Category Archives: Advice for Authors

My Work in the Trash

Following a year of loss, I begin a year of change.

I am purging.

For some purging is no big deal. For some people, a new year begins with a clean slate; but when an author purges . . . well, people must die.

Characters. Personalities. Stories.


Stories I have invested hours creating now lie unwanted in the trash.


Magazines articles from my freelancing days ten years ago: ideas and articles that I pitched, and pitched, and pitched some more. I tossed them first because they were the oldest.

The pages from my short stories-the tightly compressed vignettes-fluttered as I made another pile. Stories I had edited shifting tense, timing, place, and perspective. I had saved them all. The first person account. The (harder-for-me-to-write) third person account. Things daved them for “one day.”

Be gone.

Next up, the manuscripts. The Mack Daddy of my time. So much time held together with a desiccated rubber band.

Goodbye. You are not meant to be read by anyone but me.

These things hurt my friend.

They hurt because no one – not even me- can count the number of hours I have invested in the pages that accumulated in stacks in the floor. I do not want to run that total or crunch those numbers because were I to do so more tears would fall.

Years of my life now rest in the trash, awaiting the weekly pickup. But that is okay, really . . . everything is for a reason. I am purging, God is pruning. Just wait.

The news of this purge hurts my loyal readers (thank y’all, I love you to pieces). I suspect purging hurts the characters I have created. These characters believe they could have been more, better, stronger. However the truth is, they can not.

We will get through this. This purging must happen.

Goodbye. So long. I won't miss you. Really, I won't.

Goodbye. So long. I won’t miss you. Really, I won’t.

I threw out old manuscripts of published work. Like the one for Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. My plans were to revise the book, update the content, especially the social media chapters. But ya know what, I am not wasting my time. I wrote Stress Free Marketing specifically for those intent on self-publishing their work, imagining that most were hungry to learn how to market their work. If someone had written this book when I was starting out . . . well.

What I learned after teaching workshops and speaking to emerging authors is that most self-published authors are either too afraid of marketing, or think they already know everything they need to know. My good intentions, to help the emerging author, may have helped some, but at the end of the day many self-published authors didn’t want to invest $ 12.00 to learn how to sell books. Or, they wanted to trade me a copy of their book for a copy of mine. As a result, Stress-Free Marketing is no longer in print. It is an e book only. Why in the world would I invest my time in updating a book, regardless of how wonderful, just to earn a couple hundred dollars?


Fellow authors have written nooooo when I announced my purging on Facebook. It has been said that authors should never throw anything away.

I beg to differ.

These days writing leaves a lot to be desire. These days some writing belongs in the trash.

Y’all know I speak the truth. Y’all have read books-some by authors whom you adore-that leave you feeling like you have wasted your time. I do not want to be that kind of author. Ever.

I no longer believe that everything should be saved, that an author never throws anything away. 

Sometimes an author must send papers sailing into the trashcan because she is tired of toting around the past. Sometimes an author must swallow her pride (yes, it is pride) and unclamp the shackles of bad writing. Sometimes that same bad writing must be purged to make way for good writing.

Readers are hungry, perhaps even famished for a good story, a believable character. Readers are weary, listen up emerging and veteran authors, they are weary of reading the same story-line again and again.

You see, all of those stories, the articles, the young adult book, the novel with the horrible idea, they needed to die.

They needed to die.

Times change. I must change. I can not continue to hold on to the writer I once was.

I must endure this excruciating pain.

I must focus.

I must look at the years that have accumulated in the trash even though it hurts. And believe me, it hurts.

I must look at the years in the trash and say Renea, why did it take you so long to take out the trash?

What did I keep? 01072015

I kept my heart. My journals. The spring from which I have forgotten. For you see, during the years between I wanna-be-published and I-have-been-published-by-a-University-Press, I stopped writing in my journals. Beloveds, within the cover of my journals beats the heart of the best people on earth. That is where I must return. Not to the short-stories, the fowled magazine articles, and the failed manuscripts. I must return to the spring and sit beside the cool waters. I must listen and observe instead of force and manipulate.

If I am to continue walking down the author’s path. I must purpose to become a better author.

I must improve.

I must sharpen.

I must become better.

I must be . . . more than I am. That has always been my goal as an author, that each book better written than the last.

You, my friends, deserve that from me.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. A Hardscrabble Christmas. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Email her through her website at She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.



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Everyone Needs a Friend Like Carmen:

I first met Carmen at a writing conference in the North Georgia Mountains. We balanced writing pads on our laps, perched pens in midair waiting to document any nugget of information the authors on the panel offered. Carmen and I are purists. We rolled our eyes when the people seated around us opened electronic devices. Their tap, tap, tapping irritated, but didn’t distract us. We wrote faster, harder, louder…capturing every important drop of wisdom. Terry Kay, beloved Georgia Author, was on the panel, his velvety voice full of encouragement and experience. We swooned, we soaked in his words, we left energized and excited about writing.

Time passed with little interaction. Carmen became like many other people, mere acquaintances who you only met at mutual author events; much like Amber Nagle, who was also at the same writing conference. Since I hadn’t invested time into my friendship with Carmen, I had no way of knowing that she is not only an aspiring author, she is an avid reader.

By that I mean she is well read. Very well read. She suggests books that I can not read. My brain is too busy, too undeveloped, too stressed . . . too . . . something; most times I can’t swim on the deep end of her literary pool, but merely wave and long to, one day, doggy paddle over to her side.

Carmen is one of the main reasons I am a successful author. Now she’s going to argue and I bet that we’re going to have a “discussion” over this post. I’ll tell you this much for true, she’d never take a sliver of credit for helping me, but credit is what she deserves. I don’t know what possessed her to march into The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia, haven’t a clue what made her whisper to the owner, Cat Blanco, any inkling that my book was worthy to be read, but I’m sure glad she did.

While I’m proud of my first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes, I know my place in the literary pool and it is carrying towels to others. If you haven’t read In the Garden with Billy, it is a work of non-fiction (impossible to sell in this world of fiction lovers); and, the book is about a local celebrity farmer (which makes it difficult to sell outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t write about the Kardashians). But Carmen read something she liked and so she did what all good readers do, she made a personal recommendation, an unsolicited recommendation that I only learned about years later.

Many people see my interactions on Facebook and think that Cat Blanco and I are life-long friends. In fact, I’ve only known her for a short time. During that time I have tried to give readers my personal recommendations, and tell Cat about authors who have written fantastic stories like Ann Hite, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Julie Cantrell, and Karen Spears Zacharias. Do any of those authors owe their success to me? Nope. They are already veterans. I am the newbie. Carmen didn’t have to breathe a word, didn’t receive anything by saying a peep about my work; but I’m glad she did. She’s told other people about my book. Lots of people. I want to be more like her.

Me, Billy & Carmen at Yawn's in Canton, GA

Me, Billy & Carmen at Yawn’s in Canton, GA

Most of you wouldn’t know about me without her. She set in motion something that surprises me even today. Her referral helped put my book on the map.

How can one ever say Thank You for that?

Since that time I have purposed to encourage authors, some I know, some I may never personally meet. I’ve started releasing quarterly newsletters where I suggest four books. My last list of suggestions can be found here. Authors have started asking me to review their books, Tweet about them, write blog posts, and I will consider it, if-and only if-I like what I read. Carmen and I agree that good books deserve to be read, talked about, and shared.

In my next book, Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches which Mercer University Press will release in a few months, I stumbled with a section of the manuscript. I asked Carmen, “What do you think? I want to be respectful, want to get this part right.” Then Carmen did what she does so well. She listened. Saying nothing, it was the act of listening, of letting me talk, and then process, and then wait while the muse wrestled me to the ground that bonded Carmen and I even closer. When I shared my newer version she said, “See.”

And I did see. I saw a beautiful friendship that had formed over the years. This particular section has evolved into one of my most favorite parts of the book. Carmen deserves the credit for that (she won’t take it, but I’ll give it to her regardless).


Carmen reading her Keepsake Story. I am so proud!

Tonight Carmen joined Amber Nagle in Cartersville where both read from the book, Project Keepsake. Family obligations kept me from Amber and Carmen’s special night. When I close my eyes I hear Carmen’s voice, thick with pride, perhaps even shaking a bit with emotion as she read about the keepsake that is precious to her. Friends, if you have ever kept a keepsake displayed on your shelf, or had a friend like Carmen who you carry in your heart; you simply must buy this book. Here are two links to do just that.


There is still time to order your copy today !

Author Website; online distributor

About Renea: Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at Friend her on Facebook here. Follow her on Twitter Here.


Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Advice for Authors, Book Reviews


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The Poison of Jealousy

This week I have been suffering with an affliction known as poison sumac. Not to be confused with poison ivy, sumac is a woody plant, and in my case it was a tree-size. I encountered it during a rescue mission on a 50-year-old-farm and because there were no leaves, I mistook the vile thing for a popular tree and promptly dug it up and then rescued a bucket load of daffodils scattered around it.

I told the doctor, all of my itching is worth the discomfort.

As someone who can dig poison oak without so much as a blemish, this affliction both surprised me and had me sitting at the doctor’s office begging for a shot.(and pills and cream). Back home, I sat on the couch I replayed a conversation with an author friend of mine. She is a veteran author who has written for several esteemed magazines and recently released a charming book. However, like me, she has encountered quite a bit of what I call jealousy.

This year, as an effort to encourage readers to shop local, sustain local booksellers in the community, and feed starving authors (including myself), I am writing a quarterly newsletter featuring up to four books. Featured authors do not know I am choosing them and I have not been paid to write about them. In most cases, I haven’t personally met the author.

I provide that back story, because I recently learned that some authors have crossed their arms, pooched out their lips and are pouting. Yes, the jealous authors who-I’d bet money-don’t even know me, nor have they taken the time to know me.

Jealousy, you see, is like those tiny blisters on my arms. Jealousy starts small, with a pooched out mouth. Then it begins to itch. So we scratch it.

I included all four authors in the email mailing of my newsletter and those authors shared my newsletter with their readers. I don’t use a secondary carrier. Instead I paste the newsletter in my blog, AND, I send the newsletter in a personal email to the readers I have met during my years of traveling. (FYI: Your contact information is always safe with me).

Shouting out the books others have written is what I do. Again, I invest my time, for free. Here is an example of my blog posting last year featuring Susan, Jolina, Ann, and Karen. None knew of my plans. No compensation for my work. My newsletter is my gift, a valuable one, to my readers.

However . . .

Like the sumac blisters, jealousy festers. It collects and annoys until one either must scratch, or explode. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my most recent newsletter, this week, sparked an email from an unhappy author.

Yes. It. Did.

Not from the authors I featured, but one I did not.

I am writing to her today. No one shared your name with me but you need to know this. Lean in close because this is important. You do not understand how badly jealousy is damaging your career.

There. I said it. You are sabotaging your career.

I am not “always” promoting one particular author. I am promoting authors who have written books I like.

Lean in again. Support others. Be nice.

Readers who know me trust my opinion. I read several genres and you-missus unnamed author- must understand that we authors are in a big old gumbo pot together.

We are not in a competition. There are plenty of readers out there. That is why I pick several different types of books. I do not surround myself with people who read only what I read.

I want to grow. I want to be better every day. I want to be a better writer and a better friend. I want to make a positive impact on this earth. Most of all I want to help people.

Now I ask how did your remarks benefit you?

Did your remarks about another author make a reader want to buy your book?

Did your remarks about me want anyone want to help you sell your book?

Again, let me whisper. Stop it my colleague. Just stop.

Don’t scratch the jealousy blisters my friend. Treat them. Cure them. Stop scratching.

And yes, several people are going to think this blog post is harsh. But it is past time that rude and jealous authors be called out. Because here is the truth, I can be that author. We all can. Authors are afraid. We are loosing contracts. Publishers are dropping us. And people think Amazon is making us rich.

It isn’t. None of my author friends are wealthy. None of them.

Jealousy is inside all of us. We are consumed with fear that we aren’t selling enough books. We look at Facebook (which is you believe that hype you should really get a reality check), and we believe that we deserve the same sales as someone else.

We do deserve success. We have worked hard. And that is why I help others. Unprompted. Unsolicited.

If you are an author who has experienced jealousy, do your friend a favor, tell them to stop. Tell them how badly they are hurting you and their own career. Or, just forward them this blog.

If this blog has been forwarded to you it means someone cares enough about you to help. Perhaps the jealousy consuming you is keeping you from attaining the success you crave. If you are wondering why aren’t my books selling? Here is one possible reasons: your attitude toward others.

You can’t act on fear, or jealousy. Instead WRITE A GREAT BOOK. If you have a good book your colleagues will support you, IF you play nice.

Just be nice, or as my grandpa used to say “Be somebody!”

Stop scratching the itch, or soon you will be poisoned with jealousy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.


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A New Routine

During the past two weeks I’ve taken steps, tiny toddles which moved me as a person, and an author. It began when a blanket of cold air and puffy clouds blocked the sun and Old Man Winter blew out a frosty breath. I have been, downtrodden. I’ve never experienced SAD before, the winter ailment that changes happy people into someone who doesn’t want to get out of the bed. But this year, I am SAD. I could feel the difference in myself, in my body and worse, in spirit. There has been a heaviness wrapped around my body, constricting the person I am like a turtleneck sweater that’s two sizes two small.

As most of you know, I am an author. This life isn’t one of glamour and fame; it is filled with hours, and hours, and hours of solitude, worry and fret.  For a people person such as myself, solitude is a recipe for disaster. People persons who prefer hugs really shouldn’t do this writing thing; it is far too painful. I am working on my first novel and this work-in-progress has been locked down tight. Unmoving. Frozen like I-285 during last week’s snowstorm.  My next book is coming out this October, but my first novel really, really needs to be complete before then. That is why two weeks ago I started making steps toward the person I think I’m supposed to be.

My house is a dark monstrosity, shaded by hundreds of beautiful trees that I adore in the summer, but in winter, block the sun. But like a lizard, I determined to seek the sun, and doing so meant leaving the house with my work in progress tucked inside my bag. I set up my office in a local coffee shop. Literally: tea goes here . . . pencil, highlighter, eraser and paperclips there . . . work in progress, front and center where it belongs. writingroomSunshine drove out the chill and being surrounded by chatter energized me. On days when I didn’t really want to leave the house, I hold up in my writing room, which is nothing more than a sunny window in our bathroom. Yes, the bathroom.

I have also placed myself on a strict schedule which hasn’t been easy. Limiting Facebook has been necessary. There’s too much negativity and right now it sticks to me like a static-covered sock. As an example when I asked for prayer for a family who had just suffered a tremendous loss due to suicide, three people started blaming the family for the suicide. Compassion, it seems, is as scarce as the sun this winter. My new regimen: Facebook in the morning, then once more before dinner, and then I am unplugged. Nothing electronic after 6 pm, not even email.

Tuesdays are devoted to Bible study. I admire women of faith. Strong women who are ready to grab your hand and pray, who have an encouraging scripture during times of trouble. I have wanted the knowledge of Godly women, and then one day it occurred to me, BOOM, that type of knowledge doesn’t happen by osmosis. I must study the word. I guess you could say I am seeking the Son and the sun.

By 9:30 each morning I’m either in the coffee shop, or my writing room at home. Soaking up the sun and writing – by hand – as fast as I can, except when I’m seeking the Son.

Part of my discouragement came in December. In November of 2013, I accepted the NaNo challenge to write 40,000 words during the month of November. I don’t know why I did this to myself, I can’t write 40K words in 30 days. I am a mother, a wife, a ball-thrower for our Labradoodle. Each day NaNo writers enter a word count reporting how many words they have written that day (notice the last word in that sentence . . . day). The goal is to motivate yourself and others, and know how you are progressing. The problem is that there are always, ALWAYS, people who by day two say they have written 10K words and by day four, they’re posting 30K. Going from zero to 30K in three days is not physically possible. At minimum, one must eat, and use the bathroom. Let me call that behavior what it is: lying, cheating and wrong. Even I can tell when someone is taking their old work in progress and plugging the numbers into the counter. That type of behavior, like negative Facebook posts, discourages. I finished NaNo with roughly 28,000 NEW words with a personal goal of finishing my manuscript by January.

That did not happened.

But this week I pushed past 40,000 words. These were my words. I own them. I wrote every single word and they’re not half bad. I have studied books on scene, plot, character development. I didn’t copy someone’s ideas, they came from inside of me. I found a sunny spot, poured a cup of tea and invited my characters to join me. They told me their stories. I listened. For that I am incredibly grateful, and while I am no braggart, I am also a tiny bit proud. If you are an author, step away from the nonsense and the desire to be like someone else or write like someone else tells you. Find a routine that works for you and your characters. Be yourself. Only you can pen the story inside of you. Write your words and then be proud of that accomplishment. If you have a routine that works, please share.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at 


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Yes Virginia, You are Responsible for Marketing Your Book

It happened again this week, actually several times this week, I received emails from authors who had hurled their work into the world without first developing a marketing plan. These authors fretted, hoped, prayed (maybe even vomited a little) as their sales didn’t move a single inch from the flat line. Then, and only then, did they take to Google, plug in “book marketing” and reach out to me.

Like many fledgling authors they did not realize that authors must invest a couple months (minimum) thinking about who is going to read their work and then how they will reach the prospective reader before they fling their title into the pool filled with 3 million other titles.danamyles

Dana Myles was one of my first students. Shortly after I released Stress-Free Marketing I partnered with bookstores across the Atlanta Metro Area. Together we did our best to help fledgling authors understand the importance of marketing. Even though Dana had already released a couple of books and was frustrated, she kept writing. Since then she has turned into a marketing machine. Take a look at her marketing plan for the month of February:

“My goal is to sell four books a day for the entire month of February.”

And how does she propose to sell four books a day?

Dana is offering to:

Do free appearances / readings / signings at your event (within a six-hour drive radius of the Atlanta metro area).  I ask that you provide time, space, and the chance for me to sell books. I’ve done readings at bachelor parties and poetry slams. Let me know the theme of your event I will find something in my collection of writing that will be appropriate.

Give discounts on the paperback editions or free downloads for book clubs that wish to purchase for each book club participant.  Purchase 10 or more paperbacks and I’m happy to meet with your book club, do a reading, Q&A, and sign copies for your club members.

Dana is requesting:

The opportunity to guest on your blog.  You pick the theme / topic and word count up to 1000 words and I’ll write a guest post.  At the end of my post I’ll include a brief bio and a link that would offer your readers a discount on the purchase of any of my books (paperback or digital) for seven days from the time the post appears.

An opportunity to guest on your podcast / web-based talk show or radio show. Same as with a blog, you pick the theme and topic and at the end of the interview, I offer your listeners a discount on the purchase of any of my books.

Space to set up a small display of books in your business. I’ve had success with a small display at my stylist’s hair salon, which prompted me to look for other places I can do the same. Along with the display, I’m available to come and do signings, Q&A, or just generally be on hand to chat with your customers and sell books.

Now, check this out. In return, Dana will gladly:

  • Offer guest space on her blog
  • Extend the many discounts and freebies previously mentioned above
  • Work with you in any way I’m able, to aid in the promotion of your services / products / business
  • Give you my eternal gratitude. 

Do you notice that? The community she is offering. So why, why, do emerging authors not understand this? Writing is a community with enough readers to go around. What can you do? First, support Dana buy purchasing a copy of her book. She is using Smashwords as a central location for her book library. Download her books here. Learn more about her here.

Notice that Dana’s suggestion is a two-way street. She understands the importance of community, of SHARING information with others. And that my friends is why Dana is successful. She pays it forward, backward, inside and out. Now I must ask, what are you willing to do to market your work?bookexchange

The FIRST step should be attend my workshop. Mercer University Press will release my next book this fall. Due to the time constraints of multiple speaking obligations, I am available for one marketing workshop this year. Only one. The good news is that Cat Blanco, owner of The Book Exchange, has partnered with me. Cat will over a unique perspective as a bookseller. Visit these links to learn more about the event. Hurry (and I do mean hurry) seating is limited. A copy of my book, Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author is included in the workshop price.

Here is the link to her website.

Here is the Facebook link to the event.


Released in 2011. Get your copy now before it goes out of print

Here is the truth: If you do not develop a marketing plan you are wasting your time writing trying to sell your books to readers. If you do not know how to reach readers your can not sell you book. For those who cannot attend the event, here is a link to purchase Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author   Purchasing a copy of this book, or attending the workshop, is worth your time. 


Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories; True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Please download her e-book short story collection today. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. If you liked this recipe stay tuned. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at

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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Advice for Authors


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It’s NaNoWriMo Time…Again

It’s NaNoWriMo Time, Again

For many folk, November means time to dust off the holiday decorations, plan elaborate meals with family, and search their closet for the pants with elastic waistbands. But for authors, November means National Write a Novel in a Month, which in the beginning was called NaNo. During the month of November a lot of Twitter users will see a lot of entries about #NaNoWrimo

Yes. I am serious. Write a novel … in thirty days.

Image by Frankie Rose

Image by Frankie Rose

It is world-wide knowledge that those who assemble words are different than workers with regular working hours. Authors are cut from cloth most people wouldn’t wear on a double-dare. We write thoughts on napkins, on our hands, on our jeans. We interrupt people to send ourselves messages. We have sticky notes and notebooks filled with thoughts that –at the time they were written- were pure genus. Some of us drink, a lot. Some smoke, a lot. Some cuss, a lot. Some write at night, or at three am. We are non-conformists; 9 to 5 doesn’t work for us, although we would love for readers to buy our books so we could, at least, enjoy a nice dinner every once and a while. We tell ourselves that we write for our readers, but we authors are also known for fibbing. It is called fiction.

That is why when November rolls around NaNoWriMo writers loose their ever-lovin’ minds and commit to writing not only a novel in thirty days, but a novel that consists of 50,000 words. Or as my critique group leader optimistically wrote, “Renea, that’s only 1,667 words a day.”

Pass the Tylenol; my head already hurts.

So yesterday on NaNo eve, I thought I would do a bit of office purging. The ability to see wood grain on my desk does inspire me to at least think about writing. The rest of the day I flipped back and forty from Facebook, to email, to Twitter, reading all the NaNoWriMo chatter.

This year I thought I would give the buddy system a go. In the past I’ve had a canine assistant, but she isn’t much on encouragement other than the occasional tail thump. For participants needing human interaction, create an account on the NaNoWriMo website then pick buddies that will help you during this crazy- time. For newbies please know that the purpose of NaNoWriMo isn’t to talk about your novel, November is time to put fingers to keys. Come December first you will NOT have a finished manuscript. And, for the love of humanity, please do not think your finished product is ready for publication on December first. What you will have, should you place 50,000 words in your computer’s memory, is the satisfaction that you accomplished your goal. Publication comes later; much, much later.

Some hard-core veterans began outlining their work early. Those authors will go off the grid in November. You won’t find them wasting time on Facebook, or Tweeting anything other than their incredible word count. The procrastinator in me hates those writers. They’ve been tweeting for days about their outline all why my heart beats fast in my chest.

I can’t outline; it cramps my style. I’d much rather spend NaNo eve thinking about all Halloween candy I’m going to steal from my daughter. And November is the worst possible time to embark on 50,000 words. Why not January? In January, we’re avoiding the holiday bills and would rather do anything than exercise those holiday meals off our frame. And, in January we have thirty one days.

Oh sugar, may you bring energy, and words !

Oh sugar, may you bring energy, and words !

Trust me. Authors need every day they can get.

Still, as my critique partner cheerfully asked me to join her on this journey I remember the thought, the whisper, the idea of my first novel. As I unwrap a piece of Halloween candy I ponder that perhaps November is the best time to write. I’ve got enough candy to keep me hopped up on sugar for at least fourteen days. Now all I need is the muse and I’m good to go.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author whose recent release, Mountain Memories, is available webversionfinalcoverinthegardenwithbillyhere. Please buy her book before she runs out of Halloween candy and falls short of her writing goal.

In 2014, Mercer University will release Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, the second book about Farmer Billy Albertson.


Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Advice for Authors


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Movings Mountains (of paper)

There was something in the air yesterday. Something that made me, someone who refuses to get out of bed before the 6 o’clock alarm, pop out of bed at 4:30 am and begin the day.

Yesterday was moving day at my house. No, I am not relocating, I am moving things, purging, shuffling words on the page. By 6 o’clock I was deep in a pile of edits. I had a critique group meeting at 10 with my incredibly talented friends from the Atlanta Writers Club. I was wrapping up a revision of a short story I’m working on titled Rusty Spokes and Bicycle Wrecks. Then I finished editing my second short story collection which I will release in January.

Mountain Memories:

Mountain Memories:

For those who purchased a copy of my latest release, Mountain Memories, let me say THANK YOU. If you haven’t purchased a copy you can do so at this link. Please, please share the link and tell your friends about this book.

I finished both collections months ago, knowing that readers needed something from me prior to Mercer University Press releasing my next book in 2014. But yesterday, in the midst of the short story edits, something else started brewing in my noggin’. Something so deliciously juicy I have gone and lost my mind.

Yes, Dear Ones, I am purging papers. I am actually throwing things away !

I have never posted a photo of my office. Nor do I intend to. My office is always a shambles. It’s the room where the dog sleeps, where I type at a table; not a desk (with drawers), but a table. Because of that, I have stacks (plural) of important documents. Some are stored in boxes, most are stacks.

My husband, God love him, is a patient, patient man.

This new story requires research, lots and lots of research. The kind of research where maps are necessary, a “spread-out” kind of deal that will could find me lying in the floor trying to chart where characters are going. But first, the characters have told me they need room to grow. Literally.

As an author who is also a book junkie, sprinkle into this messy office stacks of books. I have research books, books I have read (and loved hence I keep them near me). Stacks of books to be read. Stacks and stacks of stickedystacked books. (I know it’s not a real word, but you get the picture). My husband converted the largest bedroom upstairs into a library. There is no room. None. I need more shelves. Don’t even get me started on the books beside my bed. Again, stacks.

So yesterday, after the 4 am wake up and the 2 and a half hour critique group meeting, I sat down with my new characters and wrote a scene, by hand, which is my way. On an ordinary day I would have wanted a nap, would have needed to reboot my brain, but yesterday wasn’t an ordinary day. Energized, I then completed the edits for my short story collection and sent the entire manuscript to my author friend who had VOLUNTEERED to read the collection.

Now that’s a friend, Dear Ones. She is almost as good as my husband.

Then I returned to the new book scene. Still energized, and with only a single cup of tea in my system, I wrote another page stopping only when they insisted I start cleaning my office. When characters speak, authors listen; or at least they should.

I commenced to purging paper that which I once deemed important. Professional organizers know the best way to purge is designate “keep” and “toss” piles. But for writers it isn’t that simple. Everything I had could potentially generate content. Writers who are sensory creators need all of this “stuff” in order to create. The day I sit down to a clean desk will perhaps be my last day as an author.

But the characters, these new folk who wanted me to tell you their story, had other ideas. They weren’t going to speak to me until I cleaned up my office. Grabbing the trashcan, I tossed:

purging2013 012

I still subscribe, I just don’t need these.

Rejection letters: why in the world would I want that reminder?

Newspaper clippings: c’mon now that’s just clutter.

Magazine Articles I’d written ten years ago: merciful heavens!

Magazines I had saved for years, (Sorry Poets & Writers, I still love you)

Class assignments: Duh, I graduated a long time ago.

I found:

Photos of my children that made me cry.

Excellent tips on writing that I should never have buried.

I kept, and organized:

Partially purged.

Partially purged.

the manuscript from my first book. Knowing that soon, I would be eyeball deep in the edits of Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, I threw out a large amount of the original manuscript for In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. 

Really, I can see no good reason for keeping the MS for In the Garden. I’ll recycle the paper, print on the second side. I’ve already asked for paper and ink for Christmas this year. Until Santa comes, I’ll reuse and recycle.

Keeping all of this, just storing them in a more permanent home

Keeping all of this, just storing them in a more permanent home

I also sifted through clippings, magazine articles, any publicity from the first book and boxed it up.

I refer to some magazines for research, and have a small collection of maps from the 60s. Those I’m using for a different book. And, yes, if you have old maps from the late 60s I would love to have them. Not even joking.

While moving mountains of paper, I uncovered three separate books I began but didn’t pay attention to, so the characters died. I’ve bound those in notebooks with the promise to revisit once time allows.

While my office still looks like a tornado walked through it, I believe it is clean enough so that the characters of my work in progress can stretch their legs. I will sit down with them soon and my first question will be, “what do you think about the clean(er) office?

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories, an ebook which introduces you to her mountain people. She  is appreciative of all her readers, and thanks them for reading her work. She loves hearing from readers. In the fall of 2014, Mercer University Press will release, Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, which features more stories from Farmer Billy Albertson. Visit Renea at


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