Parts of a Writer’s Brain

Parts of a Writer’s Brain

Reflection and Making Sense of Today’s Publishing Environment

by Natalie Bright


A Publisher’s Weekly article announced deluxe hardcover editions for 20 of Marguerite Henry’s novels for middle grade readers beginning this fall. The repackaging will include the original artwork by Wesley Dennis which were missing from some of the paperback editions. I have a treasured first-edition copy of SAN DOMINGO, published 1972. Part of me is jumping for joy that generations of readers will be able to discover these wonderful historicals. I’ll definitely be adding them to my home library, and what a perfect gift for a few horse-loving young people I know.

Business-Minded Part

The practical, business side of my brain completely understands the need to make low risk decisions. Selling books is a profitable business. Marketing professionals generate statistical analysis to determine what consumers will buy, knowing what the marketplace will embrace. As a business owner, I understand first-hand the pressures of having families depend on your ability to be profitable and to make payroll. This side of me also sympathizes with frustrated agents who are out there beating the bushes to tout stories in an industry that sometimes embraces work generated four decades ago. Taking chances on an unknown is risky.

Literary Fan Part

The artsy, fictional part of me will never understand the business side of this game. During the past month, I’ve attended two writer’s conferences where I’ve heard numerous unique and wonderful story ideas. Granted, they involve writers at various stages in their careers, but the point is these folks are working hard at learning their craft and creating original material. The ideas and creativity of today’s writers inspires me. I really want to read their work someday, any yet they’re continually dismissed and denied.

The Writing Part

The creative part feels dark and powerless. I realize how little control we have over our chosen profession. On some days my heart is crushed and my willingness to keep submitting is very much annoyed.

There are other days, rising from the dark side, that are filled with hope. The joy of words transforms me, I disappear into my WIP and I don’t want to come back to the reality of life. The story drives me to keep going. One feisty character in particular will not leave me alone. My super agent likes her too and is working hard to find her a home. I’m BUSTING to tell middle grade schools, book fairs, and cowboy symposiums about Silver Belle’s wild west. Right now. Today.

Patience: a willingness to suppress annoyance

when confronted with delay.


The Big Picture Part

In this crazy time of publishing I force myself to take a breath, step back and consider the big picture. In my mind, the big picture continues to be our ability to write a great story. As readers, we can find great stories as well via any medium you choose. Whether it’s indie published or traditional, if you discovered a gem by one of today’s authors, tweet or post a review so that other readers can discover their work too. It only takes a few seconds.

As an author, if you are absolutely committed to the craft and the story that only you can create, put aside your emotional artsy self, find your business cap and consider all of the options available for publishing your work. Best of luck on your journey.

In the meantime, I’ll be anxiously anticipating the re-release of Marguerite Henry’s wonderful books and I’ll keep writing the stories that are occupying the space inside of my head. Writers write.

 Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action,

especially in spite of discouragement.


Middle Grade Mondays


By Natalie Bright

The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc [] sponsors a conference the first weekend of May every year, offering informative sessions for writers of all levels. Around 300+ people attended the conference in Oklahoma City this year. They also offered a contest with opportunity for cash prizes and helpful critiques.

My middle grade western took 2nd Place in this year’s OWFI Contest! The aggravating news is that I had a typo. On my manuscript I had the date 1887 and on my synopsis I had 1897. How many times did I read over that submission? It doesn’t matter how many times, obviously it wasn’t enough times.

The sessions were excellent and as always, I come back home armed with something new about story craft and inspired to work.


The social media panel at OWFI 2012 this year included C. Hope Clark, Jan Nipps, Lela Davidson, and Adrian Carenza with a wonderful job moderating done by Amy Shojai.  Each of these writers have impressive numbers of blog fans and they shared some interesting, insightful facts about social media.

The most amazing aspect about social media, as pointed out by Clark, is that ten years ago authors didn’t have this medium to promote their work.  All agreed that it’s an exciting time to be a writer.

General Rule

The main misconception is clarified; it’s not about “me, me, me”.

The general rule is to use 1/3 of your posts on links to interesting articles, blogs, or things you’ve discovered (these can be automated), 1/3 can be retweets, as in do unto others and help them with promotion of their books or blogs, and 1/3 should be real-time conversation. Sprinkled within that mix would be posts about you and your work. The reader wants a “take-away”. Don’t waste a reader’s time with what’s in your crock-pot unless you include the recipe.

Sure, social media offers amazing and low cost opportunities to promote yourself and your work, but you don’t want to bash in everyone’s head with a hard sell of you. Be gentle, be kind, be aware of what you’re putting out there for potentially millions of people to see, FOREVER.

How to Offend

Each of the panelists were adamant on one point: they do not talk politics or religion. Everyone has an opinion today, and some topics definitely push people’s buttons and emotions run very high.

As authors, we’re trying to sell a body of work and create a fan base. We hope that people will buy our books or read our articles again and again for many years to come. In the world wide access of social media, you might have followers that are atheists, Wiccans, Baptists and you probably have followers that side with the Left, or the Right, or feel neutral on anything relating to politics.  Why would you want to create negative or hurtful feelings in your potential readers? Why would you want to offend anyone?

The exception would be if you have a political or religious blog. Then yes, you want to push buttons. You want to have those heated discussions with people who feel strongly enough to post comments.  Use your best judgment and consider that the ideal place to air your opinions for sensitive topics may not be your blog or Facebook or through snarky Tweets.

Design It for Your Target Audience

Design your social media promotion efforts based on your interests. Of note, Pinterest has become the second highest referral after Google and topped Twitter for outgoing links. All panelists agreed that at the very minimum you should start with a blog and twitter, but be consistent. The second best way to get involved is to leave intelligent comments on other people’s blog and leave your name in the comments.

Think about using Goodreads to connect with readers who enjoy the same genre you do. As an author, you can set-up boards on Pinterest to showcase your book covers, pictures of hobbies, and locations of settings relating to scenes in  your book.


I think the best comment came from Lela Davidson [], who reminded us that in today’s publishing environment having a book is not the be all, end all of a writing career, because who knows what the “book” is going to be in the future. A writing career today encompasses so much more. She encouraged us to be receptive to all forms of social media and pointed out that a directed, planned approach is the most effective in the long term.

It’s All Good

Authors were never able to reach the numbers of people we can today. Take advantage of all opportunities and become a person who is reachable. Know your target audience and connect with the people who will want to buy your books.

Natalie Bright

Writing: Own It!

Writing: Own It!

How many people have you told that you’re a writer? I’m not counting the people at the writers conference you just attended. What about your family or close friends?

OWFI ’12 keynote, Steven James, encouraged us to come to the realization writing is work and own the fact we’re writers.

With limited bio space on the various social media venues, how do you make your profile short and unique to cover all of the things you are?  So much of my time is taken up with life and I struggle to find writing time. Mother, office manager, volunteer, rancher’s wife, shuttle service for kids–the list goes on and on. Life for most of us is so full and complicated. How can we let everyone know how well-rounded, talented, disciplined and wonderful we are if we’re only limited to a 60 word bio?

Steven James said, “Forget the day time stuff you have to do to pay the bills. Write and own it. You’re a writer.”

Recently, I changed my facebook profile to “Writer”.

What about you?

Natalie Bright