So sketchy

Every day, I post a very short story on Twitter for the #vss365 writing prompt. My daughter is an artist, so I did some digging to see if there was a daily prompt for her.

I discovered:
#Sketchtember (a sketch a day)
#Inktober (an inked drawing a day)
#NaNoDrawMo (50 pieces in a month)
#Drawcember (a drawing a day)

And more (a wiki list of art challenges)

I’m not an artist, but my daughter’s excitement is infectious. I’m going to give Sketchtember a try.

Digging in

Two years ago, my uncle told me a fantastic (and real) tale of adventure in Bombay that took place 50 years ago. The story had me, my husband, and one of my best friends spellbound.

So that will be my next novel. A fictionalized historical set in Bombay in 1970 involving my uncle, my grandmother, a runaway princess from a neighbouring country, a wannabe Bollywood star, and an abandoned infant.

I’ve started doing the research. And OMG it’s a helluva lot of fun. I wish I could write full time.


After half a dozen query workshops and tons of advice from friends who are published, I’ve taken that leap! I’m querying my novel.

I braced myself for a long, hard fall, and then discovered that I have a little parachute that’s helping me gently float — manuscript requests!

It feels so incredibly good to wake up in the morning to a full request! Someone, somewhere, wants to read a little bit more of something I wrote.

I started querying early August. So I’m not that far in yet, but I’ve learned that I have a query that gets responses. That feels like a big win, because marketing has always been a mysterious and frightening thing for me.

More lessons to come, I’m sure … but for now, I’m so grateful for this parachute that’s slowing the terrifying free fall.

#PitchWars #BoostMyBio 2019 — Here we go!

I can’t believe it’s September!

I’m excited and so nervous. It’s like being at the top of the roller coaster. (Am I the only one feeling queasy?)

This is my first time submitting to #PitchWars. The writing community on Twitter is just incredible — so supportive and so kind.

I’ve loved reading the #PWPoePrompt tweets ?and getting to know other authors. It’s been an amazing experience.

Why I need a mentor

My writing technique is good but my novel lacks something. Things are a little too easy for my characters. I need help complicating their lives.

I’d really love guidance and direction from someone who can show me what I can’t see and teach me what I’m too new to even realize that I don’t know.

I’m a details girl, so I’d really benefit from working with someone who can see the big picture.

My dream mentor would love contemporary romance, savor it like fine wine and good chocolate, and would help guide me through the tumultuous world of querying, subbing, and publishing.

An offer to fellow #pitchwars writers

I’m great with copyediting and formatting. If you are a 2019 #pitchwars hopeful who is writing #Romance, #YA, #MG, or #ChildrensLiterature, and you need help getting your manuscript ready for submission, I’m your girl. DM me on Twitter (@NielsKeira). I’ll help if I can.

But please be patient and give me a few days of lead time. I’m juggling 20 clients with Sep/Oct submission deadlines.

A bit about my novel

Yay, the fun stuff! My novel, GIRL FRIDAY, is a small-town contemporary romance. One of my friends described it as a cozy beach read.

Thea, who hates conflict, is ordered by her older sister to evict a con man from her grandmother’s home. Returning to her small town, she finds Nana and the couch-surfer plotting something she can’t unravel.

Jace needs money. A lot of it. He’s returned to San Juan to shut down his family estate so he can buy back what is rightfully his. His plans go awry as soon as he sets foot on the small island, and he’s drawn into schemes that aren’t of his own making.

The novel is set in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, which is just south of the Desolation Sound, where my family and I lived for 7 years. It is a beautiful and magical place.

We moved to one of the smaller islands when my daughter was 5 weeks old and my son was just a toddler.

Now we live in the city, because my kids are teens and they need peers more than sand dollars, seashells, and driftwood, but the island was an incredible place to raise little ones.

We come back every summer. Just last night, we were down at the lagoon at the dark water’s edge, wading into the bioluminescence, the sea’s version of the Northern Lights.

Sometimes it glows in trails of blue light. Last night it flickered and flashed like little blue sparkles of magical fairy dust. It’s one of my most favorite things in the world.

If you have ever questioned that magic exists, go to the sea on a dark, still summer night, somewhere far from city lights, and you’ll doubt no longer.

Pictures don’t do it justice. It is breathtakingly stunning. It will rob you of your breath and steal away your thoughts.

A bit about me

I’m an academic editor. I’ve run my own business for 12 years, and I’ve helped over 800 authors publish their work.

I love my job. I get to read for a living, although I don’t choose what I read. I edit in the fields of medicine, psychology, education, business, leadership, conflict resolution, and justice & criminology.

The most memorable report I edited was written by a hostage negotiator who wanted to share his lived experiences with high school principals to de-escalate violence in American schools. It was a heart-breaking report. When hostage negotiators have a bad day, people die. I cried a lot when I edited that dissertation.

I’ve also edited uplifting works for famous non-fiction authors and inspiring feminist leaders. I haven’t requested permission to mention their names, so they shall remain anonymous.

All of the authors I’ve worked with are amazing people. I’m so lucky to have crossed paths with them.


I’m new to Twitter and the online writing community. My novel is a contemporary small-town romance. I would really love to have a mentor help me see what I just can’t see and learn all the things I don’t know.

I’m a details girl. If you are submitting to #pitchwars in 2019 and your novel is #Romance, #YA, #MG, or #ChildrensLiterature, I’d love to be your critique partner and help with the technical parts like where to put a comma and how to format your doc for upload. DM me on Twitter (@NielsKeira). If you do reach out, please be patient with me. My workload is high at the moment.

Oh, and I’m excited and nervous. Did I mention that?

So empowering!

This week I helped my daughter self-publish an adventure book. It was far easier than I thought.

It also helped me get over the awful sting of my first rejection letter.

I’ve been going about this the wrong way. I’ve got to make this more fun, for me and for my readers.

And thanks to my daughter, I have a plan.

Photo by Elvis Ma on Unsplash


The pitching process hurts. I’ve written two novels — one needs a bit more polishing before it’s ready for pitching to agents and publishers.

A few days ago, I got excited and pitched the second novel to my favourite agent. She’d done a Reedsy webinar in February, and I really liked her. A day later I got a form-letter rejection.

Another author said it’s a blessing to get a fast response. I felt about as blessed as a bug on a windshield.

It took me a few days to recover, which probably sounds ridiculous. I posted on an authors’ forum asking for tips on handling the rejection, and one author responded saying that it’s a rite of passage — the path to publishing is littered with rejection letters.

That helped.

I’ve started on the path. Let’s see how long I have to walk it before I get where I want to be.

It has begun

Over the winter break, I began writing my first novel. I decided to write a Romantic Suspense story because that’s a fairly big market segment, and I thought, when the time came, it was something I could pitch more easily than other genres.

The first draft came together quickly, in about 60 hours in a three-week period. Revising and editing has been ongoing since.

I submitted an incarnation of that first draft to an RWA writing competition at the end of Jan. Over the March break I heard back — I was shortlisted!

I still can’t believe it.

The second incarnation, heavily revised and edited, now sits with the judges, a publisher and an agent, who may request a partial or full manuscript. I’ll hear back on my birthday, in mid-May, which has turned me into a child, counting the days until my next birthday….

I’m waiting for my manuscript back from my editor (someone I hired directly to help me polish my work), and I’m also awaiting feedback from the writing competition judges. In the meantime, I write short stories to bide my time. I’ll post some to this website soon.

Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash