Category Archives: Motivation

A Perfect Setting

A guest post by Vinspire Publishing’s Editor-in-Chief, Dawn Carrington

Charlestowne Landing

Here at Vinspire Publishing, we’re fortunate to live in Charleston, South Carolina. Known as the Holy City, the Lowcountry, and Chucktown, it’s been voted as America’s Most Friendly City, and it’s the oldest city in South Carolina.

I set a lot of my own books here in the Lowcountry because of familiarity, but beyond that, there are so many unexplored parts to Charleston that would make excellent settings for books. Though it’s popular with visitors, it doesn’t get as much attention in books as cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

Though I’ve lived here well over twenty years, I’ve never taken one of the popular Ghost Walks or carriage rides. The Wentworth Mansion ranked #2 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Top 10 Hotels, but I’ve never stepped foot inside it. See what I mean about the possibilities?

Beyond the sites I haven’t seen, there are a whole host that I have, and those places will come up in future novels. The Battery, Fort Sumter, the Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon, Magnolia Plantation, and Charles Towne Landing are all truly unique places that invite characters. The names alone lend themselves to book settings, don’t they?

Now take a moment and imagine what kind of stories could be written in those settings. Historical fiction, of course, but what about a young adult paranormal story for the Old Provost Dungeon? A pirate romance for Charles Towne Landing, maybe? And though the Battery was a place for artillery during the Civil War, it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and always makes me think of mermaids and underwater civilizations.

Now look around your own hometown and see what ideas some of the sites give you. Not every book needs to be set in a major city. In fact, some unique, smaller towns or less talked about cities would be a fresh addition to the world of fiction, especially if a local landmark can help you find your plot!

Who or What Inspires You?

We’ve all had people who’ve come into our lives, maybe for even a short period of time, who have inspired us. It might be someone we’ve not even actually met like an astronaut we’ve seen on TV or a great singer. We can all find inspiration in someone.

But what inspires you to do your best, be your best, write your best? Do you have an inner desire? Are you your own inspiration?

I’ve heard many people say they felt inspired to do something so how do you find that inspiration? Where do you find it? Is it something that lies dormant within you until it’s sparked by a question, a thought, or a song?

As you ask yourself these questions, consider writing down the answers, and maybe, one day when you’re just not feeling inspired, you can review those things that once did inspire you.

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom.  ~ Albert Einstein


Focus Your Submissions

You’ve written one novel, and you’d like to get it out to as many places as possible. So you tediously make a list of your top sixteen publishing houses. Unfortunately, you receive sixteen rejections in the space of two weeks.  Some of those rejections have given you feedback on how to improve your novel, but they didn’t invite a resubmission. So if you’ve already exhausted your list, where do you send your novel once you’ve improved upon it? And should you resubmit to those publishing houses without invitation?

You can always send an e-mail to the editor who rejected your manuscript, asking if you can resubmit once you’ve polished it, but if you have several houses giving you several different ways to change your manuscript, you need to review the notes, decide which ones you agree with the most, and resubmit only to those houses if you’re allowed.(Side note: If you don’t agree with the changes, don’t make them just on the off-chance you might receive an acceptance. You need to be true to yourself and your voice.)

Because there are so many possible scenarios that can happen when you’re submitting a manuscript, it’s best to query only one to three publishers or agents. (Another side note: If you intend to submit to an agent, it’s generally best to not submit to publishers as agents like fresh material they can pitch to editors/publishing houses.) This is not to say don’t be aggressive about sending out your work. Just leave some doors open so you’re not out of options when you’ve refined your novel.

If you approach three publishers/agents and receive rejections without notes, proceed to the next three publishers/agents on your list. If you’re wondering what you can do while you’re waiting to hear back from the publishers/agents, work on your next novel or try writing a short story. Write an article and submit it. Read some books on writing and the genre you’re interested in.

And the final side note, if you can, try to keep at least two or three manuscripts or submissions (including articles or short stories) in the pipeline. This will give you a sense of purpose and help to keep you motivated.


Why Do You Write?

For every book that’s published, hundreds more are rejected every day.  Will yours be one of them?  Probably, at least at first.  Will yours be a breakout hit which will take the world by storm?  Maybe, but in reality, you’ll go through your fair share of rejections. Many times over, you’ll wonder why you ever decided to enter such a tough and tedious field.  The answer is simple. Because you love to write.  It’s not just what you do.  It’s who you are.

It’s your talent, the creative muscle which allows you to build a fictitious world or reveal a powerful bit of knowledge.  It’s your never-ending desire to see your words in print that makes you a writer.  Add to that your zeal for the printed word and the heart-pounding excitement you get from knowing someone loves what you’ve written.

Being a writer can be frustrating, daunting, and even overwhelming, especially as you try to learn what is required and just what you’ll have to sacrifice. Unfortunately, in the publishing industry, there are not a lot of shortcuts, but reaching your ultimate destination (being a published author) is all that matters.


The Write Team by Teryl Cartwright

Of course you’ve heard that writers work alone. You’ve probably also heard what a lonely job it is. But one of the best kept writing secrets around is that you are not alone. The best writers work with a team. Sure, you may have to sit in front of the computer by yourself and each word comes from your hand, but you need a team to make it to the next step.

I’m not referring to writers’ groups or classes. I don’t mean the online friends who give you research tips or like your status on Facebook. And please say “no” right now critique clubs and authors’ events. I’m talking about the team you recruit to help you write. You will need a cheerleader (to save your world), a mentor, a coach and finally, Simon Cowell. And you need these people in that exact order.

When you begin to write and the words gush freely and so beautifully, who do you go to share this wondrous miracle? Who gets as excited about you writing as you do? Whether it’s your BF, your spouse, your mom or the cheerful checkout gal, this person is vital to keep the spark alive, to get you to actually put the words on paper and get started. Their enthusiasm feeds yours and you need this person to be there and be energizing for you.

Yet even as you begin your writing adventure, you may start to have doubts or get stuck on how overwhelming it is to try to write when so much else demands your attention. Do you ever find it impossible to keep typing because you can’t get the image of the weeds in the backyard out of your head? Do you ever feel guilty when the kids get their snack ten minutes later than normal because you didn’t want to lose your train of thought and had to get it on paper first? Think about who you can call to listen to your struggles. You need a different person from the cheerleader who would tell you everything is great or going to be fine. In fact, at this stage, cheerleading might be annoying to you because that person “just doesn’t get it.” Find a mentor, someone who listens without advice, someone who cares without trying to solve your problem for you. Their support will help you balance writing with living and let you go through the process yourself.

In the next stage of a book (which is often the before the middle), you’ve been writing but you’ve lost the first glow of enthusiasm and your persistence is waning. You can see you’ve gone far, but you are not at the top of the hill, you are still in no man’s land. It’s at this point many writers give up and leave a half finished book to start another with a “better” idea or put their book down to finish later since “there’s not much more left to do.” Let me warn you now that half finished books are the hardest to finish because you will forget the ideas and the reasons you wrote the first part if you stop now. You need someone to hold you accountable. While you might consider this next person a personal trainer, a coach might be a better term to use. Personal trainers can’t make you do the exercise, but a coach is someone you admire and respect enough to want to impress. Get that someone, whether another writer or a co-worker, to ask you how much writing you’ve done each day. Don’t ask someone really close to you such as a spouse or parent to do this job—you will only resent their questions. Ask someone who will get you to keep going. Your coach will get you working through the middle of the book, through the writer’s block and help you set your sights on the goal, the homestretch.

Finally, you’ve finished the book. Is it time to celebrate? Yes! But there’s still one member left on your team to see. Still one more person you need for your book. I saved Simon Cowell for last. This person is not merely the critic; this person is the honest voice. You do not want to talk to or even recruit Simon until AFTER the book is done and AFTER all of your other three teammates have read it. To let Simon comment on a work in progress will guarantee you won’t finish it. Ever. Your Simon shouldn’t even know you are working on a book until you are done. This is really important. There are enough critics in the world, why let one judge you before you want anyone else’s opinions?

Choose your Simon wisely. Don’t pick someone with an agenda (such as a rival writer) and don’t pick someone who would like to take over or tell you what to do. Pick someone neutral and fair, someone who reads all different types of writing, because that person can speak from a broader base of experience.

If you can let your team help you write, you will find success and hold a finished first draft. You will cherish the joy of the cheerleader, the support of the mentor, the push of the coach and finally, the measured and deserved words of your critic as you start to revise your book into the next bestseller. Just go through the same process listed above for your book again…and again. With your team helping you “write” along.

Perseverance after Rejections

I wrote an article for FarmLife magazine on my rescue dog Rocky. He is a beautiful black and tan Husky that was hit by a car and left for dead. His back leg and tail had to be amputated, but the day after his surgery he walked out of the veterinarian’s office and into our hearts.

When I saw my article about Rocky’s harrowing experience in print I was hooked. I set an original writing goal to have something published to honor each of my beloved family pets for all eternity.

With the success of publication came the inevitable rejection. Oh the devastation of receiving those initial rejection letters in the mail hurt deeply. I could have given up, I wanted to give up a few times, and then my stubborn nature took over. When I received a rejection in the mail I would immediately submit the story to another publisher, or magazine, based on the theory that ten separate publishers could give me ten different reactions to what I had crafted. Perseverance means determination, and I was determined. The key in writing is to find the right match for your manuscript, short story, or article. A rejection doesn’t mean your writing is lacking it could mean the publisher has met their quota for your genre at the current time. I received enough rejections for my first novel that I could have wallpapered my den with them. If I would have abandoned my determination I would never have received the publishing contract from Vintage Reflections for my first picture book, What If a Zebra had Triangles?

Rejection can arrive in many forms, some rejections are a form letter, sometimes you don’t get a response, and sometimes the letter contains a glimmer of hope such as, good premise, shows promise, but…

Take the “but..”, fix it and re-submit. Don’t scream artistic talent, or writer’s prerogative! Publishers have been in this business long enough to make informed requests for changes.

Set your goals, be determined, and persevere. Rejection is part of the process of publication but if you are lucky enough to get a suggestion from a publisher, take it with a grain of salt and a shot of─perseverance, and resubmit. Please feel free to visit my website at

Victoria Roder lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband Ron and a house full of pets. She is the author of The Dream House Visions and Nightmares, Asylett Press, Bolt Action, Champagne Books and coming soon from Vintage Reflections Publishing, What if a Zebra had Triangles?


Good Author References

Sometimes when people find out that I am an author, they ask me a lot of questions. Usually this comes from those who say they always wanted to write a book, but just somehow never got around to it. They might ask me where I get my ideas. For me ideas can come from anywhere. I might see something on TV and it will bring an idea to mind. For example, at the beginning of the Iraq war a female soldier named Jessica Lynch made headlines when she got captured and later rescued. I really admired her service and those of other brave soldiers, both male and female. But I really wondered what would make a woman sign up to join the army and march off to war. Since I really love historicals, I did some research and found out that lots of women did just that during the Civil War. Thus, my character, Charlotte “Charlie” Garrett was created as a woman who follows her husband into the Confederate army.

Once you open your eyes and your ears to the world around you, there will be no end to the story ideas that can come to mind.

People also ask me how I was able to get published and other questions dealing with the publishing industry. I tell them you have to first finish that book and write it the best you can. Then you have to learn some of the business involved. I’ve put together a list of books and links that I hope will be helpful to anyone just starting out writing that book or trying to get one published. Don’t give up!

~Diane Wylie, author of four historical romances


Great reference books to have on hand:

Good dictionary


Any style guide, example: Chicago Manual of Style

The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D.

Good websites for writing information:

Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials –

Grammar Usage and Style –

Guide to Grammar and Style –

The Word Detective –

Publishers Marketplace –

Preditors and Editors –

Writer Beware –

Directory of ePublishers –
Secrets and Sacrifices – 4 1/2 stars Romantic Times
Jenny’s Passion – 5 Angels and Recommended Read
Lila’s Vow – “Extraordinary story” 5 Cups and Coffee Time Reviewers Recommend
Adam’s Treasure – Out now from The Wild Rose Press


Finding Your Romance…Which Genre is Right for Me?


As a published author, I have been asked many times to provide advice to aspiring authors, to help them learn the art, the craft, or the secret to writing a romance novel that will sell. Unfortunately, there is no magical key to success in this business, and while learning everything you can learn about writing is certainly beneficial, it’s only factual information, not necessarily practical.

For instance, many people in today’s society are learning a career field through college, and while that education is important, it doesn’t provide all the experience and training one can learn from actually working in that field.

It’s the same with writing a romance book. I’ve known several writers who spent so much time learning or trying to perfect the craft that they didn’t take time for some hands-on training…which is actually writing the book. You can read as many books on writing as you want to, but until you actually sit down and write your own book, you’re not going to know what you should be writing.

Every author is different. Your voice is unique and that is something you must find on your own. That is the key to building your career. It sounds so simplistic, but the more you write, the more you learn how to write…and the more you learn about your own talent. But how do you utilize what you have learned? How do you put that knowledge to work for you and let it help you to find your own voice?

A book should tell more than just a story; it should give the reader a vivid look at your talent and make them want to buy your next novel. You can do that by discovering your voice. That will lead you to the right genre for you. These guidelines should help.

When you write your first romance book, it may not be the “one” that will get published, but it is a blueprint for your future. Once you’ve completed it, read it and not just to yourself. Read it aloud. Does it sound realistic, strong, and powerful? More importantly, does it sound like you?

Now that you’ve completed your first novel, write something different, even if it’s just a short story. If your first book is a romantic suspense, try writing a contemporary romance or a romantic comedy. Whatever you choose to write, challenge yourself. If you think you can’t write it, try it anyway.

Don’t judge yourself as you write. By this I mean, don’t look at your own writing and decide it isn’t good enough. As authors, we tend to get too close to our work. We can polish and edit our manuscript and still find fault with it. This is where a good critique group or partner can come in.

Take both of those manuscripts or short stories and send them off to your critique group/partner or even a trusted friend. Ask them for an honest opinion. Which one sounds better? Which one held their attention more?

While they’re reading, ask yourself these questions:

Which romance genre did I enjoy writing more?

Which one did I struggle to write?

Which one made me want to continue to write?

Which one made me dread going to my computer each day?

We don’t always know where our heart lies when we first start writing. For example, when I first started writing, I wrote contemporary romance. That didn’t work out so well for me, so I moved into paranormal/fantasy romance. I enjoyed that a lot more, but …I grew tired of it after four years. Now I write romantic suspense. So while I’ve stayed in one genre, I’ve written in different sub-categories.

Finding where you want to focus your writing doesn’t have to be a be-all or end-all commitment. There are plenty of writers who write in more than one category of romance. However, when you’re starting out, you don’t want to dance all over the place with eight different categories of romance. That could confuse your readers, and confused readers are non-buying readers.

So rely upon your own likes and dislikes to guide you. Write what you like not what you think is making big money at present. Forcing yourself to write something you don’t like is akin to plastic surgery. It’s always painful, and you don’t always like what you end up with.


There’s Nothing Like a Lesson You Buy and Pay For Yourself.

The title is an old saying passed down from generations of folks in Missouri, but the first time I heard it, I thought how apropos this was for life. We all learn hard lessons growing up and even well into adulthood, but it is those lessons that help us to grow and become better people.

As writers, it’s so easy to beat ourselves up when we submit a query letter or manuscript only to realize there’s a glaring error that you’re sure the agent or publisher is going to notice right away. Or what about that query letter for your romance novel that you submitted to a children’s publisher?  We’ve all been there, but those mistakes make us more careful, wiser even.

When Vintage Romance Publishing (now Vintage Reflections Publishing) opened its doors in 2004, I was sure I knew just about everything there was to know about running a publishing company. After all, how hard could it be, right? That thought still brings a laugh because, over six years later, I’m still learning, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve paid for a few lessons myself, some of which were extremely expensive.

Whatever your calling in life, writer, mother, lawyer, or any other career or place, you’re going to make mistakes. Some of those mistakes will be humiliating, costly, and what you may consider stupid. It doesn’t change the fact you will make them.

You may end up laughing as your remember your past mistakes or cringing. Whatever the case, know that once you’ve purchased that lesson, you shouldn’t have to buy it again. So use that knowledge you’ve acquired the hard way to learn.

Oh, and if you do make the same mistake twice, at least you already know how much it’s going to cost you.

Here’s to mistakes that make us human!

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How About a Helping Hand?

When I wanted to create a new commercial for Vintage, I knew I wanted to go a different route than I’d gone before. We’d already chosen our new tagline—We Are Your Travel Guide to Your Next Adventure” so I knew I wanted the video to be about travel, to encourage readers to escape into a fantasy world. We all need a break every now and then, and reading is one of the most economical ways to take a vacation.

Because I knew one of our authors was a beautiful singer, I thought it would be perfect to have her voice with inspiring lyrics as the background. Imagine my surprise when I asked Venita Louise if I could use one of her songs and she told me she was actually writing a song that would be perfect for a video/commercial. The name of the song? Eyes of a Traveler. How perfect was that?

Now, I could have gone the usual route and used royalty-free music, but I knew we had a singer amongst us. I also knew it didn’t hurt to ask. The worst that could happen would be a no, right? Well, fortunately for us, Venita said yes, and we have a beautiful commercial to show for it. That brings me to the rest of this post.

Everyone needs a hand now and again, but, for some reason, a lot of us are shy about asking for that helping hand. Maybe it’s because we’ve convinced ourselves no one will help or we’re afraid of rejection. The reasons are varied, but, in the end, they are only obstacles in your path.

Instead of thinking: what if he/she says no, try thinking: what if he/she says yes. That way, when you’re getting ready to send your book to a publisher, ask your boss for a raise, or go to that job interview, you’re not already convinced the worst is going to happen. And in all reality, a rejection really isn’t the worst thing that could happen to us anyway.

Are you an author who could use help promoting your book or editing your work in progress? Are you a mother who could use an afternoon off just for yourself? Are you harried and overworked and could just use some extra help around the house or the office?

No matter what you choose to do, the tasks are still going to be there even if you don’t get help. The only difference is you might find someone willing to give you a hand if you’re willing to ignore your fears.

So before you talk yourself out of asking for help, go ahead and ask. And then be ready to say thank you when you get a resounding YES!

Many thanks to Venita Louise for saying yes! You can read more about Venita, her music, her books, her art, and her captivating sense of humor by visiting her website at

Oh, and if you haven’t seen our commercial and heard Venita’s wonderful song, here’s a direct link: We hope you enjoy it!