Monday, October 22, 2012

Special Guest Post: JOURNALISTS DON'T (USUALLY) MAKE STUFF UP by Journalist & Author Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sárka-Jonae Miller, Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller joins us today on her blog tour.  She is a prolific health and fitness writer who has published more than 4000 articles. She has just released her first novel - BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS- a fun coming-of-age story.  In the following article, she tells us how her career as a journalist expedited her transition to novelist. For more information on her blog tour and prizes, please see the link at the end of the post.

Journalists Don’t (Usually) Make Stuff Up
By Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sophie Kinsella, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Kitty Pilgrim, and Jojo Moyes are just some of the big names in women's fiction who made the transition from journalism to writing novels. Although in many ways these two writing disciplines are completely different (journalists do not make stuff up, unless they write for a tabloid), a background in journalism does help aspiring novelists in many ways. I majored in Magazine Journalism mainly so I could get a day job that allowed me to write. I wanted to have something to fall back on if my novel writing career never took off.  What I did not realize was that journalism is the perfect way to support yourself and hone your skills until you are ready to start your fiction writing career.

Many aspiring writers think they can slap together a novel in no time, send it out to publishers, and BAM have a huge advance, adoring fans and a dozen offers to turn their brilliant debut effort into a hit movie. The reality is that writing a novel takes time and significant effort. Writing for print publications or websites helps to pay the bills, improve your writing skills, strengthen your research skills, and connect with people who could help you later when your books get published.

The journalism program I went through strongly emphasized editing skills and correct grammar, which frankly many new writers need. When you write for online or print publications, you are expected to turn in articles that require very little to no editing. People who are not journalists, English teachers or editors are not held to as high of standards for their writing. When they sit down to write a novel, they may produce a great story with wonderful characterization that is also filled with typos and grammar errors. Literary agents and publishers do not have the time to edit manuscripts like they once did. When I sent Between Boyfriends out to literary agents, one of the positive responses I heard often was that my novel, compared to other manuscripts, was refreshingly low on mistakes. A background in journalism makes a huge difference in writing with fewer errors.

Writing articles is not that different from novels in some ways. You have to come up with a beginning that grabs the reader's attention. You have to tell a complete story. Articles have to be outlined, structured, and researched just like books. Instead of inserting helpful pieces of dialogue, you include interesting quotes from sources. This helped me while writing dialogue for BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS because I had a relatively easy time deciding when my characters should talk versus when to simply narrate.

Experience with magazine or online writing is particularly helpful for writing novels because you have more freedom to write with a colorful, conversational tone. Of course magazine writing is much more formal than creative writing, newspapers even more so. Your job as a journalist is to the story based on facts and research, not create the story that you want to tell as you do in fiction.

My journalism degree and the thousands of articles I have written have helped me to convince people to read my novel who otherwise may not have given me the time of day. There are many wonderful new writers out there, so many that most readers, reviewers and publishers are not willing to give them a chance unless something about them stands out. A successful writing career is still a successful writing career. Pair writing, editing and research skills with creativity and imagination and you have a great novelist.

Details on Blog Tour Giveaway

For details about Sárka-Jonae Miller's blog tour giveaway and how you can win an autographed copy of Janet Evanovich's novel Motor Mouth or a signed picture of American Idol star Lauren Alaina, check out her blog.

More on BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS, Sárka-Jonae Miller, and Links

Jan Weston is boy crazy, emphasis on crazy, but when "the one" breaks her heart she vows to change. Jan quits dating and takes a hard look at herself, discovering that she does not like the flawed, spoiled individual she sees in the mirror.

Her progress toward positive change is derailed when her mother discovers she dropped out of San Diego State University to attend massage therapy school. Furious at being lied to, Mrs. Weston cuts Jan off. Now Jan is without a guy, her American Express card, and a way to pay for school. She has to do something so despicable, so vile, so cruel, she almost cannot imagine it: Jan has to get a job.

But maybe that is exactly what she needs? Jan is forced to change how she treats people and to reconsider her values. Through a "comedy of errors" and with the support of her real friends (plus the hottie from massage school) Jan is able to survive, barely. But can she really change or is she just between boyfriends?

About Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sárka-Jonae is both a novelist and a health and fitness writer. She has more than 4,000 articles published online and in print. She is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Before writing full-time, Sárka-Jonae was a personal fitness trainer and massage therapist. In her free time, Sarka-Jonae likes to do flash mobs and find her way into music video shoots. She has appeared in the Michael Jackson videos "Hold My Hand" and "Hollywood Tonight." She also practices kung fu and yoga.
Sárka-Jonae is an avid traveler. She has visited Costa Rica, Canada, England, Mexico, and Paradise Island. She has also been to France and Thailand researching her next books.
She lives in San Diego with a menagerie, including two cats, two dogs and a horse.

Author website 


  1. Thanks so much, Joyce. I enjoyed writing this for your blog. I hope your readers find it interesting.
    If anyone wants to read my novel, I am offering free copies in exchange for reviews on a very limited basis. Write a review and post to Amazon before November 15 and enter to WIN an iPod Shuffle. Details on my blog (link above).

  2. It is always interesting to find out more about the author behind their work, and i apsolutely loved this post & your thoughts on chick-lit! As an aspiring writer and someone who is busy writing away on her computer, i admire all published authors who have worked hard to produce a fantastic result. x

    Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

  3. The more I read about the book the more I am looking forward to reading it.

  4. What a fascinating post. Intriguing to see where journalism and fiction writing separate and come back together.

    1. Thanks, Sheila. If you would like to see some of my other posts, please join the blog tour :) You could win a signed copy of Janet Evanovich's novel "Motor Mouth" (think Stephanie Plum meets NASCAR), or a signed picture of country music singer Lauren Alaina (also of American Idol). You just need to leave comments like that lovely ones above and below yours.

  5. this is fun just letting you know i was here

  6. Interesting blog post and the connection to article writing and creative writing - particularly the structure process. I loved the link between using interesting quotes in an article to using creative dialogue in a story.

    1. Thanks MissUSWolf :). I hope you check out some of the author guest posts on my blog tour. If you leave a comment on all the stops, you may win a SIGNED copy of Janet Evanovich's novel Motor Mouth or a signed picture of country music singer Lauren Alaina (also of American Idol).

  7. Joyce, thanks so much for hosting Ms. Miller's informative article. Michaelene

  8. I was here!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net