Sunday, April 23

Writing Prompt: The Chain Story: Pool Time

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a chain story! I’ll give you the first line, and someone else comments and builds off that line. Next commenter will build off that line, and so on.

In the event of two commenters posting at the same time and sending the story in different directions, just pick the line you like best, or try to incorporate both if you can.

They found him in the pool.

Let the fun begin.

Saturday, April 22

Real Life Diagnostics: Is This an Engaging Middle Grade Voice?

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: Nine 

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through June 24.

This week’s questions:

1. Is it compelling enough to read on?

2. Does it have a strong and engaging voice?

3. Is the setting and situation understandable (at least given that some details haven't been revealed yet)?

Market/Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, April 21

The Benefits of Reading Your Work Out Loud

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s Refresher Friday is a heavily updated look at the benefits of reading your work aloud. Enjoy!

Language is a funny thing. Our brains can handle combinations of words that our mouths can’t. We can run the most challenging tongue-twisters through our minds without a pause, but saying them out loud causes us to slur, stumble, and stall. Which is why reading a scene out loud is a great way to find clunky writing or a bumpy narrative flow.

We skim over words when we read silently, understanding the meanings even if we don’t read all the words (we’ve all seen those badly misspelled sentences that still make sense). That's why it's so easy to miss typos and invisible descriptive words—our brains fill in the blanks and cut out the chaff. But when we're forced to read a sentence out loud, we trip over any words causing problems.

Thursday, April 20

Stress and the Indie Author

By Jana Oliver, @crazyauthorgirl

Part of the Indie Authors Series

A couple months back I attended Coastal Magic in Daytona Beach, and besides having a great deal of fun, I was reminded that downtime is good. This should be obvious, but sometimes I forget. I suspect I’m not the only one.

In the weeks leading up to this convention I’d been slaving over my current book—the last in the Demon Trappers series so the reader expectations are off the chart—and preparing our house for sale in June. On top of all that we’re hoping to move to Europe this summer, which requires jumping through numerous immigration hoops plus clearing out nearly ALL of our earthly possessions. My stress meter has been redlining for some time.

Wednesday, April 19

Stuck on a Scene? Try This Trick

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Unless you’re very, very lucky, at some point in your writing you’re going to get stuck. You’ve written yourself into a corner, you can’t figure out how to get your protagonist where she needs to go, or maybe you just have no idea what the conflict is supposed to be. You sit at the keyboard and grow more and more frustrated by the minute.

It’s not writer’s block—you can write, but the novel has stalled and you don’t know what to do to get it moving again. You’re simply stuck because you’ve run out of writing options (or any good writing options).

Tuesday, April 18

Writers, is Everything Going According to Plan?

By Maggie Wells, @MaggieWells1

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: When a new year rolls around, most of us make plans and feel motivated--which of course wanes as the months unfold--but it doesn't have to. Please help me welcome Maggie Wells to the lecture hall today to share some tips on sticking with you plans.

Maggie Wells is a deep-down dirty girl with a weakness for hot heroes and happy endings. By day she is buried in spreadsheets, but at night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, this mild-mannered married lady has a naughty streak a mile wide.

Fueled by supertankers of Diet Coke, Maggie juggles fictional romance and the real deal by keeping her slow-talking Southern gentleman constantly amused and their two grown children mildly embarrassed.

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Take it away Maggie...