Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Friday, July 15, 2011

From my friend Karen

Today I have guest posting the fabulous Karen Walker, who blogs at Following the Whispers. She has recently released her memoir of the same name as an ebook. It's a wonderful book, and well worth the read. I read it awhile back. My review is here

Following the Whispers by Karen Walker can be found online at Amazon and Smashwords.

Welcome, Karen! Love your name, btw.

Making Good Choices - A Writer’s Journey

Life is all about choices, so why should writing be any different? We choose our mates, what clothing to put on, whether to eat that chocolate cake or not. We choose in every moment.

As writers, we face so many choices. What adjective to use, how to describe that tree, should I change the dialogue (unless you’re writing memoir, of course, in which case, you don’t make things up).

Choices get harder as we move along the writer’s journey. Once our story is down on paper and it’s been revised to our satisfaction (and hopefully our editor’s satisfaction), we face some challenges where choices need to be made.

  Am I going for traditional publication?
  If so, I must first find an agent or small press - who will I query?
  What do I include in my query letter?
  Should I ask folks to look at it first?
  Do I listen to what anyone suggests?
  How long do I wait to hear back from an agent?
  How long do I give the query process before choosing to self-publish?
  If I choose to self-publish, how will I do it?
  How do I pick which company to use?

I faced all these choices. It took me 2 1/2 years to pour through journals, deciding what to include. I ended up with a 700-page self--help tome. An editor told me to “tell my story,” which I didn’t know how to do. After a four-year stint to complete a college degree, I re-wrote the book, crafting a memoir. I tried to find an agent for almost two years, at which point I chose to self-publish.

There are so many options out there, it can be overwhelming. It takes patience, perseverance, and tenacity to bring a book into the world. We can all simply do the best we can in every given moment, making choices based on intuition and information gleaned from a variety of sources.

My best advice - stay tuned into your gut. It will help you more than anything else. Because ultimately, your journey is yours alone. Here’s to making good choices along the way.

Karen, thanks so much for letting me write here today. You are such a strong support for writers. Thanks for all you do.


  1. great review, Karen! And sounds like an interesting book, Karen! ;p I think what makes a story great is when different people can take different messages from it. And you're right--follow your gut (or that little voice~ :o) <3

  2. Hi Karen,
    Thanks so much for hosting me today and for your wonderful review. And LTM, thank you so much.

  3. I was so confused with all of the Karen's, but now I got it. Great and thought provoking interview Karen(s)!

  4. Excellent advice, Karen! We have to stick to our goals and make choices based on what we want, not always what others want. At the time I wrote my book, everyone was saying science fiction was dead. I wrote it anyway. Glad I did!

  5. Magan, oh, sorry, yes, two Karen's here - host and hostessee (is that a word?). Thanks for hanging in there.
    Alex, So glad you did, too. It's next on my TBR list.

  6. Ah, two of my favourite Karens! This was a very inspiring post. I agree that listening to one's gut is of the most importance.

  7. Good advice, Karen. Always happy to read about your writing journey.

  8. Karen, I'm on the verge of making that most important choice about my book. Thanks for the reminder to TRUST at gut level.

  9. Great advice as always, Karen! Especially about staying tuned to your gut.

    I hope both of you Karens have a great weekend. :)

  10. Karen, So glad to have you visiting today! You always have such insight and wisdom to share.

  11. I so agree with you Karen, and feel the same way. Life is made up of so many choices, and it's wonderful that we have that ability to choose, even as to how to see the world each day. It's a decision we all make. Thanks for sharing this with us today.

  12. good advice: follow your gut!

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral


    > < } } ( ° >

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  13. This is wonderful advice, Karen! And you're so right--we're all faced with so many choices and decisions to make with writing (and life). Thanks for the reminder to listen to our own intuition.

  14. Another fabulous interview and such wise words too! Following one's guts and instincts takes so much courage but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do - for yourself and no-one else! :-)

    Thank you KarenW and KarenG! Take care x

  15. Jan, every time I don't listen to my gut, I end up sorry in some way.
    L.G., Yeah, I love reading about writing journeys, too. Thanks.
    Nancy, you are so welcome.
    Julie, thanks and you, too
    Joanne, the choices are so many, but our instincts do guide us well, if we tune in.
    Cloudia, aloha back - thanks!
    Elizabeth, you are so welcome
    Old Kitty, thank you so much for your kind words.

    Karen, thanks so much for hosting me today. I appreciate all you do for writers. But every time I came over to respond to comments, I wanted some of those cookies pictured just below my post.
    Can ya send some this way?

  16. I made the choice to stay true to what I wanted to write, even if it meant lower sales because my YA series wasn't salacious or paranormal.

  17. Karen, really? Thanks, I appreciate it!!

  18. New writer here, but old gal so listening to my own gut is easier when I give myself permission to sit long enough to do so. Thanks so much (to both Karens) for the reminders

  19. Oh my dear you are so right! The gut is our most important organ. If only the the other vitals ones would not tune it out. :)

    Thanks KarenG for the guest.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  20. Diane, I think staying true to ourselves is the only way to have inner peace - it may not always bring outward success, but oh well.
    Alex, yup!
    Donna, good luck with your writing.
    Jules, you always crack me up!

  21. My 2 favourite Karens in the same place!! :)

    Great post - the choices are sometimes so hard to make, but they define who we are and what we do!

  22. Thanks for all the great advise Karen...

    Ladies have a great weekend.

  23. Great post!

    Many of the posts I read about writing seem to come down to that one thing: the gut. Who knew it was such an important thing in a literary way? :)

  24. Following the Whispers is a wonderful book. Beautifully written. Full of wisdom that comes out of life's painful experiences.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  25. Thanks, Karen and Karen. It's nice to hear that we have permission to go with our gut.

  26. You really brought up some excellent points. We do have a lot of choices as writers and sometimes we are making career choices that we don't even realize we are making.

  27. This is absolutely the best advice out there. As writers, the best thing we can do to steer our steps on the path is to hone our intuition. With so many options to success, it's what keeps us moving forward instead of being overwhelmed.

    Have a great week!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse