Resources / References
Posted on 11/20/2012 at 10:55pm

At a recent conference, an elderly lady asked me if my book was in the library. Keep in mind that I was speaking about writing and the book, and the attendees knew that all speakers had their books for sale in the bookstore. The gentle woman was intrigued about my story, but she waits until they are in her library.

She clearly informed me that she doesn’t buy books. She checks them out from the library.

I was very polite, and my initial disappointment quickly passed. After all, my intent as a writer is to draw readers to my stories, and if she loves Lowcountry Bribe, she’ll most likely look for Tidewater Murder in 2013. Of course, if she loves it, she’ll tell her friends, mention it to the librarian, maybe (fingers crossed) leave a review on Amazon.

Upon returning home, however, I stumbled upon a news release. Sponsored by OverDrive with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), a survey was completed . . . a huge survey. It constitutes the largest study of library e-book usage ever, with more than 75,000 people responding. Turns out that:

  • Library readers actually BUY 3.2 books per month (print and electronic).
  • Over a third of library readers subsequently purchase a book they’ve borrowed.
  • These readers usually experiment reading new writers via the library.
  • Over half of the readers are aged 40-64, avid readers.
  • Almost 80 percent of the readers are female.
  • Three-quarters of library readers hold college degrees.
  • Readers are readily borrowing ebooks from the library now, with 84 percent borrowing on their Kindle, Sony Reader or Nook.

From Marketwirepress release:

The survey took place between June 13 and July 31, 2012, at thousands of OverDrive-powered public library websites in the United States, with 75,384 respondents completing all or part of the survey. The intent of the survey was to gain insight into the borrowing and buying behaviors of library e-book readers and is not representative of the U.S. population as a whole. To see the full survey data, please visit OverDrive’s Digital Library Blog. With more than two-thirds of U.S. public libraries participating in OverDrive e-book lending, 87 percent of the U.S. population has access to e-books and audiobooks through this service. To find a library with OverDrive eBooks near you, visit

In my house on Thanksgiving Day, we go around the table and express one thing we’re thankful for. So…this Thanksgiving week, I am very thankful for library readers. I am very thankful for librarians. I appreciate the cities, counties and states that continue to fund libraries. And I bow humbly to all the Friends of the Library nonprofit groups that promote, support and assist libraries across the country.

Just take the time to leave a review someplace.

Just remember though, if you borrow your reading material from a library, please take the time to leave a review for the author at Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, a blog or even Facebook. The author will be eternally grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.



Posted on 10/22/2012 at 7:00am

Note from Hope:

I met Rochelle Melander at the Mississippi Writer’s Guild Conference this past summer. I kicked off the event with an opening keynote message . . . she closed the event with her closing keynote. The Yin and Yang of the conference. She’s open, vocal, and goes ninety miles per hour which was fun to watch in a room full of Southerners. But she fit in well, and we enjoyed our brief private chat. She’s published with Writer’s Digest Books and is quite the author with multiple books under her belt. She has offered us a guest message on how to deal with writer’s block, especially with the onset of NaNoWriMo in another couple of weeks. Enjoy!    ~HOPE


Overcome Writer’s Block

By Rochelle Melander

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” -Terry Pratchett

I don’t have time for writer’s block. Every day, I juggle my professional life (writing and coaching) and my personal life—husband, kids, dogs, exercise, laundry, and other household chores. Nearly every book I’ve written has been completed in less than six weeks thanks to publishing contracts with tight deadlines. In the past five years, I’ve also tackled National Novel Writing Month ( and the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Writing books fast with children and dogs underfoot has given me tools to prevent, diagnose, or overcome the infamous writing disease—writer’s block—and finish my assignments on time. While movies portray writer’s block as something you’d kill to get over (Secret Window) or drink your way out of (The Lost Weekend), I’d prefer to see it as something manageable, like a headache. Here’s how I’ve learned to thwart writer’s block:

1. Prevent it. Prewriting prevents writer’s block. Often writer’s block is simply a moment of panic—what do I say? Eliminate that fear by planning. Before facing the blank page, record ideas for your article or chapter. I like to use mind maps ( as prewriting tools because I can brainstorm freely without worry about what comes first. Once I get to the computer, I have a whole page of ideas to work from.

2. Diagnose it. Writer’s block can also be a symptom of a manuscript issue. As writer-in-chief, it’s my job to dig around and find the problem so I can fix it and finish my assignment. Here are three common issues that present as writer’s block:

*Structure. When you feel bogged down or muddled while writing simple concepts or stories, chances are the structure does not fit the type of information you’re writing or the audience you’re writing for. The fix? Ask yourself, “Could I write this if I structured it as a . . .” and then give yourself several options. Look at books or articles in your field and note the structure. How can you borrow their structures to make your article work?

*Content. When you hit a speed bump in your writing, check to see if you have enough information to write the article or book chapter. The fix? Research! Take a day to read articles and interview experts in the field. When you go back to the computer, you’ll have plenty of info to wow your readers!

*Audience. Often we get writer’s block when we do not know who we are writing for. We struggle to put together a book or an article for the amorphous “everyone.” The fix? Forget everyone and find your ideal reader. Once you know who you are writing for, you can shape your work just for them.

3. Overcome it. So what happens when you prepare like a pro, check the big three (structure, content, and audience), and still feel stuck? Chances are good you are dealing with one of two issues: you’re tired or you have some other sort of writing glitch to overcome (e.g., you need a good lead or you haven’t figured out the angle you’re taking). Fortunately, the fix for both is the same: take a break. Engaging with nature or doing a menial, repetitive task will help you restore your ability to pay attention. And, the time away from your work may lead to what psychologists call the Eureka effect (

So next time you get stuck, take a break to watch the clouds or sort the laundry. No doubt you’ll return to your desk refreshed and ready to write—and potentially with a solution in hand!

Your turn: How do you overcome writer’s block?


Rochelle Melander is an author, speaker, and certified professional coach. She is the author of ten books, including the National Novel Writing Month guide—Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) Rochelle teaches professionals how to write good books fast, use writing to transform their lives, navigate the publishing world, and get published! For more tips and a complementary download of the first two chapters of Write-A-Thon, visit her online at






Posted on 08/14/2012 at 12:58am

Those who have followed me on FundsforWriters for a while, know that I shiver a little when it comes time to do a real-life interview or make a presentation. So when Austin Moss ask me to do a Skype interview for his podcast series “What the Glass Contains,” I told him I wasn’t very seasoned at this sort of thing.

Soon Austin had me working it like a pro, and we completed a lengthy but amazingly pleasant interview. Time just flew, and seeing Austin on the other end asking questions made the event elementary and fun. Here’s our interview in case you missed it.


Then along came WorkStew, a unique site that’s tastefully done in simplistic lines. Per their site, “The Work Stew podcast is a forum for frank talk about what people do for a living.” The host Kate Gace Walton recently interviewed me and took the conversation into a completely different slant than normal. Again, we used Skype. It’s a tad over 11 minutes long, so it’s brief.

“In this episode (of WorkStew Podcasts) featuring author C. Hope Clark, I learned that the work Ms. Clark is doing these days—penning mysteries and mentoring other writers—follows a decades-long career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, Ms. Clark managed to take the darkest days of her time as a government employee—when a bribery attempt turned her life upside down—and convert that ordeal into page-turning fiction.”



 The  next one was a ball as teenagers interviewed me. Express Yourself!™ is the #1 YA radio program in the world. My interview with them airs on August 14th at NOON PM Pacific. You can listen from your computer by going to .If you miss the live show, you can find my interview archived at or .

They are all about spreading positive messages. “Teens talk, the world listens on Express Yourself!™”


Finally, on August 30, I’ll be truly tested as South Carolina Educational Television (SC ETV) arrives in two trucks to my house for a two-hour interview on film for reproduction into a series about the literary map of South Carolina. Designed for schools, particularly middle and high school, the series educates others from the mouths of real writers and authors. It should be on their KnowItAll page for schools and education groups, a site recognized and praised by the American Library Association. I’m ecstatic to represent my profession to my state. I feel like one of those chefs on a cooking show! When that comes to fruition, I’ll let you know, but I’m awful glad that this event happens on the heels of many conferences, interviews and appearances, after I’ve had lots of practice.

One day I hope I can master how to put together a podcast. They are amazing to do and listen to. What do y’all think? Do you like Skype? Podcasts? Interviews you can see and hear?



Posted on 04/26/2012 at 1:11am

You don’t know where to start. You know you’re supposed to query magazines, but which ones, and to whom? Or you need clients for your copywriting business. What is cold calling and how do you even start?

When you freelance, you assume the responsibility of asking for business. It’s scary, I know. I hate it, too. Put me in a room full of people, and I can wing it. Put me one-on-one and talk about hiring me, and I’m all jelly inside. But let’s say you want to start this writing business. How do you start finding people to write for?

1. Who you know.

It’s that simple. Tell everybody that you write for a living and are taking on clients and gigs. Give them cards and have them pass them out, contact acquaintances, talk you up. Hey, my mother sells my books via her tax prep business. I’ve had the editor of one magazine sell me to the editor of another. Conference organizers have validated me to other writing professionals. Your friends and family have employers who just might use a freelance writer. Use the mouthpieces you have.

2. Who you subscribe to.

Start with the magazines you read. After all, you understand them. Then grow to the magazines your friends and family read, because you can pick their minds as to why they read them and what the magazines represent. It’s the age-old adage of tapping what you  know . . . something we tend to overlook. Note the free regional pubs you grab while out shopping. Don’t forget to pitch a column to the fledgling newspaper you’ve subscribed to for years, trying to help keep it alive.

3. Businesses you use.

Ask your dentist to write his newsletter . . . or start one for him. Ask your child’s school if you can pen a column on writing.Pick up the Out Here magazine at Tractor Supply or the local parenting magazine at the restaurant you frequent. Keep your writing eyes open.

4. Using coattails.

Use writers you know to open doors for you. I’m friends with a freelancer who makes a full-time living writing for regional newspapers and magazines. Lake Murray Living and Sandlapper are local mags in South Carolina, and she’s well known at both. Don’t know any? Start following someone, commenting on their blog or friending them on Facebook. My son knows two sports journalists in the state, simply because he regularly comments on their blogs. Same goes for journalists at the papers. They can tell you how to pitch, what to pitch, and possibly knock on the door of the editor you need to pitch it to.

We’re all connected. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Wouldn’t you love to help someone? Of course you would. In this case, getting started is all in who you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Posted on 04/03/2012 at 12:59am

I like to read the rules. I have writing friends who balk at rules, saying writing should have few rules or else creativity is stifled. That’s like a surgeon saying, “I’ll cut on this patient like I feel like cutting. I don’t have to know the rules.”

You can’t go against the rules, until you know the rules. Otherwise you have no clue what you’re doing.

You have to know both sides of the coin.

Elmore Leonard is infamous for his absolute rules of writing, such as:

=> No prologues

=> No tag other then “said”

=> No adverbs to modify a tag.

=> Limit 2-3 exclamation points per novel.

=> Don’t use suddenly.

Some writers take issue with any absolute, and most swear you can break the above rules without question. My suggestion is to learn the rules, write in strict alliance with those rules, then step back and see how you did. Ask others to read the results as well. Not a page, or a chapter, but an entire book. You may call it limiting. Fine. Then write the entire book with abandon, then go back and apply all the rules as emphasized by the masters.

Remember that English teach who beat into you about grammar, syntax, and structure? If you are from a certain generation, you once endured diagramming sentences, too. Dry, horribly boring and irritating lessons that you swore had nothing to do with your creative self being set free to tell great stories. Too confining.

I’m a gardener. If you follow all the rules of gardening to the letter, you indeed remove the bliss that comes with dabbling in the dirt. However, if you don’t know that fertilizer burns plants except at certain rates, or realize that planting tomatoes in the same place each year is a recipe for disaster, or understand which plants grow in your geographic zone, you waste valuable time and money to produce nothing. Sure, you might stumble into a great recipe for nutrients and you might happen upon a gorgeous combination of plants that actually complement each other, but the chances of that are quite tiny. You learn why daffodils are planted in the fall and spinach in the early spring instead of giving them a go in the middle of summer to keep from making stupid mistakes.

Not that your writing is stupid. All writing has purpose. However, the masters are masters for a reason. They’ve excelled in this business; a business in which you and I struggle to make a living. So we must listen to advice. We must commit it to memory and practice it until rote. Then one day, when you’re trying to get rid of an adverb because you’ve been schooled that adverbs are weak, yet that adverb is remarkably accurate in proving your point, and you can’t dissemble and rebuild that sentence any other way . . . you have the wisdom to use that adverb in an intelligent manner.

Don’t throw away the rules until you know them well. You might be tossing what could actually make the difference in a contract, in number of sales, or even a future in writing.

Posted on 04/01/2012 at 12:54am

If you are a struggling author, you know how the Internet bombards you with how-to this and how-to that. There’s so much advice you don’t know which was to turn. Some sources are cliche and others are loud and noisy, in love with their own voices. Over the years, I’ve gathered a handful of solid, practical resources I’d like to recommend. No gimmicks and no friends. These have proven useful to me in my efforts to write and publish. Hopefully my two cents will be worth two cents to you, and if not, you haven’t lost much in the looking. I, however, swear by them.

On Writing, by Stephen King – Everybody puts this book on their list, so while it seems a cliche in that regard, for motivation’s sake, this book needs to be on your shelf – and revisited annually. King makes solid points about realities of the craft as well as how to get your head on straight. He doesn’t ramble. I hate rambling. Somehow I think a meeting with him would involve short, pointed responses, a competition in who could make the tightest point. My kind of guy.


How to Write a Great Query Letter, by Noah Lukeman – I printed this off the year he made it free, thinking this was a gold nugget that someone would decide later needed to be back for sale.  It’s still free for downloading. He still touts what I do: one page limit, three paragraphs, make it about the agent instead of the author. Learn what goes into each paragraph of the query letter and how to refine a plot synopsis. It’s the classic gospel of how to write a query letter. Nothing beats it.


Conquering the Dreaded Synopsis, by Lisa Gardner – As a mystery/suspense author, I adore Lisa Gardner’s work and have read many of her books. Strong women, stronger men, all vulnerable, all savvy and sharp as tacks. Ms. Gardner’s website is chocked FULL of advice for writers.If you ask any author, published or unpublished, what is his most dreaded part of getting published, he’ll say writing the synopsis. It’s nothing like your book, yet it has to be the substitute for your book. Gardner tries to simplify while emphasizing how strong you need to make this all-so-important part of your writing effort. Again, free.


Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King – Both authors are serious professional editors. Twelve basic chapters every fiction writer should know by heart. Show and Tell, Point of View, Dialogue Mechanics, Voice. I’ve periodically critiqued others’ work only for them to email me back and ask, “What did you mean by IM or beat?” Here you learn, and it sticks with you. Read it, dog-ear it, highlight it. I promise, you’ll use it repeatedly until you have it memorized.


Guide to Literary Agents, edited by Chuck Sambuchino – Yes, it’s annual, but it’s oh so handy to have if you’re seriously seeking an agent. The guidance on how to land an agent is invaluable as much or more so than the detailed, well-researched list of agents.


Solid, remarkable resources. Mine are worn out. I’d never loan them out. As a serious writer, you need a resource library. I have an entire row of how-to books on my bookshelf, but these you’ll find on my desk. Hopefully, they’ll serve you as well as they’ve served me.



Posted on 01/17/2012 at 6:00am

This is journaling I can do. It’s called 280daily, and you journal each day using twice the number of characters of Twitter. Yes, very doable.

I quit counting the number of journals I’ve started and dropped. Some I’ve reread and torn out pages, mad at myself for the stupid angst I felt the need to tell the world. You see, private to me is something I don’t want to tell the world, but putting it in a journal is . . . telling the world. I inevitably get frustrated at revealing myself, or bored at what I try to write by NOT revealing myself. (A shrink can step in here at any time, please.) The result? I don’t journal.

But I like this. It makes you condense your day into a thought. Not pages of thought, just A thought. That’s when you can pick one little moment of your day and memorialize it, or summarize the day as the wonder or bitch it was. But wait . . . this site gets much better.

You can search these posts. You can add a photo. You can ask to read a random post. And you can print them off, even create a book from them.

Okay, it’s a new year. Maybe I’ll give journaling a try again. How hard can a double-Tweet be?


C. Hope Clark is editor and founder of . Writer’s Digest selected FundsforWriters one of its 101 Best Websites for Writers every year since 2001. She is also author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series, available via Bell Bridge Books, Amazon, B&N and all bookstores. /



Posted on 01/13/2012 at 6:00am
Enjoy the following guest post from Laura Pepper Wu. She’s a pretty sharp cookie.  ~Hope
Laura Pepper Wu is the founder of Ladies Who Critique and the co-founder of the book marketing and promotions company, 30 Day Books. She realized the value of having a critique partner through her in-person writing group, but when it became harder and harder to make the Saturday afternoon meetings she began to search for help online. After realizing how difficult it was to find a suitable critique partner who “got” her genre, she founded Ladies Who Writers of all levels are welcome to join – men too! – and begin their search for the perfect critiquing relationship. It’s free and always will be!
10 Reasons Why Having a Critique Partner Will Rock Your World
I learned the value of having a second pair of eyes, or in my case a second pair of ears, when I started attending a writing group in early 2010. Not only did our weekly Saturday meetings motivate me to write (and rewrite) each week so that I would have something to read out loud, it gave me the confidence to call myself a writer. I made some fantastic friends who I shared the journey step by step to publishing my first book.
Despite having read one of the chapters of my manuscript several times, one of my characters arrived in a taxi but left in his car and this had completely passed me by! I was in disbelief when this was pointed out to me, but it confirmed for me that sometimes we are simply too close to our work for too long, and that it’s far too easy to miss gaping holes and inconsistencies.
In addition to all that, I felt my writing grow and improve simply by being exposed to other  writers and witnessing their books coming together piece by piece. Almost through the power of osmosis I began to learn which story plots worked, how to create effective conflict and what a well-fleshed out character was composed of. Plus hanging out with other writers was awesome and I returned from each meeting with a new spark in my step.
In case I haven’t convinced you yet that having a critique partner or being in a critiquing group will really rock your world, here are my top 10 reasons why. If I missed anything, please leave a comment below!
1. Accountability. A reason to write each day since someone is waiting to read your work!
2. To raise your spirits. Writing has it’s fair share of tough moments. There is nothing nicer than someone complimenting your last chapter to cheer you up.
3. Build your confidence. Are you nervous to put your work out there? Showing it to a CP is a great first step to showing your writing to the world.
4. Find “your voice”. A great CP will help you to see where you are going wrong, and more importantly, where you are going right.
5. Give you a different point of view. Stuck, unsure about a phrase, character or storyline? Having a second opinion can help. After all two brains are better than one!
6. A fresh pair of eyes. A beta reader or critique partner will help you see your work – which you have been too close to for too long from a fresh perspective. This makes it easy to reveal inconsistencies, plot holes or lack of description/ vital information.
7. A critique partner can help reverse writers block. And that happens to the best of us!
8. It makes the writing process less lonely. We’re social creatures and we need a  little contact each day. Connecting with your CP is like a virtual coffee break or lunch date.
9. Support. A great CP is your biggest fan and greatest cheerleader. She can offer you advice from someone who ‘gets’ the writing world, as well as supporting your promotional efforts when the time comes to publish.
10. A preview of what your readers will say later. As a writer you are going to receive feedback whether you ask for it or not – from agents, publishers, editors and eventually reviewers. Let your CP catch any holes or flaws in your writing first.
Bonus Reason: For those writers wanting to self publish, readers are repeatedly pointing out plot holes, inconsistencies, spelling errors and general problems with manuscripts that make a book look obviously ‘self published’ in their reviews. This can harm sales of a book or eBook for a very long time. Critique is a very different thing from editing, but having a group of critique partners, as well as a professional editor, is a crucial part of maintaining a high standard in your manuscript.


Posted on 01/10/2012 at 6:00am

I’ve followed Christina Katz from the outset, all the way from her Writer Mama fame, before thousands of writers knew who she was. This new book demonstrates how far and wise she’s become.  

The Writer’s Workout, 366 Tips, Tasks & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach serves as a daily devotional of sorts, giving you food for thought (and writing) that focuses on the craft, not marketing, not platform, not self-promotion. We tire of hearing how we need to be salespeople to be authors. Here’s a sound and solid book that doles out small daily steps on how to become a writer who can’t awaken each morning without wanting to spin words . . . and feel like he’s on the right track doing it. 

Is your writing feeling out of sorts? Flip to Nurture Your Ideas or Trust Your Instincts. Can’t get motivated? Go to Discover Your Rhythm or Run the 500-Word Dash. These 366 chapters are one page each, taking you all of ten minutes to read, reread, digest, and decide how to work it into your day’s writing. Our craft is hard work, but Katz’s book lets you learn in baby steps. You don’t have to start at the beginning, either. Select what you need and read it, checking each one off until you’ve mastered them all. 

Highly recommended.   ~Hope

From the website:

The Writer’s Workout is like having a personal trainer for your brain every day of the year. In the age of information overload, writers need the ability to focus and feel satisfied at the keyboard on a daily basis. The Writer’s Workout greets you each day of the year with fresh advice that helps writers coach themselves to produce an impressive body of published work, whether in print or online. You’ll learn manageable, no-nonsense techniques for every aspect of your writing career from getting organized to connecting with your audience to relationship building.

The Writer’s Workout contains 366 tips for writers in every genre on how to:

  • Make your writing as strong and powerful as possible.
  • Pitch and sell your work at every opportunity.
  • Overcome rejection to come back better than ever.
  • Promote your work and build an audience.
  • Learn how to balance your creative life with your daily life.

Veteran writing coach Christina Katz draws on her knowledge from more than a decade in the business. With her no-more-excuses wisdom, you’ll find your stride and motivate yourself to career-long publishing success. The Writer’s Workout gives you substantial suggestions every day to help you build a robust, unique writing career.


Posted on 11/03/2011 at 6:00am

How do you keep up with the industry? How do you know what marketing is outmoded and what type of publishing is the best deal? How do you know what genre is hot (i.e., young adult) and which theme (i.e., vampires) is not? When do you need an agent and when do you self-publish?

Of course, there isn’t one resource that tells you all the answers. We have to sift and choose who and what advice to follow. However, you do need to spend a percentage of your writing life reading and studying the ways of the industry not to mention who’s still alive and kicking in the industry. My personal advice to you . . .

1. Pick one writer’s magazine and subscribe. The most obvious in the USA are Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers.

2. Pick a reference guide for agents and/or publishers.Writers’ Market is one – both online and in book form. But so is Publishers Marketplace since it lists current information, updated daily. Guide to Literary Agents is great.

3. Select one reference guide for magazines and periodicals. The Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers is one of my favorites. Writer’s Market already listed above is also good. I also like the online database of Worldwide Freelance. It is international in flavor, but also covers US markets. I find it maintained well.

4. Pick three newsletters or blogs to follow. Follow them for a month. Then choose three more, culling those you already had that aren’t doing you any good. Do not get caught up in trying to read them all. Pick a day a month in which you analyze whether to keep or add new resources like this. Find ten tops, unless you are writing full-time. These can be genre related, as in fantasy or children’s writing. Or they can be marketing related, or self-publishing related. Just don’t think you have to follow everyone. Be selective.

5. Join a writer’s organization. Don’t try to join a dozen. You won’t have the time to become active in more than one yet still find time to write. Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators if you write children’s books. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of AmericaMystery Writers of AmericaInternational Thriller Writers AssociationRomance Writers of America. There are groups for copywriters, journalists and editors. Go to my website and look at Professional Organization on a hidden links page I still maintain. You’ll find dozens.

Yes, there are gobs of resources. No, you don’t have to subscribe to all of them. Pick and choose. One magazine, one database, one resource book, one writers organization. You need to stay somewhat up to date, but you don’t have to become an expert. Writing is time consuming, but if you don’t know what to do with it once it’s written, then where are you? Just know enough to know where to look when a need arises.