Query or self-publish? Make an informed decision.

Maybe you’re debating on it now, imaging what route is the best for you… Well, to make an informed decision, you should read a lot about the subject– and there are loads to read about it, believe me. So I decided to compile here some great articles I’ve been reading on the matter to make this process a little easier.















Edit- new links:




Please, feel free to add other relevant links on the comments section. And tell us your decision: are you going to query or self-publish your next (or first) book?

Well, I wish us all the best of luck, whatever decision we make!


The best creative writing course – reading!

Every writer is also a reader. We love books, we need to read to be happy.

I’m one of those compulsive readers that can’t stand not having a book to read at the moment. I’m also a proud kindle owner, and believe ebooks are the most amazing thing ever invented.

Of course when you’re a writer, you read in a different, more critical way. You read to be inspired by other authors, and, sometimes, to find motivation to keep writing. It happened to me more than once; I’m reading just for pleasure (or think I am) and start taking notes as if in a class, because the sentences are so brilliant, the characters so well constructed, the story so beautifully told that I think: “Boy, that’s what I want:  to write something that good!”

Reading is the best creative writing course for me. I’ve learned so much from reading great authors! Sometimes you learn what not to do, but that’s not the point! 🙂

Of course, since I love dark, twisted and damaged characters, I read books where they live. I try to always write a review, and, if there’s a way, write to the author just to let them now how much I enjoyed their work. I think this is the least I can do to say “thank you” for their time and effort. Everybody should do that.

I had received amazing responses. Authors are kind people who love to hear from readers. Try it!

These are some of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. Some are Indies, some are not. I don’t care how a book is published, I just want the story to be great.

In these books, the weather and locations are characters, as important to the plots as the people on the pages.  They describe a tense, dark, almost suffocating world, where the characters are consumed by their ordeals.

Ruth Rendell is a master. Her stand-alones are must-read

This was the first book in this genre that I read, when I was only thirteen – it hooked me for life!

Absolutely amazing. This story has some of the best metaphors I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. The plot is superb too

Certainly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Almost impossible to describe without spoiling your reading.

Oh my, what a debut! This author is someone to follow. What a gift with words; so perfectly constructed characters. Plus, the author is a really nice person.

This is the American edition of Rupture (UK). Great book about bullying.

Simon Lelic has a compelling way of telling stories.

An excellent debut. I’ll be looking forward for the next book from this author

Sorrel Pitts develops a magnificent tense atmosphere to tell this story.

This is a haunting tale that will stay in your mind for days after finishing the story.

This book is very slow-paced, but it’s a great journey

This is a great coming-of-age story. It’s very dark and extremely sad in some points, with poetical touches all over the text.

I deeply care about not-that-enjoyable characters. You know, the problematic ones, those that proclaimed themselves as bad people, like Libby Day does. And she is so twisted, you end up loving her.

After reading this book you are sure going to watch your back more often and be more careful, especially if you’re a woman.

If the only thing you have are other people’s words as your memories, how can you be sure what’s true?

The author has a beautiful style. His prose is natural, with an excellent pace that keeps you wanting to read more and more.

How Mama Cass inspired my novel

I’m usually listening to Cass Elliot‘s inspiring voice while writing. Ellen Naomi Cohen, her real name, is my favorite singer.

In fact, I think she should be everyone’s favorite singer. She had it all – an amazing voice, creativity, joy for life… Her daughter, Owen Vanessa Elliot-Kugell can certainly tell you all about her better than I’d be able to, so please go to her official website to learn more about this wonderful woman: casselliot.com

Sadly, she died before I was even born. But she continues inspiring me every day. I’m working in a coming-of-age novel called My Sore Hush-a-Bye. The title is inspired by a traditional American Lullaby called All the pretty little horsesMama Cass recorded a version of that song with The Big Three.

I was starting on this manuscript  and had some ideas about what I was going to tell, but wasn’t completely sure. I was debating about the main character motivation/drama with myself when this song started playing. I heard the lullaby and knew immediately what was going to happen to her, and how.

Camille, the main character, is a fragile sixteen-year-old girl. Another dark, twisted and damaged character I’ve been torturing in order to write a -hopefully- great novel. Well, Camille loves Cass Elliot as much as I do. This is how she describes her relationship with the famous late singer:

“And most of all, there was her voice, the woman who sang to me for all those years, comforting me since that first day with Uncle Bob, going into my core and caressing my soul from the inside out…Mama Cass. Her inspiring voice is my safe place, where I can go to escape, ‘cause she makes all the darkness bearable…she puts light where there was none.

I’d love nothing more than see her, tell her all of it. And yet I will never be able to do so. Her hair reminds me of my mother’s, I believe. I could be mixing them together into one person, because I don’t really remember my mother much. But I remember brushing her hair once—perhaps one of the last memories I have of her before she left—and I could swear it was just like Mama Cass’ when I saw her in a picture.”

I’m deeply grateful to Cass Elliot and her gorgeous voice for inspiring me each day. Want to listen for yourself? Please Visit Amazon’s Cass Elliot Store.

What about you? What inspires you? Share, you might inspire someone else!

I think it’s going to rain…

Copyright © 2012 by Renata F. Barcelos
All rights reserved worldwide. No part may be reproduced without written permission.

Important: Never use lyrics in your writing if you don’t have the right to do so. Lyrics are copyrighted  material. In my case, I’m using a public domain lyric, since this lullaby is of an unknown author and over 100 years old.


Living and Writing with ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder

I’ve been working on this blog for a week or two now. I wanted it to be a visual expression of my writing style.
I’m pretty happy with the result. I look at this layout and can see it’s ME.

Then came the difficult part: actually posting on it.

You see, the problem has a name…Procrastination.
It’s not totally my fault, and I hate doing it. But I have ADD—Attention Deficit Disorder.

You may find out more about it here: http://psychcentral.com/addquiz.htm. (The quiz is practically describing me).

Basically, it’s very difficult to focus because  my mind is constantly shifting from one random thing to another. I daydream all the time—so much it’s difficult to actually dream, since I have trouble turning off my brain to sleep. I know most authors procrastinate, but it’s not a matter of choice when you have ADD. You procrastinate without noticing, or without wanting to.

I want to write. I feel creative. I have so many thoughts popping up on my mind at the same time it makes me dizzy sometimes… So I go check my emails, my book reports on Amazon, my twitter, my Facebook page…anything. All the time thinking of the amazing things I’m going to write next.
Then I finally open my word document or my dashboard to write and…I cannot focus. I keep thinking of my emails, my book reports on Amazon, etc.

My mind is always in a different place, never where it should be. It can be maddening and happens all the time.

I’ve been living like this my entire life. I don’t like taking medication because I usually have all the side effects and little (if any) of the benefits. So I try to control it on my own.

It’s been more than three decades, and I like to think I’m better each day. But far from perfect; it takes a lot of daily effort and it can be overwhelming sometimes.

The great thing is that now there’s a name for it. When I was growing up I was just distracted, lazy and a little crazy, perhaps. Now it’s easier to explain, at least.

My grandmother—may God bless her soul—was just like me, so I believe she had ADD too. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her growing up like that in the thirties.

My daughter is the same —even more, actually. Imagine our house—two absent-minded living together. It leads to some funny situations, but also to a lot of stress sometimes. We say “how many times have I told you…” countless times during the day. And it’s absolutely useless, because when you have ADD, you may hear the same thing thousands of times and think it’s brand new information.

And that’s when you understand what they said. When people are talking, no matter how interested I am, it’s usual for me to realize I’m miles away. My mind drifts. I can see their mouths moving, but I have no idea what is being said. Or the words that I do listen don’t make any sense.

It’s embarrassing to ask someone to repeat something, right? How about doing that five, six, ten times, and still don’t understand what the hell is she/he saying? It’s beyond frustrating.

It used to drive me crazy, to make me angry with myself.

But I learned to give me a break. I’m what I am, and I’m not sorry for it anymore. Life’s been a lot easier since then.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m still trying to improve. But I realized that I shouldn’t  punish myself when I fail on focusing. It’s beyond me sometimes. Instead of being angry when I fail, I try to reward myself when I succeed.

I’m overjoyed to remember little things. To focus and read, watch or write for more than half hour. To have a full conversation (more than ten minutes is a triumph) with someone. To really listen to a person for a while without interrupting or trying to finish his or her sentences.

I proudly give myself a tap on the back when I go to the kitchen and remember what I was supposed to do there. When I open Google and remember what I was going to search. When I don’t have to stop mid-sentence because I have no clue about what I was going to say.

It’s easy to look stupid and live angry with yourself when you have ADD. I did that for many years. Now I understand the disorder  as a mixed blessing—it makes me creative, it makes me the way I am, and it makes me work harder than most to keep me on track. It makes me stronger.

So if you’re in the same boat, try to be happy for the small victories. Try to laugh at your failures.

Things are going to work out. Even if it takes longer than expected.

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
– Don Marquis