What to write or do next?

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With a finished novel under my belt and query letters currently sitting in numerous agent email boxes, I’m faced with the conundrum of what to do next. My finished novel took over ten years off and on to complete, so I’m mentally exhausted.

But I’m also one of those writers who feels the need to write every day. Even though I deserve a break, I can’t go very long without writing. So…what’s next?

I often has several unfinished manuscripts waiting in the wings. There’s a notebook on my desk filled with ideas that I’ve jotted down over time— some make…

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You might be asking: What is #PitMad?

#PitMad is the hashtag for a quarterly event that takes place on Twitter where writers tweet their 280-character pitch for their unpublished book or novel. Literary agents can then show interest by liking or favoriting your tweet.

The first event of the year took place this past Thursday. I had never heard of #PitMad until a few weeks ago when I saw people tweeting about it. I wanted to know more and learn how I could participate, so like any good writer should, I googled it. That led me to the Pitch Wars…

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I started 2020 doing a final edit of my next novel and preparing to start the daunting task of querying literary agents. I’d been working on this particular novel off and on for almost ten years, so I was exhausted creatively.

Always eager to be writing something, I started to ask myself, “What’s next?” I don’t have another novel in me. Not yet. Besides working on query letters and a novel synopsis, I was eager to at least work on something new.

Around this time, I started reading a collection of short stories by one of my favorite Southern authors…

Part 1

After reading Sarah Manguso’s 300 Arguments I started making a list of my own aphorisms as a fun writing project. I debated on keeping them private or sharing them. I decided to share them, so here are the first 25. If you haven’t read Manguso’s book, I highly recommend it.

What is an aphorism, you ask? Dictionary.com defines Aphorism as “a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation.” I like to think of them as secrets, or even micro-stories. Usually only a sentence or two long, aphorisms express general principles or observations about life. Here are twenty-five of…

A View from the Essential Sidelines

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I just wrapped up another week of Isolation. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that is a medical supply wholesaler. That means we were deemed an essential company and were allowed to stay open when things started getting bad, when “social distancing” and hand washing became daily mantras, when news headlines of total deaths from inner-city crime switched to the number of COVID-19 casualties.

Week 1

Before any stay-at-home order was mandated, I came into work one Monday in March to find HR bulletins taped to every message board and door. “Stay At Home If You Are Sick” seemed kind…

Tips for the Novelist When It Comes To The Next Step

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It took ten years to write my latest novel. It’s taken the last year to finish the final edit. During that time, all I did was work on my novel.

I did not draft query letters.

I did not write a synopsis.

I did not compose tweets to pitch my book.

I did not surf agency websites.

I did not look for agents who were open to submissions.

Maybe I should have.

Years ago, around 2012, I had played the query game with my fourth book before publishing with a small local press. So, I knew the gist of it:

a poem

Photo: Nikita Khandelwal / pexels.com / free stock photo

Sometimes we are not proud of words we write
back when they feel eager and driven
They are still our words to own some day
and only then do we comprehend their wisdom.

I was just catching up with my muses
trying to grasp who I was matching their youth
They didn’t know themselves either back then
but they were better at faking the truth.

They left a road map in the letters they wrote
and in the books in which they bled
Their blood and soul on every page
Between the lines their secrets I read.

Imitation is a form of flattery and
you absorb every word and hue
Their mistakes can be repeated again
But you never outshine your muse.

Follow me on Instagram @shannonlyarbrough (if you love pet posts) or visit my blog at www.shannonyarbrough.com. And this is my Amazon.com author profile page.

a poem

Photo: Matheus Viana / pexels.com / Brazil

Why are some chalkboards green and some black?
Once, were more than the students segregated?
Separate water fountains, separate washrooms,
Separate waiting rooms for blacks, for whites
Lines drawn with colored chalk.

I will not give up.
I will not give up.
I will not give up.

Why did their churches blaze and crosses burn?
Did wives get mad when men used the white bedsheets?
Back of the line, back of the bus,
Backs whipped and their blood too ran red
Lines drawn with white chalk.

I will not give up.
I will not give up. …

How to stay on track to finish your novel in one year

Photo: Free stock photo / HISKS / www.rgbstock.com

I see how-to articles on Medium and on other sites all the time with titles like “How To Publish Your Novel In 6 Months” or “How to Write Six Books a Year.” I immediately go to Amazon and type in that writer’s name to see what types of books they are writing or how well their books are doing. Most of the time, my search results do not reflect the attitude of the writer’s article. Or when it does, the author has only published how-to E-books that are under one hundred pages.

Thanks in part to social media and the…

A marketing checklist for self-published and independent authors

Photo: Joanna Malinowska / Book Fair 2 / www.freestocks.org

As a self-published author myself, I know how hard it is to market your book and to find readers. Here’s a thorough checklist of places and ways to market your book. Some are obvious, and maybe some not-so-obvious.

If you are a beginner or the seasoned author about to click “publish” on your tenth novel, there’s something here for everyone. If you have more ideas to add or places that have helped you, I’d love to hear about them. Good luck out there!


  1. Independent Bookstores — Your indie store is more apt…

Shannon Yarbrough

Writer, Poet, Artist, Gardener, Southerner, Reader, Blogger, Creative. Not always in that order. www.shannonyarbrough.com

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