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Saturday, August 24

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Women’s Fiction Opening Work?

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines. 

Submissions currently in the queue: None

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are open.

This week’s question:

Does this opening work?

Market/Genre: Women's Fiction

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, August 23

10 Tips on Collaborative Writing Success: Are Two Heads Better Than One?

By Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor, @msheatherwebb, @HazelGaynor

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Ever wanted to write with another author, but weren’t sure how to start? Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor visit the lecture hall today to share their top ten tips on being a successful writing team.

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of seven historical novels including The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter which is longlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award. She was the recipient of the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award for The Girl Who Came Home, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Irish Book Awards with The Girl from The Savoy. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and children.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram 
Heather Webb is the internationally bestselling and award-winning author of six historical novels set in France, including Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the upcoming Ribbons of Scarlet, Oct 2019 Heather lives in New England with her children and husband. 

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |

Hazel and Heather’s first co-written novel, Last Christmas in Paris, won the WFWA 2018 STAR Award, and Meet Me in Monaco is a finalist in the 2019 Digital Book World Awards for Best Book (Fiction). Their third co-written novel will be published in 2021.

Take it away Hazel and Heather…

Thursday, August 22

How I Stay Grounded: 7 Realities of Traditional Publishing

By Susan Dennard, @stdennard

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: There’s a veil of mystery surrounding publishing, which can make it hard for new authors (and soon to be authors) to know how their careers are doing. Susan Dennard visits the lecture hall today to offer a candid and close look at the realities of traditional publishing. And definitely check out her article links for more eye-opening reveals.

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series, and she also hosts the popular newsletter for writers, the Misfits & Daydreamers. When not writing, she can be found slaying darkspawn (on her PS4) or earning bruises at the dojo.

She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter

Take it away Susan…

Wednesday, August 21

How to Write Scenes (and What Qualifies as a Scene)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Scenes are the building blocks of fiction, but many writers struggle with what they actually are, and how to write one.

For something so fundamental to writing a novel as the scene, scenes are a frequent source of frustration for many writers. Even when you generally know what a scene is, fully understanding how to write it can be confusing.

Common questions abound:
  • What exactly is a scene?
  • What does a scene need to have?
  • How long is a scene?
  • Are scenes and chapters the same thing?
Let’s look at what a scene is and how it fits into the larger novel:

Tuesday, August 20

Circle Your Writing with Bookends: #amwriting with Chris Eboch

By Chris Eboch

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: The opening and closing scenes of a novel have powerful storytelling potential. Chris Eboch returns to the lecture hall today to share some thoughts on tips on bookending your novel.

Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books include Advanced Plotting and You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and TeenagersLearn more at her website (see her For Writers page for critique rates), or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog

Chris also writes novels of suspense and romance for adults under the name Kris Bock. Read excerpts at or visit her Amazon page

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Newsletter

Take it away Chris…

Monday, August 19

How Writing a Novel Is Like a Romance

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A writer’s love affair with the story is often a bumpy road—but worth the trip.

A good novel is a well-blended mix of questions and reveals, tease and reward, love and hate—especially during a first draft. If we’re lucky, that first spark results in a long and rewarding relationship, but we shouldn’t mourn if it fizzles out. Not all pairings are meant to be.

When a story works, it’s magical. It makes us feel invincible and capable of moving readers with our words and imagination.

When it doesn’t, it can crush our souls and leave us unwilling to ever try again.

But no matter how many times our storyteller’s heart is broken, we keep going back, because we believe in the power of story. We know that all it takes is the right story and the right time and all our dreams can come true.

Sunday, August 18

Sunday Writing Tip: Examine Your Protagonist’s Motivations

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, make sure your protagonist has strong, clear, and plausible motivations for acting in the novel.

A common early draft issue is a protagonist who has no real reason to do the thing they’re supposed to do in the story. They act out plot because the story needs then to do it, not because something real is driving them.

Examine the motives and reasons why your characters are acting in your novel. Make sure they have believable reason to want to solve the problems they face, both for the main core conflict, as well as the smaller conflicts they face on a scene by scene basis.

Friday, August 16

4 Ways Publisher Rocket Helps Indie Authors Thrive on Amazon

By Dave Chesson, @DaveChesson

Part of The Indie Authors Series

JH: Traveling the publishing path alone requires indie authors to wear a lot of hats and do a lot of tasks. One of the more daunting tasks is marketing. Dave Chesson visits the lecture hall today to share some tips on making that easier. 

Dave Chesson is the founder of and creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps authors market their books more effectively.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Take it away Dave…

Thursday, August 15

How to Enjoy Craft Fair Season as an Author (and Sell More Books)

By Charity Bradford, @charitybradford

Part of The Indie Author Series

JH: Successful indie authors seek out and take advantage of additional sales venues and opportunities. Craft fairs are an often-overlook away to introduce you and your work to new readers. Charity Bradford returns to the lecture hall today to show us how she does it.

Charity Bradford has been a voracious reader ever since her 5th grade teacher introduced her to the world of books with Where the Red Fern Grows. She soon became kindred spirits with Anne Shirley and got lost in the worlds of Card, McCaffrey, Bradbury, and Nagata. By college, she was sewing her own Starfleet uniform and developing her alter-ego as a comic book sidekick. She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her hubby and four kids. Some of her guilty pleasures include binge watching Doctor Who and Ancient Aliens. Charity also writes clean contemporary romance under the name River Ford.

Website | Website (River Ford) Newsletter Sign-up | Charity on Facebook | River on Facebook |Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Take it away Charity…

Wednesday, August 14

Why Writers Should Want Nitpicky Critiquers

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Being nitpicky in a critique isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Aside from my critique partners, I also have a critique group I meet with twice a month. It’s just the three of us, all published, and all writing MG/YA fantasy. We’re a good match and it’s a solid and always helpful group.

We got together yesterday, and one of my friends said something (and not for the first time), that hit me a little differently than it usually does.

She said that she had a few things about my chapters that were just nitpicking, but she said it like she was apologizing for being picky.

I told her (as I always do), that I love nitpicks. Be nitpicky. Nits are where the gems comes from.