Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year! Be it resolved...

Welcome, old friends and newcomers, to my blog, which I call The Joy of Story. I post approximately once a week, usually on Saturdays. I try to post at least one essay each month about the craft of writing. I also plan to write one book review each month. I intend in the coming year to invite one published writer each month contribute a guest post to this blog. If you’d like to appear on The Joy of Story to express your thoughts about writing, or to plug a book or two, please correspond with me via email:

Another monthly feature of this blog consists of 99-word stories written by fellow writers. Each month I post an assignment and invite folks to write stories and send them to me by email: The story must be inspired by my assigned theme, it must be exactly 99 words long, and it must be a real story: with plot, character, scene, and conflict. For the February story collection, see the assignment given at the bottom of this post.

For more information about me and my books, see


The new year has arrived, and it’s time to take advantage of the yearly option to reboot our talent and our luck. Here are some New Year’s Resolutions I declare for myself. The ongoing work of becoming a better person is beyond this list. For this list I’m thinking of ways to be a better writer. Self, take heed. Here goes:

1. Write.
2. Write more. Remember, this is fun.
3. Read critically what you’ve written. Even you know you’re no genius.
4. Show your work to readers you respect and trust. Listen to what they say.
5. Rewrite.
6. Revise again.
7. Feel proud. Maybe you are a genius, after all.

So far, so good. Do all of the above and you may call yourself a writer. If you want to call yourself an author, proceed to step two.

8. Research the market.
9. Submit.
10. Endure rejection.
11. Submit some more.
12. Celebrate acceptance. This will happen, I promise, if you’ve followed resolutions 1-11.

Now you’re published, which makes you an author. Want to be a successful author?

13. Promote yourself and your work. Let people know.
14. Write a blog.
15. Visit the blogs of your colleagues, and leave comments.
16. Use Facebook gracefully.
17. Meet your public in public places, smile, and sign copies.

What else?

18. Read the works of writers you admire. Read voraciously.
19. Read the works of writers you know personally. Read selectively.
20. Let these writers know you like their work. Plug them on Amazon.


21. Write.


Have your stories published on my blog!

So much for resolutions. Time to put those New Year’s resolutions into practice: Write me a story and I will publish it on this blog! Remember the rules:

1. 99 words exactly.
2. A story needs plot, character, scene, and conflict.
3. Your story must be inspired by the theme I assign.
4. This month’s deadline: February 1, 2013.
5. Send your story to me at

The February theme: Make up a story about a relationship that changed someone’s definition of the word “Love.” Hints: the story doesn’t have to be about you, it doesn’t have to be true, and not all love stories have happy endings.


And Now a Word from Our Sponsor!

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  1. Great advice, John, and great resolutions for the new year. Let's make it a great one for all of us.

    1. Thanks Earl. I agree: here's to success for all of us.

  2. John,
    Words of wisdom! As I begin work on the third novel for my Malone mystery series, I'll try to keep them in mind. :)

    1. Good, Pat. Here's rooting for the Malones.

  3. I think I'll have to print your resolutions and hang them on my wall. Great post!
    Marja McGraw

    1. Thanks, Marja. I'll be honored to hang on your wall.

  4. Those are resolutions we should all adopt and strive to follow. Great advice, John.

    1. Thank you, John. Of course I know I'm preaching to the choir.

  5. Nice resolutions! I resolved to spend 2013 figuring out the secret to book marketing. So far, these waters have been tepid.

    1. Bill, when you figure out the secret, please let me know. You'll find it on one of your digs, I expect.

  6. About to be published for my fiction for the very first time, I read the wisdom in your words! Your keep it light' tone has also been a saving grace. Just keep on writing!

  7. Happy New Year, John. It's my favorite time of year because I "start" things, my favorite activity. Middles not so much, but starting and finishing project--books in particular are the most fun! Love your resolutions--write on!


    1. I agree with you, Madeline. Starting and finishing are the best part. Sometimes the middle of the sandwich is hard to chew.

  8. John, you've laid out a clear roadmap for anyone to follow to publication and success. And I think it's pretty complete. If they will follow those steps they will achieve those goals. And for those of us who have (to some extent) achieved such goals, you've reminded us what we need to do to maintain that status. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Jim. I think most writers already know these steps, or have a similar regime that also works. But it's good to review them now and then, and New Year is a handy time to do so.

  9. John it's good to see you back and at em. Augie

    1. Thanks, Augie. I'm glad to be back in the saddle.