Friday, July 31

An Easy Tip for Developing Story Ideas

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes another look at how to narrow down (or come up with) your story ideas. Enjoy! 

I got a great question in the comments recently:
I would love to write a duology or trilogy but I can't start writing unless I have an idea of what I want the story to be. And I have no clue! I have a character and I have the universe and rules set but I'm just not sure what kind of story I want to tell. I have a very vague idea but nothing concrete and I can't start writing unless I have The Idea down. It's so frustrating. Any advice?
As I happen to be in "story idea" mode right now, this came at the perfect time. I've spent the last several weeks taking nuggets of ideas and turning them into blurbs and rough outlines I can write a novel from. Some of these nuggets were no more than a general idea, a character, or a cool "what if" premise, so I rolled up my sleeves and went into brainstorming mode.

Thursday, July 30

How to Drive Yourself Crazy as a Writer: Read Reviews

By Alex Hughes, @ahugheswriter

Part of the Indie Authors Series

Being a writer can make you crazy (or maybe that's a prerequisite to being a writer?), and never is that more apparent than in how reviews can make us feel. To celebrate the release of her new book, How to Drive Yourself Crazy As a Writer, Alex Hughes returns to the lecture hall today with a fun and helpful look on how (and why) reading reviews is a great way to make you lose your mind.

Alex, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. Her latest book, How to Drive Yourself Crazy As a Writer, is a humorous look at the things we writers can do to avoid being sane. 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! For all the latest news and free short stories, join Alex’s email list.

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

Take it away Alex...

Wednesday, July 29

A Writer, A Character and A Reader: A Different Sort of Trilogy

By Bonnie Randall

Special Guest Author

This meme is so true: in order to create quality prose we need to craft, project a unique character’s voice, and review our own work from the objective stance of a reader. A tall order, this prescribed trinity, yet with even more broad-strokes implications than just the confines of our current WIPs. In order to best serve a writing career, an author needs to invoke this Holy Trinity all the time.

Tuesday, July 28

Planning Your Plotting

By Chris Eboch, @Kris_Bock

Part of the How They Do It Series

I'm a huge supporter of both plotting, and planning your plotting, so I'm delighted to welcome Chris Eboch to the lecture hall today to share some thoughts and exercises on plotting. Some of these are also great techniques for those who like to jump start the brain with a writing exercise before your writing session.

Chris's novels for children include The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; and Bandits Peak, a survival story. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children and Advanced Plotting. Learn more at or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog. Sign up for her workshop newsletter for classes and critique offers.

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

Take it away Chris...

Monday, July 27

The Difference Between Setup and Setup

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Writing can be a confusing endeavor. The same words can mean very different things depending on the context, which can make it hard to fully understand certain concepts. For example, “writing” can mean the act of crafting a novel, the technical aspects of it, or the prose or story itself. When someone says, “the writing is what matters most,” what are they talking about? Technical skill? Story? Getting words down on a regular basis?

Setup is one of those situational words.

Sunday, July 26

Writing Prompt: Free Write!

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a free write, so take the line below and run with it. It doesn’t have to turn into anything, just let the words flow and see where they go.

Continue this opening sentence:

Bubbles. Bubbles everywhere.

Share in the comments!

Saturday, July 25

Real Life Diagnostics: Does This YA Science Fiction Opening Hook 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: Five 

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through August 29.

This week’s questions:

Does this provide a strong enough hook? Is the pacing working?

Market/Genre: YA science fiction

On to the diagnosis…

Thursday, July 23

The Maturing of Indie: How to Keep Your Momentum in a Flattening Marketplace

By Dario Ciriello 

Part of the Indie Authors Series

This may come as a surprise, but Indie, our bright new baby boy full of hope and dreams, is looking all grown up. He’s started shaving, and his voice has broken.

Before we look at our new teen’s future, let’s just glance back at his early years.

It’s tempting to think modern indie publishing started when Amazon launched KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in 2007, but in fact it began five years earlier when Lulu came on the scene. Before Lulu, an indie publisher was really a small press using traditional offset printing. In those days, the only option a self-published author (who today would identify as indie) had was the vanity press, which provided an offset print run and a boatload of stigma to go with it. I’m old enough to know a number of authors whose attempt at going indie before there was such a thing ended up with a garage full of unsold books and a lasting hole in their pockets.

Wednesday, July 22

Atmospheric Pressure: Employing The Four Seasons To Enhance Atmosphere

And hey, I’m not talking about these guys
By Bonnie Randall

Special Guest Author 

Frankie Valli alone can’t establish a mood in your novel—but the literal four seasons just might.

First, though, let’s consider what comprises atmosphere. Certainly the five senses play a leading role, but real richly atmospheric pieces also play off a reader’s presentiment to a location, their innate responses to it. Consider, for example, Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters). Michaels loved setting her Gothic mysteries in sprawling old mansions with closed off wings and dusty rooms. BOOM! there’s your atmosphere; all of us can immediately appreciate the sense of dread, fear, mystery (maybe even doom) when faced with an old building like this. Or how about SE Hinton’s Outsiders? Tell us about a 1950’s greaser and we immediately envision leather jackets and blue jeans, smell diner fries, and can hear the Big Bopper, deep in our ear. Atmosphere. The 1950s were full of it.

Tuesday, July 21

Common First Page Issues

By Ava Jae, @Ava_Jae

Part of the How They Do It Series

I'm delighted to have one of my favorite bloggers, Ava Jae, visit the lecture hall this week. Aside from her usual great advice and perspectives on writing, she holds a monthly giveaway for a first page critique (similar to my Real Life Diagnostics without the question), and today she'll share some insights and tips gleaned from her Fixing the First Page series.

Ava is a YA and NA writer, an Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing, and is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Her YA Sci-Fi debut, BEYOND THE RED, is releasing March 2016 from Sky Pony Press. When she’s not writing about kissing, superpowers, explosions, and aliens, you can find her with her nose buried in a book, nerding out over the latest X-Men news, or hanging out on her social media sites.

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Take it away Ava...