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The Life of a Querying Writer in Gifs

So you banged out your masterpiece.

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It was a hard road filled with plot holes, distractions on the internets and shopping on Etsy that left you with half a manuscript for far too long. But you persevered through all that shit and finished! Plus, you got awesome new knickknacks from Etsy. Score! You totally needed that clay sculpture of a rainbow unicorn. ‘Cause it’s awesome.

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And bless your literary heart, you made it through edits, beta readers, more edits. Seriously endless edits. Then you sent that finished manuscript out. You’re officially a querying writer. Cue freakout.

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You will check your email compulsively. Endlessly. Irrationally. There is no way they’re getting back to you same day, but you’ll check anyway. Get a cup of coffee. Take a snack. Get comfy. You’re going to be there a while.

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And then you see it. There, in your inbox! You know that senders address! It shines like a beacon from the black hole that is your over-checked, newly cleaned out and organized, email inbox.

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But odds are, it’s a rejection. EVERYONE gets rejected. The greats, the amateurs, everyone. And usually a lot so bond with that. It stings, of course, but you don’t take it personally. You keep writing and querying but deep down at the mere mention of that agents/publishers name you recoil from the pain memory.

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Then, after many more rejections, you see something new in your inbox. This rejection reads differently. It’s got words like, “pleased to,” and “impressed,” in it. What sorcery is this, you wonder.

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You calmly read it twelve more times. You save it. You print a copy. You call your mother just so she can read it and verify that you haven’t finally lost your mind and are really seeing what you think you’re seeing. This one is not a rejection. Cue freakout!

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It was all totally worth it. You’re high on literary dreams. You drop names like Hemingway,Thoreau, and Woolf around your friends for a week because you can’t help it. You say things like, “Oh, I highly recommend that you read them,” with an asshole air in your voice. You might even point out similarities between their great works and your space opera about leper alien vampires with an unfortunate proximity to the sun. This affect should only be temporary. Because you’re a writer, not a douchebag, so you’ll get back to normal. You’ll read a few books. You’ll sell a few books. And then you get back to writing. Because writers write.

So, step one: you bang out your masterpiece.

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Phasms Vol 1: Infinite Potential by Barbara Garren

My Review

I was given an ARC to review and I had a few minutes, I thought I would start this book. Barbara actually brought me to tears. I cried. I grieved. She mentioned things about bereavement I had wondered if anyone else had ever thought before. She wrote it so powerfully and incredibly well. That being said there were always characters helping to keep it light, pulling us back from the grief and pushing us deeper into the story.

When I picked this book up next I didn’t put it down again. I had to know. I had to get to the end. The paranormal element comes slowly, weaving it’s way into the main character’s life before taking hold. I finished the bulk of this book in one sitting. My ass was numb. I had to finish it.

Watch out for Barbara’s leading men though. They can be real beasts. Wink Wink. See what I did there?

Below is an interview, a blurb to give you a taste, and a giveaway to get your hands on some serious swag.

Interview with the Author

So, Barbara – Phasms Vol 1 (Infinite Potential) has been out for a week. What was release day like for you – and how has this week been, as a debut author?

*Chuckles* Well, release day was interesting. I didn’t plan anything special – in fact; I told my husband I just wanted to treat it like a normal day. I think I was afraid of jinxing the whole thing! I went to work and, to be honest, got very little accomplished.

I was overwhelmed by the Social Media support and encouragement I received from friends, family, other authors and the general public. As a new author you don’t really know what to expect, and I certainly did not anticipate the avalanche of good wishes and new followers.

The most exciting thing is seeing all the new followers who are not authors – though I’ve picked up some amazing, top-notch writers as new “friends” this week! But it’s the readers who really tickle me and who I want to talk to.

 Any let-downs or disappointments?

Um, you mean other than someone giving my book a 3* review before it was even available? Not really. I wish more people would leave reviews on Amazon, but it’s only been a week and I do have to give them time to read it! I’d like to have more actual dialogue with my readers and I hope that will develop with time, but overall it’s been fabulous. The book has done better than I could have hoped for and I think it will continue to slowly develop a strong, dedicated following.

Talk to us about the publishing process itself – as a debut author, what have you learned along the way?

Wow – there’s so much! I have to say, I was surprised at how much really goes into the process. Despite numerous writer conferences and a lot of research, I was still naïve enough to think that it would be a straightforward submit/edit/release process.

Phasms Vol 1 took 5 or 6 rounds of editing to prepare for the reader, and we still didn’t catch everything (awkward to the epic degree)! We did 2 or 3 rounds of developmental edits which focus on plot, structure, pacing and so on. I have to say, my editor (Tiffany Johnstone) was amazingly supportive. She was patient, calming, understanding and all around wonderful person to work with. I was freaked out several times during the process, but she pulled me off the ceiling and reminded me why we needed to do certain things.

The hardest thing, besides not freaking out whenever I received more edits from Tiffany (LOL) was balancing time. Working on edits for Volume 1 while writing Volume 2 was difficult at first. I didn’t even know where to start on the edits when I received the first mark-up. I called an author friend of mine in a panic.

Then there are all of the cover design questions, back-cover/blurb development, PR planning, cover reveal and release day plans. Even with a publisher, there is so much the author has to be involved in and a lot more time is spent working on all the non-writing stuff. You just don’t know until you’re in the middle of it how much time and commitment is involved – but it’s so worthwhile, and who wouldn’t want to be intimately involved in all the details that will see their “book baby” through to its birthday?

So, over all? What would you tell “YOU” from last year at this time?

I would say stay calm, take it one step at a time and enjoy each day, each experience. I would tell myself to reach out more on Social Media for help, guidance, friends and fans and clear your plate of all the time-sucking activities that consume each day, so you can enjoy the moment.

Most of all, I would say embrace the truly beautiful and engaging people that are about to enter your life – there the ones that make this moment exceptional!


Infinite Potential by Barbara Garren

Entranced Publishing

February 24, 2014


Kelsi always Knows when bad things are coming, but even she never thought she’d lose her husband at only twenty-three. Since he died, she’s been living her worst nightmare.

Her nights are filled with dreams of a Dark Haired Man, but her days are full of guilt, because the Man fills her with longing and confusion, promising to give her all she needs, all she wants, all she feared she’d never have again.

If only the dreams would stay in her head where they belong.

Kelsi starts seeing the Dark Haired Man in her waking life, shadowing her wherever she goes.  And when her mysterious new neighbor, Aiden Hardt, knows about the Man in her dreams, Kelsi worries she can’t trust her own mind.

He’s not what he seems.

But even Aiden’s cryptic words don’t frighten her as much as the way she feels around him. Kelsi must sort through her emotions and figure out what’s real before she can ever hope to have a normal life again.


About the Author:

Barbara was born and raised in Southern California, but left to explore the world courtesy of the U.S. Navy. After traveling the world, she forced herself to live a humble life in in San Francisco, New York and Norfolk, Virginia. She now calls San Diego home and you won’t pry her out with a crowbar.

She would be the first  to tell you her husband, Henry, is the inspiration for all the romance, and the real Charlie – who is as cute as he sounds in her books – is a terrorist. When not working for the U.S. Navy, she can be found running, reading or writing. She firmly believes a well rounded diet consists of coffee, scotch, chocolate, popcorn and Luna Bars. In that order.

She’s a graduate of CUNY and Penn State – and manages to write a decent line here and there despite those burdens.

Social Media Links:





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An Interview with Entranced Publishing

I did an interview and I’m sharing it because they asked me what advice I would give to my writer self a year ago. I’m an advocate for chasing your dreams so I thought I’d share part of it. 

If you could go back and talk to your writer self this time last year, what advice would you give?

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. I think every writer has a moment, a soul crushing moment when they think they’re rubbish and they should throw in the towel. That moment is inevitable. But dreams are always worth chasing. Screwing things up is like my superpower, and if I can do it – then so can you. I think writing takes a lot of hard work but there’s luck involved, too. I got lucky. I found Entranced and they decided to take a chance on me. People talk about luck as if it’s a lightning strike. Fine. Then your hard work is like holding up a golf club in a rain storm. Help luck along. Keep going. [Disclaimer: This is a metaphor and I do not advocate playing golf in a lightning storm. Don’t mess with lightning. It usually wins.]


Keep going. 


For the full interview:


Rablings of Write Life

  So I was at the gym (It happens! You know… annually. Whatever) with a friend of mine and we’re chatting away while on our treadmills. We start talking about my newest WIP and how the plot is going, etc. I figured everyone around us had their headphones in and most people seemed oblivious to our conversation. But from the corner of my eye I thought I saw the woman closest to us laughing along with us. 

Until my friend and I discussed the ending of my book. I’m still working on it I explained. I discussed a few possible outcomes I was thinking over, “but I mean, at this point, he has to die.”

Then I noticed the woman closest to us, wasn’t laughing anymore.

So it occurred to  me that 1) she was listening and 2) she thinks there’s a real chance I’m killing someone. Whoops.  


As writers, we face unique circumstances that people in other fields simply won’t come across. This is true for any job. I have a friend who works in a recovery unit and had her office on lock down while an armed drug dealer tried to break in. Is that not a routine part of your Monday? Probably not. These are specific circumstances that only really apply to certain jobs. Writing is no different. 

1) Eavesdroppers  are real and personally I’ve been known to laugh too loud and speak too  loud on occasion. (No one’s perfect.) When discussing torturing your characters, the hero’s low moment, the villain’s comeuppance or death, you will get strange looks. Bond with that fact. 

2) You spend a lot of time alone at a desk. A lot. Like, a lot. Sure, we have our little notebooks to scribble in at the coffee shop and that’s fun. But at the end of the day, when your plot is plotted, your outline is outlined, you need to put on your big writer undies and sit down and get to work. 

3) You’ll write even when you’re not writing. While driving, you’ll run over possible lines from a scene you have coming up. You’ll act out the parts while shampooing your hair. People will think you’re crazy. Again, you really need to stop fighting the stigma and embrace it. You can’t escape.

4) If you’re a writer, you should be a reader so we’re going  to move on from that point as if it’s a given. You’re going to pick up books over your life that are so good you think you should reevaluate your dreams in an alcohol induced stupor because you will never be that good. This will happen. So my thoughts are as follows: You won’t ever write like that. You’ll write like you. You have your own style and voice and that’s good. It doesn’t mean your stories aren’t worth telling. Don’t quit. You will also read books that are so awful you will immediately try to find out who represents and publishes that author. Then you’ll query them. (Really, do it.) I actually have one of  those on my shelves and look at it sometimes. If they can do it…  Is that terrible? Probably. Am I an awful person? It’s looking likely. But! Whatever keeps you writing. And if you quit now, then you really will never be as good as that awesome author that blows your mind. It’s important, too, to remember that writing isn’t a competition. There’s plenty of room on a bookshelf or e-reader for Literary masterpieces, genre fiction, YA, Sci Fi,  mysteries and thrillers. If people like the genre, they will go back for more. So don’t look at other writers as if they’re your competition. They’re not. They’re your colleagues, your cheerleaders, friends, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.

5) Which brings me to rejection. You’re going to have to send your work out. Yes. That manuscript you poured your heart into, worked on forever, and edited to a maddening point of having the whole door stopper memorized. That one. Someone else has to read it. Whether you are sending it to trusted beta readers or an agent or publishing house – you have to send it. 


There’s going to be rejection pretty much no matter what. Those authors that blow your mind and make you think awful thoughts of quitting and living under a bridge – even they have been rejected. It happens to everyone. So, buck up. Big Writer Undies on. Brace yourself. Try to look at criticism as something you can take in, advice to polish and hone. That’s what beta readers are for! It’s  not a personal attack. When someone takes a few days – a week – a few months even, to get back to you, it’s not because they hate you. People are busy. Agents and publishers are inundated with queries. The best way to stand out, is to strictly follow submission guidelines (This really can’t be stressed enough!) and make your query shine. Not with glitter, with your gripping words that clearly give the agent or publisher an idea of what your book is about. Don’t make them guess. They have a lot to do as it is. Like no  movie is a hit with every audience, no cake pleases every palette, no book will appeal to everyone. Rejection will happen. It’s really not a personal attack on you or your work. Keep polishing, keep querying, keep writing. 

6)  Writers need to be reminded to go outside. Let me remind you. I know we covered the “Chained to your desk/Get the manuscript done” bit in the beginning, but let me make it confusing for you. First, your ass actually can start to take the shape of that chair. I know. I was shocked as well. Secondly, outside might be where you break through your plot problem or find the perfect inspiration for that character. You could find the perfect setting and go see it. Do something wild and call it “research” but don’t hurt yourself or commit a crime. Because eventually you’ll have to get back to that “sit down and write it” bit. And bail can get kinda pricey. Got it?

The Best Advice On The HEA

     Many moons ago, there was a time when I took care of my grandmother. I made her meals, and her bed, did her laundry and got to spend some really great time with her. Every day she would watch her “stories” and it didn’t take very long until I was watching them, too. You know, those soap operas that could drag a story line to it’s slow and agonizing end years later. 

   Grandmom and I had our favorite couple of the show. The underdogs that we rooted for. Those crazy kids just have to make it. Despite all the odds, every obstacle in their way (and there were many), they just had to make it. 

   After a lifetime of waiting, I turned to my grandmother and asked, “Why can’t they just live happily ever after?”


  Straight faced and to the point she said, “Because that would be boring.”

  You know what? Grandmom was right.

  Now as I writer, I have created characters. I’ve given them a life, a past, loved ones and enemies, habits, quirks, mannerisms and favorite phrases. And as silly as it may sound, I root for them, too!

  I don’t advocate drawing a story line out for as long as a soap opera does but I do advocate throwing obstacles in their way. If their goal, the happily ever after isn’t hard won – then it isn’t satisfying. 

  This means you need to kill your darlings – or cripple, maim, torture and emotionally devastate them. The hurdles they must dig deep to overcome, their journey to the HEA, is what makes the ending worth it. 

  So just when it looks like things are going smoothly in your book…


Take Grandmom’s advice and make the characters earn the HEA.