Thursday, June 23

Is KDP Select Right for You?

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy 

Part of the Indie Author Series

One of the choices we need to make when we publish our book is whether we’re going to distribute wide or go exclusive. Up until this point, I’ve always gone wide, but with a new series scheduled for release in November, the idea of going exclusive has been on my mind a lot lately.

Distributing wide means that we’ll offer our book for sale at all the major retailers—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, AppleiBooks, and Kobo at least.

Tuesday, June 21

Pushing the Plot Forward—Tying (and Trimming) Loose Ends for a Tidy Finish

By Alythia Brown, @AlyConnerBrown

Part of the How They Do It Series

Tying up all the loose ends in a plot requires the right balance between too loose (where the ending isn't satisfying) and too pat (where the ending feels too contrived). Alythia Brown joins us in the lecture hall today to share some tips on keeping our plot threads neat and tidy.

Alythia is a fantasy writer, represented by BookEnds Literary Agency, and a freelance editor. You can connect with her at on The Twitter or at her blog,

Website | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Alythia... 

Monday, June 20

A Brief, Sad, Break

My husband and I lost our sweet girl, Nikki, on Saturday. She was the most lovable kitty I'd ever known, always ready for a snuggle or a pet. It has been a privilege to have her in our lives these last twelve years.

She'd been sick for several weeks, and we found out Friday it was advanced cancer and there was nothing we could do. As much as we wanted to hold on, it was best for her to let her go.

We had one last good morning filled with love and snuggles and sunshine on the porch, and then said goodbye. She was deeply loved, and will be deeply missed.

My guest authors and contributors will continue to post this week, but I'll be taking a break. I'll return next Monday. I thank you all for understanding.

Thursday, June 16

Formatting Your Book With Scrivener

By Katrina Archer, @katrinaarcher

Part of the Indie Authors Series

Are you about to indie publish a book but can’t figure out how to get the formatting right? Do you already use Scrivener and don’t have the budget to shell out for a high end design app like InDesign or to splurge on Vellum? Then Scrivener’s Compile settings may be the solution for you. While not for the faint of heart, you can turn out a nicely formatted book for both print and digital entirely within Scrivener. The focus here will be on print, because it’s typically trickier, but the same techniques can be used for ebooks. (Note: this tutorial uses features available in the Mac OSX version of Scrivener. YMMV with Windows.)

Wednesday, June 15

Going Beyond the Default in Your Worldbuilding

By Juliette Wade, @JulietteWade 

Part of the How They Do It Series

Creating a rich world makes for a great novel, no matter if that world is based on fantasy or the world we know. But all too often, we rely on the default setting for our genre--such as medieval Europe for fantasy--and we rob ourselves of the chance to craft something unique. To share some tips on creating interesting world, please help me welcome worldbuilding guru, Juliette Wade.

Juliette hosts the Dive into Worldbuilding show on Google Hangouts, where she uses her academic expertise in anthropology and linguistics to take discussions of worldbuilding topics beyond the default. Her short fiction explores language and culture issues across the genres of fantasy and science fiction. She has appeared in Clarkesworld, Fantasy&Science Fiction, and Analog magazines.

If you're a fan of worldbuilding and want to take your skills further, you can also become a part of the Dive into Worldbuilding workshop. Join Juliette's Patreon and get brainstorming prompts, research links, exclusive peeks into research topics, or even get Juliette to help you with your work directly.

Take it away Juliette...

Tuesday, June 14

What Are You Really Saying? (The Use of Subtext)

By James R. Tuck, @JamesTuckwriter

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

Ah, subtext my old friend. It's good to see you again.

As a quick catch up, subtext is the meaning that falls under the words spoken in a conversation. It is all the things inside your characters that color their word choice coming to bear weight on what they say and how they say it. It can add a lot of texture to your writing.

Monday, June 13

Double Jeopardy: Hooking the Reader's Brains and Heart

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

There are a lot of solid articles in the archives that could use some freshening up, so for the next week or two I'll be updating and editing some of my oldie but goodies--and my favorites from the early days of the site. Enjoy! 

During a panel at World Fantasy a number of years back, Grand dame author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro hit the nail on the head when she said:

There are two hooks that need to be felt for the reader to really buy into the story. The intellectual hook, and the emotional hook.

She went on to explain (I'm paraphrasing here) that the intellectual hook is the plot stuff. The things we want to know because an interesting question has been raised (story questions). The emotional hook is the stuff we need to know because we've become emotionally invested in the charaters and what to see how their problem turns out.

If these two things aren't in the first fifth of the novel, then odds are it won't hold on to the reader. They might keep reading because one or the other is compelling enough in their own right, but they won't be thinking about the book long after they've finished it--or talking about it with everyone they know.

It's a great summary of the difference between a good book and a great book. It could even be the elusive "something" that would take a novel from "I just didn't connect enough with it" to "Yes, I want to buy/represent/publish this"

Sunday, June 12

Writing Prompt: The Free Write: Ocean Adventure

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a free write, so take the seed below and run with it. It doesn’t have to turn into anything (unless you want it to, of course), just let the words flow and see where they go.

Continue this opening sentence:

The ocean waves swirled around the rocks along the shore.

Write as much or as little as you’d like.

Saturday, June 11

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This Early Reader 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 July 9.

This week’s questions:

1. Do I need to describe the character physically in my opening chapter?

2. Do you learn enough about him by the things he is doing?

3. Does this work?

4. I read somewhere that sentences shouldn't have more than 8 words in them for this age group. Do you agree?

Market/Genre: Early Readers

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, June 10

In the Flesh: Fleshing Out Flat Characters

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at fleshing out flat characters. Enjoy!

Characters play just as many roles in the writing process as they do in the novel itself. Some characters spark the very idea of the story, others show up when needed to suit plot, and others are doomed to life as nothing more than spear carriers. Most of the time, by the end of a first draft you’ll have too many, and some (if not all) will be flat as cardboard. Now’s the time to start bringing them to life.

Get Real, People

Characters will pop in and out as you write, even if you aren't sure what to do with them or how they fit. After you've figured out which to keep and which to cut, you'll likely want to develop them more and make them as rich and three dimensional as your main character. Or, you might be the type who prefers to flesh out everyone after the first draft is done and you see how the story unfolds.