When You Get Thrown Off: A Writing Lesson

One of the many truths about being a writer is that eventually everything ends up in a book. No matter what adventure, success, or failure we go through, it’s all potential novel material. I’m not any different, so definitely look for a novel in my future about a woman who learns how to ride a horse. :-) 
Tina Ann Forkner 2013

Lizzie and I getting a work out at my friend’s place in CO Springs.

Living in Wyoming and having grown up in northeastern Oklahoma, one might think I would be a full-blown horse woman by now. Sadly, not true. My mom, bless her sweet protective heart, felt the same way about horses that she did about motorcycles. I wasn’t allowed to ride them. When I finally did give it a try, I failed miserably and gave up. Sometimes it feels like my writing career is similar to my luck with horses.

Since I’m published, you might think I don’t have anything to complain about, but the insecurity of writers exists at all levels. Sometimes when I set out to tackle a new story or take a new turn, my horse won’t go or it throws me off. Have you ever known anyone who got bucked off a horse? They can’t walk for weeks and the trauma of being catapulted through the air and landing on your backside can create fear in some riders, especially if you’re relatively inexperienced. It can feel exactly the same way after suffering a failure in your writing, only imagine instead that you’re trying to sit your sore backside in your chair and tackle a novel. Ouch.

Maybe it’s happened to you as you’ve struggled to finish a particular story, your books sales have fallen, or you’ve received your twenty-seventh rejection. At times it’s difficult to get back in the saddle again, but you have to do it. You have to sit down, put your fingertips to the keys, and start writing again. Start submitting your work again. Start going to writing conferences again. Re-learn the world of publishing. Climb back in the saddle. If you don’t get back on the horse, you might as well take your spurs and go home.

That’s the lesson I’ve learned since my first publishing deal with a major publishing house in 2008. Since then I’ve had two novels published, but like my readers, I’ve been wondering when my third novel would finally be published. Waiting is hard. Sometimes it has felt a lot like my horse took off and left me standing in the dust. Thank heavens things are starting to change. Not only has my best friend taught me how to ride a real horse correctly (I didn’t leave the corral, but hey, I was really riding a horse, which was something I’d been afraid of doing for years.), but I’ve also signed a publishing contract with the wonderful Tule Publishing Group. You know what that means. Finally, a new book! I’m so excited. Maybe I’ll take up trick riding. (Note: I said maybe.)

If you happen to be in a tough writing situation, and almost all writers have been in one way or another, just remember that you have to be willing to get back in the saddle when you’re down and afraid of failing. Find some friends who really understand the fear or disappointment that all writers eventually face and instead of seeing your journey as a failure, see it as a change to be embraced.

Just look at me. I’m not a NYT bestseller yet, and I’m never going to be a rodeo queen, but at least I know how to write a good story and I now have a skill that not all writers have. If I were stranded on a research trip somewhere with only a horse as transportation, I would know how to ride it back home!

So, what about the rest of you? Have you overcome fears in your writing or in your life? How did you do it?



Ebooks: Have You Been Won Over Yet?



I stumbled upon this quote this morning: “There is no future for e-books, because they are not books. E-books smell like burned fuel.” – Ray Bradbury. I wonder what Mr. Bradbury would think now?

In the not too distant past, it was impossible to know just how quickly Ebooks would gain traction with readers. Even I once claimed I would never be won over by Ebooks. Well, I’ve changed my mind.

It all started when my husband gave me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. He figured I would like it since it doesn’t have any apps, just books and the capability to access an online bookstore. At first I was cynical, but then I downloaded an Ebook and Holy Mackerel! I am in love with my Ereader. I never thought  holding an Ereader in my hand would be satisfying at all, but I was wrong. Of course, there is nothing like turning a real page, but if the writing is fantastic, the story reigns supreme no matter the delivery method to the reader.

One of the first things I did after getting my Ereader was buy a skin for it because I am one of those people who likes pretty things. Then, I looked online for the kinds of books I enjoy reading and there they all were. I expected the Ebook store to just be flooded with lower quality books by self-published authors, but while they are there, I found that most of the books were the same ones I look for in bookstores. I even looked up and downloaded my own EBooks available from my publisher. Oh, come on, wouldn’t you? Ha. I couldn’t help it! It’s neat to see what my own Ebooks look like in electronic form. But don’t worry, I don’t sit and read my own books over and over again. I can hardly bear to do that, but that’s just me. Thank goodness I’ve found plenty of other authors to enjoy on my Kindle.

Besides the traditionally published authors I’ve always enjoyed from the big legacy publishing houses, I’ve even discovered some wonderful Indie and even a few self-published authors who can definitely write good books. Maybe the best part of Ebooks is turning out to be the choice we as readers now have. Many of our favorite traditionally published authors who continue to publish with the big  houses are going Indie at the same time. That gives us as readers something to read while we’re waiting around for an author’s next traditional novel. It’s good news for readers and writers alike.

I’m not saying I’m giving up reading a book with real pages and a glossy cover. What kind of reader would ever do that? But I’ve let go of the notion that Ebooks aren’t great, and now I carry my Ereader around with me wherever I go.

What about you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Have you been won over yet? Or do you agree with Ray Bradbury that Ebooks smell like burned fuel? I hope not!




Aspiring Writers: Enter The Rising Star Contest While There Is Still Time.

Before I was a published novelist, I was a reader (still am, of course!), so I know that many of you readers out there have tried your hand at writing a novel of your own, as well. Maybe you finished it and it’s hidden away in a desk drawer. If that’s you, then here’s your chance to get your manuscript noticed. Here is all the information you need to enter the Rising Star Contest from a great organization called WFWA. We all have to start somewhere and this is a good way to take off. So, what other writing contests are out there for prepublished authors? Share if you have links.

Good luck, friends.


The Rising Star Contest is limited to the first 75 entries.

Important Dates:

Contest Opens: May 1, 2014

Entry Deadline: June 27, 2014

Finalists Announced: August 13, 2014

Edited Finalist Entries Due: August 20, 2014

Winners Announced: October 10, 2014

Entry Submission Details

Submit the first thirty-five (35) pages of a completed manuscript (60,000 words or more), plus a 2-3 page synopsis. The synopsis is not judged.

Entry Fee

$30 WFWA Members $35 non-WFWA Members

More info and how to enter:

Rising Star Contest 

Link to WFWA: