing gets pushed back.

My daughter was just lecturing me about my mother, and I'd better start thinking of what we're going to do with her and not wait until something terrible happens. I'm wishing you luck getting your mom moved to Florida and settled.

Jennifer Lane said...

Natalie, that's cool that you write for work and I can see how that would be challenging, too.

I love how Corinna started writing. Willow trees are special.

Michael Di Gesu said...

All the best Corina! Thanks for your insights!

Hi, Natalie... Hope all goes well with your mom... are you coming to Florida? Let me know if you are in the Orlando area....

Kimberly Gabriel said...

One of the things I miss most about blogging is IWSG! Congrats to Rebecca and Corina. I didn't know you had to pay to use song lyrics- thanks for that tip! ;)

Carrie Smith said...

Very interesting post. So cool that you knew you wanted to be a writer at only 8 years old!

Juneta key said...

Congrats all, on the new releases. I hope the move for your mom goes well and as expected and smoothly.

Angela Brown said...

Corners sounds like a very intriguing novel.

I am sure all will go well with the move, Natalie. And I commend you for accomplishing all that you do in the not-so-much time we have :-)

nancywestbooks said...

What an intriguing MG book! I look forward to reading it! Congratulations on your release, Corina, and good luck, Natalie, on your mom's move.

J.L. Campbell said...

Great advice from Corrina. Good luck with your sales.

Nick Wilford said...

Glad Corrina persisted. Those piles of rejections can certainly be a struggle but it's all character building eh?
Death by Adverb is an excellent title!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Natalie - best wishes with moving your mom, and way to go with your article writing!
I love Corrina's book Corners! Congrats again Corrina!

Tamara Narayan said...

I was also surprised about the song lyrics and had to remove several from my first novel. I enjoyed reading about your journey to publication. Congrats on Corners!

DMS said...

I have been seeing Corners all over the blogosphere. Sounds like an interesting story. I was surprised to learn about lyrics and a few other trademarked items that couldn't be used for free when I submitted my first MS a few years back.

Wishing Corrina the best of luck!

Chrys Fey said...

If I had to write 15 or more articles a week, I'd need to be provided topics. I've already pretty much burned myself out of all topics that I can come up with. lol

Congratulations to Corrina! Her story is special. I loved it.

Angie Quantrell said...

Loved reading your story! Many congratulations to you!

And 15 articles a week? Yikes!

Angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Suzanne Warr said...

What a wonderful interview! Thank you both for sharing that--I'm always encouraged to hear about authors who persevered and made it through in the end.

Natalie, I also find it to be super helpful to back up a chapter or so and work my way up to new words, on rainy writing days. Thanks for sharing. I'm sending you all kinds of support and luck that your mom's move will go smoothly!

Corrina Austin said...

I can't believe I am just now seeing all these wonderful comments about "Corners," almost four years later! I am so appreciative of all the encouraging comments, particularly right now during the pandemic, when motivation can be a struggle. Thanks so much to all who took the time to connect here. Best of luck to all you writers out there!