Thursday, January 19

Free Books: The Dilemma

By Jana Oliver, @crazyauthorgirl

Part of the Indie Authors Series

My blog post this month came from a chance encounter on Facebook, that source of profound conversations, and cat videos. The topic was indie authors giving away their books for free, or at a greatly reduced price, like 99 cents. The poster urged her fellow authors to hold the line, to not hand over one's work for little or nothing. She felt that by doing so we were devaluing our creativity, that we don’t think our books are worth the time, effort and tears we put into them. She further argued that top-selling authors don’t discount their books and readers still buy them. Some of the comments under the post agreed with that line in the sand, though those same posters admitted to using 99 cents or free promotions every now and then. The difference was whether the book was reduced for a longer period of time, or indefinitely.

Wednesday, January 18

The Triangle of Likability: How to Make Your Characters Come Alive

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Part of the Your Writing Questions Answered Series


Q: How can I make my characters come alive so much so that the reader will be ready to flip the page before they reach the end of that page?

A: You’d think creating a compelling character was the goal every time we created a character, but often we only do enough work to create someone who can carry out our plot. We want to explore the idea we have, and their personality and history gets made up to support that idea. This isn’t necessarily bad, and some great characters have been born from such a process, but it’s easy to create an actor for the stage, not a person readers will care about.

Tuesday, January 17

How Busy Full-Time Working Writers can Find Time to Write

By Drae Box, @Draebox

Part of the How They Do It Series


JH: I don't think I've ever met a writer who didn't want to find more time to write, so please help me welcome Drae Box to the lecture hall today to share some tips on how to do just that.

Drae Box is an author success mentor and fantasy author whose debut fantasy book reached 10,038 downloads and purchases in eight months and eleven days after its release. For a decade, she has picked apart, researched and experimented with different ways authors can build their success, and she would love to share her knowledge with you. Head here for the free worksheets to help you find more time to write, including a worksheet for The Reverse Why.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goggle+ | Goodreads

Take it away Drae...

Monday, January 16

How to Find Your Character's Voice

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Part of the Your Writing Questions Answered Series


Q: I struggle with internalization in first person POV. I've read your internalization 101 post. Maybe it's that I don't know my character well enough to get a feel for how she would describe what she sees, feels, hears etc. I don't feel like I'm quite there with her voice and I think big part of it comes down to her thoughts (or lack thereof).

A: I’m going to answer this question in two parts (my answer on voice got quite long). Today I'll talk about developing a character's voice, and next week, I’ll look specifically at writing first person internalization and how it differs from third person.

Sunday, January 15

Writing Prompt: The Challenge: A Different Perspective

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt challenges you to write something outside of your comfort zone. It’s designed to push your creative boundaries and stretch those artistic wings.

This week’s challenge:

Take an existing scene from your novel and rewrite it using another character in the scene as the protagonist and point of view.


The goal here is to consider how the scene might change with someone else driving it. How might the goal change? The stakes? The voice? If nothing at all changes but the names, that’s a red flag that your characters aren’t fully realized yet, and nothing they’re doing is personal or unique to them. Even if the goal stays the same, how that new POV character approaches that goal should be different.

Saturday, January 14

Real Life Diagnostics: Are the Stakes Clear in This Opening?

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 I 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: Three 


Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through February 4.

This week’s question:

Are the stakes clear in this opening?


Market/Genre: YA Contemporary

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, January 13

Planting the Clues and Hints in Your Story


By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s Refresher Friday takes an updated look at blazing the trail of clues in our novels. Enjoy!

We’ve all read stories where clues were so seamlessly dropped in along the way that until the big secret was revealed, we never even realized they were there. But when we finally did, all the pieces of the story fell into place and we were awed by the skill in which that trail had been created. Those writers made it look easy, as if they knew from page one what clue went where and how it would all come together in the end.

I’m sure there are writers out that who really do write that way, but for many of us, those clues are either planned ahead of time, inserted after the fact, or happy accidents. Sometimes (heck, probably most times), a combination of all three.

Thursday, January 12

Creating a Print Book Box Set

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy

Part of the Indie Author Series


The last two months we’ve looked at why we might want to create a box set of our books and how to create a single-author ebook box set. This month I wanted to look at one of the most challenging questions for indie authors when it comes to box sets: Is there a way to create a print book box set for our books?

The short answer is yes. Whether or not we’ll feel the options are workable for us, though, requires examining them carefully.

Wednesday, January 11

Choosing What to Put in Your Outline (and Your Plot)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Part of the Your Writing Questions Answered Series


Q: This feels like a silly question, but I struggle with the...deciding part of outlining? I'm overwhelmed with infinite possibilities, yet each one I come up with doesn't fit what I already have.

For example, I've been trying to come up with a major clue that this character can discover to move him close to solving a mystery, and I'm trying to come up with one that isn't so obvious that it reveals the culprit in the middle of the story, but also fits how the murder actually took place. So maybe I need to add some complexity to this murder so there are more interesting layers to go through. However, if I do that, then I need to rethink or get rid of even more plot elements related to my original version of the murder, or I need to find a way to give the murder more complexity without changing the already existing elements.

It seems like every other writer manages to work through this stuff naturally, but I always end up beating my head against a wall.


Tuesday, January 10

The Actual Timeline of a Book and Why It Matters

By Scott Reintgen, @Scott_Thought

Part of the How They Do It Series


Vampires. Are. So. Hot. Right. Now.

… is what everyone said back when Twilight came rocking into the literary world in 2005. And vampires were hot. In the literary and physical sense. Stephanie Meyer’s success, along with many other authors, attested to just how important timing can be in the world of books. It’s very likely that thousands of authors followed on Stephanie Meyer’s heels, only to find the vampire door closing in slow-motion as they ran towards it.

Traditional publishing isn’t winning the 100-meter dash. It is not Usain Bolt. Frankly, it’s not trying to be. So it’s good to know what’s in store if that’s the direction your heading. Here—from start to finish—is the timeline for the book that got me my first publishing deal: