Self-Evaluation Leads to Self-Publishing Triumph (Guest Post)

cat sees himself as a lion


Self-Evaluation Leads to Self-Publishing Triumph
Guest Post by Katya W. Mills

I turned 40 on February 1st. A real classic marker, 40. One cannot help but assess the life. I was okay with my life. I am a survivor. I have been through a lot. A LOT. The whole enchilada of my life was looking pretty good. A pretty-well-rounded and far-from-perfect specimen of humanity. That’s what I saw in the mirror. A real personality. The kind of character not even my pen could create. Stranger than fiction. So what if I was broke? Not in spirit! Wow. I realized that I liked myself. And that made me feel happy. So what if I might at times be on the other side of your ticket to the zoo?

So 40 came and I thought I was golden. But then the midlife crisis moment hit me and knocked me to my knees. Ouch! The half-lit marquee in the fog. The one with the big letters dangling off it and some turned around. Two words: UnPubliShed WrIteR. My mind searched my memory banks for writers I loved, who had not been published by forty. There were a couple, thank god. Honore de Balzac maybe. Still, no matter how I might shop around for comparison, I came face to face with my truth; being anything other than a published author was unacceptable to me.

I had put more effort, thought and time into writing than anything else. And people always thought I was pretty talented. In 2007, I became a published writer.  I started my website (as a blog), and was able to alleviate the personal pressure cooker I felt to get my words out to the world. I felt great. Meanwhile, I had just finished my MA in psychology, and was making a living as a social worker. I had a calling! I had a job I really cared about!  But the social work was very hard, and I tended to burn myself out. My larger works of literary fiction gathered dust. But what choice did I have? I had to support myself.

I knew this self-publishing possibility was out there. It seemed unreal. I had tried and failed in my twenties, to promote my work to quarterlies and top-tier magazines like the New Yorker. I set the bar too high. I lost confidence in the publishing world. I was pretty sensitive.

So I kept writing and experiencing things. I told myself, ‘attraction not promotion, attraction not promotion’. This is true. If you believe in yourself, this will show in all you do. If you dedicate yourself to a craft, you will develop a personal style all your own. People are attracted to courage, grace and effort. These qualities defy marketing blitz campaigns. I kept the faith, reminding myself, ‘I am a dedicated writer. I believe in myself. I have developed a style all my own.’

But I could not steady myself around this saying, ‘writing is its own reward.’ Because there was my dream, you see? I always wanted to be a published author. I had to try. And so, at age 40, midlife crisis time, I realized: ‘it’s time, Kat, you gotta go for it! That was February 1st. Eight months later…  I feel that same kinda blissed out relief I felt when I started blogging in 2007, perhaps more powerfully, when I reach down to my coffee table and pick up my copy of my self-published novel, and hold it under my eyes – wow! Some kinda wonderful.

For more information about Katya Mills, stop by her blog:, and website:



NaNoWriMo Check In

How has your NaNoWriMo going so far? I’m one day behind in word count thanks to a migraine, but I think I’ll make up the word count today.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1) Some say you should write at the same time every day to get into a routine. This doesn’t really work for me, as I work full-time and often I’m not in the mood to write on my lunch break, so I have to wait until I get home – and vice versa. I write whenever the inspiration gets me, which is to say I write whenever. The routine also doesn’t work for someone coping with a debilitating pain condition that literally stops me in my tracks.

2) Plotting/outlining the story was a good idea. I’m not sticking to the outline 100% but since I have an idea where I want the story to go, I’m in better shape than usual. Also I printed out the plot outline so I can refer back to my characters and the little details you can sometimes forget about a person.

3) I’m writing each day in a new document. Most have one larger manuscript, which makes sense too, but for some reason this way of organizing works better for me. I can see all the documents I’ve completed and feel more accomplished. (Maybe as a former journalist it’s like I’m seeing all the articles I’ve completed.) It’s also nice to start with a blank page and then fill it up with that day’s ideas.

4) If you can attend a Write-In, do it! I attended one in my city this week and sitting among other writers typing away on their stories inspired me – and brought out my competitive streak. I didn’t participate in the word wars but plan to next week. Find one in your city/town and take an hour or so from your busy schedule to do this. It’s also fun to find out about other writers’ stories.

That’s it so far. If you want to “friend” me on the NaNoWriMo site, I’ll “friend” you back. My name is OneStorySlinger.

Keep Writing! 🙂


All Set…

I’m ready for NaNoWriMo! I’ve got my story all set, an actual outline (try not to die of shock), plenty of tea and candy, and I’m organized. I’ve even got a handy little badge on the sidebar of this blog to help track my word count.

I’ll try to keep posting on One Story Slinger regularly but no promises. I decided to be selfish and focus on my own writing this month, although that’s not entirely my fault considering I set up to do reviews but no one emailed me back. 😦 Total sad face.

The trick will be finding time to write on days like today when I’ve got a migraine and want to shoot myself instead of write. But that’s a challenge I always face.

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Virgin

nanowrimo badge


This year is my first time participating in the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s commonly abbreviated. Actually I’ll probably call it NaNo as I like that better. Sign up and friend me – I’m under OneStorySlinger. There we can track each other’s progress and cheer each other on to the end!

For the entire month of November, writers around the nation (and possibly globe) will write 50K words in hopes of finishing a novel. The goal of the month is quantity, not quality, and is designed to help writers like me who have a hard time finishing projects.

As someone who edits as I write, this will be my hardest challenge. I can type 90 words a minute so I’m not stressed about typing at least 2K words a day. That’s nothing for me. But not editing? Just rolling with whatever I’ve written? Eek!

Originally I was going to finish one novel that is already started but not plotted. Instead, in the spirit of the month, I’m going to work on a novel I haven’t started, but have already plotted from start to finish.

Any other NaNo virgins out there? What will be your biggest challenge? Writers who have done this before, what advice do you have for us newbies?

Happy Writing!


Vote for “Melanie’s Man,” Challenge 35 on The Iron Writer


Hey readers! Please take a few minutes to read and vote for my story, “Melanie’s Man,” competing this week on The Iron Writer!

The Iron Writer is a flash fiction challenge which pits four authors against each other in a match of skill and determination. Using four elements randomly selected by the host and creator of The Iron Writer, Brian Rogers, the authors take four days to write a piece of 500 words or less. Then we compete for bragging rights – the title of The Iron Writer Winner for our week’s challenge.

This is Week 35. I’m up against three other terrific writers and it’s fierce. Our elements to include in the 500 words or less story were Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Twister (the game), a hot air balloon, and fishnet stockings.

Click here to read my story (and the other three) and then vote for your favorite! Hope you enjoy “Melanie’s Man” – and hope you decide to vote for me! 🙂

Please note: as of 10/24/13, my name is misspelled in the poll, and the title is incorrect. The poll lists the title as “Melanie’s Eye” instead of “Melanie’s Man.” I’ve left a comment and will try to get it corrected. Hope this doesn’t discourage votes!  

Any author can participate on The Iron Writer. For more information on The Iron Writer, visit the blog site at Read previous winners’ stories in the archives, check out other authors, sign up for your own challenge, and check out the other contests available.

tattoo of the name melanie

One Story Slinger to Launch Writers’ Workshop in 2014



cartoon of editing disorder club

You’d think the writers community would be a competitive field – as technically we’re each other’s competition – but what I’ve found is the opposite. We support fellow writers in many ways – by reading each other’s work, helping to promote their publications and even by critiquing and reviewing each other’s stories and projects.

Constructive reviews are essential to becoming a better writer. I’ve been writing since I was able, and I’ve taken a zillion and one classes, but I know I can keep learning. I attend bi-weekly workshops to have my stories critiqued and to help others become the best writers they can. I’m always reading news articles, posts and books by fellow writers to learn tips of my trade.

Some of the best comments and feedback I’ve received have been constructive. A writer will tell me flat-out that something doesn’t work, and here’s why. But I’ve also received compliments that I remind myself of when I’m stuck at a certain plot point or need inspiration to get back to a story.

I highly recommend writers of all skill level attend critiquing workshops. To that end, I’ve decided to launch a Workshop on One Story Slinger in early 2014! Each month we’ll critique several stories of a certain word count limit. This will be in a forum-type setting, or possibly through Google Chat. The details – and kinks! – are still getting worked out. If there is enough interest, I’ll host a separate Poetry Workshop as well.

Stay tuned to One Story Slinger for more about the Workshop! Questions? Want to join the workshop email list? Email me!

Lisa Bilbrey: Journey Collection Cover Reveal

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Cover Reveal of Journey Collection by Lisa Bilbrey/used with permission

With the final novella of Lisa Bilbrey’s Journey Collection released earlier this month, all four romance stories have been released in a collection.

Bilbrey, mother of three, has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1996. In late 2011 she joined Michele Richard and Laura Braley and opened Renaissance Romance Publishing.

Bilbrey said she started writing as a way to express herself, and from the first word she wrote she found her heart and soul.

The Journey Collection is the story of Travis McCoy’s life as a high school football star on a journey of love and self-discovery.

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Journey Collection summaries (by Lisa Bilbrey, reposted with permission)

The Journey Home

The Sharks’ star quarterback, Travis McCoy has it all, until an injury ends his season early. When he receives an invitation to attend the big homecoming game from his alma mater, Travis decides it’s time to face his past. The journey home sends Travis down a path that he never expects. Will he be able to come to grips when everything around him is spiraling out of control?

The Journey of Champions

Travis McCoy thought the journey home would be the hardest choice he ever had to make. It isn’t until he finds himself walking out the door and leaving his family behind that he realizes his journey is only just beginning. Now, with only a handful of weeks until Christmas, Travis tries to find his way back home. This time, he plans on staying forever.

The Journey to Forever

Finally back in the warm embrace of his family, Travis McCoy relishes every moment he gets to spend with his wife and son. After almost losing them due to his own selfishness, he makes the decision to never let go of his family again. With his plan set in motion, Travis, Penelope, and Max start a new journey, one that leads them to forever.

The Journey to a New Life

Travis McCoy’s journey has led him down a road of changes where he found the love of his life and their child. Travis, Penelope, and Max have struggled during their time apart, found their way back home, and finally tied their lives together as a family. Now, Penelope and Travis find themselves on a new journey, one that leads them to the greatest gift of all.

For more info about Lisa Bilbrey, please visit her on the web:

Purchase Lisa Bilbrey’s Journey Collection here:

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Authors! Want your Cover Reveal and/or other new release(s) promoted here at One Story Slinger? Email me! I feature all genres and there is no cost to promote. Cover Reveals must include at least an image of the cover itself, a short summary of the book(s) and the author’s bio. Author retains all copyrights, and credit will be given to any photos used.