Author Quote: highly acclaimed Helen Garner

“I suppose there must be idiots who dream of signing deals with publishers while fully intending to drink martinis in cool bars or ride around on skateboards. But the actual writers I know are experts in neurotic self-torture. Every page of writing is the result of a thousand tiny decisions and desperate acts of will.”

― Helen Garner (notable works: Monkey Grip, The First Stone, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, This House of Grief)

posted by Jean Foster Akin

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Author Quote: Jane Goodall

I thought my life was mapped out. Research, living in the forest, teaching and writing. But in ’86 I went to a conference and realized the chimpanzees were disappearing. I had worldwide recognition and a gift of communication. I had to use them.

Jane Goodall  [Dame Jane Morris Goodall, DBE, formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologist.]


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This 1 Thing Will Squelch Your Dreams of Authorship

New York City Skyscrapers aerialMaybe when all is said and done, the reason you aren’t published is not the hours a night you spend watching television, the hours you spend clicking “like” on all the foodie pics your friends post on Facebook, the lateness of your emergence from your bedroom every morning. Yes, it’s possible that these acts are those of a wanna-be writer with no talent whatsoever. But, maybe these fruitless activities are a sign that, even though you have the talent, you simply don’t take yourself seriously.

And what’s really amazing (because it happens so much) are all those people out there with LESS talent than you who work a LOT harder than you because they actually think they have a LOT of talent and that the whole world ought to know about it! They push their way into every opportunity, they MAKE opportunities for themselves. With full confidence, with trumpets blaring, they cry: “LOOK AT ME!!” And you know what? They sometimes do pretty well for themselves, while you (talented and insecure you) say things like: “I’m not good enough,” or “Who would want to read what I wrote?”

Well, my friend, at last count, there were 7.6 BILLION people in this world, so guess what? There is SOMEONE out there who would LOVE to read what you write! More than just a “someone”–many “someones”.

And I’ll tell you something else: your fear, your thought that “no one would want to read what I write,” comes from a fear of criticism. No one gets anywhere worrying about criticism of their work. If criticism scares you–and it scares the hell out of me, quite honestly, and most people I know–then you have to put it aside and go BIG, go for THE GUSTO…or you gotta go home.

Don’t go home.


There will always be someone who writes a useless critique of your work on Amazon–someone without the courage and/or the talent to write a novel-length manuscript as you have done, but who has the “talent” to make other people feel bad about themselves. Useless critiques might look like this: “I red this book an it sucked!” Other critiques might be more useful: “I didn’t feel connected to the characters.” The latter critique could indicate something you can work on in your next novel, or perhaps the critique indicates the reviewer’s particular issue with the work. If your pre-publication readers were an honest bunch and offered a lot of helpful feedback (which you heard, without throwing up defenses, and acted upon), it might just be the reviewer’s particular issue. Be honest with yourself, but also know that every critique is not worth ruining your day over, and that you cannot expect EVERYONE to like your writing. Remember? Over SEVEN BILLION people in the world. At least a couple of them won’t like you work. At least a couple.


Then there are the people who will love your book, but they won’t say so. Frustrating? You bet. In my own life, I received phone calls, letters, Facebook private messages, and, even years later, people approached me with compliments over my first published book (THE FILIGREE SLIPPERS), but you won’t see all those people taking the time to give me stars on Amazon. Even with me suggesting they do so. Even with me trying hard not to sound like I was begging them to do so. They were not “bad” people, they were just people: reading novels they enjoyed and then going on to the next one without a backward glance. Does that mean I should not be preparing for the publication of my next novel, this one for adults, entitled COLD AS WINTER WOODS?  No. And you should be moving forward too.


Some critics you will know personally. Those might be the scariest for you, actually. Those are the people who have never liked the thought of you succeeding at anything, those who have never tried for anything special in their own lives and hate the thought of you having anything special in yours. It’s also common for writers to actually be nervous about how their NON-reading social circle (whether it be family, friends, co-workers) will respond to their book. Why? Will the non-readers ferret out every place you could have used a better word, or will they disapprove of the genre into which your novel falls? Remember, they don’t READ, so, you know, who cares? You think your favorite authors weren’t afraid their family and friends might HATE their newest novel? Really?? Well, they published anyway.


There are reasons not to write a story, and there are reasons to wait to tell a story. Frank McCourt wrote ANGELA’S ASHES long before he would submit the manuscript to an agent in the hopes of publication. He wrote about an impoverished childhood in Ireland, what his mother had to do in order to feed her children. Had McCourt found a publisher for the novel before his mother died, she would have been deeply ashamed by his revealing what she was forced to do, things over which she had no control. But, if you are not in the position where you must wait to tell your story, then,  my writing friend, write, write, write. Edit, edit, edit. Submit your work to agents or figure out how to self-publish. Give it your all and don’t fall under the spell of critics.

Even if the critic is YOU.



written and posted by Jean Foster Akin

“Big City” Photo cred:

Cold as Winter Woods photo cred:

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AUTHOR QUOTE: Finding Your Voice

If your passions are strong and you’re a fighter, the question of voice is a superficial one. You are eager to speak; you just need a podium. That is, you need the writing technique. But don’t worry about voice. If you make sure that you say what you mean, you’ll have a strong voice. However, “saying what you mean” means being graceful and clear, which may take a lot of labor. Being yourself when you write means to edit, go back, sharpen, to say precisely what you want to say.


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Prepare to be THRILLED!

It looks like Julie’s left her wealthy husband for good. Cam’s spent too much time away, the couple’s been bickering, and Julie’s father just died–but could this be enough to make Julie leave? Detective Jack Deerfield thinks so, but Cam disagrees…until he finds romantic letters sent to Julie by a mysterious lover. While Cam deals with this betrayal and Deerfield discovers feelings for Julie’s African-American friend, Evanna, Julie is forced to endure a mentally unstable man bent on turning her into an obedient and loving companion. Will Cam, crushed by his wife’s apparent abandonment, fall under the spell of a seductive socialite determined to make him break his marriage vows? And, will Julie, alone and afraid, find the key to unlock her prison door before she’s subjected to her captor’s final and most dangerous form of control yet?

Head over to, pick up the thriller Cold as Winter Woods by J.F. Akin, and find the answers to those questions! Only $9.99 for the beautiful hefty Paperback! Only $2.99 for the Kindle eBook, or ZERO cents if you buy the eBook with your Prime membership!! If you get the thrill from the novel that my initial, pre-publication, readers have reported to me, I’d appreciate it very much if you’d go over to Amazon and give me some stars. It’s hard work writing a novel, as many of you know, and encouragement from fellow writers and faithful readers means a lot, so THANKS!!


posted by Jean Foster Akin

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10 Ways to Change Your Life for the Better

by Jean Foster Akin

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. ~~Rabindranath Tagore

I believe now that a better year actually IS based on my desires, focus, attitudes, and determination. I didn’t realize that before, but I do now.

Listen, I say a “better” year, not necessarily a “perfect” year. And I’m not being flippant toward those of you who live in difficult situations that you can’t change at the moment, or at all. In those bad situations, could you improve your daily life with a positive attitude? I think so, yes. But I also know there are times when you can’t even work up a smirk  let alone a sunny attitude. Some people are in rough situations that are not their fault.

But when it has to do with negative attitudes in a land with opportunity, well, positive attitudes DO play into how much better things can be. They just do.

So, you ask how you can have a better year when you’re in a dead-end job, or when your marriage is falling apart, or when you’re bored out of your mind because your circle of friends has drifted due to new jobs in different towns? Or, they’ve started higher education classes that keep them running here and there but never to your door.

Own Your Life

There is a real danger in depression, and I am not referring to clinical depression here in this post. The truly depressed have no ability to draw strength from within in order to change their lives. They are exhausted, overwhelmed, self-hating, and often over-looked. They don’t need to hear: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” That’s a dismissive, uncaring remark. What depressed individuals need is others to hold them up and offer tangible assistance (I’m sorry, but saying “I’ll pray for you” is NOT tangible assistance–be creative, and put yourself out for those in need. For help or suggestions, try The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8522.)

But for those among us who are DISCOURAGED with the way their lives have turned out, I say: no one but YOU will ever have the desire strong enough to change YOUR situation. Haven’t you noticed? 

Often we have the desire to change our lives, but we wait on someone else to make decisions that will improve our lives FOR us. “Someone Else” could be our boss, our life partner, our friends, or perhaps a higher power. It isn’t wrong to depend on people or to believe in something mystical that is higher than ourselves, but it’s ill-advised to believe that we can just sit there and wait for something better to come our way without our doing anything more than hope.

So, may I suggest that you think of a small plan, something doable, that you might use to change your circumstances, even a little?


Dead-end job? Perhaps you could take a few classes to earn or finish your degree and eventually have more to bring to the table on your next interview. Too scary? Try one class, then. See how it goes. Or else, fall in love with your lousy, low-paying job. Which sounds easier?

You’re in a troubled marriage? If there’s physical abuse, remove yourself physically, seek safety and  guidance. But if there is lack of communication, dullness, walls between you, don’t submit to the sentiment, “It happens in all marriages eventually. That’s just the way it goes.” I’ll tell you something: unless you are incapable  of deep thought, of mindfulness, of being present in THIS moment, then you don’t have to settle in a loveless, spiritless marriage. It may well be that a couple of divorce lawyers will be making a lot of money in the next few months, but it may be that you can call out the elephant in the room and work together to change what has become a negative dynamic between you.

Maybe your friends have drifted away. You feel your relationship with them is receiving less than adequate attention. Maybe so, but YOU can join a book club, enroll in a painting class, learn a new language. You don’t need to cut off friends whose lives are changing–instead, love them, but meet new people and make new friends! Take a self-improvement course. Help a child or an adult learn to read. Volunteer to deliver meals to shut-ins or visit the sick in the hospital.  Yes, we can feel hurt or even resentful when our relationships with friends changes, but to make things better, drop the resentment, be happy for your friends’ new enthusiasms–and find some new enthusiasms in YOUR OWN LIFE. Enthusiasms which give you purpose and enjoyment, which help others, and which give you the chance to increase your social circle. There are people out there who will be as delighted to meet you as you are to meet them.

Bored out of your mind? Read the last paragraph.


Our attitudes CAN change our lives. Instead of resentment, fear, and isolation–all which make us feel like victims of circumstances–determine to make changes to your circumstances YOURSELF, don’t wait for someone else to make them for you. Follow through and call the college, call the hospital’s volunteer office, call the marriage counselor, call the literacy volunteer program. The simple act of making a telephone call  can go A LONG WAY! Not just for your life, but for the lives of others.

Whatever you do, even if 2018 was a pretty good year for you, it’s my sincerest hope that you’ll have an even better 2019. I know that this is happening for me. What about you? Have you made changes toward a better life? Encourage the people around you. Leave a comment below with your experiences and plans!



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A Writer KNOWS It

R.L. Stine, American Author of the popular Goosebumps and Fear Street Series (etc, etc 🙂 )

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
— R.L. Stine

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