Advice for New Writers


picture of a clock and coins

I’m sharing ideas for saving time and money – perfect combo for writers! Or for anyone looking for free photos to use on the Internet. (And it’s American money so it’s an even bigger savings right now!)



Actually one of the things I love most about writing is being able to write at whatever pace I choose. As a kid, I always found it tough to come up with a story when the teacher asked because I had too many thoughts racing around in my head and needed time to mull it over. Luckily, now I have time to mull it over! So I don’t get too wound up about completing a certain number of words a day, but I do like to be efficient!

I’ve found it extremely helpful to keep a journal of important facts in the story – about the characters (hair/eye colour, car they drive, family members), names of secondary characters, restaurants/places in the story, a timeline. It’s especially useful for the stories in a series.

One thing that has surprised me the most about writing is how important it is to interact with the readers. Turns out they like to know as much about the author as they know about the characters in the book. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised because I always go to the ‘About Me’ section of authors’ websites before I read anything else!

When I post on the News, Muse, and Interviews section of my website, I love adding photos. This site,, has been a huge timesaver for finding images that I can use royalty- and cost-free.

I’m also active on twitter and I downloaded the free tweetdeck app available through twitter ( It allows me to schedule tweets. I can schedule them the night before instead of interrupting my writing during the day.

I really enjoy connecting with readers, but if I save a bit of time, I can spend it mulling over the story!


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Here’s more about me and my advice about setting up social media as a new author! It’s hard to fit it all in, so start with the basics.



Who is your favorite character that you’ve written? L: My favourite character is Chloe Keay – the heroine in PERFECTLY PLANNED, the third book in the Perfectly series (which I just finished writing). She makes me laugh. She’s a little bit crazy, but has a heart of gold.

What is your favourite genre to read? L: I love to read romance novels because at the end of a busy day I like a happy ending. I prefer contemporary romance novels and romantic comedies. My favourite author is Nora Roberts.

How do you balance your schedule? L: I set aside one day a week for writing. And it’s protected time – no meetings, no repairmen, no lunch dates – maybe a scheduled UPS delivery, but that’s about it. On the days I work at the clinic, I don’t try to write, but I will use any extra time to edit or write up blog posts. And if I have time on other afternoons, I’ll sit and write then, too.

Did you have any rejections before signing with Soul Mate Publishing? L: When I finished writing my first novel, I sent it off to agents and a publisher and it was rejected. Although they thought the story needed more conflict, they mentioned that they liked my writing style. That was very encouraging. I ended up posting that story and the next one I wrote on It’s an online site where writers can post their stories and readers can read for free. There are some big names, but the majority of authors are teenagers. It’s a wonderfully supportive community. You see the number of ‘reads’ climbing as people read your story, and readers can vote for it (equivalent to liking it) and comment. Wattpad also provides statistics to the author and it was really helpful as a writer to see which chapters people read and enjoyed most. I took what I learned and kept writing!

What advice would you offer to someone starting out in writing? L: For romance writers, I think joining the Romance Writers of America (RWA) is key. Their website is an excellent resource for writing tips, workshops, contests, and a list of agents and publishers.

Start by finishing a story and edit it to the best of your ability. Then pick a friend who enjoys the genre you’ve written and let them read it. Hopefully they’ll encourage you! Submit it to a contest, but pick one that provides written feedback. (I really liked the Chicago Fire and Ice contest. The least helpful was the Golden Heart contest.) Use the feedback from the contest (especially if all 3 judges comment on the same thing) to help direct where you can improve and then look for relevant workshops, blog posts, or writing websites. The RWA and its chapters offer reasonably priced online workshops. They’re great – you learn by applying the lesson to your own manuscript. When you enter contests, and when you’re ready to submit your MS to an agent or a publisher, you’ll need to write a synopsis, blurb, tagline, and cover letter (or query letter as it’s called). So if you don’t have experience writing them, take a workshop for that, too. Once you’ve corrected any writing errors identified by the judges in the first contest, submit it to another contest and see what you get. If you’re lucky (ie skilled), and you’re a finalist in a contest, an editor or agent will see your work (or so I’m told J).

Keep writing! They say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill and I think writing is no different. Plus, once your story gets accepted for publication, it’s handy to have an additional manuscript or two already written.

Other advice: As soon as you decide what pen name you want to use, set up an email account (Gmail), a twitter account, a wordpress blog, and join (those are all free) and purchase the domain name for a website (that usually costs about $10/year). If you’re using your own name, you can also set up a Facebook author page (which is different from your personal profile). Facebook has rules against creating pages for pseudonyms. Try to use the same name for all of these, but keep it simple. (For example, a middle initial is sometimes hard to see and a longer name takes up more of the 140-character count on twitter.) For me, Linda O’Connor was taken for Gmail, twitter, and wattpad so I used lindaoconnor98. But for my website I used over because I thought it would be easier to search. The other option, which is popular, is to tag ‘author’ at the end of your name (

Take the time to visit different author’s websites and figure out what style you like. Research web designers you could work with (and afford), but I would say don’t set up your own webpage until you start getting some interest from an agent or publisher. (Just hang on to the domain name). Publishers want to see that you’re going to participate in promoting your book, so it would be ideal to get a following on Facebook and twitter. But because it’s very expensive to set up a web page, I would wait. You could start to blog on the wordpress blog or blogspot, but frankly I would put your effort into writing early on (just set it up so the name is reserved for you when you want to use it).

Finally, keep in mind that writing is very personal. There are some things like grammar, point of view issues, and word tense that you need to get right. But you have your own unique voice, writing style, and story. Not every reader is going to love it, but that doesn’t mean you have to change it. Listen to the feedback, take it all in and consider it, but ultimately only you can decide if it will make a better story.

What is something you want your readers to know about you? L: I write entertaining stories! 🙂

How do you keep your story lines organized? L: I keep a journal of important facts in the story – about the characters (spelling of their names, hair/eye colour, car they drive, family members), restaurants/cities, house layouts, a timeline, research details. It’s especially useful for the stories in a series. I write my stories on a laptop, but I prefer to use a journal for notes.

Do you have a bucket list? L: I’d always wanted to be an extra in a movie and be part of a flash mob and last year I had a chance to do both. I’d love to write a best seller and have a movie made of a story I wrote. That would be very cool! Meet Ellen DeGeneres and Nora Roberts. Visit Hawaii. Have a reserved parking spot at No Frills grocery store.