Category Archives: Writing

How To Approach An Author – Dos and Don’ts

How To Approach An Author – Dos And Don’ts


Rebecca Besser


Most writers/authors aren’t jerks, but they can come across as jerks on social media.


Because most writers/authors aren’t sitting around waiting for someone to randomly message/contact them on social media. They’re writing, dealing with their family life, and basically just living as human beings. Writers/authors may seem like magical creative creatures that live in an alternate reality where things are much more beautiful and artistic, but they live on planet Earth and have the same issues as other people: they have kids, spouses, get sick, have doctor appointments, run errands, etc.

Add on top of that real life stuff that they deal with constant deadlines and they’re trying to fit all the normal life stuff around their writing time. Or their writing time around all the normal life stuff. The last thing writers/authors need is someone who contacts them out of the blue asking a bazillion questions about writing.

So, when you get ignored or shut down by terse responses, know that the writer/author isn’t out to be a jerk. We do try to be polite. We do like our fans. We do want to encourage you. We do want to hear about what you think of our books (in a nice way—no one likes rude assholes).

Note: We do love to hear from people who love our stuff; it encourages us. And one of the absolute best ways to do so is to write reviews for our books and post them (Amazon or Goodreads are good places to post). If you just message us and tell us, that’s great too, but reviews are like giving a writer/author a surprise present. We love them. And they help with sales and our careers, which means the world to us. Reviews are the best way to show your favorite writer/author support.

And since that’s all true for those of us who aren’t really jerks (there are some that really are), here are three ways for you to get information from your favorite writer/author without coming across like a needy time-sucker that can’t make an appointment:


  • Write and send an email. Most have blogs or websites with at least a contact page. This would allow the writer/author the opportunity to get back to you when they have time. Most will.
  • Ask the writer/author to write a blog post about what you’d like to know. Chances are, other people out in the world would love to hear what the writer/author has to say too.
  • Ask the writer/author for book recommendations or resources about writing where the information you’re seeking is already available. There are many. Chances are, if you look around, you’ll find some helpful stuff on your own.


Please keep in mind that unless you know the writer/author personally and they’ve said to hit them up sometime with your questions, that it’s not okay to expect them to be available when you randomly contact them. They don’t live on your schedule. You need to give them time to respond to things like messages/emails without bugging them constantly.

I know it can be hard. I know you sometimes feel a connection over the writer/author’s work…but the writer/author doesn’t know you personally. They aren’t your best friend, but you can possibly become friends if you show restraint and respect in how you contact and try to communicate with them.


Copyright © Rebecca Besser 2020

2020 – Managing New Year’s Expectations

2020 – Managing New Year’s Expectations

By Rebecca Besser


Today is New Year’s Day, the first day of 2020. On social media people are sharing their resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. That’s all well and good…if you can keep to them. But most people don’t. By the third week to the end of January, the likeliness is that most people will become depressed because they’re failing to meet the lofty goals they’ve set for themselves. Why? Because most of the goals are unrealistic or too big to accomplish easily or in a short time period, which people need to stay motivated. Most people will give up on what they want when they realize it’s going to take time and work.

So, what’s the point? I don’t get it. I’ve set goals at the beginning of the year before. I’ve also set goals mid-year and random other arbitrary points on the calendar. I try to make changes in my life when I see the need for that change. The day, the time, the year doesn’t matter…and it shouldn’t. And that’s why I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (and that’s completely a personal choice).

Making one point in the year so important people put weight on all the value of change causes undo pressure. And when they fail, the depression arrives. So…why not set goals at your speed, on your schedule? It’s healthier. Not everyone is ready to make big choices for their lives at the same time. Human existence, experience, and need doesn’t match those of other people. And therefore you shouldn’t feel pressured to make those choices and changes on a calendar schedule.

But if the calendar schedule and peer pressure, or just the excitement of the possibility of something fresh and new like New Year’s, spurs you to make changes, make your choices and decisions wisely.

What do I mean by wisely? I mean be smart about the size of your goals and what it will take to reach them. Break down your big goals into small goals.

For example: If you want to lose 50 lbs., don’t expect it to happen in one month by starving yourself or doing some kind of fad dieting. Make small plans for each month that ultimately lead up to all the changes necessary for you to lose the weight. The smaller, slower changes will actually help you change your lifestyle and give you a better chance of keeping the weight off once you’ve lost it (however long it takes to get there).

And guess what happens when you break big goals down into smaller goals? You reach them faster and don’t get depressed because you aren’t seeing any change. You’re making changes. You’re accomplishing something. You’re doing what you need to. You’re changing you and your life.

Another example: If you haven’t been able to write as much as you’d like, and your goal is to write a minimum of 100K for the year, don’t set some crazy unrealistic goal of finding 3 hours a day to write. You’ve been struggling to find time in your day to write at all, so jumping to some big lofty goal you know you can’t meet without major stress isn’t going to help you reach your end goal. Challenge yourself to 100 words a day. Or 500 words a week. Chances are, once you sit down to do those minimum goals, you’ll start writing more than 100 per day or 500 per week. Pretty soon, once you start finding where you can work writing into your schedule, you’ll start finding more time to write, and you’ll start flowing with more word count than you’d originally planned. And once you find those times, once you’re into the flow of your project, you’ll reach your big goal easier because you feel accomplished slaying the smaller ones and going above and beyond your own expectations.

Keeping up a positive attitude and momentum is the hardest part of any goal, no matter the size. And a positive attitude and momentum are the things that are going to get you to the change you want.

I hope all of you that have made New Year’s Resolutions have great success. And I hope my suggestion of managing your goals and expectations inspires you to look at your big goals in a manageable way that will help you get there happily.

Happy New Year!

What is Horror? by Rebecca Besser

What is Horror?

By Rebecca Besser


If you do some research on what horror is, you’ll discover horror is the revulsion one feels when something terrible happens. That it follows terror, which is the anxiety and anticipation of something bad about to happen.

“The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.” – Devendra Varma in The Gothic Flame (1966).

There are many vehicles in which horror is found: film, literature, art, etc. All of which use a mixture of terror and horror elements.

When people hear the word horror, they generally think about creatures such as vampires, zombies, demons, and other monsters. They also think about blood, pain, misery, and torture – psychological horror. The common denominator in all horror is death.

Death is the most terrifying thing that anyone can face – either their own demise or of someone they care about. Often, even a stranger’s death, seen up close, can impact someone in ways they never dreamed possible; it forces them to face the fact that they will die someday and there is nothing they can do about it.

Death, and what leads to death, scares everyone in some way whether they realize it or not. That’s the base root of all horror. Terror is what we feel leading up to the death we know is coming and horror is what we face when we are toe to toe with death.

What form of death scares you the most? Chances are that’s the kind of horror you like to experience the most, because it gives you that thrill of terror and most satisfying horror moments as it all pans out.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015 & 2017. All rights reserved.

Professional Behavior – Part 4 of 4

[Note: This article previously appeared in my newsletter. If you would like to sign up for my newsletter, send an email to (without the – around the @), with the email address you would like the bio-monthly PDF sent to in the body.]

By now, if you’ve read all three previous parts of my Professionalism Series, you’re probably thinking a fourth part on Professional Behavior is overkill. But it’s not. There’s no way that I’ve covered everything in just those three articles. Yes, I’ve explained what a Professional is. I’ve explained how one should communicate in Professional Practices. And I’ve even presented the importance of Professional Presentation in the world. So, why would I need a part on Professional Behavior when I’ve already explained all of that?

Because there’s a lot of personal, emotional conflict that a writer deals with all the time that can set one off and cause them to behave in ways they shouldn’t and do things they’ll later regret. That’s just how being human and dealing with life is, especially for a writer. You, as a writer, need to learn to get those feelings under control and keep yourself from doing the wrong things for your professional career.

That being said, I will be touching on some of the topics I’ve explored previously, but with more depth.

Let’s start with rejection. Writers spend a lot of time and energy on any piece of their work. There are countless hours of plotting, executing, and reworking. This makes it incredibly emotion for a writer to submit their piece/manuscript to anyone, for fear of rejection.  And, the rejection comes to us all. It’s hard not to feel like its personal, because, yes, it’s personal to you.

But rejections aren’t personal to editors, agents, or presses. They’re just business. To some that might seem cold, but it’s the way things are. Like it or not, that’s the industry as it is.

So, when you do get rejections, do not lash out with hateful emails of go running your internet mouth on social media, screaming that the editor/agent/press is delusional or doesn’t know good writing when they see it; that just makes you look bad and hurts you professionally. Chances are, if your writing is as good as you think it is, they didn’t want to pass on what you sent, but had to for other reasons.

You don’t know what’s going on beyond other computer screens. You don’t see the piles of manuscripts waiting for responses or the email accounts flooded with other submissions. You aren’t the one that has to make the choices of what’s going to sell best or will represent the publication in the most effective way. Those decisions are hard to make.

If you’re displeased with the response you’ve gotten about a submission in any way, it is not okay to go over the head of someone you’re dealing with, just because you’ve gotten a rejection. It just makes you look stupid, and makes people not want to work with you. No one likes people who try to start drama or cause them personal trouble.

[Note: Agent queries are different, as far as one passing on the project and querying another at the same agency. This is completely acceptable.]

Here’s a short example from my editing past:

I was editing an anthology and someone sent me a story. I read it and rejected it. Why? The story was okay, but there were a bunch of plot holes and there were things that didn’t support the stories concept overall—just inconsistencies that made the story not make sense. The author contacted the owner of the press I was working with and told them I was delusional. The owner contacted me and asked me about the story. I told him everything that was wrong with it. We did not use the story. The author’s attempt to go above my head failed, because there were reasons I rejected it.

The funny thing is, the author who believed me to be delusional, sent me a friend request on social media about a year or so later. Me, finding it all pretty amusing, accepted. We’ve not interacted much, and I’ll never knowingly work with said author. That means, even if I know about an invite only project or a special open call, I won’t take the time to ever tell that author about it. Why? Because I won’t back them with my name as even an indirect reference. I don’t care what the author thought of me, but I thought it was completely unprofessional of them to try and get me in the middle of something that wasn’t my fault and I knew I was right about.

You’re probably wondering why I did let the author into my social media circle… Well, I hope maybe they’d learn something. Heck, I hope they read this series and learn how to be more professional in the future. We all make mistakes and we can all learn to do better. That is my hope with this series, that I can steer authors in the right direction to be more successful by being more professional.

Moving on…

Reviews are another area where authors have emotional turmoil and tend to backtalk or backlash.

Face it, not everyone is going to like your writing. Not everyone is going to love your book/story. Yes, people will point out your flaws publically. No, they don’t hate you. Yes, they feel cheated because they spent money to buy your book/story and wasted time reading something that wasn’t that great. The reasons for bad reviews are usually either there were actually issues with the book/story or because it just wasn’t for them. Usually, the “just wasn’t for them” people don’t get as mean.

You will get bad reviews, because it’s not possible to get all good ones.

No one is out to make you cry. Readers and reviewers are not your enemies. When and if they tell you there are issues with your book/story, listen! Don’t get all huffy and pissed off. Whatever you do, don’t insult them or be rude to them. If a review bothers you so much that you are overwhelmed with emotion, whatever you do, do not respond by commenting on it, or telling the person off! That’s very unprofessional.

If anything, you should take the time to thank them for reading your work. That is professional! After all, they took the time to read your book/story, and they took the time to write and post a review. More than eighty percent of your readers won’t do that for you, ever!

Here’s how you should think of it…

Did they read your book? Yes! Plus for you, you have a reader.

Did they review your book? Yes! You have a reviewer!

Did they tell you exactly what they didn’t like about your book? Yes! You have feedback! And honest feedback from readers/reviewers is one of the hardest things for writers to get. Value it, even if it doesn’t stroke your little pansy ego.

And beyond the pluses of it all, there are just mean-hearted people in the world who want to drag you down and make you miserable.

Why? Who knows! It could be because they are one of those constantly miserable people who need company in the pits of Asshole-ville. Don’t move to Asshole-ville to be their neighbor. Ignore these people because they aren’t worth your time and attention.

Before you start whining about bad reviews ruining your book sale, you should know that a couple bad reviews are actually good for book sales! If people even consider the reviews before buying your book, the fact that you have one or two people who don’t rave about your book/story like lustful, worshipping groupies will make your reviews seem more “real.” Often, people think the best reviews are left by your family and friends. So, a couple haters can do you good.

Besides, if you’re considering purchasing something, don’t you want to know the good aspects and the bad ones so you can make an informed decision? Think of it that way. There’s an opinion at both ends of the spectrum, which means the product most likely lands in the middle.

If you’re getting all bad reviews, it’s time to take a look at your work and see what you can do to improve it. It’s disheartening, but sometimes writers need to rework their book/story to make it better for the readers. Especially now that it’s so easy to self-publish—there are a lot of books/stories in easy reach of the public that have never been through a thorough, professional edit. That can really hurt book sales.

At no time ever should you go on Amazon or anywhere else and leave comments to reviews of your books/stories. If you want to thank someone, do it in private. People’s reviews are their opinions. You should not try to explain your book/story to them or convince them they are wrong because they didn’t like or understand your story.

What you should take away from reviews overall is how your book/story was perceived by a variety of people. Everyone sees and processes things differently, especially writing. Chances are though, if you get a lot of people making the same comments, there’s an issue there that you need to work on as you move forward with your future works.

Use reviews for insight and stop seeing them as personal attacks.

Do not respond like they are personal attacks.

Speaking of personal attacks, you control how you respond and how other people treat you. You don’t want to lead them into attacking you by letting your emotions drive how you deal with the public, i.e. attacking them.

Something very important for Professional Behavior is that you set the tone for the people around you. You set the tone for what you’ll allow, accept, and deal with. Be it on social media, your blog, or anywhere else you deal with the public in general.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that if you allow people to attack you and/or you argue with them, you’re showing people that you allow that behavior around you, that you embrace it. You should never get into a public argument with anyone, about anything. This messes up your Professional Presentation and has no place in your Professional Behavior. Think cause and effect. Most of the time, when people lash out, they feel like they’re defending themselves. Don’t give them reason to feel like they’re defending themselves from you.

So, how should you handle those situations of conflict? Cut them out.

First, be polite and try to defuse the situation by saying everyone has a right to their opinion. But, if the person continues to do the same things (causing conflict), block them, unfollow them, and/or ban them from your web-space. I don’t care if you like the person most of the time. As a professional, you don’t have time to deal with people’s troll-like behavior. And, if they wanted you to be considerate of them, they should have been considerate of you. Allowing them to continue with their ill-mannered behavior causes other who sees it to lose respect for you. By allowing them to continue to do so, you are telling other people that they don’t’ have to respect you either.

Be strong and set the behavioral tone around you to match your desired professionalism.

You control your Professional Behavior by how you act in every situation—especially those emotional situations that are difficult. You also control how others act around and toward you by what you allow. Let the way you act be an example to all of a true Professional.



©Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

Professional Presentation – Part 3 of 4

So far in this series I’ve covered what being a Professional means, and how to exercise Professional Practices. Now I’m going talk about Professional Presentation.

What I mean by Professional Presentation is what you show the world. This will be beyond your social media interaction, but it also includes it to an extent.  I’m talking about a blog or website, something of your own that represents you. It’s getting to the point worldwide that you don’t look professional if you don’t have a website someone can visit. People will be suspicious of you not being the “real deal” or a fraud out to take them for whatever you can get from them if you don’t have a professional web-space – blog/website.

Don’t believe me? How many times have you gone to look for something online only to find no solid web-space for the person or company, so you don’t take them as seriously?

Most businesses have websites or pages on Facebook, or even Twitter accounts, where they can communicate and interact with the public, even if it’s just for coupons and sales. In that type of market and informational structure, how can you afford not to have something cyber-solid that people can visit about you? Don’t you want to get your name out in the world? What professional wants to stay hidden?

Having said that… I’ve been disappointed about literary agents and their websites or lack thereof. Most agencies have a website, but a good number of literary agents don’t even have a blog, let alone a website. This, to me, showed a lack of professionalism on their part. How are authors supposed to submit manuscripts to them? How are authors supposed to know what they are looking for and what format they are interested in? Their lack of professionalism makes it almost impossible for authors to be professional with them.

Having web-space gives people information. If you’re an author, it tells people about your books and where they can find them. It also gives contact information, so that other professionals can contact you about projects and working together. Without that, you miss out on a lot of opportunities.

You may be thinking that you can’t afford web-space or you don’t have time to maintain it. But, both are not true. You can get a free blog with Blogger or WordPress that is easy to maintain. Heck, even if you post something on your blog twice a month, that’s better than nothing at all. And, at that rate you’ll have at least twenty-four posts in a year – sounds better and better, doesn’t it? Plus, there are simple ways to feed your blog to your Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and Amazon profiles automatically! That means, you post on your blog and it feeds out to everywhere someone could possibly be seeing you on the web if you have yourself out there to be found.

Websites can be a bit more complicated, but WordPress sites aren’t too hard. If you have a handle on them blog wise, handling them as a website is easy.

You could also pay someone to build you a website, or you can take the time to become somewhat tech savvy and buy software that helps you build a website. They range from $50+. There are also Domain Hosts like GoDaddy who not only sell you a domain at a reasonable price, but a blog comes with it, and they have tools built in to help you build your site with templates!

Honestly, websites aren’t nearly as complicated as they used to be. All it takes is a little bit of time and research to know what’s right for you. Blogs are simple, so if you aren’t “techy” that’s where I would suggest you start.

[Here’s a great three part article I’ve read recently that helps explain what an author’s website needs to be successful, and other tips:]

Your web-space should be a place to show your Professional Presentation, meaning you should have decent photos of yourself, if not professional ones. You should strive your very best to make sure your posts/pages are proofread and they are absolutely the best they can be. Also, it shouldn’t be the main place for public rants and temper tantrums – people will not take you seriously if you behave like a ranting ex-wife (see Part 2 of this series:  Professional Practices). This should be where you post informed, intelligent articles about whatever you want to talk about, which should, for the most part, be about your writing. It’s your professional space after all.

You do need to be yourself though, as much as possible. There are millions of people in the world, but only one you. True fans will follow you, but you don’t want to be intentionally abrasive, because writing is a business, at least, if you ever want to sell any books. If you don’t, feel free to keep sitting in the dark corner and don’t bother wasting your time on a website that no one will want to visit. No one likes assholes. The web-space is about Professional Presentation, not about your personal life or butt-hurt over random things in life.

[Note: If you want to post pictures or anything else about your pets and your family, they should be contained on a personal blog or web-space, not your professional area. Professional areas are for business and advancing your career.]

Even though your web-space is as professional as you can make it, there will still be internet trolls who seek to make everyone’s lives miserable and ugly. In light of this, continue your professionalism by not having their crap smeared across your web-space: make it so all comments have to be approved by you before they go live. This will keep the attention whores to a minimum and hopefully keep people who want to argue just to argue away from you. But, it’s the internet, so they will always be around; it’s your job not to give them a place around you.

Speaking of which, do not engage in a public argument on your web-space! This makes you look as petty as the one who started the commotion. Let things go that will do nothing but damage you or waste your time needlessly about things that don’t matter.

Professional Presentation will take time to start up and build, but it will be worth it in the end. You will look more professional, and more people will want to work with you. If you’re striving to be more professional, put your best foot forward for the world to see.



©Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

Professional Practices – Part 2 of 4

[Note: In this article I talk about English, but replace that with whatever other language you use to write or do business as it applies to you.]

Previously, I talked about what being a professional meant. Now it’s time to talk about Professional Practices. These are things that you’ll do all the time to respect other people’s time and, in doing so, will have other professionals see and treat you as a professional.

With writing, all conversations that you have in a professional manner (meaning with anyone you will be doing business with or you want to publish you) should be in actual English. What do I mean by this? I mean that when you’re talking to a press, editor, or agent about publishing your work you should not use “text speak” and replace words with letters or numbers. Actually, if you’re a writer you should be striving to show that you have a grasp of the English language in all of your social media and public communication efforts. Why? This is important because, in reality, you are going to be judged by your use and understanding of words and punctuation –grammar. As a writer, your words usage should be witty, ironic, and intelligent to say the least.

A writer should have a better overall grasp of English than the common person, and it should show in everything a writer does that involves words.

[Note: The only exception to this rule is Twitter, because Tweeting only allows so many characters. Even then, you should strive to use words in a creative way.]

I’m sure some of you think I’m going overboard with the proper English stuff, but I assure you, I’m not. If I had to choose to edit or review something and I had two people asking me to do so…do you think I would choose to work the one who knows how to use words and punctuation? Or do you think I would choose to work with the one that replaces words with numbers and letters, and doesn’t use punctuation or capitalization at all? Which would I take more seriously and want to have as a colleague? Obviously the one who can show that they are a professional—the one who can communicate like a writer, not a fourteen-year-old girl with her first cell phone.

On top of the professional aspect, there’s the intelligence aspect. Not speaking/communicating like a professional gives you the image of being slow-witted. Obviously, someone who can communicate clearly, and in proper English, shows more intellect.

As a professional writer, you want to be seen as intelligent and talented.

Another way you should always exercise Professional Practices, is in submissions. You should always strive to send out the best edited, most professional cover letters, queries, and manuscripts. Obviously, I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s really important.

Sending out professional and well groomed work (with the above communication tips taken into account) will increase your chances of publication and professional credibility. Just think… If you do all these things right, you’ll get more attention than the other people submitting, especially if they aren’t showing themselves as a professional.

And, should you get a rejection, you never ever reply harshly or insultingly. That’s as bad as “text speak.” No one wants to work with someone who has bitch-fits when they don’t get their way. That’s like working with a two-year-old, and that’s something a lot of professionals won’t do. You’ll get yourself black-balled fast!

Professionals are polite even when they don’t get their way.

[Something to keep in mind: I’m an editor and have sent out rejections. I don’t like to do it, but often times it’s because of poor formatting, terrible grammar, and sometimes because I’ve accepted something that’s very similar. So, even good writing doesn’t get taken if it’s too close to something already accepted. Editors don’t hate you.  It’s not person—don’t take it personally.]

Another thing that goes along with not having a bitch-fit when you get a rejection, is that you shouldn’t go on social media, your blog, or anywhere else public and bitch about a rejection or call an editor an idiot. If they see it, or if another press or editor sees it, they will not want to work with you. No one wants to work with someone who blows things out of proportion and makes a public fuss about nothing.

Plagiarism and royalty issues are another story. If a press or person is breaking the law, it’s okay to warn other authors to stay away from them. But, do it when you’ve calmed down, so you don’t sound like a ranting ex-wife. No one will take you seriously if you sound crazy.

You also shouldn’t repeatedly email a press or editor to check on your submission. They have it (more than likely) and they will get back to you when they’re ready. If a few months go by and you don’t hear back, it’s okay to send them a quick email to confirm that your submission was received. Otherwise, leave them alone! Being a needy writer is just as bad as being rude or having a bitch-fit.

Basically, you should always treat presses, editors, or agents with the utmost respect. Because when you don’t, you are the one who is being unprofessional.

Recap: You should show that you can communicate intelligently with words, and you shouldn’t show your ass when you don’t get your way—ever!

In these small ways you can put Professional Practices to work for you.

If you’re a professional, act like it.



©Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

Being a Professional – Part 1 of 4

There are many definitions for professional/professionalism, most of which expressing that a professional is someone who does something, a skill or practice, for money. But, there’s more to it than that, which is why I’m sharing with you these definitions of a professional:

Professional: a person who is an expert at his or her work; a person who engages in an activity with great competence.

Before you can even think about making money as a professional for any skill, you must first learn the techniques and tools that go with it. Since I’m a writer and that’s what this newsletter is about – writing – that’s what this article will be about; the skills needed to become a professional writer.

The definition says that a professional is an “expert at his or her work” and “a person who engages in an activity with great competence.” These both give clues that will lead you to being a professional writer.

You must learn spelling and grammar, and POV and tenses to be an expert at the craft of writing. You can’t depend on an editor to do everything for you. It’s unfortunate that most writers believe they don’t need to know how to actually write properly – with correct spelling and grammar – and expect all of it to be the editor’s job.

Editors are not there to clean up your mess because you don’t want to learn things for yourself. They’re there to catch the mistakes that slipped past the writer, because it’s virtually impossible for a writer to catch all their own mistakes. We all make mistakes and it helps to have a second set of eyes.

If you want to be a professional at anything, you must learn the skills and become an expert.

Once you’ve learned the skills and know how to be an expert, you then have to use them with “great competence.” What does this mean? It means don’t be sloppy or lazy, but always strive to do your best. This applies to writing, formatting, and following all submission guidelines. They’re there for a reason and a professional knows this.

Once you have the skills to be an expert and exercise those skills with great competence, you’ll find that your acceptances will increase and more and more people will want to work with you.

No one wants to work with someone who can’t write a decent sentence or can’t use punctuation properly – that involves a lot of editing work and time. They want to work with someone who has clean writing that’s clear and that will take a minimal amount of effort to publish.

Some would say this would be laziness on the publisher’s part. And they would be completely wrong. This would be laziness on the part of the writer for not learning their skill, for not becoming a professional expert at their craft. The writers who think that it’s laziness on the part of the editor or publishers are the ones that haven’t taken the time to learn their skill; it’s a very bad attitude to have. They’re the ones you’ll see griping about not getting acceptances and slandering editors or presses that don’t want to work with them. That in itself is immature and unprofessional (I’ll cover more of that in the 4th part of this series on professionalism).

The fact of the matter is, if you want to be a successful, professional writer. You have to learn your craft well. You have to know spelling, grammar, POV, and tenses. You can’t depend on others to do it for you.

You are responsible for the quality of your writing. Editors aren’t your grammar maids, just there to clean up your mess!

Because remember what professionals are:

Professional: a person who is an expert at his or her work; a person who engages in an activity with great competence.



©Rebecca Besser, 2014. All rights reserved.

My Goals – Passion Planner

My Goals – Passion Planner
By Rebecca Besser

Last year I kind of took time off from writing; there were many reasons for it. And you might find that funny, because I still wrote and had publications in 2017. That’s because even when I’m not writing like I should, it doesn’t mean I’m not writing at all. Writers write—it’s part of who we are. Not writing makes writers stressed and grumpy.

In case you didn’t notice, I’m staging this to announce I’ll be writing more this year!

Since I know I’ve struggled with planning in the past, and I need something to keep me motivated long-term, I took serious action. I ordered a specialty planner. I ordered a Passion Planner, and I love it!

This planner has you set goals, figure out steps to reach those goals, and encourages you to make changes to meet your goals. And it motivates you for your professional and personal goals. It has daily/weekly schedule pages, monthly planning pages, and reviews at the end of each month to help your figure out what’s holding you back and what you need to do to push forward. I think I chose well for me.

As far as writing, I’ve set myself a minimum daily word count that will give me a minimum weekly word count. I’ve set my publishing schedule on my minimum word count goal. If I keep myself going at a steady pace for the year, I’ll finish multiple books—more than I’ve previously written in a year.

And I’m sure everyone’s thinking: “Duh, that’s how you do it!” But it’s not always that easy. A lot happens throughout the day, and sometimes it’s a very real struggle for authors to hit a set word count.

Previously, I just tried to write as much as I could, whenever I could. That worked for me for years. My life, however, has gotten busier. That leads to writing being a serious struggle, especially with stress. Stress reduces creativity for me. And then I get more stressed because I’m not writing. This leads to writing being hard and me not wanting to write. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m sure some of my creative friends can relate. I had to find a way to reduce the stress and find the strength of my creativity again, and I think I’ve done it!

Something positive I’ve discovered from setting myself a minimum daily word count, is I’m going over. The first week it was hard to meet my word requirements, but the second week, I found I was getting into the story and more words were pouring out of me. And, no, I didn’t count the extra words toward the next day’s count. One day I did skip because I was finishing something else, but I made up for it the next day and then some.

My goal is to stick with my self-imposed deadlines as well, which I’ve been doing well on so far. Not all of them have to do with writing, but most do in some way or another.

There have been two things I’ve fallen behind on, but I’ve finished one and the other is almost completed as well. I expected minor delays on some things. I know life isn’t perfect and won’t always go as planned no matter how well I plan it. So, with that in mind, I’ve given myself a “within the month” allowance. Meaning, as long as I complete all my plans for the month, within the month, I’m still going to count it as completing and meeting my goals.

It sounds fair to me, and makes things more “doable” in case life gets crazy for a week. That way, if someone at my house gets sick or my son’s goats decide to kid, I’m still good on my goals.

I’ve also noticed, with doing a detailed planner, where I can get more time out of my life if I would need to. This will help me implement new activity to meet more goals in the long run.

In the past, I thought planners were unnecessary and more work. Maybe something has changed for me. Maybe I’m now at a point in life where I appreciate writing things down so I don’t have to remember them.

Maybe it’s because I’m determined to meet my goals for 2018.

Regardless, I have faith in myself. I will accomplish more.


©Rebecca Besser, 2018. All rights reserved.

Self-Publishing – The One Author Show

Self-Publishing – The One Author Show
By Rebecca Besser

Life doesn’t always go as you plan. Take today for example… My plans were to go grocery shopping, write a blog post, and work on my taxes (it’s more involved when you’re self-employed). Guess what happened? My son’s pygmy goat decided to have twins…today (Saturday). Guess what that means? That I spent most of the day sitting in the cold barn. I have the smallest hands, so if the goat has issues, I’m the ones that gets to “go in” after it. There were minor issues, so I did a bit of going in and pulling. But both the babies are out and seem to be doing great.

Obviously I worked in writing this post. I also managed to do a bit on my taxes. But groceries will have to wait until another day. Not to mention all the other little things I’d had planned for the day that weren’t big enough to make it on the actual “to-do” list.

That’s how life goes, especially for an author with a family. Especially an author with a family that’s running a small farm. There’s always someone needing something… Your child’s sick, your spouse needs you to run an errand, you have to make a call about something, you have to check on animals multiple times to make sure everything’s okay, you have to help with your child’s activities, you have to go to your child’s school for one thing or another, you have to try to take care of yourself…you have to handle life.

What does that mean for an author? It means your schedule gets blown to shit sometimes. What does that mean to an author who self-publishes? Your book(s) get pushed back until you get time to do the writing, editing, cover, formatting, etc.

I had a book planned to come out in October. It didn’t. I intend to have it available by the end of February. How did that happen? The beginning of October is our county fair where my son shows animals. So, that’s a week of limited time for anything other than that. Then, there’s recovering from everything that got pushed back because of that week. Then my son injured himself and was on crutches for a little while. Then there was Thanksgiving and my son was sick. Then I was sick. Then we were in a car accident. My son had a birthday. Then my son and husband were sick. Then there was Christmas. Are you seeing how just living can suck the life out of life? LOL

I’m not complaining. I’m just letting you know that authors are humans too, with lives. Unfortunately an author’s life can’t always revolve around books, no matter how hard they try to make it revolve around books.

But, since I realized all my flaws in planning, I’ve made changes to remedy that. (More about that in my next blog post.)

Regardless, with all that going on, a self-publishing (sometimes) author like me gets behind. Because writing a book takes a lot of time. Editing a book takes a lot of time. Creating a cover for a book takes a lot of time. Formatting a book takes a lot of time. And when you self-publish, all the quality of the work is on you (even if you have someone help you with any step(s) of the process).

When you’re doing it all on your own, it takes a lot of time that has to be worked in and around…life.


©Rebecca Besser, 2018. All rights reserved.

What is Horror? by Rebecca Besser

What is Horror?

By Rebecca Besser


If you do some research on what horror is, you’ll discover horror is the revulsion one feels when something terrible happens. That it follows terror, which is the anxiety and anticipation of something bad about to happen.

“The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.” – Devendra Varma in The Gothic Flame (1966).

There are many vehicles in which horror is found: film, literature, art, etc. All of which use a mixture of terror and horror elements.

When people hear the word horror, they generally think about creatures such as vampires, zombies, demons, and other monsters. They also think about blood, pain, misery, and torture – psychological horror. The common denominator in all horror is death.

Death is the most terrifying thing that anyone can face – either their own demise or of someone they care about. Often, even a stranger’s death, seen up close, can impact someone in ways they never dreamed possible; it forces them to face the fact that they will die someday and there is nothing they can do about it.

Death, and what leads to death, scares everyone in some way whether they realize it or not. That’s the base root of all horror. Terror is what we feel leading up to the death we know is coming and horror is what we face when we are toe to toe with death.

What form of death scares you the most? Chances are that’s the kind of horror you like to experience the most, because it gives you that thrill of terror and most satisfying horror moments as it all pans out.

©Rebecca Besser, 2015 & 2017. All rights reserved.