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Friday, September 21

5 Things Re-Editing Your Older Work Can Teach You

By Joanna Campbell Slan, @joannaslan

Part of the Writer's Life Series

JH: As the saying goes, "No writing is ever wasted." That's especially true when we learn from our past work and improve with every book. Please help me welcome Joanna Campbell Slan to the lecture hall today, with reasons how re-editing our older work can benefit us.

Joanna Campbell Slan is the national and Amazon bestselling author of nearly 40 books. She’s been shortlisted for the Agatha Award and won the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. Joanna has taught writing on the college level and to corporate executives. Learn more about her work at

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Take it away Joanna...

Thursday, September 20

Author Advertising: Stacking Ads to Maximize Promotional Dollars

By John G. Hartness, @johnhartness

Part of the Indie Author Series

This is kind of a complex topic, and if you haven’t read Marcy Kennedy’s articles on ads here on Fiction University, I suggest you at least familiarize yourself with them now. Her excellent article on the basics of advertising will give you a basis for understanding what I’m talking about here.

There are a million book promo sites, and they range from the very inexpensive to the downright wallet-busting, and range in efficacy from negligible to chart-topping. Today we’ll talk about how to maximize the bang for your buck(s) and stack promos to make sure your book hits as many eyeballs as possible and hopefully insure you see a positive return on your investment. As always, here’s a caveat – your mileage may vary, and no results are guaranteed.

Why Writing for Younger Readers is the Best. Job. Ever.

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

Writing for teens and tweens has benefits no other market can offer.

Although my writing career has expanded to other genres and markets since I published my first novel (a middle grade fantasy), writing for teens and tweens is where my heart lies. I love writing nonfiction and stories for adults as well, but connecting with young readers is rewarding on a different level.

I’ve known a lot of writers who have considered writing for teens and tweens, and if you’re thinking about it now, I encourage you to do so. Writing for a younger audience takes the job (and fun) to a whole new level.

And maybe I’m biased, but kidlit authors have the best fans (grin). We also get the best fan letters.

Wednesday, September 19

4 Ways to Keep Your Sentences From All Sounding the Same

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

A varied sentence structure can help keep your writing from sounding stale and flat.

After eight years of diagnosing pages here, and a few decades of critique experience, I’m quite familiar with issues writers face—from those just starting to write, to those on the brink of selling their novels, and even those with multiple published novels. Some aspects of writing are difficult for almost everyone, and each stage of the author’s journey has its own set of challenges.

One of those challenges is writing sentences that don’t all sound the same.

Tuesday, September 18

Tips for Managing Writing and Chronic Illness

By Alyssa Hollingsworth, @alyssa__holly

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Being a writer can be tough under the best of circumstances, but it's even more difficult when you're dealing with an illness you can't simply ignore. Please help me welcome Alyssa Hollingsworth to the lecture hall today, to share tips and advice on writing while managing a chronic illness.

Alyssa was born in small-town Milton, Florida, but life as a roving military kid soon mellowed her (unintelligibly strong) Southern accent. Wanderlust is in her blood, and she's always waiting for the wind to change. Stories remain her constant.

She got her BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Berry College and my MA with honors in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. She’ll happily talk your ear off about either of these programs — they both rocked!

The Eleventh Trade is her debut novel with Roaring Brook/Macmillan (U.S.) and Piccadilly Press (U.K.), as well as a handful of other foreign publishers. This will be followed by a separate book in Fall 2019.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Take it away Alyssa...

Monday, September 17

Formatting Dialogue in Fiction: He Said, She Said

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Dialogue is more than just writing down what your characters say--it's also using the correct punctuation and structure so readers understand who's speaking and how. 

I once had a debate with someone over the proper structure of a dialogue tag. She felt that you should always write "said Bob," because you wouldn't say "Ran Bob up a hill." I felt it could go either way. "Get thee to a nunnery" sound fine, right?

So, which is correct: "Bob said," or "said Bob?"

I checked with my linguist expert, and she says there's nothing grammatically wrong with "Bob said." Which verb-noun pairs you use determines how odd it sounds to you.

Sunday, September 16

Writing Prompt: The Photo Prompt: Into the Woods?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a photo prompt. Write whatever comes to mind, be it a description, a story, or even a poem.

Write something inspired by this photo. 

Saturday, September 15

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Opening Bore or Interest You to Read More?

Critique By Maria D'Marco

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: Zero

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

This week’s question:

1. Does this opening bore or interest you to read more?

Market/Genre: Women's Fiction

This is a resubmit. If you're curious to see how the author revised, here's the previous version.

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, September 14

Christopher Robin Says No to Adulting: Personification and a Silly 'Ol Bear

By Natalie Odisho

Let’s Get Lit: Spotlight on Allegory

Why the new adventure of Christopher Robin brings life in and out of the Hundred Acre Wood. 

Did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh started as one adult’s solution to sleepless nights? Christopher Robin was named after English author A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin Milne, who needed bedtime stories to fall asleep.What originally began as a childhood story has grown to become a pastime for the world to enjoy. Today, Winnie-the-Pooh is one of the most successful, celebrated children’s stories in history.

Now a major motion picture, Christopher Robin retells a childhood classic through the eyes of an adult. As storytellers, A.A. Milne and Disney sprinkle the magic of childhood through personified stuffed animals with language, clothing and temperament.

Wednesday, September 12

Are You Making This Character Flaw Mistake?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

“Give your characters flaws” is one of the more common pieces of writing advice out there. It’s good advice, as flaws make characters more human and relatable, and the fatal flaw is a critical part of any character arc, but many writers make an easy mistake when creating them.

They think flaws have to be negative traits.

In many stories, the flaw is a negative trait that must be overcome, but it’s not always the case. And when it isn’t, the belief that all flaws are “bad” can cause a lot of frustration for a writer trying to find a plausible reason why the protagonist has a negative flaw that fits the plot, story, and character arc.

A good example here is the flaw in my current WIP—my protagonist cares about people too much.

Wait…what? Did you say she cares? How could that possibly be a flaw?