Sunday, May 1

Writing Prompt: The Chain Story: Not Again

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.

As she opened her eyes, she thought, this is happening entirely too often.

Let the fun begin.

Saturday, April 30

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Paranormal Romance Opening Grab You?

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: Four

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through May 28.

This week’s questions:

1. Does this opening grab your attention?

2. Is the small flashback confusing? I've always heard that you shouldn't start with a flashback, but does that apply to something as short as this? I could summarize his memory, but I'd rather show than tell. There are several of these snippets of memory in the first chapter that culminates with an emotional outburst from Trygg.

3. Is the voice engaging?

Market/Genre: Paranormal Romance

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, April 29

Marky Marketing: Promoting Your Book

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at marketing and some things we can do to promote ourselves and our books. Many asked about marketing recently, so this is a primer for things I'll talk about next week. Enjoy!

When I sold my first novel back in 2008, I knew I’d have to do some marketing to help promote it, but like many debut authors, I had no clue what I’d need to do. A website certainly, probably a blog, some kind of social network like Facebook or MySpace (yes, MySpace). Beyond that? I had no idea.

Jump ahead eight years, and authors doing their own promotion is expected, if not required. It's even more critical for indie published authors or those with smaller presses. The publishing business had changed and what worked a few years ago is less effective, or even a waste of time now. Even more annoying--what works changes almost on a monthly basis, for as soon as a good idea appears, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to copy it.

Here are a few basic things every writer needs:

Thursday, April 28

Calm Out of Chaos: Organizing Your Hard Drive, or, How to Save What's Left of Your Hair

By Angela Quarles, @AngelaQuarles

Part of the Indie Author Series

Woohoo, talk about a sexy hot topic! Welcome to my next post in my Organized Writer Series. I daresay this isn't a topic everyone's been dying to read, but I will say that making the effort here, especially early on in your writing career, can prevent hair pulling and frustration later. Especially when we're in a hurry, because of course it's when someone asks for something at the last minute, and you're pressed for time, is when you can't find X on your hard drive! (Or which thumb drive you'd saved the thing on, or hunting through your emails to find the file that your cover artist sent you)

Wednesday, April 27

Getting Your Novel to the Finish Line (Part One: Getting Past Getting Stuck)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I’ve spoken with a lot of writers over the years, and “actually finishing a novel” is high on the list of problems they run into. Although there are many specific reasons for it, I’ve noticed they often fall into two general camps: the story stalls, or the writer gets distracted.

For new writers, it’s frequently a matter of skill level. They just don’t yet know the things they need to move forward, and once they learn that skill, they’ll be okay.

Tuesday, April 26

Battling The Block

By Bonnie Randall 

Part of the How They Do It Series (Monthly Contributor)

“If you’re feeling stuck, don’t stop. Write anything.”—Mark David Gerson

I never thought Writer’s Block would consume me. It’s not that I believe I’m above it, nor do I doubt it exists, I’ve just always had the opposite problem: too much to say and not enough time to say it. So to be beaten by The Block….?

It’s weird.


Friday, April 22

Finding Time to Write

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

On Wednesday, I talked about balancing work and writing. I’d like to follow that up with some specifics about how to find the time to make writing a priority.

We often have more time in our days than we think, but a lot of our free time gets lost without us seeing it slip away. The most productive people I’ve ever met in my life have also been those with the busiest schedules—not in a “they do more each day” way, but they have a lot to do so they schedule and plan for it, and make better use of the time they have.

Thursday, April 21

Creating Promotional Copy That Works: Book Descriptions

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy

Part of the Indie Author Series

Last month I started a new series on creating promotional materials for our books with a look at tag lines.

A tag line is a teaser or a catch phrase meant to capture the emotional tone of the book, hint at the genre, and hook the reader. They don’t tell the story. They don’t name the main character. They are bait.

This month we’re going to look at book descriptions. These are what we’ll upload to our book page at all the major retailers and put on the back cover of our print versions. Once our tag line captures them, our book description needs to convince them to buy.

Wednesday, April 20

Balancing Writing and Working Without Losing Your Mind

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Writing is one of those things we can do at home in our spare time, so it’s a flexible pursuit that fits into our schedules. Unfortunately, it’s also a pursuit that takes a lot of time and energy to do, so it’s common that the little time we have to spare is the time when we least feel like writing.

The key to balancing work and writing is easy. Make writing a priority and then actually write.

It’s the implementation that’s hard.

Tuesday, April 19

Bringing Your Characters to Life

By Joyce Scarbrough, @JoyceScarbrough

Part of the How They Do It Series

Characters bring a novel to life, so it's only fair we do the same for them when we write those novels. To help us with that, Joyce Scarbrough visits the lecture hall today to talk about characterization.

The valedictorian of her high school graduating class, Joyce is a Southern woman weary of seeing herself and her peers portrayed in books and movies as either post-antebellum debutantes or barefoot hillbillies รก la Daisy Duke, so all her heroines are smart, unpretentious women who refuse to be anyone but themselves. Joyce writes both adult and YA fiction and has five published novels as well as several short stories available as Kindle downloads. She’s lived all her life in beautiful LA (lower Alabama), she’s the mother of three gifted children and a blind Pomeranian named Tilly, and she’s been married for 33 years to the love of her life—a superhero who disguises himself during the day as a high school math teacher and coach.

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Take it away Joyce...