Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Top Ten Things Not to Do As an Author by Lynne Cantwell author of The Pipe Woman Chronicles

Top Ten Things an Author Should Never Do
By Lynne Cantwell

If you’ve ever kicked around any writing-related Internet sites, or picked up a copy of Writer’s Digest, or even told someone that you’d like to write a book someday, you’ve probably been inundated with suggestions about how to go about it.

Well, I am here to tell you the things you should never do as a writer.  Some are my own pet peeves and some are intended to save you from yourself.  I present them here in no particular order, mainly because to me, they’re all pretty much of equal importance.

·         Don’t draw your own cover art.  The quickest way to tell would-be readers, “Hey, I’m a newbie!” is to try to draw your own cover.  Leave it to the pros – or at least, use stock photography.
·         Don’t use a random picture you found on the Internet on, or in, your book.  Getty Images is famous for sending dunning notices for hundreds of dollars to people who use their photos without paying for them.  Instead, do a web search for “royalty-free stock photography.”  You’ll see a ton of sites.  Search their databases and, when you find a picture you like, pay for it.  It doesn’t have to be expensive – the cover art for my novel SwanSong cost me just nine bucks.
·         Don’t write in third person omniscient point of view.  I admit it – this is a personal pet peeve.  The problem is that it tempts the author to tell rather than show.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying, “Little did they know that the murderer was lurking in the woods, just steps away!” which takes away some of the fun of discovery for your reader.  Third person limited is much more reader-friendly, because it allows your reader to discover your story’s twists and turns right along with your characters.
·         Don’t rely on Word’s spell checker and grammar checker.  Instead, pay attention to what you’re writing as you write it.  Spell check isn’t going to catch your misuse of “to” for “too” – that’s up to you and your editors. 
·         Don’t think you can get by without an editor.  At least enlist a beta reader or two.  My dirty little secret is that I published SwanSong without having anyone else read it first, and an early reviewer found a bunch of typos.  And I worked as an editor for many years.  You are never going to catch all of your own mistakes.
·         Don’t pay somebody to format your e-book.  It’s not that hard to do it yourself.  Get a copy of Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide – it’s free – and follow the directions in Chapter 20.
·         Don’t pay somebody to upload your e-book to any meatgrinder, anywhere.  Once you’ve formatted your book by following the directions in Coker’s guide, all you have to do is upload it to Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, or any other site.  Poof, done.
·         Don’t pay anybody, ever, to shepherd your book from manuscript to publication.  A legitimate publisher will pay you.  If a “publisher” wants you to pay them, they’re a vanity press.  Run away! (Note that this doesn’t apply to individuals you contract for a specific service, such as an editor or a cover artist.)
·         Don’t let criticism get to you.  Everybody thinks of their first book as their baby, and like any normal parent, they will bristle at any criticism of the baby.  Keep in mind that the critic is not criticizing you.  For some perspective, look up some classic novel on Amazon and read the 1-star reviews.  Not every reader likes every book – not even the classics.
·         Don’t think you’re a failure if you don’t become rich and famous overnight.  Did you know Wool is not Hugh Howey’s first book?  He self-published for years, in several genres, before his career took off.  Indie authors are playing a long game.  Just keep writing and publishing, and your readers will find you.

Naomi Witherspoon lives in interesting times. At the winter solstice, she was Seized by a Native American goddess to mediate a power-sharing agreement between all the pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. Then, as her relationship with her new boyfriend Fissured, she Tapped a wellspring of strength – her Native American heritage.

Now, Gravid and due any day, she must conduct the mediation of her life. Will she succeed? Or will it all go up in smoke?

The answers to those questions, and more, can be found in Annealed, the final installment in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, an urban fantasy series by Lynne Cantwell.

It began at the winter solstice And it ends... Now.

Pipe Woman Chronicles – series synopsis

The winter solstice 2012 won't be the end of the world. It will be the beginning of the end....

Naomi has a pretty sweet life. Respected as a skilled mediator, she has an almost uncanny knack for getting people on both sides of a dispute to agree. And her handsome boyfriend Brock has just proposed to her. But a white buffalo calf is bowing to her in her dreams. And who is the Native American man who has been following her around?

Naomi doesn’t know it, but things are about to change.

Naomi’s having a bad week. She’s already overwhelmed by setting up her solo mediation practice and second-guessing her relationship with Joseph. An old acquaintance seems to be setting up shop down the road from their friend Charlie’s ranch. And Charlie has a new pal: a filmmaker who might be the Investigator – except that he doesn’t exactly believe in teamwork.

Then a jaguar attacks her in downtown Denver

Ah, winter in South Dakota…

Naomi’s caught some kind of bug, and she hasn’t seen Joseph in weeks. But she lets Shannon drag her on vacation: a road trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to find Naomi’s father. There, they find more than they bargained for: a dream wolf, a mysterious walled compound that might or might not belong to Loki, and a lot of snow.

Shannon certainly knows how to show a friend a good time.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt…

Naomi Witherspoon, back home in Denver after her “vacation” in South Dakota, has amassed a catalog of things she doesn’t want to think about. Her due date is just around the corner, but she has yet to buy a single diaper – let alone look for a bigger place for her, her boyfriend Joseph, and the baby. Speaking of housing problems, Joseph’s grandfather is in failing health and needs to move out of his wickiup, but the old man won’t budge. Naomi and Joseph may have found a replacement for their woo-woo teammate/nemesis Jack in TV reporter Antonia Greco – but Antonia comes with her own set of problems, not least of which is that she’s dating Naomi’s ex-fiance, Brock. Meanwhile, Jack has escaped from the Mexican drug lord who owns him, and the thugs sent to find him aren’t above roughing people up.

Best of all, Naomi hasn’t shared any of this with her mother, who wants to sell her house in Indiana and move to Colorado.

It’s zero hour…

Naomi has just two weeks to find a new home for Joseph's grandfather. The old Ute shaman is fighting for his life against a mysterious injection of toxin he received at the hands of the Norse Trickster god Loki. If Naomi is to defeat Loki once and for all, she must learn what it is he seeks under the old man's wickiup.
She has just one week before she must mediate between the Earth's pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. If her efforts fail, all of humankind will suffer the consequences.
And her baby is due any day.

In this, the fifth and final book of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, Naomi is in a race against the clock to balance the demands of her body, her family, and her friends – and she must do it while the whole world is watching.

Watch the Trailer:


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Lynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, "I could do that." The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master's degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master's degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange.


Find her on Goodreads:


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Tracee!

    1. You are so welcome - it was a pleasure! I'd love to review them if you are ever looking for reviews. You can contact me at tgeichner(at)

    2. I'd be honored, Tracee -- and I hear that Kriss has already been in touch with you. :)

  2. Great advice for all Indie authors, Ms. Cantwell. And I absolutely loved this series! I can highly recommend all of the books.

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