Monday, October 31, 2011

Advice for Writers: 009

This week's advice for writers. Happy Halloween!

On Never Quitting, by Jeffrey J. Mariotte. In this guest post on JA Konrath's publishing blog, Mariotte admits he was wrong about the e-pub business that Konrath has been able to make work for him. Plus, after Mariotte's post, Konrath shares some great advice on making e-books work for their authors.

Self-Published Authors Have Great Power, But Are They Taking Responsibility?, by Jane Friedman. Jane explains the benefits of using the professionals (you know, people like editors, marketers, etc.) to help with the publishing process.

25 Reasons You Won't Finish That Story, by Chuck Wendig. Well, I think the title says it all, but Wendig provides 25 reasons why writers won't finish their stories. Don't fall into these traps!

Best Ways for New Freelance Writers to Start Selling Articles, by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen. Laurie shares her tips on how freelancers can improve their success out of the gates. I totally agree with tips like writing a great query letter and thinking like an editor, but there are others too.

A Writer's Life: The Pit of Despair, by Beth K. Vogt. Light-hearted piece that compares the writer's life to The Princess Bride movie.

6 Ways to Master Entrepreneurial Uncertainty, by Johnny B. Truant. This post starts off, "I used to think that successful people had it all figured out." Of course, that's not true (for the most part). However, successful people know how to push past fear of uncertainty and get things accomplished.


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Plus, here's some Not Bob advice for writers:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Because She Did And Does

Quick poem for my awesome wife.

Two poets, one weekend, and a big city we barely explored.

When all I have is you
and this empty room, there is this poem
yet to write, but first, the words loose themselves
across the floor from the door to the sheets
we don't bother to pull down and outside
the sun or the moon or end coming soon
that can wait for this poem that can wait
for our line breaks and this open moment
in a city we have yet to explore.


This is not one of the 22 poems from my limited edition chapbook, ESCAPE. However, it would fit in that collection. There were only 101 limited edition copies printed, and around 80 copies have already been claimed. If you'd like to claim a copy yourself (for only $10, including shipping to anywhere in the world), then send me an e-mail at with the subject line: I Need an Escape. I'll send along information on how to pay either via check, money order or PayPal (whichever is easiest for you).


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Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Write Something!

November should be called something like National Writer Creativity Month (NWCM?) or something--there are so many writing challenges springing up around this month! Of course, the original November challenge is NaNoWriMo.

Here's your ticket. Now write!

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a good excuse to join forces with other would-be (and already are) novelists around the world to churn out at least 50,000 words that will act as a starting place for writing a novel. Many have tried; many have succeeded; you could too.

By the way, here's a post by editor Brian Klems, who has completed the challenge twice: How to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Inspired by the success of my own April Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge and NaNoWriMo, I launched a poetry chapbook challenge in 2008. On November 1, we'll begin the fourth annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge (click here for more details).

This challenge carries two goals:
  1. Write a poem each day of November.
  2. Assemble a chapbook of poetry in the month of December.
I promise it's a great time with a cool community of poets.

But that's not all! If writing a novel sounds too intimidating and if poetry just isn't your thing, then you might want to check out Debbie Ohi's new November writing challenge. Writers can shoot to write 250, 500, or 1,000 words a day. Click here for more details.

Of course, it doesn't really matter which November writing challenge you tackle--if any of them! However, I'd like to challenge everyone to break out their pens and paper or laptops or whatevers and use November as a month to write, write, write!


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Plus, check out previous Not Bob posts:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Wait for X to Do Y: Platform-Building Traps for Writers to Avoid

When I cook jambalaya, I have a process for getting it done quickly and still having it taste great. It involves a little prep in the beginning, but then, I perform several other prep steps while the food simmers at different stages. If I do all the prep before getting started, it can nearly double my cooking time. If I don't do the prep while it's simmering, then the jambalya won't taste as good (and it would probably more than double my cooking time).

The same holds true for writers who are building their platforms, because a platform is kind of like this big dish with a ton of ingredients that all blend together. And like preparing jambalaya, there are two traps in which writers often find themselves caught.

Too Much Preparation
I'm sure anyone who's read my blog long enough suspects that I believe in the power of preparation. However, some writers seem to be in a constant state of preparation. They spend 99% of their time preparing to be a famous writer. Then, they devote 1% of their time to the actual writing. That's just not sound math.

Or there are writers that spend all their time writing a great manuscript. Then, they spend all their time building a platform. Then, they spend all their time submitting their manuscripts. Then...well, they seem to only be able to do one thing at a time, which can really make the process of finding success a looooooonnnnnnggggg process (as if it's not long enough already).

I believe in following the appropriate steps to accomplish things (like building a table or cooking Mac & Cheese). However, finding success as a writer is a little more sophisticated.

Waiting for X to Do Y
Many writers tell me that they are ready to start building their platform...once their books are published. Or once their books are accepted. But both of those approaches are starting the process too late--even with a long book production cycle. If writers know they want to build a platform eventually, the best time to start testing the waters is now.

The main focus should still be on the writing, of course, but there are small steps a writer can take now to start building a platform (and connections) needed to support a book. In fact, if you want a quick overview of how to get started, click here.

Whatever you do, don't procrastinate about starting your platform efforts. I encourage you to start small and build over time. But if you haven't yet, get started now.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Develop a Plan to Find Success

In a previous post, I discussed building lists for success, and I truly believe that an effective list can help give focus to a person's life. However, a list is one thing; a plan is something else, though it may incorporate a list or two too.

Autumn is a perfect time to plan for next year's success!

Around the end of last year, I created my first ever editorial calendar for the free weekly newsletter--mainly just to appease the marketing department that asked for one. Basically, I had previously just come up with a new plan and theme each week. While I was skeptical of planning my content so far in advance for a free weekly newsletter, it's actually helped decrease the time I spend on each newsletter while also improving the quality.

Develop an Editorial Plan for Your Blog
As a result of the editorial calendar being a success for my newsletter, I've spent a good deal of time over the past 6 weeks developing an editorial plan for my blog for 2012. I'll be sharing more on my plans during the month of December, but I already feel like it's been time well spent.

Early in the plan-making process, I asked myself questions like these:
  • What am I doing with my blog now?
  • What seems to be working the best?
  • What seems to not be working at all?
  • What do I want to accomplish with my blog? (What is its purpose for being?)
  • What seems to be working on other blogs and websites that are similar to mine?
  • What seems to be working on other blogs and websites that are not similar to mine?
  • What do I absolutely not like about some blogs and websites?
Basically, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I'm doing and why. Then, I brainstormed things that would be awesome for this blog. Finally, because sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, I looked at my list of awesome and picked out projects that would be easiest to accomplish while working as an editor, being a father and husband, leading my den of Cub Scouts, poeming, and other tasks.

I'm really excited about my plans for My Name Is Not Bob in 2012. If you spend some time developing an editorial plan for your blog (even if it's a pretty loose plan), I think you'll enjoy the process as well--and so will your readers.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keeper League Confidential: Winning Streak!

How quickly and easily fantasy football fortunes can change!

Fresh off his bye week, I hope Fred Jackson is ready to score some more TDs!

Just 2 weeks ago, the Zombies were 1-4 and alone in last place in our division. Now, we're riding a 2-game winning streak into 2nd place (with our consistent high scores breaking a 4-way tie).

Just 2 weeks ago, I offered Fred Jackson for Jamaal Charles in an attempt to build for next year (after a day to think it over, I pulled the offer off the table while the other owner was considering it). Now, I wouldn't part with Fred Jackson for about anything, because the focus is on winning now.

Of course, in another 2 weeks, I could be back to where I was. Such is life in fantasy football land.

This week, I have a re-match against my brother, who will be trying to sweep the Zombies for our regular season series against each other. I've never had much luck against him, but maybe I can keep this streak going now that it's started.


Week 8 Tip: Make a Hail Mary Trade

If your team is not doing great but you're still mathematically in the playoff hunt, now may be the time to make a hail mary trade. Throw everything of value you can at one special difference maker. Then, fill the gaps with waiver wire additions and hope that difference maker pays off. Or if you're mathematically out of it (and in a keeper league), start unloading older players who are producing well for young players who are injured (like the Fred Jackson for Jamaal Charles trade I mentioned above). Just remember that to get something, the other owner is going to expect something too.


Waiver Wire Watch: Week 8

QB: Alex Smith, SF. As you'll probably remember, I was really excited about Tim Tebow last week (and for good reason: he helped the Zombies win). I'm not as excited about Smith, who is a sort of 50/50 QB. Half the time, he produces very well; the other half, not so much. As a result, owners have to gamble on when is an appropriate time to start him (and I've had the same problem this year with Ben Roethlisberger). But beggars can't be choosers.

RB: Alfonso Smith, Ari. Beanie Wells appears to be down, and Smith seems to be his most likely replacement. Of course, he's facing Baltimore this week, which isn't the best match up at all. If Marshawn Lynch's back continues to be a problem, Leon Washington may be an option in Seattle.

WR: Antonio Brown, Pit. Brown is flying under the radar because he's without a TD this season. However, he's put together 4 games with at least 4 receptions and 67 yards. The TDs will come.

The TDs will come for Antonio Brown.

TE: Delanie Walker, SF or Jake Ballard, NYG. Both are coming off a bye week, which means they're good to go for the rest of the season. If you have a choice, I'd say that Ballard has a little more upside than Walker.

DL: Michael Johnson, Cin. This guy is a physical beast, and he just continues to improve. Another good option that probably nobody owns is his teammate, Jonathan Fanene.

LB: Donald Butler, SD. If I didn't already have 4 LBs on my roster, I'd pick this guy up myself (and maybe I will yet). He has 40 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and now a TD.

DB: Kyle Arrington, NE. This guy is coming off a bye week, which means he'll be ready to roll for the rest of the season too.

And I'm so glad that Dan Bailey is working out for me at kicker. As you've probably noticed, I'm not a big fan of the position.


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Check out previous Keeper League Confidential posts:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Advice for Writers: 008

Another week, another helping of advice and tips for writers:

The Difference Between Your "Current Platform" and "Future Platform," by Chuck Sambuchino. The editor of Guide to Literary Agents and humor book author discusses platform now to predict platform for the future.

My Secret for Battling Procrastination, by Jane Friedman. A terrific post by Jane on how she battles procrastination. Her process is similar to mine, though I found a tip in this post to try for myself.

7 Quick Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile Into a Social Media Workhorse, by Lewis Howes. I get some mileage out of my LinkedIn account. However, there's always an even better way to use these sites.

What's Your Klout Score?, by Jordyn Redwood. Speaking of social media sites, Redwood discusses Klout, which apparently measures your effectiveness on various social networks.

5 Elements of a Resonant Closing Line, by K.M. Weiland. While you need a great opening to keep them reading, a resonant closing will keep them (and by them, I mean readers) thinking and talking.

Sending Out Work Into the World (Or Not Doing That at All!), by Kelli Russell Agodon. In this post, Kelli doesn't give advice so much as share her inability to submit. We've all been there, right? But as Kelli says, "Submitting your work is part of the job of a writer." Be sure to read the comments on this one.

Okay, six pieces of advice is a good way to start the week. Then, be sure to get writing, submitting, or procrastinating (if that's how you roll).


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Plus, here's some Not Bob advice for writers:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Do You Keep Up With Everything?

I have a confession to make: I'm not always the best person at keeping up with his e-mail. Between my work and personal e-mail accounts, I receive hundreds of e-mail messages a day. Of course, many of these I can delete as spam, but there are still plenty of others from customers, writers, editors, family members, den parents, etc. It's sometimes a little overwhelming. Maybe that's why I could empathize with a question I received via e-mail earlier this weekend.

I recently subscribed to 6 people on your Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow list, and I already have over 65 tweets a day to wade through. While I do see the value of following those in the industry who really do know what they are doing, how realistically does a follower gain value out of following so many people? I can easily see my entire day spent reading tweets and not writing. How is this done? How do you or others do it?

The short answer is that we don't do it. Or at least, I don't do it. I'm sorry if I offend anyone that I follow, but there's absolutely no way I can be a good parent, writer, editor, den leader, human being--you name it--and still try to follow my Twitter-stream. Or Facebook-stream. Or Google+-stream. It's just not ever going to happen.

Streams are good for dipping into and wading, but you don't want to live in a stream--unless you're a fish.

My recommendation is to jump in and out of Twitter (or any other social network) when your schedule allows for it. Use the wealth of information available on social networks without becoming a slave to them. Sure, you're going to miss a lot of cool stuff, but you'll find a lot of cool stuff too.

Using Lists
Nearly every social network now, including Twitter, allows users to create specialized lists of the people they want to follow. Use these sparingly and with purpose. If you find that there are a handful of people you always love following, gather those together in a list. That way, you can dip into the overall stream, while still following specific people.

On Twitter, this is called the list function. On Google+, it's called circles. On Facebook, I think it's subscribing, though they'll likely change the name five more times before the end of the year (because that's just how Facebook rolls).

Bottom Line
Just relax and enjoy Twitter one tweet at a time. Don't worry about tweets you've missed. If there's anything really worth viewing, it'll probably make its way to you through re-tweets anyway.

And if anyone has recommendations on handling e-mail, I'm all ears.


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Here's some more Not Bob advice for writers:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stepping Into the Dark

The temperatures this morning (in the 30s) got me seriously thinking about the possibility of winter heading south again--eventually. Luckily, the 10-day forecast still looks pretty nice, but that little shock of cold this morning was enough to get me to share a poem from my recently released limited edition chapbook ESCAPE (if you're interested, look below for details on how to order a copy):

alone in the city

she stood at her window without her shirt,
i watched from below surrounded by snow.

even at night, everywhere was light
reflecting off her back revealed to her

waist. her hair pulled up, we stood like statues
for moments that felt like days. she never

turned to reveal us both. instead, with hands
over her head, she stepped into the dark.


Are you cold? A reader who recently received her ESCAPE exclaimed, "These words are on fire!"

This is one of 22 poems from my limited edition chapbook, ESCAPE. There are only 101 signed copies available, and more than 75% have already been claimed. If you'd like to claim a copy yourself (for only $10, including shipping to anywhere in the world), then send me an e-mail at with the subject line: I Need an Escape. I'll send along information to pay either via check, money order or PayPal (whichever is easiest for you).


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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quick Tips on Submitting to Literary Magazines

Literary magazines (or journals) are an interesting breed of publication, because they often (though not always) have submission periods that align with school calendars. As such, I've been busy submitting my poetry to them recently. But poets aren't the only writers making literary magazine submissions this time of year; short story and essay writers are busy too.

Of course, rule #1 is to read and follow a liteary magazine's submission guidelines, which are usually very easy to find on a literary magazine's website. Editors post these submission guidelines for writers to help make their lives easier. Please make their lives easier. Failure to do so will result in a swift rejection--often without even reviewing your submission.

To find success with literary magazines, answer these questions:
  • What? Most literary magazines accept fiction, poetry, and nonfiction essays. While each magazine has its own tastes, you need to figure out what it is you're submitting, because literary magazines expect a complete manuscript, regardless of which genre you write.
  • Where? There are like a gazillion literary magazines in the world. If you're new to submitting, you might want to try submitting close to home, because you may even run across editors at local literary events. Outside of the local approach, I advise mixing up your portfolio by submitting to literary magazines that are very selective with publications that are a little more newbie-friendly (though even newbie-friendly publications will expect your very best work too).
  • Why? Know why you're submitting to a particular literary magazine. Maybe you like work by some of the other writers. Maybe you think the design rocks. If you have a good reason, share it with the editors in your cover letter. (NOTE: "I want a publication credit" is not a good reason--at least from the editor's perspective.)
  • When? As mentioned above, many literary magazines have submission periods that align with the school calendar, because many are either student- or professor-run publications. However, some literary magazines actually have submission periods that run counter-intuitive to the school calendar or run on some other completely different schedule. Always double-check submission periods for literary magazines and submit during the correct time.
  • Who? While knowing the editor's name is not going to guarantee publication, addressing your submission to the appropriate editor may help you get read by that editor. In fact, I've had more personalized rejections from editors when I include a name than when I do not. On most literary magazine websites, this information is very easy to find by clicking on an About Us or Masthead link.
  • How? With literary magazines, there are still editorial teams that prefer postal submissions. There are also magazines that prefer e-mail. Plus, I submit a fair share of my poems via submission systems, such as Submishmash. Make sure you know how the editors prefer to receive their submissions before sending your work their way.

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Here's some more Not Bob advice for writers:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keeper League Confidential: Break Out Your Brooms!

The Zombies have only two wins on the season, but they've both come against the same team. As a result, the Zombies have completed a two-game sweep of my former team in this keeper league (the same team that is currently first in our division and the returning Super Bowl champ from last year). So while I'd rather be 4-2 than 2-4 after the first six weeks, it's at least comforting to know that I've completed a sweep of my former team.

It's sweeping time!

Plus, the Zombies are only one game out of second place and the playoffs. It hasn't been pretty so far this season, but there are few who would expect Zombies to play pretty in the first place.


Week 7 Tip: Keep Fighting

Unless your team is 0-6 on the season, there's a good chance your team is still mathematically in the hunt for the playoffs. And in fantasy football, it's not over 'til it's over. For instance, a few years back, my brother and I shared a fantasy football team in a league with a 13-game regular season. At one point, we were 2-6-1 and on the verge of being eliminated, but we kept pushing and just snuck into the playoffs with a 6-6-1 record. Then, we went on to win the league championship! So keep fighting!


Waiver Wire Watch: Week 7

QB: Tim Tebow, Den. It's hard to argue statistics, and Tebow has a pretty amazing stat: In every regular season game in which he's attempted at least one pass (yes, just one), he's scored at least 2 TDs (yes, two): last Sunday, the final three games of the 2010 season, and in week 10 of the 2010 season when he attempted one pass (for a TD) and ran in a TD. Say what you want about his mechanics and skill set, but Tebow scores TDs.

Who cares about mechanics? My team needs TDs.

RB: Maurice Morris/Keiland Williams, Det. Jahvid Best suffered a concussion last week, which means he's likely going to miss this week's contest (though you never know). Up until last week, Williams seemed to have the back up RB slot filled. However, Morris is the one who received the carries when Best went down. If you can guess the correct RB, he could end up giving you a ton of points in a shoot out with Atlanta this week.

WR: Doug Baldwin, Sea. Baldwin was highlighted last week, but I'm reminding you of him again this week since he was on a bye last week. Of course, many owners might flock to Devin Hester after his 2-TD performance last week, but he's only scored one TD as a receiver this year. Plus, he has a long history of burning his owners.

TE: Delanie Walker, SF. He plays second fiddle to Vernon Davis, but more and more teams are using 2-TE packages. Bad news though: He's on a bye (as is Jake Ballard, NYG, who's also performing well).

DL: Michael Bennett, TB. Bennett had one big 2-sack game this season, but his real value is in a steady stream of tackles, which is hard to count on from DLs.

LB: Aldon Smith, SF. This rookie LB has snuck up on everyone, including me, and has recorded 11 tackles and 5.5 sacks over the past 3 games. And that's as a situational player at the moment. Look for his workload and numbers to increase over the course of this season.

DB: Thomas DeCoud, Atl. I prefer safeties over corners when grabbing DBs, because they often provide a more consistent stream of tackles. DeCoud has been making tackles but also making plays with 3 interceptions on the season.

As far as kickers, I dropped Matt Bryant last week and replaced him with Dan Bailey, since his bye week has already passed. Good move, since Bryant kicked for 7 points and Bailey connected for 10 points.


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Check out previous Keeper League Confidential posts:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Advice for Writers: 007

As usual, there's been a lot of advice for writers shared on the Internet over the past week. Here are some of my favorite pieces:

The Story Bible: What It Is and Why You Need One, by Rochelle Melander. I haven't written fiction in a while, but when I did, I always had a sort of story bible (in addition to an outline) to help me get to the finish line without losing focus. It would only be more important for a novel (or series of novels).

How to Write a High-Quality eBook in 30 Days, by Ali Luke. With NaNoWriMo and the November PAD Chapbook Challenge on the horizon, it only makes sense to think about producing an eBook in 30 days as well. November should be dubbed "write a book" month (regardless of genre).

Comic: Back to School & Writing Parents, by Debbi Ohi. Cute little comic for stay-at-home-writer parents.

Can You Edit Too Much?, by Elisabeth Grace Foley. Short answer, yes. But also, no. Maybe you just need a little space. Read this post.

Could You Earn More By Writing About What You Love?, by Carol Tice. Learn how to follow your passions and still earn a living.

How eBooks Can Complement Your Traditional Writing, by Alexis Grant. Alexis shares some great examples on how writing an eBook can help (not hurt) your traditional writing career.


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Plus, here's some Not Bob advice for writers:

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Power of Breaking Things Down

I often undervalue what I'm able to accomplish as a person, and I think I've figured out why over the years. It's because I often employ a super power that I didn't realize was a super power. That is, I use the power of breaking things down.

The power of breaking things down can be mastered by anyone.

By breaking things down, I don't mean that I'm a really good dancer or especially skilled at beat-boxing. Instead, I'm pretty good at breaking big things (projects, ideas, etc.) down into smaller things (tasks, specifics, etc.).

Since I often tend to break things down without thinking about it, I don't realize that I'm doing anything special. It also can cause confusion--on my part--when others get psyched out by tasks that look relatively simple (to me).

Anyway, I think this power can be taught, learned, practiced, and mastered. Once a person figures out how to break big (impossible) things down into small (manageable) things, the world becomes a much easier place to conquer.

Breaking up travel
The concept of breaking up my travel actually started in high school when I ran cross country. At that age, I'd regularly go on runs of 5 to 10 miles at a time, and it could get mind numbing. In fact, most long distance runners can probably agree that 90% of running performance is done in the head.

So to make these more manageable, I would focus less on how mile markers or finish lines and more on upcoming landmarks, whether it was a tree or a street sign or the next bend on a trail. Not only did this strategy make my runs easier to handle mentally, it also often produced faster times in which I was running in short sections.

Now that I'm in a position in which I do several long road trips every year, I employ this same strategy to my drives. Though I don't use upcoming landmarks (because cars move slightly faster than my high school mile pace), I do break trips up by cities and state lines.

For instance, when I travel from Georgia to Ohio, I don't think about getting to Cincinnati when I leave Atlanta. Instead, I focus on Chattanooga, and then, Knoxville.

Breaking up work
When I take on a huge project like handling Writer's Market, I don't intimidate myself with the fact that I have to compile and edit more than 1,000 pages of material. No, I chunk it up into manageable sections (see image above).

The book is divided into articles and market listings, but I break it up even more than that. The articles are broken into a few smaller sections, as are the listings. In fact, a few listing sections are even broken into sub-sections. I don't worry about the overall project until I've attacked all the smaller pieces.

This concept can be applied to other forms of work too, including house work. When I clean the house, it's a room-by-room process. When a room has more than one trouble area, I'll even break the room into sections.

But does it work for writing?
Of course, the answer is yes. If a poet wants to write a collection of poems, he or she should focus on writing the poems before worrying about the collection. If a prose writer (fiction or nonfiction) wants to write a book, then they should use an outline.

Outlines provide the skeleton of the book and help give a writer focus. They also make it fairly easy for a writer to see how to break up the big project of a book-length work into smaller manageable chunks.

Outlines won't help you write better, but they will help you finish your project. Then, you can go back through and revise and submit and make the bestsellers lists and credit this blog post with helping you become super duper successful and amazing.

If it sounds easy enough, then get at it!


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If you found this post helpful, then maybe you'll enjoy these too:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow 2011

Okay, it's that list-making time of year again, and I wanted to update my best tweeps for writers to follow list for 2011. (Click here to see my 2010 list.) I know that such a list is fundamentally flawed no matter who makes the list, so feel free to throw your "write-in" votes below. I did use the comments from last year's post to help guide my decisions this year.

Since many of these tweeps deal in multiple areas of expertise, I'm not going to use your typical categories. Instead, I'm going to use my own dynamic and weird categorizations.

While I'm sure there are many more tweeps who are worth your time on Twitter, these are the ones who I endorse fully. They're my "must-follows" and a great springboard into wonderful conversations, information, and more.

I know the REAL Jane Friedman, who is @JaneFriedman, of course.

Tweeps I've Met in Real Life
  1. @glecharles
  2. @JaneFriedman
  3. @BrianKlems
  4. @ChuckSambuchino
  5. @CollinKelley
  6. @SandraBeasley
  7. @TheWriterMama
  8. @HopeClark
  9. @JessicaStrawser
  10. @DonMaass
Tweeps I Feel Like I've Met (but haven't really)
  1. @LaurelSnyder
  2. @inkyelbows
  3. @AaronBelz
  4. @JeanneVB
  5. @JCBaggott
  6. @JaniceBashman
  7. @GregPincus
  8. @JMcCannWriter
  9. @TiceWrites
  10. @JessiePoet
  11. @SageCohen
  12. @KateTravers
  13. @RMFenwick
  14. @TheAmericanPoet
  15. @gyoung9751
  16. @jgpoetry
  17. @Doallas
  18. @poetphd
  19. @Porter_Anderson
  20. @ThereseWalsh

While I haven't met Jessie Carty, aka @JessiePoet, it feels like I have (and will).

Tweeps Who Are Actually Faceless Entities
  1. @WritersDigest
  2. @32Poems (though @ClickWisdom is not)
  3. @PublishersWkly
  4. @PoetryFound
  5. @NationalBook
  6. @DigiBookWorld
  7. @AdviceToWriters
  8. @PublishersLunch
  9. @MediaBistro
  10. @ArsTechnica
Tweeps Who Are Kinda Like Gurus
  1. @RonSilliman
  2. @BoSacks
  3. @KMWeiland
  4. @ChuckWendig
  5. @RachelleGardner
  6. @NathanBransford
  7. @Don_Share
  8. @MichaelBourret
  9. @DanBlank
  10. @DanielSnyder1
  11. @TheLitCoach
  12. @CopyBlogger
  13. @ProBlogger
  14. @ElizabethSCraig
  15. @Janet_Reid
  16. @EliseBlackwell
  17. @RebeccAgent
  18. @KateRados
  19. @DeidreKnight
  20. @BradfordLit
  21. @DanielNester
  22. @SarahW
  23. @DocumentDriven
  24. @LFormichelli
  25. @ErikaDreifus

I was once interviewed by Daniel Nester and, as you can see, @DanielNester brings the serious.

Tweeps Who Kinda Make Me Feel Like a Fanboy
  1. @WarrenEllis
  2. @SteveMartinToGo
  3. @NeilHimself
  4. @NathanEnglander
  5. @MargaretAtwood
  6. @MJRose
  7. @Sherman_Alexie
  8. @JamesScottBell
  9. @HarlanCoben
  10. @ThisIsSethsBlog
Tweeps Who Totally Rock
  1. @AnneMazer
  2. @ScottSigler
  3. @RebeccaSkloot
  4. @EricQWeinstein
  5. @MerylKEvans
  6. @TawnaFenske
  7. @TheCreativePenn
  8. @SaraMegibow
  9. @LisaEkus
  10. @TaraBetts
  11. @JAHesch
  12. @MenWithPens
  13. @VictoriaMixon
  14. @TheLadyWrites
  15. @JacodyPress
  16. @LarryEnright
  17. @HannahTinti
  18. @Ginger_Clark
  19. @JodyHedlund
  20. @SimonPulman
  21. @SusanWrites
  22. @TheBookMaven
  23. @BostonBookGirl
  24. @WritingSpirit
  25. @WolfsonLiterary
So yeah, that's like 101 tweeps (if you include @ClickWisdom above) who are totally followable.


You can follow me on Twitter too @robertleebrewer, in addition to connecting with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


Interested in a short list of advice? Check these out these posts:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blog Design Tips for Non-Designers

(Well, this is a re-post that I was messing with in an effort to illustrate on a PowerPoint presentation how to go from a bad design to a better design. However, I can't delete a post with a cute, little girl on it. So here's oldie but a goodie...)

Design is an important element to any blog's success. But how can you improve your blog's design if you're not a designer?

Time to get serious about blog design.

I'm just an editor with an English Lit degree and no formal training in design. However, I've worked in media for more than a decade now and can share some very fundamental and easy tricks to improve the design of your blog.

7 Quick Blog Design Tips for Non-Designers

  1. Use lists. Whether they're numbered or bullet points, use lists when possible. Lists break up the text and make it easy for readers to follow what you're blogging.
  2. Bold main points in lists. Again, this helps break up the text while also highlighting the important points of your post.
  3. Use headings. If your posts are longer than 300 words and you don't use lists, then please break up the text with a heading.
  4. Use a readable font. Avoid using fonts that are too large or too small. Avoid using cursive or weird fonts. Times New Roman or Arial works, but if you want to get "creative," use something similar to those.
  5. Left align. English-speaking readers are trained to read left to right. If you want to make your blog easier to read, avoid centering or right aligning your text (unless you're purposefully calling out the text).
  6. Use small paragraphs. A good rule of thumb is to try and avoid paragraphs that drone on longer than five sentences. I usually try to keep paragraphs to around three sentences myself.
  7. Add relevant images. If you've read my blog for any period of time, you've probably noticed that I shy away from using too many images. My reason is that I only like to use them if they're relevant. Images are very powerful on blogs, so please use them--just make sure they're relevant to your blog post. (NOTE: With the recent rise of sites like Google+ and Tumblr and subsequent changes to Facebook, including images in blog posts helps with visibility in feeds.)
If you're already doing everything on my list, keep it up! If you're not, then you might want to re-think your design strategy on your blog. Simply adding a header here and a list there can easily improve the design of a blog post.


Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Check out some great advice from this blog:

Keeper League Confidential: A Word on Kickers

If you've been reading my previous posts, then you know I'm not too enthusiastic about picking kickers. This is actually the hardest position for me to wrap my head around, mainly because kickers are probably the most unpedictable position there is. The reason for this? A kicker's value is tied to the actions of everyone else on the team.

You'd like to say that a kicker with a good offense will kick butt, but if an offense is too good, you end up with 5 extra points while another kicker ends up with 9 points because his team had to settle for 3 field goals. It's super frustrating. But it's wrong to say that kickers don't matter.

For instance, the Zombies lost this week by 10 points, and my kicker was outkicked by 11 points. There are plenty of other places in which I could point the finger, including Eli Manning's 2 late interceptions instead of 1 touchdown that swung my score 12 points in the wrong direction. Or the Bengals giving a 2-yard TD run to Bernard Scott instead of Cedric Benson. But the kicker matchup is right there and it's obvious that I lost because my opponent's kicker scored 13 points, while mine only connected for 2 points.

Don't blame Bryant for his lack of production.

A loss is a loss, and now the Zombies are 1-4 and tied for the worst record in the league. Such is life when games can be decided by kickers.


Week 6 Tip: Use Bye Weeks to Your Advantage

A lot of owners fret over bye weeks, because their star players have to sit on certain weeks. For instance, I had Ray Lewis and Daniel Thomas sitting in week 5. However, this is the perfect time to see if another owner has a need you can fill with a smart trade--or if you have a bad kicker (not speaking from experience) who has a bye in week 8, you could kick him to the curb now and pick up a kicker who was sitting last week (and doesn't have anymore threat of a bye in the future). Just saying.


Waiver Wire Watch: Week 6

QB: Alex Smith, SF. Nobody, including myself, wanted to get fooled by Alex Smith again, but he's now thrown 2 or more touchdowns in 3 of his past 4 contests. Since his coach is a QBs guru, maybe we're seeing the beginning of a new Alex Smith.

RB: Jackie Battle, KC. Battle is the big surprise who may have earned the majority of KC carries for the rest of the season. Only one problem: He's on bye this week. If you need someone this week, you could roll the dice with Jonathan Dwyer of Pittsburgh.

Could Jackie Battle be the new thing in KC? We'll have to wait at least one more week to find out.

WR: Doug Baldwin, Sea. Baldwin has been on my radar since preseason, and now that he's scored 2 touchdowns and produced 3 games of 80+ yards receiving, I feel confident in throwing his name out there for those in need.

TE: Jake Ballard, NYG. With defenses focusing on Nicks, Manningham and Cruz, Ballard has snuck in two straight games of 30+ yards receiving and a touchdown. That's not poverty, especially with the bye weeks looming.

DL: Greg Hardy, Car. Through 5 games, this unheralded defensive lineman has produced 21 tackles and 3 sacks.

LB: Jacquian Williams, NYG. Another position, another New York Giant. In his past 4 games, Williams has made 31 tackles.

DB: Sean Jones, TB. Outside of a dud in week 4, Jones has done well every week.

Kickers. Bah, humbug.


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Check out previous Keeper League Confidential posts:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Advice for Writers: 006

Let's get our brains rolling out of bed and into the week with some great writing advice from the blogosphere.

The Writer (Still) Runs This Show, by Sonia Simone. Okay, so this isn't advice as much as a downloadable PDF that you can hang next to your computer. Still, there's nothing like an upbeat mantra to get the week started on the right foot.

You Don't Need a Degree to Find Your Voice, by L.L. Barkat. In this post, Barkat makes a strong argument that our voices as writers are found in our passions--not in a creative writing program or writing conference.

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo, by Chuck Wendig. November is just around the corner, and so is the NaNoWriMo challenge for (would-be) novelists.

3 Tips for Riding the Rejection/Acceptance Roller Coaster, by Suzannah Windsor Freeman. Rejections are like little deaths for a writer, and acceptances can kill the writing momentum just as much as a rejection at times. Learn how to ride the ups and downs of a freelance existence.

Reading With Attention, by Victoria Mixon. Editor/author/blogger Mixon leads writers through the process of reading for plot structure and character development. This skill will have special importance for those who complete NaNoWriMo next month.

That's the good advice for this week. See you next Monday.


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Check out some great advice from this blog:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Music

It's been a while, but every so often I like to drop some music on this here blog. Tonight feels like a perfect opportunity to share some music that I associate with my favorite season: Autumn. To hear the songs, just click the song titles, and you'll be directed to YouTube. Simple as that.

October Swimmer, by JJ72. The first time I heard this song I fell in love with it. To me, nothing is more autumn than October.

Tom Boy, by Bettie Serveert. One of my all-time favorite songs. If you've never heard it before, then you're in for a treat.

Empress of the North, by the Moondoggies. This is a sweet, little ballad by a Seattle band.

Moondoggies are kinda autumny.

Shadow of the Season, by Screaming Trees. Speaking of Seattle, this band always gets me thinking of trees and the leaves that fall off them.

Feed the Tree, by Belly. Speaking of trees, some of which scream, this song totally gets me in the mood to find a leaf-covered path in a big forest.

The Wooden Song, by the Butthole Surfers. And maybe it's just all this talk of trees that makes me think of my favorite Butthole Surfers song, but now the thought is officially thunk.

Home, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. You've probably heard this one a lot lately, but I don't care; I love this song. It makes me think of autumn, but also my wonderful wife, who always makes me feel like I'm home.

Azure Ray reminds us autumn is more than one month.

November, by Azure Ray. October is my favorite month of autumn, but November has a lot to offer too. The nights start earlier, and the air gets crisper.

Cut-Out Witch, by Guided By Voices. One of my favorite GBV songs and definitely the one that gets me thinking autumn, because witches make me think of halloween and well, yeah...trick or treat.

C'mere, by Interpol. I don't know. I guess Interpol is just kind of an autumn band whether they want to be one or not. When the temps drop, I'm hunting down their music.

Your Ghost, by Kristin Hersh (with Michael Stipe). I can see the full moon, the bare tree limbs, the circling ghosts.

Postcards From Italy, by Beirut. "Those were our times, those were our times..."

Beirut. On the fire escape of autumn.

California Dreamin, by Mamas & the Papas. "All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray..." I know this song happens on a winter's day, but hey, it always makes me think of autumn.

Layla, by Derek and the Dominoes. I'm not sure why I think of this as an autumn song. Maybe it's the furious passion of the first half of the song (like the final nights of summer) before the beautiful fade of the second half (kind of like autumn taking hold).

Dream On, by Aerosmith. One of those rare perfect songs, and enjoy it until winter.


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More of my favorites:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Does Your Self-Doubt Lessen Over Time?

In a recent post, I was asked the following question by Not Bob reader Jennifer Jackson: Did your self-doubt slow down after you became a "successful poet"?

Of course, my first thought was, "I'm not really a successful poet," and I started listing off all manner of reasons why I'm not a successful poet. So many rejections, so few honors, and while I've "self-"published two chapbooks, I haven't had a collection published by an actual publisher--whether chapbook or full-length book. Seriously, I'm horrible, right?

Then, I reminded myself of the things I have accomplished, and I won't get into those here, but I basically had to slap myself back into reality. I'm not a best-selling poet or national slam champion or even a member of the BAP club, but I have carved out a nice niche for myself. However, my reaction to Jennifer's question was sort of an answered in itself.

Self-doubt is ever present
Other writers may have a different take on this question than me, but I still feel the same level of self-doubt that I've always felt. In fact, I may feel it even more as a result of the small successes I've had. It's kind of like raising the bar in the high jump. Once a lower height is cleared, I have to move to a higher and more challenging level.

I'm always confident I can write another poem. My confidence level on writing another good poem, or a unique poem, is not always (or even usually) there.

Confidence is a moving target
A possible question arises: "Hey, wait a minute! Are you saying you don't feel like you're a better writer than you were 10 years ago?"

This is actually a different question than whether the self-doubt goes away. Yes, of course, I'm 100% confident that I'm a better writer today than I was 10 years ago. It's not even close, but that doesn't mean my confidence level is any higher.

I know a lot more about good and bad writing now. A decade ago, I was still pretty ignorant of how much I still had to learn, so I was naively cocky about my writing skills. Now, I've got a better handle on my strengths and weaknesses--and it does nothing to make me feel more confident.

Contentment can co-exist with self-doubt
So my confidence is not something I brag about anymore--like in my teens and 20s. Still, I've found a certain peace with my current situation. I know I'm better than I was, and I know I have a lot to learn. The important thing is that I've come to realize there's nothing wrong with knowing that I have doubts and fears.

Just last weekend, I performed my first poem from memory. How exciting! And nerve wracking! I definitely had my doubts about even attempting to recite my first poem, but I figured the worst that would happen is that everyone would laugh and throw rotten vegetables at me.

Post-It note advice
A few weeks ago, I wrote the following thought on a Post-It note: You never quit being afraid, but you do learn to mask the fear.

However, I've been thinking a better Post-It thought might be: You never quit being afraid, but you don't have to let it mask who you are.

I'm a poet, with my own level of success and self-doubt and things to improve upon, and I'm totally good with that.


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Check out previous Not Bob posts:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Delivering the Good News

Over the past few months, I've been up to a lot in the publishing realm. In addition to releasing my second chapbook of poetry, I also saw the publication of the 2012 editions of Writer's Market and Poet's Market, and I'm excited by all of it.

Anywho, I've been noticing a good review here and a nice word there, so I wanted to sort of collect everything together in one post--as much for me as for anyone who might be interested in these recent releases.

Praise for ESCAPE
Monday Muse on Robert Lee Brewer's 'Escape,' by Maureen Doallas. This review on Writing Without Paper is really the coolest review I've ever received for anything, because Maureen totally got everything I was trying to accomplish with this collection. Great stuff!

Debbie Ohi took this cool image of ESCAPE. Thank you!

On poetry, language and Robert Lee Brewer's ESCAPE, by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. On Debbie's Inkygirl blog, she shares how--like many--she used to hate poetry. But I'm happy to report that she moved back toward the light and that she enjoys my poems: "They're full of emotion and music, and a joy to read."

Praise for both the 2012 Poet's Market and 2012 Writer's Market

Writer's Market & Poet's Market 2012, by Sandra Beasley. Over on Chicks Dig Poetry, Sandra dropped praise on both books--and on me. This review of the books is great not only because it says all manner of kind things about the books, but also because Sandra talks about her own experiences getting published in the beginning.

Poet's Market, Writer's Market & You, by Sage Cohen. And speaking of great reviews, Sage also throws out praise for the books while also relating her individual writing and publishing experiences. These reviews are great to read just from that point of view.

Best Poet's Market yet!

Praise for 2012 Poet's Market
2012 Poet's Market & More, by Collin Kelley. Collin shares the gospel about Poet's Market, Jessie Carty's Fat Girl, and some good news of his own.

2012 Poet's Market, by Nancy Breen. For those who don't know, Nancy was the editor of Poet's Market before I took the reins, and she was a great mentor. In fact, she was my co-founder and contributor to Poetic Asides back when it started. Anyway, this review is terrific.

Review: 2012 Poet's Market, by Jessie Carty. Jessie gives a terrific review of the 2012 Poet's Market (5 out of 5 stars).

2012 Poet's Market, by Chloe Yelena Miller. Chloe shares her excitement in being included in the 2012 Poet's Market.

How to Be a Poet, by Nin Andrews. Nin is one of my favorite poets, and this post includes a cool comic with the review. Super fun!

Good News Department, by Diane Lockward. On Blogalicious, Diane allows the 2012 Poet's Market to share the spotlight with some other great news. Plus, she shines her light on articles written by Taylor Mali and Sandra Beasley.

The 2012 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition offers the best value, because it includes a subscription to

Praise for 2012 Writer's Market
Time To Purchase Your 2012 Writer's Market, by Christina Katz. Christina is one of the nicest writers around, and she wrote up a nice review here. I'm looking forward to rocking an AWP panel with her, Jane Friedman, and Seth Harwood in Chicago next year.

2012 Writer's Market, by Darcy Pattison. Quick review of Writer's Market: "The best in the industry."


All of this praise is great, and I'm more than happy to accept it. However, I want to thank one very special person for always helping me to achieve everything, and that's my incredible wife Tammy Foster Brewer. From Poetic Asides to my poetry collections (and everything between and outside of those), she's always the person who I'm trying to impress and who gives me the most support--from making sure that I eat and sleep to giving me ideas for new experiments. I'm truly blessed to have such an amazing wife and best friend.


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ESCAPE, by Robert Lee Brewer

If you're interested in ESCAPE, you can still get a copy before they sell out. Click here to learn how.