Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Writing Books And Running Marathons

By Marcia Mickelson

Today, I've been in a cyber-discussion about whether or not moms should write books and run marathons. The person I was having the cyber-discussion wondered what women who do these things are trying to prove. I don't think we are trying to prove anything. I don't run marathons, but I'm truly impressed by those who do.

I do write books, but I'm not trying to prove anything. I love to write and I love being a mother. For me, one doesn't take away from the other. I find joy in writing; it makes me happy. Being a happy mom is important for my kids. It's important to make time in our lives for things that make us happy.

In this discussion, it was suggested that writing books should wait for a time when my kids are grown up. Now is not the time to write books, it was contended. There will be time for that later.

I know so many mothers who are writers. That kind of thinking--that we shouldn't write because our kids are small and we should put it off for later--is wrong. We all have been given talents. If we hide our talents or put them off for another time, then we're not showing our gratitude for those talents. Using our talents shows gratitude to Heavenly Father for giving us those talents.

I'll be honest. I don't have a lot of talents. I sing horribly. I can't play the piano. (I've tried, and I suck.) I'm really bad at cooking & baking. I'm not artistic. I'm not crafty. I'm not athletic. My two talents are being a mom and writing. And, I see no reason why I can't demonstrate those two talents simultaneously.

We all have talents. I know people who sing beautifully and I love hearing them.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Happiness, Your Heritage Oct 2008
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”
If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.
But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. 4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Please vote!

by Marsha Ward

One of the most precious freedoms we have in our nation is that of the right to choose who will govern us and represent us in our State and National Executive and Legislative offices. All citizens of the United States who have registered to vote have the duty and responsibility to elect sincere and diligent men and women who have pledged to be our voice and look out for our interests.

I urge you, if you are registered to vote, and if you have not already done so, to vote on Tuesday, November 2, for those who will stand up for the right and govern according to the precepts of the Constitution.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the 7th Annual “Best Books” Awards

LOS ANGELES –, the premiere online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE “BEST BOOKS 2010” AWARDS (BBA) on October 26, 2010. Over 500 winners and finalists were announced in over 140 categories covering print and audio books. Awards were presented for titles published in 2010 and late 2009.

Trail of Storms
by Marsha Ward (iUniverse) was named the Finalist in the Western Fiction category. is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back at Last

by Marsha Ward

I'm ba-a-a-a-a-ck. I seem to have been gone a long time, but here I am again. I think the last co-author standing should get a party, don't you?

I've been busy, believe it or not. As I drown in slip-sliding paper falling toward me and my fingers on the keyboard (most of which I could shred, once I extract the odd computer disk, wedding announcement, and hardback book from the pile), it occurs to me that I could share how I keep track of my word count as I write.

Now understand, this can be as complex or as simple as I want to make it. I can use the Excel chart my friend J. Scott Savage sent me several years ago that nags me incessantly, or I can add and subtract words as I write and edit, or I can keep a simple running tally at the beginning and the end of my writing day. I kind of like the simple style nowadays, so I'll tell you how that last thing works.

I love the 9.5 inch by 6 inch one-subject notebooks for this task. They're not so big as to be in the way, and not so small as to disappear amidst the rubble on my desk. I open it up and draw three equally-spaced lines down the page. This gives me two sections of columns to fill up.

In the left-most column, at the top, I put the date. I can put anything else in the nature of notes in that column, like the times I start and end, the scene or chapter I'm working on, and how many hours I work. I see I have a notation saying slippery elm bark and chamomile tea. Ha! I know what scene that one was!

The second column is where I put the beginning word count opposite the date. If I'm starting fresh, this is zero. If I want to, I can add the word count when I do a save, when I get up for lunch, or what-not (I usually only put down the last three digits, or hundreds). The last figure I put in that column is the final word count of the day, unless I want to do a total of words written underneath it. I finish the day with a horizontal line drawn under all the notes for the day, in both columns.

The other section of two columns is for when I get to the bottom of the page. You knew that, right?

How do you find your word count at the beginning and end of the writing period?

If you're in Word, look for a menu item called Word Count. It might be in the Tools menu. That's where I'd look first, because that's where it is in my ancient Word 2003. Before you click it, highlight all your text. Then click Word Count, and you'll have a rough estimate of your words. I say "rough," because it will count every asterisk (*) and Chapter Heading, but it's good enough for starters. Do this again when you quit for the day, and you have the second count.

Or, you can use the software program I now use, yWriter5 (see below for another rapturous account), which tells me at the bottom of the main window how many words I write that day, along with the total of words in the project. I put those numbers in my notebook at start and end of day.

yWriter5 and its antecedents were written by novelist and computer programmer Simon Haynes of Australia. He couldn't find a writing software that suited his needs, so he wrote it. He updates it quite often, sometimes to meet suggestions of users, but it's a lean program written to use few resources of your machine. It even runs off a flash drive, so it's highly portable.

You can find yWriter5 at (Hal Spacejock is the hero of Simon's futuristic sci-fi series). There are several other useful programs to be found there, as well as a link to the new how-to wiki created by the folks in the next paragraph.

This software is free, not only no-cost, but free of nasty surprises like virii, Trojan horses, and other malware. There's an active community of users in a Google group who support each other. The old hands answer the questions of the newbies, and Simon occasionally pops in, too.

Can you tell I like yWriter5? Let's see how many converts I can make. Let's see, |||...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1,000 True Fans

by Marsha Ward

In my perusal of Twitter links, I ran across a reference to 1,000 True Friends, and decided to find out where it came from and what it could mean for me.

I tracked it down to an original post called "1,000 True Fans" on The Technium, written by Kevin Kelly, an "original thinker," blogger, and technology writer. I'm sure he is many other things, as we all are, but let's just call him what I already have, for the sack of brevity.

Kelly asserts that a creator--such as an artist, musician, or author, among others who create works of art--needs to acquire and maintain only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

He defines a True Fan as one who will purchase anything and everything you produce. If your 1,000 True Fans each spend an average of $100 a year on your work, your income will amount to $100,000 a year. Minus your expenses and taxes, that's a living for most folks.


I probably spend $1,000 to $1,500 a year on books. I don't think the average person does that, but I hope some of my readers would spend some of their book money on my novels.

But do I have anywhere near 1,000 True Fans?

Let's see. As I write this I have 559 Facebook friends, 161 Fans on my FB Fan Page, 223 Followers on Twitter, and 69 Friends on Goodreads (although I'm sure a lot of those are duplicates), so, in theory, I'm nearing the 1,000 goal. But here's a question: Are they True Fans by definition? Do they each buy $100 worth of my product each year?

Well, no. Not all the friends I've mentioned above care that I write novels. Some are chums from long-ago school days. Some are extended family members I barely know. Some are friends or relatives of my friends. Besides that, I don't have $100 worth of product to sell to my True Fans, even if they each paid into my wild fantasy of making a living from writing. I have much work to do to create product for fans, and to make alternative and derivitive works available to my True Fans.

Kelly mentions that once you've found your 1,000 True Fans, you need to nurture them. You have to maintain direct contact with them. Technology makes this possible. Tweets and blogs and emails and Facebook help a great deal.

I still have a long way to go to achieve a fandom of 1,000 True Fans, but I hope I'm on my way.

Oh, and did you know WD-40 can be used to untangle jewelry chains?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Remember the novel writing software, yWriter5, that I talked about a couple of weeks ago? I am absolutely loving it. I hadn't intended to begin writing until yesterday, but I started early, and already have put in characters, locations, and notes. Also, the best thing, of course, I have written five scenes, and I'm in the second chapter. Sweet!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Writer Appreciation Week

by Marsha Ward

Agent Nathan Bransford has proclaimed this Writer Appreciation Week. It's a good idea, and I encourage you to implement it by showing your appreciation to your favorite writer, living or dead.

One way you can accomplish this, if your fav is living, is by seeking out their online presence and sending them a message of gratitude. Do they blog, have a Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter account, book trailers posted on YouTube, or have a contact process on their website? Spread the love. Tell them how much you admire their work. Go to and make a comment on one of their books.

And that brings up books. Have you bought one this week? Go do it!