Do you want to know why honorable mention and not winner?

Me too!

I’ve received the Honorable Mention label a few times and truth be told it was exciting.

First time, second time, third time, but then…

Well, then I got the always a bridesmaid syndrome. You know what I’m talking about, right?

What was wrong with me? I mean my stories. Sorry, that sounded so whiny. 

Thanks to David Farland latest email I got a few answers. Not satisfying answers but answers nonetheless. 

Here’s what I learned from the Story Doctor.

It’s not me, it’s my writing. Ouch, that hurt.

Not because the writing is bad, it’s just not good enough for the judge. Ouch again.

Since there are no new ideas under the sun, I’d better make sure my take on whatever I write is fresh, unique and interesting. There must be something original that lifts it above others written on the same subject.

Beautiful writing does not make up for sloppy execution. 

A dynamic beginning still needs a firm six-pack middle and a satisfying ending with a try-fail cycle that leaves the reader breathless.

Missing elements – no character is an island. They may live on one but they don’t live in a vacuum void of interaction with someone or something. Characters, think and feel about the things around them and that is what brings them to life. Judges need to see that.

David did give me some encouragement. He said if a writer is receiving Honorable Mention then we’re on the right track. Whew, there’s hope for me after all.


Plus, He suggested making a tip sheet of 25 things judges might grade on before submitting. Great idea.

Thanks, David!

If you’d like to read the entire article click the link below.

 Why editors reject your story? by David Farland Story Doctor

What do you think? 

Is Honorable Mention a Win?

Do you have any tips to take contests past the HM level?

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! Please remember to click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.



This year, make your opinion heard, it’s very valuable

That’s right your opinion is important!

To me, and every writer out there!

So share it!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in an internet dead zone you’ve probably read a few posts recently about writing book reviews. Here on my blog too. 

Why, because without reviews a book will die a slow death.


This was something I didn’t understand until after I’d written and published my first book. An author doesn’t just spend time typing a few thousand words on a computer, magically transform it into a book, and then sit back waiting for the sales to pour in. We have to keep giving that baby CPR every day or it withers on the bookshelf vine as surely as grapes during a California drought. 

The writer puts a little bit of their soul into each chapter and verse. They lay themselves bare for critique by family, friends and strangers alike. Willing to accept what comes to set free their muse and see their art come to life.

When you, the reader selects our book, that in and of itself is a high compliment, even if you don’t care much for the story. The fact that you take the time to read the book speaks volumes.

Since you’ve already invested the time to read the book, why not take a few more minutes and let the author know what you thought, gently and honestly of course.

I’ve heard many excuses, but the main one is “I haven’t the time.” Well Amazon makes it easy with multiple choice. Here is a breakdown. 

So just how long does it take?

  • Go to and click on book – 15 seconds
  • Click on book – write a review – 5 seconds
  • How is the author’s writing? Click on choice – 2 seconds
  • Is there violence? Click on choice – 2 seconds
  • Is there sexual content? Click on choice – 2 seconds
  • How is the story narrated?  Click on choice – 2 seconds
  • Click on the Stars – 2 seconds

For a grand total of 30 seconds.


Now sure I’m pretty fast on the keyboard and so lets double that and stretch it a bit to 45 seconds. That’s still less than a minute to give a review to someone who has spent months writing the book that gave you hours of pleasure or misery. 

Of course, if you want, you can go a step further and write a sentence or two describing what you like about the book or characters. Even the book I don’t care for, I try to find something good to say. Still, all in all it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. Unless, of course, you are like me and begin to shop on for another good book. But that’s another problem. LOL 

Click this link and go over to Cow Pasture Chronicles and get more tips on how easy it is to rate a book you’ve read.

The author will be eternally grateful that you took one minute out of your busy day, and I do understand you are as busy as the rest of us, to leave your opinion. If you’re unsure what to write, read some of the other reviews for ideas. If you don’t want to write anything, just click through the multiple choice.

Because believe it or not, your opinion does matter to us.

Have you read a book recently?

Did you leave a review?

If not, why?

Do you find writing a review hard? 

If so, just click on the stars?

Take a few seconds now and leave a review for that book you just finished or even one you couldn’t finish. 

The author will thank you!

Look for me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and! And don’t forget, pay it forward with a click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.

Do you need help Tweeting your blog?

I do!

And without Tweetdeck I would’ve been lost over the holidays.

At times I had 5 grandchildren sleeping over, and a house overflowing with fun and holiday cheer. So there was little time to Tweet out in a timely manner to my peeps out in Tweetdom. But I hated the thought of leaving them out in the cold for two entire weeks.

Thank you TweetDeck!

And Thank you Hashtags!

Learning to Twitter – Part 1

Posted by  Werner

This post is filled with great tips on using TweetDeck and a terrific list of hashtags

Some of my favorites are #amwriting, #writing, #blogging, and #blogger. Do you have a favorite hashtag you use?


One new thing I’ve started doing is setting up tweets to go out, via TweetDeck, of older posts. Why? Because new people are joining Twitter every day. 

Hey, I’m into recycling, aren’t we all. Save the environment and all. Wait, that’s cans and plastic. Oh well. 

Pop over and read Solveig’s blog, get your tweets organized in 2016 and forget about your closet, it can wait until Spring cleaning.

What about you? Any tips or tricks you use to stay organized on Twitter?

Look for me on Twitter @jeancogdell and on Facebook at jean.cogdell! And don’t forget, pay it forward with a click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.

Are you happy with your latest writing idea? Need a new one?

Since National Novel Writing Month is almost over, what will you do next?

Thanksgiving is here and we are right on top of Christmas.

So what will you write now?

Where will you get your next big idea?

After you finish one project do you jump right into the next? Or do you get idea fatigue?

Whether it’s a home improvement, decorating, a big party, or a writing project, afterward I fight the dreaded fatigue fugue.

That’s what I call it. You know the feeling that you’ve given all you can give? When my brain is totally tapped out. I call that, fatigue fugue.

I convince myself that there couldn’t be another idea left in my tired old brain. But then when I least expect it a seed starts germinating.

Sometimes it starts with a word, a prompt, a comment by the grandkids (yes, kids do say the darnedest things), a news story, or a view.


If you’re struggling with idea fatigue or stumbling into a fatigue fugue, start looking around, listening or free writing.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so head over to Pinterest. There is no end of ideas waiting there. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can stir up emotions. People have lots of opinions that might start a conversation and lead to a great story.

Still need a jump-start? Clear back while I grab the cables.


Robin Oliver with one simple question gives us 5 steps to jump start content strategy. I believe this tip can even work with fiction.

What question could you ask that would get the ideas pumping?

We are all familiar with the “What if” question, so add that to Ms. Oliver’s question and see what happens.

 answers the question, Where Do Successful Authors Get Their Most Brilliant Writing Ideas?