Woman peeking around corner, looking sheepish

So, the other day I mentioned to my hubby—who is also my technical guru—that one of the online forms at Compose didn’t seem to be working.

As he prodded into both of my sites, he also discovered a glitch in the contact form at Write It Sideways. In fact, there were hundreds of email messages I hadn’t received from my readers, and they were sitting there in my system.

Some of them were more than a year old.

How could this happen? How hadn’t I noticed?

I suppose there were a number of factors: I was still receiving dozens of messages every day that related to my writing and editing work, but they were coming directly to my email address, not through my contact form. I hadn’t been updating Write It Sideways regularly, so I figured naturally I wouldn’t be receiving as many queries. And, I was still communicating with readers who would write to me by replying to my email newsletters and announcements.

In any case, here I was, staring down hundreds of messages and wondering what to do with them. I ended up going through every single one to be sure I hadn’t missed anything important.

Here’s a breakdown of how I handled the email problem, and this will also be an explanation of sorts in case you emailed me and didn’t receive a reply:

Friendly Personal Letters

I drafted a cut-and-paste reply I could send to those who had written me nice letters about themselves, their writing, and how my site had helped them. Every time I came across one of these, I read it in its entirety, then replied with this auto response, explaining the situation. I always appreciate people taking the time to write to me.

Friendly Personal Letters with Complicated Questions

Sometimes I’ll get the type of letter I outlined above, but it includes an in-depth question about the craft of writing or how the writer can accomplish some task. These questions are almost always difficult to answer in one paragraph or less—many would take pages. Therefore, I read and appreciated each of these notes, but this time around I did not reply to them.

Straight Questions

I have always received a good number of questions from those who don’t seem to be regular readers of Write It Sideways. Questions like these:

  • “Can you teach me how to be a writer?”
  • “I wrote this book. How can I get it published?”
  • “I’m writing this 300,000 word literary-fantasy-horror-sci-fi-western-romance novel. Well, [Name of Character] just [did something crazy and amazing] but now [I have this huge problem I can't seem to fix]. What can I do?”

click to continue reading >>


How to Write Better Short Stories and Get Published in Lit Mags

Thumbnail image for How to Write Better Short Stories and Get Published in Lit Mags

A couple of days ago, I published a post at Writer Unboxed called How to Get Your Short Stories Published in Lit Mags. Some commenters said they bookmarked the article as a reference for when they have a polished short story to send out to the world of lit mags. Others were grateful for that little push […]

Read the full article →

Stop Asking Yourself If You Have Writing Talent

Today, I’m over at the award-winning blog Writer Unboxed to discuss writing talent and whether or not it’s an innate ability or a skill to be developed. Here’s a short excerpt of the post, “Do I Have Writing Talent?” You’re Asking the Wrong Question: Hemingway. Austen. Dickens. Woolf. Carver. We know these names well, these masters of […]

Read the full article →

Still here. Still writing. Just taking a breather.

Thumbnail image for Still here. Still writing. Just taking a breather.

Today’s post is written by founding editor Suzannah Windsor. First, it’s great to be back. I’ve really missed sitting down to write something personal to you—especially to those of you who have supported my writing in many different ways over the past five years. Maybe you thought Write It Sideways had come to an end […]

Read the full article →

Writing with Profit in Mind? Your Book has Already Failed

Thumbnail image for Writing with Profit in Mind? Your Book has Already Failed

Today’s post is written by Nicolas Gremion. If your primary motivation for writing is making money, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Outliers like James Patterson, Stephen King, and Nora Roberts often skew our perception of how lucrative publishing really is. In fact, very few authors actually make a living off their writing—the rest see […]

Read the full article →

Make NaNoWriMo the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Thumbnail image for Make NaNoWriMo the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Today’s post is written by Amanda L. Barbara. For writers just cooling down from NaNoWriMo, it’s tempting to lose steam as the holidays approach. Your weekend calendar is filling up with parties and family get-togethers, and you probably feel like you deserve a victory lap after a month of such high productivity. But whether or not […]

Read the full article →