Lynette Mather (pen-name "L.A.Thunder")
recently acquired a publisher
using firstwriter.com's database
of publishers. We asked her about her writing, and how she
fw:Thank you for taking the time to
talk to us, Lynette. Tell us a little about your book, and its storyline.
LM: My Book is titled Deadly Steam,
and it is about when seven-year-old Jacob Westerís brother, Billy, disappears.
He knows the haunted train in Plymouth, Michigan where they grew up, has
something to do with it, but doesnít tell anyone for fear no one will believe
him. As the town searches for Billy, they find no leads, no crime scene, and
after months of trying to solve the case, they finally give up, and realise
Billyís case is a dead end, and is put to rest in the cold case files.
Eventually, Jacob moves away from Plymouth, only
to return years later to find out what happened to his brother. Finally, he
confides in his high school sweetheart, Rose Shirley, what he suspected about
the haunted train, and she is shocked, wondering if the disappearance of Jacobís
brother Billy drove Jacob to concoct this strange story about the haunted train
as a way to gain closure over his missing brother.
As Jacob talks to the police about his brotherís
case their response is vague, and when Rose Shirleyís fiancť Buck McKinley
disappears, as well as others in the town, every clue found leads the police and
detectives back to Jacob and Rose. As the investigation heats up, Jacob and Rose
realise theyíre facing charges in the disappearances of several people. Suddenly, Jacob and Rose are in a fight against time, as they realise they need
to convince the town of Plymouth who is responsible for the residents
disappearing, before the two of them end up in prison, and the entire town of
Plymouth disappear because of the haunted train, and its deadly steam.
fw:Where did you get your idea from?
LM: I live in Plymouth, Michigan where
trains continually run through the town. As I was sitting at the bus stop one
day waiting for my children to return from school, I heard the train, and
watched it through my rear-view mirror from the parking lot. All of a sudden, I
knew I was going to write a book about trains, and suddenly the idea emerged,
and Deadly Steam was created.
fw: Did the whole story come to you at that moment, or did it develop
as you wrote the book?
LM: As with all the books I write, I
usually start with a prologue, and by doing so, the prologue helps guide and
lead me in the direction the book wants to take. Once the prologue is written, I
read it at least ten times throughout a few days to get a real feel for the
story, and after that, I write the synopsis. My advice to writers who struggle
with writing a synopsis is to visit their local bookstores and read the inserts
on various books relating to the genre they write. Personally, I think the word
synopsis is intimidating to most authors when they are first introduced to it. I
know it was to me, but hereís how I write my synopsis: I pretend Iím explaining
my book aloud to a group of people in the simplest words I can find. If authorís
stick to this method, they canít go wrong.
fw:So you've done some writing before?
LM: This is my first attempt at writing
books, but Iíve written poetry for years, and Iíve always loved to write. I
believe Iím meant to be a writer because everyone in my life always asks me to
tell them a story. Iíve won the following certificates for my writing: The
Editorís Choice Award, Poet of Merit Award, Vietnam Veterans of America awarded
me the Certification of Appreciation Award, and Iíve won the International Poet
of Merit Award. Iíve had my poetry published in Treasured Poems of America.
fw: How important do you think that
track record was when you were approaching publishers?
LM: I think itís extremely important to be
previously published only because most publishers and agents rely on an authorís
history of publishing credits. However, if youíve never been published, never
stop trying to get there because youíll never be published if you give up.
fw: What were the first steps you took
towards getting your work published?
LM: I went about being published by first
securing an agent, and then I went a step further and started to query
publishing houses, which eventually landed me right where I wanted to be. I
found a great publishing house, through
RS Publishing and I feel lucky.
fw: And what methods did you use to
find appropriate publishers to submit to?
LM: The methods that I used were many.
First, I read everything I could and bought books on the subject of how to write
a query letter to both an agent and a publisher. Then I found firstwriter.com
and their site helped me immensely. Not only for finding my publisher, but also
for guiding me down every avenue I had questions about. I love the site because
it lets you read each profile in the database. Then authors can decide who is
the best match for their manuscript. firstwriter.com
is reliable in their research, and I love the comments posted about agents and
publishers alike because it gives an author personal information from other
authors who have queried them, and what their feedback was.
fw: What tactics did you use when
approaching the agencies and publishers you found?
LM: When I finally approached agents and
publishers I did my homework and researched every agent and publisher before I
submitted anything. I personalise every query letter to the company I was
approaching. Iíve never used just one standard query because I spent too much
time researching the company, and I let them know in my query that Iíve done my
homework. After the query is written, Iíll wait a day before I send it. This
gives me a chance to reread it, and catch any typos, and to make sure my query
is compelling. Iíve never sent out many manuscripts at once, but I did send two
at a time.
fw:How long did it take to
successfully place your work?
LM: I spent a good two years honing my
skills, and then it was about six months trying to place my work with both an
agent and a publisher. I roughly approached about fifteen agents, and five
publishers, before I received offers of representations.
fw:Were the rejections disheartening?
LM: At first, I took it to heart, and yes,
my feelings were crushed. Some of the rejections were the standard postcard, and
some were more personal, a polite note that they currently werenít taking on new
clients at this time. Then the people in my life, my husband Jimmy, my children,
my dad, step mom and brother, along with Phil, Christine, and my best friend,
Terese, my sister in laws, and my other close friends who kept encouraging me,
and pushing me to continue, and not give up on my dream. They all told me that
Iím doing what I love, and someday the rest will follow. My husband and I built
www.lathundernovels.com and printed business cards with the title of my
books on them, and we passed them out everywhere we went. Iím blessed to have
such huge support from the people in my life.
fw: And when the success came, which
publisher was it that took you on?
LM: Iím being published through
RS Publishing and Lutz Barz has been wonderful, helpful, and truly amazing
to work with.
fw: What do you think made you
successful in your search for a publisher?
LM: I think I succeeded in my search for
both an agent and a publisher because I didnít give up. I did my homework, and
found suitable matches for the books I write, and that is how I found both my
agent and publisher. I read about them, and did my research about the books they
fw: How is the publishing process
LM: Things are developing now that Iíve
placed my book, and it has been hard work, but I love it. Writing is what I do,
and if an author wants to succeed they must rise to the challenges that are out
there, and learn from them, and if an author puts everything they have into what
their doing, itís eventually going to happen. My advice is being open to
suggestions, be able to take criticism, and learn everything you can, from both
agents and publishers. Work hard, and youíll get there. The publishing process
seems like it takes forever, but it really doesnít. The hardest part is getting
to that point of having your work published. I donít mind
RS Publishing tampering with my manuscript. I value everything my publisher
tells me, and I make good use of it. I follow my publisherís guidance, and take
what is said seriously, and we have a good, solid working relationship, built
around mutual respect.
fw: What tips would you give other
writers trying to get published?
LM: If I could tell authors anything, I
would tell them to keep writing and chase their dream until they catch it. Itís
up to them to make it happen. If you believe in yourself, and writing is
something youíre driven by, then do it. When faced with challenges and
rejections, take what agents and publishers tell you, and apply it to your
finished product. Learn everything you can, read everything available, and you
will catch that dream. Listen to your inner voice, and let it guide you to where
you want to be.
fw: Do you have any further writing
projects in the pipeline?
LM: Iím very busy right now with having
Deadly Steam published. However, Iím hard at work finishing Trickery
Treat. I also have other manuscripts under consideration with
RS Publishing, which are: Dying Secrets, Culver's Treasure,
and Don't Blink. The publishing schedule can be hectic at times, but I
welcome it. Iíve been asked to speak at different schools in my area about
writing, and that is exciting. I canít wait to share my experiences with others,
about what it takes to become published. One more thing Iíd like to add is I
wouldnít be where Iím at today if it werenít for all the special people in my
life, cheering me on and supporting me. On a final note, I would like to say
thank you to my children, Jessie, Kevin and Deven for always inspiring me. To my
husband Jimmy who works all day, and edits for me all night, and to my best
friend, Terese, who pushes me, when I feel like I canít be pushed anymore, thank
you. My advice to other authors out there is to remember to write everyday, even
if you donít know what to write. Surround yourself with supportive people. Join
writing groups in your area, hone your skills, be persistent, and your dreams
fw:Thanks very much
for your time, Lynette, and best of luck with your book!
To search firstwriter.com's
database of over 850 publishers yourself, click
A new year is looming large. Are you ready to
take your writing business to the next level? Will you finally complete that
novel in 2008? Despite years of putting off your dream, you can succeed. You can
earn a living as a freelance writer. You can experience the joy of authorship.
Here are some suggestions to help you move closer to your writing goals.
1: Schedule time each day to write. Make
writing a priority just like you do feeding the dog, working out and going
grocery shopping. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish in
smaller pockets of time. I once wrote a 200-page book in eight months while
writing for only two hours per day.
2: Do five things every day toward your
writing goal. For example:
Write five paragraphs or five pages of your
Come up with five article ideas (or send out
Make five book promotion contacts (book
reviewers, booksellers, book festivals, etc).
3: Spend time at least once a month
promoting your writing business. Develop a marketing letter and send it to
potential clients or introduce yourself and your expertise to new editors, for
Last year, when my business slowed down, I sent
letters to half dozen local businessmen and women reminding them of my editorial
services. I promptly landed two good assignments.
4: Get creative when it comes to your
writing business, article work or book promotion:
Find new ways to work with clients: writing
resumes, creating brochures or rewriting employee manuals for corporations,
Expand your article base. Tweak old articles
to fit very different kinds of magazines, seek out new magazines and come up
with new article topics for familiar editors.
Seek book reviews. Visit bookstores
personally with your book. Schedule speeches to promote your book. Send
press releases to libraries.
5: Stay positive. As a writer, you are
constantly setting yourself up for rejection. Your articles are rejected. Your
writers group is critical of your work. You criticise your writing. It's hard to
come by positive feedback.
Here's how I conquer this writer's curse:
I display things in my office that make me
feel accomplished and loved. My books, of course and then there are family
photos, treasured gifts from friends, certificates and ribbons I've won and
some of my best photography.
I connect often with my most positive and
supportive friends and family via brief emails or a quick phone call.
I take mini-vacations almost every day. I
spend an hour walking amidst stands of oaks, along a nearby river, around a
lake or at the beach.
I frequently engage in something creative
outside of writing. I spend time in my garden or working on a needlework
If you'd like to establish yourself as a
freelance writer or if you're tired of looking at that unfinished manuscript,
make this your year of achievement. Incorporate these ideas into your lifestyle
now and you, too, will do yourself proud.
How many times have you received mails from publications saying that "while
your article is very interesting, we find that it does not fit in with the style
and ethos of our magazine"; or "we have just carried articles on topics similar
to yours a while ago and deeply regret our inability to...?" And how many times
have you, listlessly, gone back to the back-breaking job of looking for other
publications and sites – seeking, searching and surfing an
indifferent market for that one editor who may hopefully accept your article
and actually pay you for it?
As any freelance writer worth their ink knows, getting established as a
respected writer is a daunting task. As for earning a living from it, forget
it! Ideas upon ideas and hour upon hour of creativity can all be junked at
the drop of an editor's wrist. Immense patience and great fortitude
notwithstanding, it is disheartening, to say the least. But armed with
neither, it is suicidal. More talented writers than you can count Booker
prize losers have given up due to sheer lack of motivation. You know you
are good, but unfortunately those who control the paying market may not think
so and with Lady Luck playing truant when you need her most you are back to
In this dog eat dog world, "respect" is still forthcoming only to that
writer who draws a regular wage from an accredited newspaper, magazine or
tech company and not to the immensely talented freelancer who deigns to be
tied down. And so the freelance writer must swallow his pride, his acute
disappointment and persevere and keep knocking and knocking. He needs,
like Robert Bruce, to try and try again till he eventually succeeds in
catching the imagination of a discerning, wage earning editor who can help
put his name up in print, cyber or otherwise. And more often than not, this
salaried genius pays him a pittance or not at all.
But take heart all you brave freelancers. Things are changing. Not only does the print media alone
no longer dominate, but the internet is akin to Alibaba's cave as far as writing jobs are
concerned. Happily, there are more publications and websites looking for
writers than ever before. Professionalism combined with time bound
deliverances and payment ethics, introduced to us by the advent of the
computer driven net and – yes – the world of "outsourcing" has made
highly lucrative pass-time now. Work-from-home freelance writers, especially
for the web, are a much sought after tribe these days, and before you know
it, healthy "respect" may follow too – and needless to say King Midas as
Today the demand is for good "niche writers". Restrictive though it is, like
everything else, even here, the need for specialisation is at an all time
high. Travel writers, creative writers, copywriters, resume writers, content
writers, technical writers, essay writers: you name it, and there is a market
for it. If after initially playing the field, you are slowly able to
carve out a niche for yourself by specialising in any one such area and get
published or posted (usually without payment first!) you are almost there,
and once you manage to sell your ideas, you are home and running.
How to go about it
And the only way to do it, these days, is to email/call up editors or
constantly surf the net. To make search engines and databases like firstwriter.com your trusted
lieutenants and use them to help you seek, search and finally write for
advertised or possible opportunities. If they are direct websites, look for
submission guidelines or send in your query. It is not a waste of time. On
an average three out of every five will elicit some kind of a response that
will take you forward. If, they are general "writing" sites or blogs, hit on
probable ones. Subscribe to their newsletters. Most of them are free. It
will give you a fair idea of their reliability. Generally avoid those that
promise you the moon. Look for those that seem sincere. Then suss out their
market database. But do not subscribe or pay for anything till you are sure
it is bona fide and contains the information you want. firstwriter.com
excels in this area, as it allows you to search its databases before paying
anything – you only have to make payment once you have found the markets
you are interested in and would like to get access to their contact details (you
can search over 800 magazines for free by
clicking here). Also, remember to check out the various published lists of
dishonest and fly-by-night operators often. Soon you will be able to sift the
firstwriter.comalready provides an excellent service in this respect,
with a user feedback facility on all its
and literary agents
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available reports posted conveniently together in one place on the listing (click
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Take a chance
Once more or less sure, respond to the advertised
opportunity. Though it is usual practice in established writing circles not
to start writing till an understanding is reached, you the newbie can take
no chances. So, till you have sufficient work, give them what they've asked
for, quickly, whatever the subject, or send them something you have already
written. Odds are that they will use it and pay you with a nice "Thank you
for your submission" letter or not at all, but if rejected or if you don't
hear from them ever again, which is highly likely, don't lose heart. Move
on. Just keep those articles as ready-reckoner samples for later use.
Stockpile them in a folder for the future, to be sent on to other editors
who may seek samples of your written work.
You might also find your article published without you getting a cent of
the promised amount or issued under someone else's name. And oh yes, it
could also undergo a complete makeover (usually, very ineptly) – so much so,
you might not even recognise it as your own, barring the name. It could very
likely put you off writing totally. The print media especially is notorious
for this! But that is a hazard, you must realise, that goes with the
territory. Though new laws are being introduced and forums being convened to
prevent just this, there is very little one can do to actually thwart it, other
than avoiding such sites and magazines henceforth.
Swallow your pride
Despite rejections, build up relationships with editors. Cultivate them
without rancour. Send them query letters often or now and then gently remind
them you exist! More often than not you may get no reply. But persist. Who
knows, they might just remember to call on your services when the need
arises – sometime. And when they start calling, they start paying. Slowly but
surely you will soon start finding more and more of your contributions in
print/uploaded and along with it will come "recognition"'. And this
recognition will soon translate your output into bucks even if it is not
Sense of belonging
You could also pick up many a useful tip by becoming a member of various
interesting writing communities and lists (Yahoo, msn, rediff) on the net, and you will realise that you are not the only freelance writer out there
ploughing a lonely furrow. It makes for a great sense of belonging and helps
the creative juices no end!
But the need of the hour is – patience. Disappointments and rejections not
withstanding you need to keep your spirits up and patiently continue to
write everyday – on anything!
Never stop. Never give up. Also, don't sell yourself short. It is only a
matter of time before your articles start finding a market – eventually on
your terms –
and then you, the lowly work-from-home freelance writer, would have arrived!
Ten easy steps to freelance writing
Searchfirstwriter.comevery day for new opportunities regularly. Print or
Even better, set your preferences in your firstwriter.comaccount to receive InstantAlert emails for markets fitting your
interests, and have them delivered direct to your inbox (to receive this
service you need to subscribe at
Respond to as many postings as you can. Keep an hour just for this
Send query letters on topics you think you could write on.
Choose a few editors and ask them if you could write for them or send them
what you've got. Start a dialogue with them. Create a relationship.
Enter as many contests as you can. The confidence you gain is tremendous.
Become an active list member and use it as a sounding board.
Cultivate patience as you would your best friend.
Keep writing and keep sending till your masterpieces find a home!
Don't ever lose heart. Rejections are a writer's stepping stones to great
About the author Sreelata Menon is a freelance writer who enjoys writing on all kinds of
topicsÖ the more controversial the better! Her "letters to the
editor" on current happenings appear with quite unfailing regularity in India while her articles and features make the scene in online and print publications everywhere! A Masters in History from Mumbai University, India, she has worked as an Asst editor with the Onlooker and World trade Magazines in Mumbai .She has taught history to undergrads, done a stint as an accts executive in an ad agency, before switching over to full time freelance writing. She is currently busy reinventing herself as a web content writer with quite a few projects in hand .Married to a civil servant she is presently based in Allahabad ,India and can be reached at
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