Finish Your Book!

Finish Your Book

  1. What’s your book about? Have an elevator speech: a one minute sentence describing your book.
  2. Write a working title. Cute, memorable, or mysterious is better. You may want to have a 2 part title. For example: Wind & Wing: A Love Story from the “Greatest Generation” or Beginning Astrology: All You Need to Know to Read Your Chart
  3. What is the genre of your book? Search in the bookstore; find the publishers that publish the kinds of books you think you want to write.
  4. Set a time to write.   What works for you? Set Pick reasonable options for you, daily or weekly.
  5. Find a comfort zone. Some folks like to write in a quiet zone or a beautiful place. Some like commotion and coziness. Get your place ready, and then set your appointment with yourself. Keep your appointment!
  6. Set deadlines for yourself. Plan to put part of it online or show someone on a certain day. That will help you keep promises to yourself. Sometimes, urgency is helpful!
  7. How far along are you? Do you have a plan? Where is the book going to go? Write chapter headings, make an outline, or write a page on each character.
  8. What is your beginning? Where does it end? What’s in the middle?
  9. Make a list of people who could advise you: editors, experts in your field or genre, fellow writers.
  10. Get a business card that says you are a writer, author, or expert. You might even get one that has the name of your book, to help you feel like a writer and give you incentive to finish. This is psychological stuff to help you on your way!
  11. Get an ISBN –or 10.
  12. Write your bio: a one liner, one paragrapher, and something longer for the publisher. What would you write for the back cover of your book? What picture of yourself would you use?
  13. Join a group that is already doing it. Like Weight Watchers, but for writers: Romance Writers of America, Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, etc.
  14. If there is no group, create one! You need networking and moral support!
  15. Reminder: Do it. Just write. Do not worry at first about grammar or punctuation. Live your passion. Make it a priority. Do not worry about failure or whether it will get published or not. Just do it. (Later on, you can get an expert to help you.)

Pros & Cons of Collaborative Publishing

Pros of collaborative  publishing (print)

  1. You are more in control.
  2. You will get help from the publisher on editing, looks, etc.
  3. You can choose the cover.
  4. They will help you get the ISBN.
  5. You choose what it looks like.
  6. You get what you pay for, mostly.
  7. You don’t have to deal with a printer or binder.
  8. You can purchase more books as needed.
  9. They warehouse your book.
  10. You can spend as much or little time as you want on promotion.

Cons of collaborative  publishing (print)

  1. The first one will be a test.
  2. You have to pay the publisher UP FRONT.
  3. They may nickel and dime you to death.
  4. You may need to hire a print artist and book cover graphics designer.
  5. You can choose the price, so you can make as much or as little on books as you want.
  6. Your book can’t get into chain stores.
  7. You will have to promote and sell it.
  8. You have to buy your own books first at agreed upon cost, then sell for what you want.
  9. You must become a salesperson.
  10. Your product may not be perfect.
  11. The quality may not be the same as those in stores.
  12. You may not own the rights to your own book. Be sure to check.

No returns, unless you pay for that privilege.

Pros & Cons of Traditional Publishing

Pros of pursuing a traditional, paying publisher

  1. You get paid some $$$ up front.
  2. You get royalties on each book sold.
  3. Your book gets put in a catalog.
  4. Your book is accessible to retail & libraries.
  5. Your book is available to distributors.
  6. Your book may get listed in a magazine.
  7. They will create your cover and other art.
  8. They will take care of ISBNs, etc.
  9. They are professionals who want your book to sell.
  10. You will have a good-looking product.
  11. You may get a few free copies to give away as promotion.
  12. They may do some marketing.
  13. You gain credibility.
  14. You don’t have to warehouse or distribute your books.
  15. Your book will be considered to be REAL.
  16. Books that haven’t sold can be returned to publisher, for the most part.

Cons of pursuing a paying publisher

  1. You have to pursue them.
  2. Pursuing & convincing takes time and patience.
  3. They will largely own your book.
  4. They will tell you to make changes.
  5. They have deadlines.
  6. They may hurt your feelings.
  7. They may not do as much as you thought to help sell it.
  8. You still have to promote yourself.
  9. You may not get famous or rich.
  10. There probably won’t be a marketing budget.
  11. You make less per book sold.


Tips for Writing Query Letters to Agents & Publishers

  1. Personalize the address. Make sure everything, especially the agent’s name, is spelled correctly.
  2. Know something about the agent or editor. Do your homework. Find out what they like, and see if you can gear your query letter in that way.
  3. Mention if you have queried this person before.
  4. Read some good and bad samples queries online or in writer’s books and magazines.
  5. Have a great book or article title.
  6. Have a great first line for your query.
  7. Use your voice or the voice of the book’s subject. Be unique.
  8. Have a good lone liner about the book, and use it.
  9. Use the title, genre, and word count in first paragraph or one-liner about your piece.
  10. Summarize your work clearly, hitting on main themes, especially those you know to be of interest to the agent or editor.
  11. Do not give too much plot, too many character names, too many details. This is not Game of Thrones or even Dickens, even if, in the end, the book is!
  12. If you do mention characters, mention the really intriguing or unique ones.
  13. Mention comparable books.
  14. Mention how yours is different.
  15. Don’t tell them how wonderful your book is. If it’s wonderful, they will call you! This is not the time or place for hubris!

    Write on!

    Write on!

  16. Give your short bio.
  17. Include publicity concepts with which you have had personal experience. No, “I’m going to do this.” Instead, “I am a regular speaker at this event, place, club. I have been a featured radio guest in the NYC area.”
  18. After reading your own query, ask yourself, pretending you are the agent/editor, “Do I want to know more?” (Or, am I a bore? You need a re-write, if it’s the latter!)
  19. Proofread, and make it perfect! Errors and misspellings will put you in the “Forget it!” pile. Do your due diligence as a writer!
  20. Remember, shorter is better. As I said, this is not the place for War and Peace.

Writing for Dollars!

Here are a few great ways to make money writing:

  1. Join poetry contests. Submit, submit, submit to poetry mags and other writers’ magazines that take poetry. Don’t ignore anything, including trade publications looking for light material for their dry publications. Anywhere you see a poem published, submit!
  2. Check out local publications: Submit a column, op ed article, or other news article to local newspapers and magazines. Some want investigative articles and pay up to $1000 for a long, in depth, well written articles supported by facts and sources. Best way to start is to get to know small newspapers and their staff. Most small towns have one. If you don’t know for sure, go to which lists all the media from all the states.
  3. Don’t forget to check schools, hospitals, or community newsletters. This is often about developing relationships!
  4. Join journalism or writing organizations in your area as well as communications groups, marketing groups, and public relations groups. Check out and as well as any local press associations. Their websites list jobs available in all local media, including radio and television. Many times, they are looking for part time news writers, especially sports! I have seen lots of jobs available for sports writers and newscasters. Here’s another source:
  5. Here’s an independent media source:
  6. and list small freelance jobs where you can bid to win a contract. Lowest price wins. L
  7. Syndicate your columns. Creators Syndicate at or
  8. is always looking for experts to create blogs on certain subjects. Scroll down, and click on “Write for About”. Current topics available include: Sports cars, poetry, manga, and Colorado travel.
  9. Blog for dollars. Http:// is just one. Or, you can write your own blog on WordPress, Digg, or Blogspot, and then add affiliates to your page.
  10. Affiliates: These are sites that list ads that you can put on your blog or website. If someone clicks through and buys something, you get a check. There are also Pay per Click sites as well. Just look up “affiliates for websites” or “affiliates for blogs” online to get listings. Linkshare is one of the ones I use.
  11. Of course, publish your book! Use traditional sources which will pay you, or self-publish (in which you pay out).
  12. Don’t forget e-book services like Kindle and Createspace. Createspace helps you upload your book as an e-book and sends you a “hard copy” as well. You upload it with the price, and they get a cut of what sells.
  13. Look for any and all opportunities to write! Ask! I recently was asked to write a local history book for Arcadia Press, but just don’t have the time to do it! (A good problem to have!)
  14. That said, check out small, local, historical or college presses in your area, and see what they need!
  15. Have a good bio written that includes your expertise. Remember to include life experience! This doesn’t have to be a resume, but state the subjects about which you are most knowledgeable—and how you got the knowledge!
  16. Tell people that you are interesting and have something to say, because you are, and you do! benbook

Palestine and Israel: The Twins need a hero

Listening to the broadcasts about the latest Israeli/Palestinian conflict (July 2014), I feel I have to write about this from a cosmic perspective. It is so difficult to understand the reasons why two peoples who have been “without a country” would continue to beat each other up, like the Montagues and Capulets or the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Astrologically, I have said before that they are siblings, Palestine born slightly after the creation of Israel, and so they are twins, born together in battle. The Israeli chart is stubborn Taurus, with a North Node in Taurus, doubly indicating a need to establish security in one’s life as a nation. Four planets in Leo create an obstinate fixed square to North Node/Sun. This is indicative that these are a people that feel they deserve to rule, especially after having experienced the horrors of Mother/Destroyer Kali—being separated from the Mother (Moon/Pluto conjunction). Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo can create one of two scenarios: Pluto exaggerates, or Pluto separates. Saturn disciplines or oppresses. All in Leo, the King/Queen, who wants control and yet wants to be loved and adored. This reminds me of Israel’s relationship with many countries: “If you adore me and defer to me, I will reward you. If you don’t, off with your heads!” In a much smaller way, Palestine is this, too. But Palestine doesn’t get billions from the United States or anyone else. Remember Leo can be a lovable leader, but Leo can also be a despot or tyrant. No wonder the twins are fighting!
The pain point (Chiron) of both countries is about getting control—of the physical, of the spiritual, of the water, oil, and blood beneath the surface. This is a blood feud. And it’s Scorpionic, so we know what that means…Scorpions sting themselves to death. This is the crux of the issue. Years of self-hate and fear have created jealousy, envy, resentment, and angry passions that these folks just can’t seem to let go of: those Scorpion pincers hold on to the thing that is killing them. And then, to make matters worse, they sting themselves to death. When will they learn?
Yes, it is also true that foreign countries fund the problem. (Jupiter in Sag and Uranus in Gemini) Because of the combination of Jupiter (enlargement) and Uranus (rebellion), that makes me believe that foreign countries want the Hatfields and the McCoys situation. Maybe they are hoping that they will wipe each other out. Are you listening, guys?
In the traditional Israeli chart, Neptune is on the horizon, making it a spiritual state—a country based more on religion than anything else, which is true, (although it doesn’t seem like they are practicing). In Libra, they are to be open to other’s ideas, opinions, and religion—or be confused by it. Guess they have chosen the latter. Palestine, whose birthday is technically the following day, has Aquarius on the horizon, an outcast, the “different one”. All of the Leonine stuff is in partnership areas: having an oppressive partner. You can’t get more oppressed than being forced onto the Gaza Strip!
The pain point moves to the Midheaven, making it the number one focal point, and the Taurus stuff ends up in the third house of communication, making them speak strong, if nothing else. Both countries have indicators that they need to take their causes to the world and the internet.
Unlike Israel, Palestine can use several other birthdays for contemplation. The United Nations partition of 1947 caused over 700,000 Palestinians to flee the lands that became Israel’s homeland. This chart shows a Sagittarian people, having to expand or grow or release themselves to the world. Jupiter in Sagittarius is conjunct the Sun, the sun being the people’s identity. They were flung out into the world. Jupiter, although often seen as an expansive planet, is also the planet of divorce, so here a people became divorced (by a UN “court”) from their homeland. Isn’t this what happened to the Jews? Are we seeing the larger picture here? Could there be a larger lesson (Sagittarius) than the one we are being shown?
What I can also say is this, anywhere Jupiter is, there is opportunity. I am always reminding people who just got fired from their jobs or divorced from spouses that there is a bigger and better world out there for them. In some ways, right there, Palestinians not only became a homeless people, but they became a “people of the world”, and as a marketer, Jupiter in Sag says, “get the word out.” This chart indicates that their destiny, which is to be secure, to find their ground (North Node in Taurus) will always be a pain point they must talk about (Mercury conjunct Chiron in Scorpio), and they may have to do it in underhanded ways. After all, Scorpio is a sign of secrets, propaganda, the hidden, and depths within. The Pisces rising in this chart also indicates a spiritual people, lost and confused, and, again, dominated by larger forces (Saturn/Pluto/Mars in Leo), making them feel powerless. The Cancer Moon makes them want to hold on with those big ole’ crab’s claws and indicates their sensitivities yet need for protection. But, sadly, their shell is easily cracked, and it’s difficult to move forward.
The third birth chart of Palestine relates to when its borders were created in 1922. The North Node is only 1 minute (not 1 degree—1 minute!) away from a cooperative Libra North Node. Instead, the destiny resides in earthy, picky, negative Virgo, a sign of servants—or service. Again, Saturn in Libra is conjunct that Virgoan destiny—the oppressive, disciplinarian partner. The pain point (Chiron) is in Aries, meaning, “I don’t want to do it alone.” This pain is opposed by Jupiter and Mercury in Libra (growth through negotiation and partnership) and, of course, our karmic teacher Saturn. Pluto and the Moon are conjunct in the partnership house, once again the Kali-esque Mother/Devourer as a partner, in Cancer…a relationship that never ends…
Rising sign is Sag, country of the world, maybe created by the U.N.—or the world—not self-created. Uranus the rebel is in Pisces (weak), Neptune in Leo (strong faith).
These two countries have karma together, but, in my personal view, that is no excuse for the genocides. And past genocides are no excuse for present ones.
Remember that there are positive traits to the planets too. If they became truly spiritual countries, and if they chose to become lovable, generous leader-countries, instead of locked in violence and persecution, they could set an example for the world. As Dr. Phil would say, “who wants to be a hero?” Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, “don’t resist, lay down your arms”. Is that possible to do? It seems that the people of Gaza have tried that, and they keep getting pushed. Instead of “an eye for an eye” or “brother for brother”, it’s “one eye for thousands” and “one brother for a city-full of people”. How can that be fair? Well, it’s ridiculous to speak of “fairness”. It has been been said in metaphysical circles that as Israel goes, so goes the world. So if Israel would only lay down its arms and become a truly spiritual leader…?
Astrologically, I think that Israel won’t stop, so Hamas won’t stop. The desperate are compelled to suicide. This has happened before, and it will happen again. Israel will be stopped, but not until September, and they won’t like it. Why do I say that? Because in September, it shows Jupiter hitting Pluto, and Pluto intensifies or separates. In this case, I hope it will take the wind out of the sails on Israel’s warship. Of course, this happens to both nations. While Israel is annoyed; Palestine will be angry, but they will both be removed of their power. Wow. Ceasefire or something more drastic, whatever is in store, I think the cavalry comes…I hope it is a spiritual one. Well, maybe it’s Dr. Phil!