Advice to a New Author

It’s week 51. Only one more week to go in this year’s challenge. Thanks for hanging in there with us. This week’s topic is “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

First off, while I practice “pass it along” and try to help the next generation of writers as I was helped, I don’t like to give “advice” as such. Writing is just too individual an activity and our readers are just as varied.

There are books filled with advice of how to write the best seller. Sometimes the information is valuable, other times its just common sense. It could make you rich or fill the coffers of the one who wrote the book. However, after filtering through all the advice I’ve given, or received, over the years, I’ll just give one.

Read the rest of the post at Then be sure to visit the advice given by the other authors.


Journey to the stars and worlds of imagination: Plotter, Pantser, Explorer #mfrwauthor

Week 11 of the #MFRWAuthor 52-week Challenge

First stop on this week’s blog hop. The topic is “My writing process.” The answer, whatever works. No labels, no worries. Hope you’ll stop by and read the rest of the tale, then visit the other authors.

One of the first things I get asked when someone learns I am a published author is “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” To avoid the impassioned defense of whatever method the questioner uses or the inevitable proselytizing to change to their side, I’ve developed a response, “Yes.”

How do I justify being both a plotter or pantser? Or anti-plotter, discoverer, or whatever the latest process is.

Read the rest of it on Journey to the stars and worlds of imagination: Plotter, Pantser, Explorer

Out and About with Cynthia Woolf

The first interview of the year is up. I’m dishing secrets with Cynthia Woolf. You’re invited to stop on by and see the answers to questions such as “Was your road to publication fraught with peril or a walk in the park?” and “advice for aspiring writers.” There are also a couple of special questions answered just for my readers.

Hope you’ll stop on by and leave a comment. The post is at

~till next time, Helen

What Makes A Good Cover?

Covers have been on my mind a lot recently. And I mean a lot. The final two books of the Dragshi Chronicles recently underwent their final production and along with it a review of all material, including the cover design notes.

Did the overall design of each book in the series blend? Check.
Does the cover reflect the storyline? Check. 

And a full-moon surprise. My first series, The Windmaster Novels, is going to be re-released. Of course, with a new publisher comes a new cover, and its accompanying model search, and element review. A reveal of the cover and its design points is coming.

Now to the inspiration of this post. An article by E. Ayers made me take a critical look at the covers. Before you think about your next cover, read the excellent perpective by Ayers on “What Makes A Good Cover.”

The link is

~till next time, Helen

I have a …

When you’re published (and having a signing event) it is inevitable that someone will approach you and the conversation starts with, “I’ve got a  (novel, novella, story, screenplay…) that I want to publish. How do I go about it?”

Depending on how serious the person is or the status of their work (or how many people are waiting to talk to you), the discussion can start with some basic decisions.

  • Ebook  / print
  • Indie Self-publishing /
  • Small Houses / Big NYC firm

And I usually end with “Have fun with your writing.”

Depending on their perceived skill level, I might mention what assistance is available from a given site such as createspace or kdp, but I usually stopped short of recommending any particular book. One reason is the great variance between authors in their writing ability, experience, and genre, not to mention the sheer number of books out there. 

Recently I gave a two-hour tutorial on bringing a book to life.The talk was given to a person with a completed manuscript and a determination to have a book in print. Their deadline was such that they needed something concise, complete, and easily understood. The book handed them was the 2015 edition of Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass: The Step-by-Step Author’s Guide to Writing, Publishing and Marketing Your Books on Amazon by Rick Smith.

The result? The manuscript is now finished and undergoing editing. Pictures are being inserted, and the marketing/promotional plan being written. According to the soon-to-be published writer, Rich Smith’s book provided the overview and sufficient detail to move the project along. Then they’ll move onto more discrete resources such as the Smashwords guides, and help forums.

While not every book on craft, how-to-publish, and marketing is suitable for every author, whether published or wishing to be, the answer to I have a … has been expanded to include Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass.

~Till next time, Helen

Find Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass on Amazon and more about Rick Smith’s books at


What’s In A Cover – Pt 5, Hatchlings Curse

I’ve discussed a form for use as a thought tickler, and showed the results of one effort. I do want to stress that the Cover Art Sheet is a tool, to be used as little or as much as needed.

For an author-created cover, the production section provides more use than if using a designer cover. The designer would be the one to track the sources of the images they used. However, if there are attributions that need to be made in the book or restrictions on the images use, the Cover Art Sheet could keep that information close at hand for you.

Just because you filled out a Cover Art Sheet as a means to organize your thoughts, the detailed sheet does not necessarily have to be handed to your designer, a summary of the pertinent items could be sufficient. An example of a precise generated from a Cover Art Sheet is in the sidebar.

And now for the result, courtesy of Fantasia Frog Designs.

Drum roll please.


Thank you for following this series on creating book cover. And as a final reminder, a copy of a Cover Art Sheet can be downloaded at Just click on the writers resources tab.

And if you want to learn more about Hatchlings Curse, excerpts, buy links, and  free read of the first chapter is found here.

~Till next time. Helen

What’s In A Cover, Pt 4 – Dragon Destiny

At least once at every lecture, I’m asked about covers. I would like to say here that even if you are using a professional to design and create your print or ebook cover or have a publisher, it is helpful to have some knowledge of what goes into a cover design.
There are various reasons. One is so that you can recognize a bad cover. Another, more important, is so that you as the author can provide the necessary information to the designer. They may know the genre and have the artistic ability to blend images, but you are the creator and the person who knows the book the best.

This series is not about what goes into a good cover for an ebook or a print. There are entire books written on the topic. And if you are with a publisher, you probably won’t have the final word as to the cover design.

What I am trying to do is to help you the author organize your thoughts and provide a tool for the cover design. For those on the indie-published route or whose publishers don’t provide such a form, a Cover Art Sheet is available at Just click on the writers resources tab.

The inset shows the thoughts generated by the form for Dragon Destiny as envisioned by Fantasia Frog Designs.

And the result?
Drumroll please.

And if you want to learn more about Dragon Destiny, click here for buy links, excerpts, and a free read of the first chapter.

Bye till next time when I’ll unveil the cover for Hatchlings Curse. ~Helen