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Friday, November 22

Teens, Dark Chocolate, and Surviving Writer Limbo

By Veronica Mixon, @WriteVMixon

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Publishing is full of waiting, and waiting for an agent or publishing to get back to you is stressful for any writer. Veronica Mixon visits the lecture hall today to share tips on surviving this writer's limbo.

Veronica began storytelling at a young age, somewhere around three, when a host of imaginary friends lived in her bedroom closet and encouraged her penchant for spinning tales. A career in marketing, twenty years of world travel, and a large and boisterous southern family supply her with ample material for the mysteries she loves to write. She lives on the Georgia coast with her husband and her nine-year-old Standard Poodle, Jasper.

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Take it away Veronica…

Thursday, November 21

Prepare for Public Speaking Like a Pro

By Chrys Fey, @ChrysFey

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Speaking in public is a nightmare for many people, but it's something authors need to be able to do. Today, Chrys Fey takes the podium today with tips on how to speak in pubic.

Chrys Fey is the author of the award-winning book Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips.

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Take it away Chrys…

Wednesday, November 20

The Problem With "Revealing" Information That's Already in the Cover Copy

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A novel's beginning is under a lot of pressure to hook readers and pull them into the story. But what happens when that hook is something we reveal on the back cover?

Opening scenes are hard enough to write already, but there's something writers need to be wary about, particularly if they indie publish.

An opening scene that "reveals" information stated in the cover copy as if it's a big secret.

For example, let's say your novel is about a town that's been hit by toxic nerve gas that's killed everyone under the age of twenty. Now the characters have to deal with this problem and the repercussions of it. Your cover copy might say something like...
When a tragic accident poisons a small town a kills everyone under the age of twenty, local doctor Jessica Halloway must find the cause before more fall ill and die. But as she searches for the cure, she uncovers a far more deadly source.
Every single person who reads this cover copy is going to know before they open the book what the problem is. 

Tuesday, November 19

How to Write a Real Page-Turner, Part 5

By Laurisa White Reyes, @lwreyes

Part of the How They Do It Series 

JH: Laurisa White Reyes wraps up her How to Write a Page-Turner series today a sure-fire page-turner technique to keep readers hooked in your story

Laurisa White Reyes is the Senior Editor of Skyrocket Press & Author Services. She has published sixteen books, including 8 Secrets to Successful Self-Publishing and the SCBWI Spark Award winner The Storytellers. Laurisa also provides personal coaching for writers. To connect with her, visit Skyrocket Press.

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Take it away Laurisa...

Monday, November 18

How to Make an Unhappy Character "Likable"

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy 

Novels don't always have a happy hero at the core--but that doesn't make the character any less "likable."

It's ironic that there are so many terms in writing that aren't clear exactly what they mean, or have multiple definitions or uses. "Likable" is one such term.

All the advice says we want a likable protagonist readers can root for, someone they'll want to hang out with for four hundred pages, and someone readers will connect with.

But likable isn't really the issue, and the word can be problematic.

Back in 2013, I received a question from a writer struggling to make her depressed character "likable." She also suffered from depression , and feared readers living in the head of a depressed character wasn't something "emotionally healthy folks are going to want to spend time with." I answered her question best I could.

Friday, November 15

When It All Goes Horribly Wrong, Turn to Odyssey Online

By Dianna Sanchez, @diannabooks

Part of The Writer's Life Series

JH: Writing is often hard to learn on your own, and luckily, there are classes and workshops galore to help up improve. Dianna Sanchez visits the lecture hall today to share her experiences with Odyssey Online.

Dianna Sanchez is the not-so-secret identity of Jenise Aminoff, also known to her children as the Queen of Sarcasm. She has worked as a technical writer, electrical engineer, programmer, farmer, and preschool cooking teacher, among many other things. Her middle-grade fantasy series includes A Witch’s Kitchen (2016), A Pixie’s Promise (2018), and An Elf’s Equations (forthcoming in March 2020). A Latina geek originally from New Mexico, she now lives in the Boston area with her husband and two daughters. 

Take it away Dianna...

Thursday, November 14

Writers, Don't Get Discouraged: Have Stepping Stones, Not Setbacks

By Shanna Swendson, @ShannaSwendson

Part of The Writer’s Life Series 

JH: Writing is a tough business, and once in a while, it can really bring you down. Shanna Swendson visits the lecture hall today to share tips on dealing with discouragement as a writer. 

Shanna Swendson earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas but decided it was more fun to make up the people she wrote about and became a novelist. She’s written a number of fantasy novels for teens and adults, including the Enchanted, Inc. series and the Rebel Mechanics series. She devotes her spare time to reading, knitting, and music.

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Take it away Shanna…

Wednesday, November 13

Keeping Your Distance: How Narrative Distance Works in Your Novel

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The narrative distance in a novel has more impact on it than you might think. Especially when it comes to point of view.

Over the years, I've critiqued a lot of manuscripts, and a common area writers stumble over is narrative distance. They're not always sure what it is, how to use it, or how it affects their point of view.
Narrative distance is that feeling of closeness (or lack thereof) between the reader and the characters. It's what makes the point of view feel close or distant.

There's no "right" narrative distance. It's up to the writer to decide where they want the reader to be, but it's easy to fall into a "limbo narrative" where it isn't clear where--or even who--the narrator is. When this happens, we often slip into telling or too much filtering and readers feel disconnected from the characters and the story.

Tuesday, November 12

3 Secrets to Writing Vivid Settings

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Settings are an often overlooked aspect of a novel, yet they're opportunities to bring your story's world to life. Laurence MacNaughton returns to share three secrets for creating settings readers will get lost in. 

There are three elements that make up every story: people, problems, and places. To form a good story, those elements need to be in balance, because each one affects the others. That's why you need to put as much effort into the places in your story—your setting—as you do for your characters and your plot.

Here are the three best ways to make that effort pay off, so that your setting comes alive.

Monday, November 11

The Joy of Discovery: Keeping Readers Hooked Through Story Revelations

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The need to know is what keeps readers interested in your novel. Don't let them down.

My husband and I watch a lot of movies, and we often discuss them over a meal afterward. Years ago, we were deciding if we wanted to see Men in Black 3. We both loved the original, felt the sequel was meh, and had read not-great reviews about the third (we did end up seeing it).

Then my husband said something profound (as he often does) that really related to writing and keeping readers hooked in a novel.

"The first movie had the joy of discovery in it that was missing from the second."

Which totally nails why a book, especially in a series, can fall flat.

One of the ways readers stay interested in a story is by learning new things about the world and characters. The discovery of who they are, what they can do, and how everything works, can be very compelling.