Tuesday, April 21

Believe in Your Writing

By Season Robbins

Part of the How They Do It Series

Writing can be a challenging profession, and a lot of work goes into it with no guarantee that we'll be successful. Even when we do get a win, it can be short lived. To keep us sane and motivated, it's important to believe in ourselves and our writing. Please help me welcome Season Robbins to the podium today to share some encouraging thoughts about having faith in what we do.

Season writes middle grade and young adult novels, and is at the stage where she's just about ready to query. To combat the her submission nerves, she started writing notes of inspiration, then thought, "Hey, these might help someone else as well!" She blogs her encouragement at The Loving Writer.

Take it away Season...

Monday, April 20

Starting in May: Sunday Writing Prompts

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Starting May 3rd, Sundays will be all about a fun writing prompt. Each week I’ll toss up a writing starter to get the creative juices flowing and spark some ideas. The prompts will take one of several forms:

1. The Free Write

These prompts will focus on running with a general idea, with no goal in mind aside from writing whatever inspires us.

Friday, April 17

Make the Most of Accidental Foreshadowing

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s Refresher Friday is a heavily updated look at using what we inadvertently foreshadow in our novels. 

The beauty of writing is that the unexpected happens. A random comment because the key clue to the main plot, a walk on character turns out to the star, or a relationship develops between people or events we never anticipated.

This can be good or bad, but it can also be quite useful. These accidental foreshadows are often exactly what we need to shake up a plot or add depth to an existing storyline.

Thursday, April 16

Creating an Author Business Plan: How Will the Business Run?

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy 

Part of the Indie Author Series

In our ongoing quest to write up an author business plan that will guide us in the years to come, we’ve already talked about setting our goals, choosing our stories, and identifying our audience. I think of that as the fun stuff because it feels like it’s closely related to the actual writing of our books.

But now we need to dive into the business part of our Author Business Plan Summary. You knew it was coming eventually, right? Writing this part of our author business plan might not seem as exciting or creative, but it’s essential. We can’t have long-term success unless we’re smart about our money and the operation of our business.

Wednesday, April 15

Description Tip: Making “Sense” of Your Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I’ll be honest—description is my least favorite thing to write. I always have to do a revision pass specifically to add more description, and I have critique partners whose job it is to whack me with the description stick when I slack off. Because of this, I’ve created little games to make it more fun for me.

If you have a similar distaste (or you’re just looking for fun tips to help with description), try this:

Tuesday, April 14

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Writing

By Matt Myklusch, @mattmyk

Part of the How They Do It Series

Ask any writer why they write and you'll likely get a different, yet oddly similar, answer. We all have personal reasons, but at the core, there's a need to write we can't always explain. Author Matt Myklusch visits the lecture hall today to share some thoughts on just why we write—and why we can't stop writing.

Matt Myklusch is a middle-grade fantasy / adventure writer and the creator of SEABORNE (Egmont USA) and THE JACK BLANK ADVENTURES (Simon & Schuster). By day, Matt is a mild-mannered strategist for a digital marketing agency, but at night—and very early in the morning—he battles injustice in the form of pirates, super-villains, and robot zombies. Matt also worked at MTV Networks for nearly ten years. During that time, he was involved in booking and producing celebrity interviews, helping launch mtvU (MTV's 24-hour college network), and managing Spring Break events in Panama City Beach, Cancun, and Acapulco. Matt lives in New Jersey with his wife and family, where he is always hard at work on his next book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

Take it away Matt...

Monday, April 13

Should You Have an Alpha Reader?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I have a good friend who reads my work during the first draft process (hi Ann!). She’s my alpha reader, giving me thoughts on rough novels I dump right from my head onto the page. Bad pages. Messy pages. Pages that don’t always make sense. It's a tough job, but she’s worth her weight in gold for the invaluable feedback she provides me.

The merits of beta readers (people who read and offer feedback on a writers’ manuscript) are widely known, but having someone you trust read brand new pages can be equally valuable.

(Here’s more on beta readers)

Friday, April 10

Cover Me, I'm Going Back: Tips on Writing Flashbacks

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at writing flashbacks, and how you can make them work in your novel.

We spend a lot of time building the histories of our characters, so it's no wonder we want to get some of that into the story. A flashback can be a useful way to convey information and add depth to both plot and character, but it can also stop a story cold if done poorly. By definition, flashbacks interrupt the story to convey information from another time.

Like so many things in writing, there's nothing wrong with flashbacks if they're done well and are necessary for the story. When the protagonist's past has bearing on the current plot, it might be an opportunity to stop and show what happened in that past. If the information is shoved in there to explain something for the readers, it might be the type of flashback to reconsider.

Thursday, April 9

Indie Authors as Global Enterprises

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series

I listened to an excellent interview between Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn blog, and Mark McGuinness, poet and non-fiction author. The entire post about How to Make a Living as an Author is worth a read. There are lots of eye-opening nuggets in there.

Mark McGuinness encourages authors to, “stop thinking like needy artists or freelancers living hand to mouth, and start thinking and acting like creative entrepreneurs.” And Joanna Penn points out that, “...it’s a viable business now, to be an author.” Think of it this way: If you publish your work on all of the available platforms, you are now a global enterprise.

Wednesday, April 8

Mirroring: An Easy Way to Deepen Your Novel

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Copying the actions of someone is an instinctual behavioral trick to get someone to consider you favorably. They smile, you smile, they take a sip of a drink, you take a sip--con men and pick up artists have been using it for ages, and a similar technique can help readers feel a stronger connection to our novels.


The most common mirror is how the ending often mirrors the beginning, showing how the protagonist's life has changed and why she's better off (or worse if that's the type of story it is). If she starts the story alone and watching Friends on TV, by the end of the tale she's out living her life in a Friends-type style. If the novel opens with her making a huge mistake, it ends with her catching someone else before they make that mistake. However she's grown, that growth is reflected in the "mirror" that is the ending.