Friday, April 24

Deciding What to Put in Your Query Letter

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s Refresher Friday takes an updated look at how to choose what goes into your query letter.

The query letter is a valuable tool for writers, no matter what publishing path they choose to take. It’s needed to submit to agents and editors, and can be a solid foundation for creating cover copy for those planning to self publish. It’s even a handy letter to write before you write the novel, to make sure you have the right pieces in place.

Thursday, April 23

On Crowdfunding and Patronage

By Dario Ciriello

Part of the Indie Authors Series


A couple of months ago I received an email from an indie author asking if I’d help sponsor him and his writing career. I was taken aback: I barely know this fellow, and though his writing is good it’s not my cup of tea; nor has he produced a great deal of it. On the other hand, his life circumstances—through no fault of his own—are so difficult that it’s impossible not to feel for him.

This writer, like many other artists and creators, had signed up with a new service called Patreon. A crowdfunding site using the same basic model as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Patreon’s mission is to facilitate ongoing support rather than one-time startup funding for creative individuals.

Wednesday, April 22

Beware the Vague Goal When Outlining a Scene

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Vague goals are nobody’s friend. They creep into our scenes, make us think our structures (and stories) are solid, but they’re really undermining those stories, especially in the drafting stage.

“Stop the bad guy” tells us noting about what will actually transpire in a scene. Neither does “Protect the witness.” Then there’s the king of the vague goals—“Survive the threat.” As Kristin Lamb hysterically puts it, her goal every day is to not die, so why is that anything special when our protagonists do it?

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)