Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Worldbuilding Lessons From History

By Alex Hughes, @ahugheswriter

Part of the How They Do It Series

For a lot of genre writers (especially us in the sci fi fantasy realms), worldbuilding is half the fun of writing a novel. The richer those worlds are, the richer our stories can be. Alex Hughes wraps up the special extended guest lecture series (and marks the end of my own writing deadline) with some great ways history can help you develop your story worlds.

Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time!

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Take it away Alex...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why and How to Outline

By Kiki Sullivan, @Sullivan_Kiki

Part of the How They Do It Series

Every writer has their own process, and many of us (most?) are trying to find ways to improve that process. Sometimes that involves trying something new, or trying a new way to approach what we already do. Kiki Sullivan takes the podium today to share how she learned to write an outline, and why this might be a useful tool to try.

Kiki Sullivan is the author of The Dolls series. Like the main character Eveny Cheval, Kiki used to live in New York and now calls the American South home. Unlike Eveny, she finds it impossible to keep her rose garden alive and has been singlehandedly responsible for the unfortunate demise of countless herbs. She may or may not have hung out with queens of the dark arts, strolled through creepy New Orleans cemeteries at night, or written the first book of this series with a red-headed Louisiana voodoo doll beside her computer.

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Take it away Kiki...

Monday, September 29, 2014

5 Tips for Plotting a Mystery

By Pamela Fagan Hutchins, @PamelotH

Part of the How They Do It Series

No matter what genre you write in, there's going to be a "mystery." Maybe not the traditional whodunnit type, but there will be questions posed and information hidden and reasons for readers to keep reader to learn the answers. So it makes sense that non-mystery writers can learn a few plotting tricks from those who write mysteries. Pamela Fagan Hutchins visits the lecture hall to day to share a few of those tips.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries and hilarious nonfiction, chairs the board of the Houston Writers Guild, and dabbles in employment law and human resources investigations from time to time. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She blogs on writing, publishing and promotion at Skip the Jack and on her beleaguered family She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start), and much-too-personal life at Road to Joy. Check out her latest romantic mystery, Going for Kona, available now, everywhere.

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Take it away Pamela...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Your Scene Needs a Problem

By Ken Hughes, @TheKenHughes

Part of the How They Do It Series

Conflict is a must in every scene, but problems come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. The tricky part is knowing what the right problem for your scene is. To help with that, Ken Hughes visits the lecture hall today to share some thoughts on adding problems to your scenes.

Ken Hughes is a Global Ebook Award-nominated urban fantasy novelist, creator of the Whisperers and the upcoming Spellkeeper Chronicles series, and the Power Plays and Unified Writing Theory blogs. He's also been a technical writer for missions to Mars, and a longtime mentor for local authors. Known for his love of unique magic systems and fast-paced suspense, his writing motto is “Whispered spells for breathless suspense.” (That and, "Never play fair.")

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Take it away Ken...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blessing Or Curse? The Modern Writer’s Dilemma

By Dario Ciriello

Part of the Indie Author Series

The conventional wisdom today is that every author—and especially the self-published author— needs a strong social media presence.

This core assumption is reinforced by agents, publishers, publicists, and other authors. Some agents won’t even take on a new client unless that writer has a Facebook following of at least 500 and a Twitter following in excess of 5,000. At minimum, you also need a website; but you should also blog, guest blog, and have a Pinterest page for your each of your books, right?

And of course you need to interact with your readers, even if they’re only potential readers, and respond to them on each of the platforms you’re active on. Even if it takes time—hours every day—away from your writing, maintaining a strong online presence is something no writer can ignore. Because it’s all about community, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Should You Cut That Character?

By Margo Kelly, @MargoWKelly

Part of the How They Do It Series

Characters have a way of sneaking into our manuscripts when we're not looking. We need someone to play a role, or do a job, and before we realize it, the story is crawling with people. Sometimes, too many people. Margo Kelly visits the lecture hall today to share an exercise that can help you determine whether or not a character is pulling their weight.

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel, of which Kirkus Reviews said, “the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out.”

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound | Merit Press

Take it away Margo...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Setting the Stage: How I Hook Readers From Page One

By Stafanie Gaither, @stefaniegaither 

Part of the How They Do It Series

Hooking a reader is a vital part of any story--if they don't care, they won't read, so as writers, we need to make our readers curious about our stories. Please help me welcome Stefanie Gaither to the lecture hall today to share some tips on how she hooks readers from the first line.

After owning and co-managing a coffee shop for several years while simultaneously earning her BA in English, Stefanie Gaither left the small-business world behind to focus on her author career instead. Now, in addition to penning YA novels, she also works part-time as a copywriter for an advertising agency. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and an incredibly spoiled Shih Tzu. Visit her at

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Take it away Stefanie...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Social Media for Authors 101

By Gary Parkes, @gmparkes

Part of the How They Do It Series 

Please welcome Gary Parkes to the lecture hall today, to share some tips on starting out--and setting up--your basic social media plan.

Gary is the founder of Media Seahorse and has been successfully marketing for twenty years in various roles and in multiple fields--from working with social media to writing radio commercials to planning entire marketing campaigns. He has a creative yet common sense approach to achieve the desired results, and has worked with international bestselling author Jennifer Skiff (Simon & Schuster/Atria), Jeff High (Penguin), Cynthia Lott (Piscataqua), FoxTale Book Shoppe and many others both in and out of the publishing industry. He has helped with media placement for Brad Meltzer, John Lescroart, Adriana Trigiani, Iris Johansen among others. Gary and his wife Stacie have lived in the metro-Atlanta area since 1997 and are originally from New York. They have two daughters, Abbie, age 15 and Delilah, age 11. Gary earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York at Albany.

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Take it away Gary...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Save Money on Editing Your Book

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy

Part of the Indie Author Series

Self-publishing your work means all the profits are yours, but it also means all the costs are yours. The two universally accepted areas where you shouldn’t skimp on quality are your cover and editing.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your costs to a minimum when it comes to editing without sacrificing quality. Today I’m going give you tips that can help you save money no matter what level or levels of editing you need.

(I’ve written about the types of edits before, so I’ll direct you there if you need a refresher on the differences between a developmental edit, line edit, copy edit, and proofread.)