Friday, August 30, 2013

Welcome New Secret Life Members!

We are so excited to announce the newest members of The Secret Life of Writers crew! It was truly difficult choosing only two out of the many awesome applications we received. You are all wonderful and incredibly talented. Thank you so much from all of us here at Secret Life for your interest in joining our team. It means a lot to us that so many of you love our blog as much as we do.

With that being said, it's time to announce our new members. Please give a huge welcome to:

Farrah Penn!

and . . . 

Alex Yuschik!

We are looking forward to all the new changes happening here on the blog, and we hope you continue to follow along with us as we all pursue the road to publication. Check back next week to learn more about these two awesome ladies as they introduce themselves to the Secret Life world. Welcome aboard you two! We are so excited to have you. Cheers!! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to handle bad reviews: You are NOT Samuel L. Jackson

Hi everyone! First off, I'd just like to say on behalf of Stef, Andrea, Heather, and myself that the response for new blog contributors was AMAZING!!! Thank you all so much for your applications! We had a seriously tough time choosing just two people!

Okay, so, you might be looking at my title up there and are slightly confused, but it makes sense. There's a story behind that title, so gather round while Auntie Leah spins her tale.

I had just gotten back from taking my two little ones to the doctor for ear aches and sore throats. I was tired and wanted a little bit of mind-numbing entertainment, so of course I turned to Youtube. The Graham Norton Show is one of my favorites. Hilarious stuff, that is. I began watching clips of the time Samuel L. Jackson was a guest. When Graham asked Samuel about his habit of going online and interacting with reviewers, Samuel admitted to reading his reviews (which everyone has heard is a bad idea). Not only does he read his reviews, he reads the comments (which is an even worse idea) and sometimes he'll even get in on the discussion. It was hilarious because this is Samuel L. Jackson we're talking about and of course he wouldn't be afraid to tell a critic where exactly he can shove his bad review.

This whole interview made me realize just how much I am NOT like Samuel L. Jackson. And, in my opinion, other authors shouldn't mimic him in this respect, either. You should however mimic his excellent ass-kicking ways and his coolness factor.

Now that story time is over, let me get to my point. Here's the thing, I know writing can be an act of the heart. It's personal, soul-wrenching work. But when you become published, I feel like (and many others have said this) your work isn't yours anymore. You've made the decision to put it out there, to ask people to pay money to read it, and because of that, they have the right to express their opinion about it no matter what their opinion is.

When you respond to bad reviews, you could potentially cast yourself in a bad light. Not only are you making yourself look bad, but you could be making the other people involved with your career look bad as well.

So, what are you supposed to do then? Well, the simple, smart answer is to not read reviews. And to those who can do that, I salute you. Unfortunately, I do not have that type of will power. So, if you're like me and just can't stop yourself, here are 5 easy steps towards handling a bad review:

1. Let out the emotion in the quiet of your own home. Yell at the computer screen if you have to, but DO NOT click on the "Reply" button and put your fingers to the keys!

2. Talk to someone close about it. Your family and friends will be there to listen to you rant and hopefully calm you down. If they advise you to go ahead and respond to the bad review/comment, DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM.
Side note: Never ask or allow a family member or friend to respond either.

3. Eat some chocolate. Have a glass of wine. Head over to IMDB and look at bad reviews for Oscar winning movies. And remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

4. Reread some of those glowing reviews. Then read them again and again.

5. DO put your fingers to the keys in order to work on your next fantastic manuscript!

And remember, you might not be Samuel L. Jackson, but
P.S. These methods also apply to rejections!!!

Please check back on Friday when we'll be announcing our new blog contributors!
Monday, August 26, 2013

Applications are Now Closed!

No blog post today, as we're busy combing through all of the AMAZING applications for new contributors. New bloggers will be notified by email at some point this week, but in the meantime we just wanted to say THANK YOU, to everyone who applied, and to everyone who helped us spread the word about it. Once again, we're humbled and reminded why we love this writing community so much.

We'll be back shortly with some new Secret Lifers to introduce you to! Yay! <3
Friday, August 23, 2013

The Fast Way to Revise

Hi, lovelies!

Today I'm going to talk about how to revise your novel the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Right about now you're rubbing your hands together and cackling and maybe even sending me virtual kisses or cookies because who the hell likes revising forever? And right about now is where I disappoint you.

I'm going to tell you how to be efficient about it, and as fast as possible. But "fast" is a relative term, and it's going to depend on the depth of your revisions, and how fast your personally work. I'm just here to give you a strategy.

I've spent the past six months with stale material. I haven't written anything new since December, and I've been working on revisions for two separate novels pretty consistently. Part of the problem was that both required rewrites and both were novels I hadn't touched in awhile, so I had to reacquaint myself with them. The other problem was that I didn't have a method. There was a lot of writing notes to myself to change things or question things in my second (or bajillionth) re-read. There was color-coding. There was printing the whole thing and reading it through. All of these things were helpful, but not as efficient as I'd like them to be.

So I did this on my last two rounds of revisions and it was much, much faster.

The Big Changes:
This is where I knew I needed to change entire subplots or plot points, or I needed to rearranged the entire middle of the story. The first thing I did was write a synopsis of each chapter the way it was before I started. It wasn't very lengthy, just a few lines. Something like:

Chapter 8: Wren breaks into Mercers' house, steals the shield. Notices it's made of plastic, fake jewel falls off on her way to David's. 

I printed those suckers out and cut them up. Then I put them on my magnetic whiteboard (you can also use your fridge, or floor, whatever) and moved them around until they made sense. I cut them so there was a lot of extra space on both sides, and I wrote on them. I scratched things off. I made notes for myself. I stared at them until I was sure they were in the right order.Then I taped them back together and scanned them into a PDF so that I could have my new (messy) outline hanging out on my desktop while I wrote.

The Small Changes:
Pretty standard, right? I've head that advice before—to cut things up and write a synopsis and move things around, blah blah. The reason I'd never done it before was because it seemed like a whole lot of freaking work. And it is. It definitely is. But I was at the point where I'd rather just get it right this time instead of having to go back...again.

So anyway, once I got that under control it was time to take care of all the small things, the stuff you don't realize you're going to have to change until you've made the big changes. For me, since I had moved so many chapters around and all of those chapters had clues in them, I had to do quite a bit of rearranging of my characters' thought processes. Like if in my new draft they don't find the shield until Chapter 8, but in the old draft it was Chapter 2, then I need to change how they're coming to their conclusions and how they're moving the story along until they do find the shield. In the past, I would just type a little note in the margin to look at that later, something like "Wren needs to notice the shield earlier in the book." Good call, Andrea. I know there's a snafu, but I haven't identified how to fix it or where exactly it should go. So, I started doing this:

Open up a fresh Word doc. Make it into three columns. Label them Act I, II, and III (or Beginning, Middle, End. Whatever works for you). Let's say you come across something that needs to change in the middle of your book, Chapter 15. It's something like "David doesn't know that Wren's seen her chart yet, put that earlier." Well, here's where you're going to do all your thinking. Go back to your messy outline you made when you were revising the big stuff, and decide right then where that information could go. You could even give yourself options. For the purpose of this example, let's say Chapter 3. Go to the first column in your Word Doc (the "Beginning" column) and type yourself a specific note, something like "Ch 3. - Wren tells David she's seen her chart. Possible put after conversation with Joey."

As you find more and more small things that need to change, go ahead and try to figure out where they go right then and write yourself a note for the chapter they will go in. When it's all said and done, you can order them if you want. What you'll have is a nice little list, in order, of all the changes you need to make, what you're going to change, and where specifically it's going to go. I did really well with this method because it helped me organize my functions as a writer: the thinking/problem-solving function, and the writing function. I did all my problem-solving beforehand (and it got easier as I went through the chapters because I was already in that mode), and then I could just go through and fix things much, MUCH faster.

Hope that helps, Secret Lifers. Happy revising!

Oh, and if you haven't heard: we're looking for new members! Check out our post here for the details. You only have until Monday to apply!

Andrea Hannah is a YA writer represented by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider. She writes stories about criminals, crazy people, and creatures that may or may not exist. When she's not writing, Andrea teaches special education, runs, spends time with her family, and tries to figure out a way to prevent her pug from opening the refrigerator (still unsuccessful). Oh, and she tweets a bajillion times a day, mostly about inappropriate things.

You can find her on Twitter @:
Drop her an email @:
And visit her website @:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A SLoW Survival Tip

Yay! I'm so excited to be back!

Right so today I want to talk about something that's been a little controversial in the publishing world lately, but I'll be talking about it in a very non-controversial way. I'd like to talk about... FAN FICTION!

Okay, okay, I know I just got a look from some of you,

a look something like this, maybe?

but hear me out. I'm not talking about Fifty Shades of Grey here, although if that's your bag, go with it!!! What I'm trying to say is that fanfiction isn't all hardcore sexy stuff, but you probably already knew that.

Reasons why I think Fanfiction is good for a writer's mental health:

1. Thinking of original characters and plots is hard. Especially if there's a certain amount of pressure on you to do so like you just got an email from your agent or editor asking, "What are you going to work on next?". With fanfiction, the characters are already there. They're awesome (you wouldn't be a fan if they weren't) and you probably know them really well so it won't be too hard to dive into a story.

2. Trying to find good beta readers for your original writing is also hard sometimes. People can be very picky about what they want to spend their time reading, which is fine, they should be. But with fanfiction, there's already a built-in readership. Not only is it built-in, it's EXCITED about reading! And from what I've found of the community, it's very supportive. Sure, like any online forum there are trolls and people who just want to be mean for the sake of being mean, but honestly, if you can't handle those types then publishing is not for you.

3. Because there is such a large built-in readership, you get almost immediate feedback. Maybe it's just that someone starts following your story or they leave a simple comment like "I'm liking this! Please keep going!". It might not be a huge critique like we're used to, but it's something. It could be that something that helps you to remember why you love writing in the first place.

4. You might be saying, "I don't have time for that. Why would I write something that will never be published?" Well, I'm a firm believer in doing something nice for yourself every once in a while. We might love being a writer, but sometimes we hate to write. With fanfiction, the pressure is off and you'll know it's just for fun. Besides, writing anything is practice, right? Just look at it like you're making one more step towards the perfection of your craft.

5. Which leads me to possibly the best reason of all: IT'S FUN! It's fun to get to know the community which I've found to be nothing but supportive and funny and talented. It's fun to put your favorite characters into situations you've always wanted to see them in. Are you a Thor fan? Send him and Loki on a brotherly bonding adventure. Are you a Lord of the Rings fan? Have The Fellowship of the Ring encounter a sea siren in a creepy lagoon. The possibilities are endless.

If you're curious about doing this, I advise you check out and search for whatever you're a fan of and add "fanfiction" to the search. Or browse

And there you have it. Let me know in the comments what you think about fanfiction. Do you read it or write it or both? Has it been important to you?

And remember, if you're interested in becoming a regular contributor to our fun little blog here, you have until Aug. 26th to apply! So get those emails in!!!! Check out Stef's post here for the details!
Monday, August 19, 2013

We're BACK! With a bit of housekeeping and a CALL FOR NEW BLOGGERS! :D

Hey lovelies! Did ya'll miss us? Hopefully not too much , right? :) I know you've probably missed our awkward hugs the most, so let's just go ahead and take care of this right now...

Right, and now let's cut to the chase, because my title's already given our secret away anyhow: we've got some changes in store! Big, awesome, EXCITING changes! Well, they're all exciting except for one change, which is rather sad so I'll get it out of the way first: Kelsey Sutton will no longer be blogging with us, due to simply not having enough time :( So, give her some love and awkward goodbye hugs in the comments. We're certainly going to periodically kidnap her and force her to invite her to willingly guest blog from time to time, so there's still a chance you'll see her lovely face around here! Yay!

Some of you regular readers might also notice a bit of a scheduling change up in the coming weeks-- we will now be posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And we have lots of amazing new topics planned. Expect a lot more secrets, as well as monthly events, giveaways, and interviews!

And for those of you who got really excited about the last part of that title: yes, it's true! We're also going to be adding a couple of new authors to the blog :) If you're interested, please email us at Your "application" doesn't have to be too fancy; basically, we just want to know why we should pick you to be a regular blogger with us, and why you want to be one of us in the first place (ONE OF US! ONE OF US!). You should also consider including any or all of the following things:

-publishing industry experience/credentials
-writing experience/credentials
-blogging experience/credentials
-other social media experience; follower counts, frequency of use, etc...
-other life/time commitments
-a little about you personally; hobbies outside of writing, that sort of thing if you like
-a website/current blog if you have one

Please know when applying that, if chosen, you will be responsible for the following:

-A post once every two weeks; including brainstorming of topics and such
-For pulling together 2 Special Event (contests, games, giveaways, etc...) posts a year (one every six months)
-For pulling together 2 Guest Interview/Posts a year (one every six months)
-For participating in occasional brainstorming email chains when there's blog business to sort out
-For supporting/advertising EVERY post and event on the blog, through commenting, retweeting, facebooking, etc...
-For being as awesome as we are. It's a lot of pressure. I know. Just wanted to make you fully aware of what you're getting into, though.

And I think that about sums it up! This blog is a ton of fun and a great opportunity to help get to know other authors/readers/etc... but it is also a commitment; please don't apply unless you plan to treat it as such. If you have any questions, ask away, either in the comments or by email! Also, we're only going to be taking applications through next Monday (August 26th!), so get them to us as quick as you can! We can't wait to read them, or to start rolling out all of our awesome new content :) Speaking of which, Leah will be back with an awesome post on Wednesday, so we'll see you then!

-The Secret Life Team

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Secrets of Writing for a Group Blog

Hey, lovelies!

It's been awhile since I've posted anything substantial on our sweet little Secret Life of Writers blog, besides some kick-ass interviews. And that would be because I screwed up our group schedule.

I scheduled posts on the wrong days, because even though Stefanie is an amazing schedule monger, I apparently can't read correctly. And then I started feeling a little lackluster in my posting topics because I was overwhelmed with all things real life, and this blog took a back seat.

I wasn't the only one of my fellow group bloggers that felt this way. With looming deadlines and day jobs and tiny banshee children running around, it became difficult for us to continue communicating efficiently, and in a timely manner. And as you guys know, once something feels like it's slipping, it's hard to stay motivated to bring it back to life.

Running a group blog is both harder and easier than running your own. That's the secret. When I first started contributing here, I thought that it would be easier because I'd have four other people to bounce ideas off of, four other people to pick up my posting slack. And that still holds true. But what I didn't account for was that four other people had to be okay with the schedule/topics before they posted. Four other people had to chime in on email chains with their opinions, and four other people had to have the same vision as I did.

Difficult, but not impossible.

But honing those things, including redefining our mission and what we want to do for the writing community, takes time, patience, and persistence. That's why we're taking the next two weeks off. We'll be working behind the scenes to revamp our weekly posts, schedule some upcoming bad-ass author interviews, and become an overall efficient word-crunching machine. We're taking a hard look at the things that works here, and everything that doesn't line up with our mission is getting the boot.

So this is where I need you to chime in, Secret Lifers! Is there a feature you love that you think needs to stay? What about stuff you don't love? We're taking everything into consideration as we overhaul this blog. Tell us in the comments what you'd like to see from us.

See ya in two weeks!

Andrea Hannah is a YA writer represented by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider. She writes stories about criminals, crazy people, and creatures that may or may not exist. When she's not writing, Andrea teaches special education, runs, spends time with her family, and tries to figure out a way to prevent her pug from opening the refrigerator (still unsuccessful). Oh, and she tweets a bajillion times a day, mostly about inappropriate things. 
You can find her on Twitter @:
Drop her an email @:
And visit her website @: