Category: Writers First Aid

Sitting at her desk Cynthia struggled to come to a decision. The story was done. There was nothing more she could do to change it. It was what it was. The characters were completely fleshed out. The story had a beginning, a middle and an end. Nothing was missing. She knew that and yet she hesitated.

Should she change that one word here or there? Did her character’s name roll off the tongue easily enough? After all, it was a unique name. Maybe she should change it. Or maybe she was just second guessing herself.

Cynthia stared at the email she’d written. It was good. The agent would see her clearly. The words she’d chosen gave a complete picture of the woman who’d written them. Jammie Bendwick would read Cynthia’s words and know her to be a plucky woman with a sense of humor and a strong business ethic. A woman who you could count on to get the job done.

Everything was there. The email was complete. The story was typed in 12 Point Times New Roman font. The margins were at .5. There were no indents as requested in the agent’s specifications. She’d followed the rules. Her story followed the guidelines.

So why was she sitting in her small office terrified that she was making a mistake when she knew she wasn’t? Because she was a new writer and this was her first try at publication. What if she never heard back or if she got a rejection notice? Both would be dramatic. Both would be terrifying, even traumatic.

But what if she didn’t send it out? Would she be any less a failure? The reality was staring her in the face. If she didn’t send it out, she might be safe from being told, “No,” but she’d be saying, “No,” to herself. She wouldn’t be giving herself a chance.

Thinking of it that way, she didn’t like the outcome. She was being the judge and jury of herself and if she didn’t let the story go – she’d be pronouncing judgment on herself and become a failure. She didn’t want that. Even if the story came back, she’d given it a chance to live. She could always play with it later and make it better so that someday it would live again. That sounded hopeful.

Taking a few deep, calming, breaths and sending a prayer heavenward, Cynthia, reached out and clicked the SEND button. It was done. The story was sent on its way and Cynthia had just taken her biggest leap towards publication. She was a writer. And she’d sent her work out.

Lots of people say it. They have some long tall tale to tell. It was one of those events that happened years ago and they still can’t quite forget it.

These are real life stories, things in everyone’s memory that the right comment sets off and you find yourself sharing. There are so many things that happened in connection with that event that naturally, “You Could Write A Book.”

It sounds easy. After all, how hard could it be to jot down on paper what you remember. There is no research, no interviews and most of all, no right or wrong answers.

So why is it so many of these stories never find it to paper? Is it because they aren’t important? No, we just haven’t made the time.

I challenge you, my readers to share your tall tales here and make them reality. Everyone will learn.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a writer, look no further. Being a writer (an average writer, not a bestseller) means living a double life.

You’re a writer but that’s not your job, at least not the one accepted by the vast majority of your family and friends. To them you will always be the girl handy-woman. Every now and then you work up the courage and say, “I’ve finished another story. It’s almost ready to be sent out.” This exited statement is quickly reduced to a, “That’s nice dear. Did anything happen at work today?” so you see, oft times a writing muse is done for the day, writer is an ego of one. He or she must believe in themselves, without the help and encouragement of those they love most.

At times a writer will calmly, rationally decide maybe their wrong. Maybe they’ve been kidding themselves and they’re not a writer. But if that’s true how come rich intriguing ideas spring forward when you’re at a clients house, standing on a ladder, holding a board in one hand, an electric drill in the other and have a mouth full of drywall screws? It’s then that you know you’re a writer and you can’t wait until you’re on the ground again so you can jot down the new ending of your story. But that’s won’t happen for another thirty minutes, so you repeat the lines over and over again in your mind until they’re as permanently implanted on your brain as your own name.

Once those words are down on the page you think your writing muse is done for the day, she’s clocked out and you can resume your own life but your wrong. Pursuing a movie, she strikes again with a new twist. Almost gleefully you turn off the TV to whines of “Oh, Mom. It was just getting good!” you’re sorry but idea mania has no bounds.

With that done, you turn out the lights and go to bed. Sleep takes you far away and then you bolt upright in bed at three in the morning. Another idea has pounced and sprung you back into the habitual ritual of ink and paper scratching we know as writing.

Once again, our faith in our writing ability and ourselves has been reaffirmed but we sure wished our muse would keep to business hours!


When you become a member of a Writer’s Group you join a different type of family. Still, there are aspects that remain the same just as they do in most families of blood. We have had one funeral and later this year we will have our first birth. Perhaps someday this little boy will become a great writer like his dad. If not, I’m sure he will be supported in whatever endeavor he goes out for but it is these similarities that make a successful writer’s group strive and thrive for years.

Here in Cary, Illinois we affectionately call ourselves CAWG’s as we are members of the Cary Area Writer’s Group. We, like all families have had our share of changes over the years, yes, years. This year we will be celebrating our forth year in August and we can be proud of ourselves. We have accomplished much as a group and singly but mostly because we are a group who encourages and lends a helping ear and pen when needed.

Squabbles, sure we’ve had some but that’s all they’ve been. We haven’t thrown anyone out and when someone chooses to leave they know the door is always open for their return. We communicate to each other in different ways just as any other family does and always there is a deep abiding respect. No one is insignificant.

In the past six months there have had been three books published, a forth was a finalist in a contest. Blogs have been developed and existing ones have flourished with new posts and pages added. The number of followers has increased ten-fold in that time and we are scrambling to keep up. It’s a good thing.

To join us on our journey forward in time please follow us at our other locations.

Eileen Lynch’s book Distracted Living can be found at

Debbie Marcussen’s book The Tax Angel and her blog can be reached at

Yours truly, Grace Rellie’s books A World of Joy, Bleeding Ice and my blog can be found at

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and for your continued support of our group.

Grace Rellie

This is what it look like in the package.


This is what it looks like out of the package.


Thumbdrive, flashdrive, memorystick, these are all names for the same thing. They all do the same thing and if you are a computer novice you need to understand why people have one or more of these and why you should too.

Now I don’t want to scare you but things do happen. Computers are made by man and they have nervous breakdowns too. We call these, “Computer Crashes.” If your computer crashes you might lose some or all of the things you have saved on it. While this might not be too bad to someone who rarely uses a computer, the things on them might not be replaceable. Think of the pictures that came attached to emails. You saved the picture on your computer but you didn’t save the email. Now the computer has crashed and died and your pictures are gone forever. You don’t want this to happen to you.

For myself I’ve learned that saving what is on my computer is very important. I save many things on my thumbdrive including: Music, Movies, Pictures and Stories I’ve written.
Imagine with me what would happen if my computer crashed and:
• Over ten years of Stories – lost forever
• My Art Work I spent hours creating – erased
• I’d miss my movies and music but at least those I could get back from the source (though it would take a lot of time to redo it.)

This is why people have thumbdrives. They are small and portable and depending on the number in front to the GB (Gigabite) on the package/unit, they can hold a lot. The bigger the number the more it can hold. These small units make backing up your valuable things easy. Even a beginning computer person can use them and they give the user a calming sense of peace knowing that what they have saved is protected.

To save something onto a thumbdrive simply plug it into the USB port on your computer/laptop.



The computer will find the thumbdrive for you and ask if you’d like to open it and how.
Single left click and highlight the option (Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer), this should be one of the last options. Next single left click the (Ok) button.

Open Thumbdrive
Now you can go to where the file/document is saved on your computer and choose it.
Do this by making a single left click. This will highlight it.

Next right click over the highlighted file/document. A box will come up asking you what you want to do. Choose “Copy,” by doing a single left click.


Next go back to the open window for the thumbdrive. Anywhere that is blank make a single right click.
Again a box will come up and this time you will do a single left click on the choice, “Paste.”

You have successfully saved something to the thumbdrive. To add more, simply follow the same steps until you’ve finished adding to the thumbdrive.

Added Tip: Keep one extra that is used exclusively for bringing articles/media from one place to another. For example, use this thumbdrive to save or bring things to/from your home computer and the one you use at the library or a friend/relative’s house. That way if you loose it, you haven’t lost everything important on it.


Writing a story. Some find it easy, others not so much. There are hundreds of ways to go about it and every one is a maze of ideas and words all jumbled together. Some are accepted and have been for hundreds of years. Others brake the rules and are considered writing abominations. Still, writing for writing’s sake is an art form.

When writing is done by teams, a whole new experience comes alive. Two thoughts of thinking, two styles of writing and endless possibilities are produced. How these unalike minds will mesh together to create the perfect story is pure magic. It doesn’t always work like music team where one writes the melody and the other the lyrics. In writing a story, where there are two writers writing the same story and the same characters the process can easily get confusing.

I’ve heard stories where one writer took one character (the hero) while the other spent his time writing about the villain. That they came up with something seems fantastic but what is even more fantastic is another story I heard. This one was about two men Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre with a grilling writing pace. Their story was to be serialized and they had very little time to come up with the whole thing from idea to published article.

Their system was simply to spend one week figuring out who the characters were and roughly mapping out each chapter and giving each a name of its own. The second week was the week of writing. One man took all the odd chapters, the other the even. On week three they each read the chapters wrote by the other and added anything they thought was needed for transitions between the scenes of the two chapters. This version was sent to the publisher and published. They wrote 35 of these novels. The series was known as Fantômas. It’s no wonder that these stories are at times disjointed and slightly redundant but here in lies their charm and their lasting legacy. These stories were written slightly over a hundred years ago and yet they are still being translated from their native French and the concepts within the writing have inspired many future generations in their own story writing, movie scripting and television photoplays.

Today let’s concentrate on writing something, anything down. It doesn’t have to be wonderful; it doesn’t even have to be decent. No one will ever see it unless we let them so let er’ rip. Let the words flow and watch and see how many make sense today as well as tomorrow. You never know. You might have the makings of a novel on your hand.


Do you dream of seeing your work published some day? Do you have a short story that needs a home and you’re thinking self-publishing may be the way? Ok, there are lots of places you can go to publish. Some are vanity presses where you pay to have your book in the hardbound/softbound format, print-on-demand or as an e-book. Other places will take your work for free and put it on their site. Still, there is the option of self-publishing your beloved story for money too.

All of the above options don’t follow the accepted form of the traditional agent/publisher route and therefore they all have the same thing in common. In order for these online sites to give you the respect your work deserves you must have a cover. With cover art, a whole new world opens up for you. For a time, many of these sites will give you free exposure on their Recently Published area. This could be you! It only will be you if you have a cover. No cover = no exposure and very little interest.

While the age old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” shouldn’t be true, it is. If you have a wonderful cover that sparks the imagination in some way, people are more likely to pick it up. When they read your synopsis, the deal should be sealed. That part is up to you.

Elizabeth Rye (who goes by the author name Grace Rellie) will read your story and let the images your words invoke lead her to a cover. She will not lie to you. It won’t look like all the other covers out there. She hopes that’s what you’re looking for, something that is unique and not canned. She firmly believes that a truly great cover is one that stands out in a crowd. It’s a cover that tells a story all by itself and lead the reader on a journey before they’ve turned to the first page.

Below are a few samples of covers she has designed for specific titles, one published on smashwords and the other soon to be published. If you are have a short story that you’d like to self-publish and are interested, please let me/her know and she/we’ll be happy to discuss completion times, prices and terms.

Cover Image - DJ Marcussen -The Tax Angel

Bleeding Ice-COVER ART - Grace Rellie

Exiting News!!!!

My short story, “Weekend Wife,” contained in the online ebook anthology “A World of Joy,” was entered into which is the online card catalog of the worlds libraries. This was done by the Harvard Diggins Library in Harvard, Ill.

They also printed the book out and entered it into the library’s system. Due to copyright laws differing from ebook and paper bound, the printed copy is not available for checkout but is held in the area’s history section and is considered the same type of library matter as a reference book.

On the library website when you look the book up they have placed a link where the prospective reader can download the book for themselves. The library itself has downloaded a copy to each of their Barnes & Noble Nook’s (e-reader.)

Every place you go you meet wonderful people who work hard to make your day nice. These people are part of that bunch.


They say, “Write what you know,” but who are they? What do we know? Well, let’s see.

They, are the experts who decide if our writing lives live or die. They are the men and women who give us advice on how to succeed and how to keep our work from the slush piles of mediocrity and anonymity. The unknown They Peoples of the world are our worst enemies and our best friends all rolled into a human body. It is to them that we write, for without them our writing would not be the best it possibly can be, nor would the world get a chance to read it.

Write what you know? To some people this means writing about only things that we’ve lived and experienced ourselves. If we went by that, there would be a lot of boring books with no resounding reason to read them. They would all sound marginally the same. Reading as a pastime would drop off the existence world.

Truthfully, we can write about almost anything. We don’t have to live the life of a murderer to write a good murder story. We don’t need to have captained a ship to write about a captain’s life. What we need to do is learn how to research. Research, done properly, can open the world of imagination and make our stories sound just as real as if we’d lived them ourselves.

Few of us have ever been presidents, yet there are over a dozen movies that have been made and even a TV series about what goes on behind the private doors of the White House. Those writers didn’t have that job. They didn’t know someone who did. What they did know was how to research and read books written by people who’d had that life. Through reading these peoples thoughts, hardships and triumphs, those writers were able to accurately depict a life they’d never nor ever would have.

Not knowing the story does not mean that we can not become qualified to write about it. It just means that to write about it correctly, we need to delve into the life our character has lived. We need to read about similar people in real life. Then we can write about anything we want to because we will be, “Writing what we know.”

What Is Blogging

A few years ago I first heard the word Blog. I asked, “What is it?” The most popular answer I got was, “I don’t know.” For the most part I stayed in the dark until one day I gave in and decided to have my own. I’ve found out at last what a blog is.

A blog is a hobby, a dream and a personal journal that millions can read. A blog is a group of articles on a certain subject. A blog is reporting. It is musings and wonderings. It is a place where people can get advice and give it. A blog can be anything that the writer wants it to be.

Some people who blog are professionals who get paid to write article after article. Some are people who call themselves writers and who write well but never see a penny for all thier work. Others are people who call themselves writers and who can’t put one correct letter in front of the other.

So what do you think a blog is? Is it a thing to have fun with? Yes. Is it a place to go to to learn and grow? Yes. Is it a place to be silly or serious? Both. A blog can be anything that the writer wants it to be.

So my advice to you is to not worry about what the word means so much as what it gives you. Information, laughs and tears. It is an open book into a person’s soul and a story that is waiting to be read.

Enjoy the world of blogging and remember that unlike math where there is only one answer, there is no right or wrong way to blog. So experiment. Write what you feel and enjoy hearing from your readers. That is the real purpose to blogging.

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