Tag Archives: advice

Victoria Mixon’s new advice column for fiction writers


*An Advice Column for Fiction Writers*

Yes, I’m going to start an advice column for you guys. It’ll be like Miss Lonelyhearts, only about writing. I will give you some ideas below:

Dear A. Victoria Mixon, Editor: I am halfway through my novel and just discovered my protagonist is a transsexual. This is going to make it very difficult to explain his mother, who has already bought his trousseau. What do I do?

Signed, Startled in Seattle

Dear Editor: When you say, “Show, Don’t Tell,” do you mean, “Everywhere she looked she saw evidence of the total, irresponsible destruction of her selfless love for that stupid bastard, and as she pondered deep in her heart whether or not to leave him and forge a new life with better love with a better moral character, she realized she would never stop wondering where he hid the steak knives”? Or something else?

Signed, P.O’d in Pittsburgh

Dear Ms. Mixon: Whenever I try to write dialog, it comes out sounding like a third-grader wrote it. How do I fix this? Or,

conversely, how do I find a fourth-grader to write it for me?

Signed, Stymed in St. Paul

I hope to unveil the Advice Column on May 1st, /oh, frabulous day./ But I need questions for the first one now.

So please send them in! Be the first to see your question—and its answer—on the new column!

You can submit questions through http://victoriamixon.com or email them to victoria@victoriamixon.com.

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”Three Cups” author Mark St. Germain


Author interview with Mark St. Germain

I’m Mark St. Germain; I wrote THREE CUPS and April Willy did the beautiful illustrations in it.. This is my first book. I’m a professional writer for films, television and theater. Films include co-writing Caroll Ballard’s DUMA, TV includes THE COSBY SHOW and my plays include CAMPING WITH HENRY AND TOM and FREUD’S LAST SESSION.  In May, a documentary film I conceived and directed, MY DOG, An Unconditional Love Story, will be released by New Video. It is a look at the special relationships between celebrities and their dogs and features Richard Gere, Glenn Close, Isaac Mizrahi, Lynn Redgrave and Billy Collins among many others.

1. Tell us about your latest book. This is the first

2. How did you get started as a writer?

Late. Directing a poetry review when I was in my late twenties I wrote some lyrics for a comedic song. When I heard the audience laugh I was hooked.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

As close as 9-5 as possible, unless in rehearsals. In the morning I work on one project, in the afternoon another.

4. Describe your workspace.

A former den in our house in Pound Ridge, NY.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

There are so many good books for writers from THREE USES OF THE KNIFE by David Mamet to Stephen King’s ON WRITING.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.

Small menagerie of Sarge, a rescued Lab mix, Charlie, an African Grey Parrot, Mimi, a Meyer Parrot, Connie, a Cockatiel, a pond of Goldfish and a coop of a dozen Chickens.

My son, Daniel, is a stand up comedian who I think is hilarious – especially jokes about me. On the other hand, my daughter, Kate, thinks my own jokes are the worst in the world and I consider it a triumph when she laughs despite herself.

7. Favorite quote:

“Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.” Wendell Berry

8. Best and worst part of being a writer.

The solitary nature of it. And the solitary nature of it.

9. Advice for other writers.

Listen to your own voice, not the voices of praise or criticism that will always surround you.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I once did a rewrite on a tv film about Abraham Lincoln. When one of the Execs mused that the ending was too sad I asked whether he wanted it to stop pre-Fords Theater. He said, no, he wanted Lincoln to live.

Where can people buy your book?

3 CUPS  can be bought on our website, 3CUPSBOOK.COM or on Amazon.

10 Best pieces of advice from authors


Be sure to stop by www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com on February 10 to read my piece for Carolyn Howard-Johnson: “Best advice from a year’s worth of author interviews.”

In the meantime, visit and bookmark her site, which was named to “Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites” for good reason!

New book: Time Management in an Instant


NEW BOOK: Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your DayinstanttimeKBColor



In today’s hurly-burly work environment many business people find it challenging to avoid distraction, stay focused, use their time and energy to maximum benefit, and gain ground on important goals and outcomes. One study by the Families and Work Institute found that one-third of Americans are overworked and more than 50 percent of those surveyed say they are either doing too many tasks at the same time or are frequently interrupted during the workday – or both. In short, we are overloaded!


Time Management In An Instant helps the reader to overcome this feeling of overload and avoid the traps that lead to an unproductive relationship with time. It offers field-tested time habits and expert advice based on the latest research that will help the reader better manage, create and spend their time with more satisfaction and results.


KLColor4x6Based on the authors’ popular Time Management workshop, given to Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike, Time Management In An Instant outlines the best practices for improving your everyday work situations including:

  • Harness the power of completion
  • Link your core values to key projects
  • Find the power of mini-tasks
  • Master the art of time planning
  • Play the 80/20 game of accomplishment
  • Cut your meeting times in half
  • Get a procrastination inoculation
  • Arrest the biggest time crimes
  • Take back your time – Just Say No
  • Go for your goals – everyday
  • Fight distraction and find your focus


Buy a copy of Time Management In An Instant the week of July 20th and receive a free license to the Essential Email online course. To buy the book and claim your bonus, or just to buy the book go to: http://www.quality-service.com/timemanagementinaninstant


While email is the most widely used communication tool for business, its remote nature – which eliminates tone of voice and body language – presents a huge potential for mischief, misunderstanding and misinterpretation. This online program will help you go beyond basic email etiquette, to the proven principles and practices for gaining mastery and saving time over your electronic mail box.


Karen Leland and Keith Bailey are the bestselling authors of six books including Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. They are the co-founders of Sterling Consulting Group, which helps organizations and individuals learn how to fight distraction and find their focus in a wired world. For more information please contact: kleland@scgtraining.com


Karen Leland and Keith Bailey are partners in Sterling Consulting Group; an international management consulting firm. They are the best-selling authors of six books, which have been translated into ten languages.   Karen and Keith have worked with over 200,000 executives, managers and front line staff in companies throughout the world including: American Express, AT&T, Oracle, Microsoft, Xerox, Marriott Hotels, IBM, Lucent Technologies and UPS. They have been featured in dozens of newspapers including:  The New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Newsweek and Time. They also have extensive on-air experience and have been interviewed on The Today Show, CNN, Good Morning America and Oprah.  Karen is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Sales and Marketing, Incentive, Women’s Day, Self and many others.


ARTICLE: “Habits Of Action”

By Karen Leland and Keith Bailey

You know what you need to do. You know why you need to do it. You even know what steps you must take to get it done. But there’s one small problem: you can’t seem to get moving. It’s a common problem. Maybe it’s chronic procrastination or maybe you’re just so overwhelmed that you feel paralyzed. Either way, the task you must complete is just sitting there, gathering metaphorical (or perhaps literal) dust, and growing more ominous by the day.

A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that a full third of Americans are overworked; more than 50 percent of those surveyed said they are either handling too many tasks at the same time or are frequently interrupted during the workday – or both. In short, we are overloaded. Is it any wonder, then, that we have trouble getting jobs started, keeping them going, or finishing them up?

As a consultant and coach over the past twenty five years I’ve observed that smart and savvy business women use three habits to get themselves to take action, even in tough times. These habits act as an inoculation against procrastination and feeling overwhelmed so that these busy women are ultimately able to press through and get things done.

Habit #1: Chunking Down: Focus on the Trees Not the Forest

In the computer world, chunking means to break things into bits. To chunk down is to move from a whole to its parts; to chunk up is to move from parts to a whole, or from the specific to the general. Chunking your projects and goals down into smaller pieces will help you take action more quickly and easily, while at the same time helping to combat the feeling of too much to do.

Habit #2: Take Energetic Credit for Completion

When we have a big goal or task to work on, many of us wait – unnecessarily and sometimes to our detriment – until the entire project is finished before we experience any sense of completion, satisfaction, or accomplishment.

Often, even though we’re achieving pieces of our projects and goals all the time, we don’t fully acknowledge them. The most productive people we know are in the habit of enthusiastically taking energetic credit for any action they complete, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. These people know not to wait until the big item is 100 percent done before experiencing closure. Rather, they generate energy all along the way by recognizing each item they complete.

Habit #3: Time-Planning: Put a Stop to Putting It Off

Smart people are in the habit of using a time-plan to get beyond procrastination. A time-plan is a method of assigning blocks of time to those items you want to get done (but not a minute-by-minute description of your day!) To harvest the power of planning and create your own time-plan, follow these two easy steps:

Step #1: Identify your power times for different types of activities.

Everyone has high and low periods of energy, attention, and focus. By knowing and understanding your own energy patterns you can create a time-plan that takes advantage of your personal rhythms. Reflect on your own energy patterns. When are your power times? Use your power times to take on your most difficult items. Use your down time for more routine items and errands.

Step #2: Set aside blocks of time for getting certain things done
Keeping in mind your power times, go through your calendar and schedule a specific day and period of time when you will work on an item. Time periods ranging from 15 minutes to 2 hours are most effective. Every hour or so, schedule a ten minute break from your task; this will both keep your brain from getting tired and give it a chance to process any information, so that you can return to your project refreshed.

Lastly, don’t just plan your time in your head – write it down! Whether you use a PDA, a calendar contact program, or a plain old date book, keeping a written record of your time-plan is key.

Please note that this article is copyrighted by Karen Leland. If you would like to reprint any or all of it on your blog or website you are welcome to do so, provided you give credit and a live link back to www.scgtraining.com

Buy a copy of Time Management In An Instant the week of July 20th and receive a free license to the Essential Email online course. To buy the book and claim your bonus, or just to buy the book go to: http://www.quality-service.com/timemanagementinaninstant

While email is the most widely used communication tool for business, its remote nature – which eliminates tone of voice and body language – presents a huge potential for mischief, misunderstanding and misinterpretation. This online program will help you go beyond basic email etiquette, to the proven principles and practices for gaining mastery and saving time over your electronic mail box.

Please note that this article is excerpted from the book Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day and is copyrighted by Karen Leland and Keith Bailey. If you would like to reprint it on your blog or website you are welcome to do so, provided you give credit and a live link back to www.scgtraining.com

Buy a copy of Time Management In An Instant the week of July 20th and receive a free license to the Essential Email online course. To buy the book and claim your bonus, or just to buy the book go to: 


GREAT article on writing a novel


My friend Victoria has a FABULOUS article on Nathan Bransford’s (great literary agent!) blog. It’s called “Everything You Need to Know About Writing a Novel, in 1000 words”:


5 Q’s with Wendy on freelance life


I was just interviewed by Susan Johnston of the Urban Muse Writer. She asked me about common mistakes writers make, staying organized and motivated as a freelance writer, advice for other writers and more. Read the interview and then sign up for The Urban Museletter to get your monthly fix of writing tips and tidbits. It’s good advice; Susan has written for The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, SELF, WomenEntrepreneur.com and Yahoo! HotJobs, among other places. She also teaches and does copywriting. Here’s her other Web site: www.Susan-Johnston.com

10 Questions for…”Dr. Romance” Tina Tessina, author of 13 books


Author #9: “Dr. Romance” Tina Tessina

ocregofcphoto1Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. “Dr. Romance”  http://www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free  (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley)  and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page.)  Her newest books, from Adams Press in 2008: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage and Commuter Marriage. She publishes “Happiness Tips from Tina”, an e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance Blog” http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/ and has hosted “The Psyche Deli: delectable tidbits for the subconscious” a weekly hour long radio show.  Online, she is “Dr. Romance” with columns at Divorce360.com, CougarCandy.com, and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr.  Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC news. Follow her on www.twitter.com/tinatessina.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

I had two books come out in 2008: 

Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media, 2008)

Helps the reader learn to view a relationship as a partnership, rather than a challenge or a competition, and discover new ways to think about sharing and working together to make the important decisions about money, sex, and kids mutual ones, and create a successful, happy relationship which feels blessed and happy. The reader will learn to understand why partners argue and the necessary skills to transform struggles into working together to create a smoothly working partnership. Money, Sex and Kids, is designed help you resolve the three biggest problems in your marriage and move on to having a workable, satisfying relationship, without arguing or fighting.

and The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You’re Far Apart (Adams Media 2008) 

 In her groundbreaking new book, experienced marriage counselor Tina Tessina, PhD speaks directly to the more than 4 million U.S. for geographically challenged couples juggling the unique struggles only long-distance marriages face.

As society becomes more mobile and as jobs move or involve travel more than ever, and with military deployments at a peak, couples must create ways to stay connected while physically separated— for days, weeks, months, or years. Even working different shifts or managing long commutes may mean couples living in the same house never see each other during waking hours. Keeping a connection—both physically and mentally—is no easy feat.

According to Dr. Tessina, “Spending time apart is both a blessing and a problem. When you have time apart, it can freshen your relationship and remind you what you love most about your partner. On the other hand, if you begin to resent the separation, and don’t communicate well while you’re apart, your marriage has the potential to quickly unravel.”

With a specific program designed to help couples maneuver this terrain, Dr. Tessina helps readers through everyday situations, such as:
     • Managing two homes, financially and physically
     • Raising kids when one parent is distant
     • Holiday and visiting schedules
     • Overcoming jealousy and suspicions
     • Maintaining a healthy sex life
     • Reintegrating when two homes become one again

With quizzes, exercises, and studies from Dr. Tessina’s practice, readers will see what works—and what doesn’t. So whether the decision to commute is voluntary or mandatory, couples can not only keep their marriages intact but make their unions stronger.

They are both self-help books for couples, written from my 30 years of experience as a licensed marriage counselor. 

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I came through the back door.  A colleague and I were teaching a class in 1975 called “How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free” and we wrote a manual for it, which later became a best-selling book, published in 1980.  The third edition was published in 2003, and is still in print and selling.  Since then, I’ve written 13 books, published in 16 languages by 11 different publishers.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day, I spend from 11:00 to about 12:30 doing interviews, answering e-mail and the phone.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I see clients, from 1:00 to 9:00 PM.  The rest of the week, I write and work on my online columns, blog and other projects.  Evenings and most of the weekend I spend with my husband.  We are both self-employed, and we like to travel a lot.  We both love our work, so instead of retiring, we are working less and traveling more.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Two rooms and a bathroom in my home are devoted to my businesses.  One room is a counseling office, the bathroom is between, and the second room is my writing office.  In there, I have a corner desk with a desktop computer.  My office is lined with Ikea glass-door cabinets and file drawers.  My secretary also has a small desk in there. She only works 4 hours a week.  I also have a laptop on a small rolling table that I can use in the living room to write while my husband and I watch TV. 

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Integral  Psychotherapy by Ken Wilbur

Eats, Shoot and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco Barrett

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I’m a trained classical singer, a lyric coloratura, and I love to sing Mozart arias.

I’ve been married now for 27 years, and it’s a real love match.  I’m so blessed to have my wonderful husband, and our three little rescue dogs make up our family.

I’ve done book tours in Mexico, Costa Rica and Columbia, as well as 30 cities around the USA.  I’ve also written song lyrics sung by some well-known singers, including Helen Reddy.  I also write poetry.

7. Favorite quote

“I love your books. I always kind of shied away from self help books as I was embarrassed to think that I could not solve problems myself. Then I picked up your books and realized just how self efficient I really can be. You have changed my life in so many ways and I cannot thank you enough for becoming a writer.” —Amanda, Biloxi MS

My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dali Lama

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Writing is the perfect balance for being a psychotherapist.  Psychotherapy is people-intensive, writing is solitary.  Writing gives me an outlet for the new ideas and techniques I develop in the counseling office; and it allows me to reach many more people than I could reach face to face.  Writing gives me a little taste of fame – but I can be as incognito as I wish.  I never have writer’s block, but writing an 80,000 word or larger book can still be a big job. 

9. Advice for other writers

Write what you love, what you are passionate about, and you won’t run out of ideas.  When you have a book deadline, divide the book down to pages per day, and you’ll know how fast you need to go.  Write rough, at first, get it more elegantly in rewrites.  Sometimes I write almost gibberish just to get something on the page, and it makes rewriting easier. I like to write from an outline, but I don’t always stick to the outline.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

In May, 1999, I was signing books at the BEA, in the HCI booth, and I had a huge line, over 100 people.  I just did the best I could, hand cramping, to make a connection with each person who came through, and to sign the book individually.  Little did I know the line included Francisco de Hoyos, of Pearson Educacion, Mexico.  On July 30, I got an e-mail from him (I had no idea who he was – I was even suspicious and I called HCI to check it out.) inviting me to Mexico for a book tour. The book had been published in Spanish, and I didn’t even know it!  They were holding a conference, the “Worshop 2000″, in Mexico City, with 1,000 women attending, and I was to be the featured speaker. 

Through a translator, I spoke about the book, told them my story of being alone and frightened at 18, and led them through the “Wise Woman” fantasy, and they responded with an outpouring of love.  I was mobbed like a rock star.  My whole life came full circle at that moment — all my experience, as a young girl, as a therapist, a writer, a wife and a woman was useful.  Eventually, I toured four cities in Mexico, three cities in Columbia, San Jose, Costa Rica, and the FIL (International Book Fair) in Guadalajara, Mexico.  I’ve spoken to hundreds of people, been featured in magazines and newspapers, and been all over TV and radio in Latin America.

Where can people buy your books? 

My website: http://www.tinatessina.com

Books Page:  http://www.tinatessina.com/books3.html — buy personally autographed copies of all my books here.

“Dr. Romance” blog: Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/

Amazon Profile Page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1UQV3J4ENX3VK/ref=cm_pdp_profile_changeview?viewAs=Public&Go.x=11&Go.y=10

Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Tina-B-Tessina/654038567


Authors Den: www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?id=1765

Redroom:  http://www.redroom.com/author/tina-b-tessina

Book Videos on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/tinatessina

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tinatessina