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Friday, December 6

Don't Forget to Open Your Advent Window at Writers Helping Writers (Did I Mention the Prizes?)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Just a reminder that the amazing Advent Calendar for Writers is still chugging away. 14 days of prizes, folks, and you can enter the drawings for all of them if you want.

What the Heck Is an Advent Calendar for Writers?

You know those Advent Calendars that have a delicious chocolate behind each window, counting down to Christmas? Well, it’s like that, only more helpful and less fattening.

Every day from December 1st to December 14th Angela and Becca over at Writers Helping Writers will provide a link to a giveaway just for writers. You click the link, opening the daily “window” and boom, there will be something fabulous you could win. Things such as…

Thursday, December 5

The Dating, er, Agent-Search Game

By Lisa Lowe Stauffer, @LisaLStauffer

Part of The Writer's Life Series 

JH: Finding an agent is almost as challenging (if not more so) than finding a publisher for your manuscript. Lisa Lowe Stauffer visits the lecture hall today with tips on how to make the most of your agent search.

Lisa Lowe Stauffer, author of Two By Two (Zonderkidz, 2018). She stays busy writing books for children and teens, volunteering with SCBWI as the Assistant Regional Adviser to Southern Breeze region, and traveling with her own red-headed husband.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter |

Take it away Lisa…

Wednesday, December 4

Expect the Unexpected: Creating Plot Twists

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I'm up against a deadline this month to get a manuscript finished, so I'm dipping into the archives again and updating a reader favorite. Enjoy!

A great plot twist is a wonderful thing, be it in the books we write or the ones we read. We revel is that unexpected event or revelation that changes everything we thought we knew and takes the story to a whole new level. We delight in those surprises that make us think, "wow, that was awesome. I never saw that coming."

Trouble is, knowing you want a plot twist is a lot easier than coming up with a good one. There's no formula for devising a great twist, because every plot is different and any number of things can work in a novel.

My trick for twisting my plot is pretty simple:

Tuesday, December 3

Outlines Are for Revision (Say What?) A Different Approach for Your Process

By Spencer Ellsworth, @spencimus

Part of The How They Do It Series

JH: Unless you've been lucky enough to find your perfect writing process, odds are anything that might help you be more productive piques your interest. Spencer Ellsworth visits the lecture hall today with a different way to write that uses both plotter and pantser brains.

Spencer Ellsworth has been writing since he learned how. He is the author of The Great Faerie Strike, a tale of the Otherworld’s first labor union, from Broken Eye Books. He is also the author of the space opera Starfire Trilogy from Tor, and many other short works. He lives in Bellingham, WA, with his wife and three children, works at a small tribal college, and would really like a war mammoth, please.

Take it away Spencer…

Sunday, December 1

14 Days of Writing Prizes, Starting...NOW!

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It’s the season of giving, so I've partnered up with Writers Helping Writers and One Stop for Writers to bring you a PRIZE-PACKED Advent Calendar for Writers. And when I say prize packed, I’m talking over $2600 in prizes to be won!

Each day between December 1st and December 14th, a new Advent Calendar Window is available to be opened by you, and behind it? A giveaway for a prize that will greatly help you and your writing career.

Today is my giveaway day, with a chance at a free 12-week online course from my brand-new and coming soon online workshops (more details on this after the new year).

But I just get the honor of launching this giveaway season--there are fourteen more amazing prizes you'll want to go check out.

Thursday, November 28

Writers: Is Work-for-Hire for You?

By Sherry Howard, @SherLHoward

Part of The Writer's Life Series

JH: Work-for-hire isn't for everyone, but for some writers, it's a great way to get your work in front of readers and make some money. Sherry Howard is back again this month with tips and advice on being a work-for-hire author. 

Sherry Howard lives in Middletown, Kentucky, in a household busy with kids and pets. She worked as an educator, and now has the luxury of writing full time. Her debut picture book, Rock and Roll Woods, released in October, 2018. And her middle grade NF, Deep Sea Divers, just released. She has more books in the pipeline for publication soon.

Sherry loves to meet other readers and writers, so be in touch on social media here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Take it away Sherry…

Wednesday, November 27

The Help You Need to Craft Stories Readers Love

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The #1 thing you can do to improve your writing today

Is your book lacking that…oomph? Maybe your characters aren’t as engaging as they could be. Maybe your dialogue is feeling a bit stiff. Or maybe there’s something wrong with your plot that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know it’s there.

Just in time for the holiday season, the guys over at InfoStack have created another writing bundle, and this time it's all about craft.  Oh, it makes a fantastic holiday gift for your fellow writing pals, too.

The Writer’s Craft Super Stack is a complete digital collection of tools, training, and resources to help you create captivating worlds, memorable characters, page-turning dialogue, and more. 

Tuesday, November 26

The Biggest Blocks: Creating Names and Titles in Your Novel

By Bonnie Randall

Part of the How They Do It Series 

JH: Character names and novel titles. Some writers can pull great ones out of the air, but for the rest of's a struggle every time. Bonnie Randall shares thoughts on finding the right names for your novel.

Every writer has at least one hurdle that confronts their creativity. I happen to have two:

1. What’s in A Name?

A lot, actually. Names are as crucial to characters as setting is to plot. Sometimes, when I am very lucky, a character will waltz onto the stage of my imagination with his or her first and last name as clear as their plot, darkest hour, and denouement. Most times, though, I have nameless heroes and equally blank villains, and I will struggle through the process of creating a birth certificate that somehow echoes the plot, will be pleasing to the ear of the reader, does not step outside the boundaries of the era his or her story takes place in, and is also unique or meaningful enough that the name will be that character forevermore for the reader who connects with that story.

Monday, November 25

Plotting With the Hero's Journey

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

The Hero's Journey is a plot structure that's been around as long as storytelling. And with Thanksgiving this week, it's a good time to dip into the archives for a little refresher.

In this mini-series, I've discussed the Three-Act Structure, Blake Snyder's Save the Cat structure, Michael Hague's Six Stage Plotting Structure), and Joyce Sweeney's Plot Clock structure. These are among the most-popular and often-used structures in creating stories, from short fiction to novels to screenplays. This time, let's dig into the hero's Journey.

The Hero's Journey is an archetypal narrative structure created by Joseph Campbell to describe the basic myth format used in storytelling for centuries—the hero on an adventure. It covers classic turning points and elements of the journey that are the basis for most modern storytelling formats.

Friday, November 22

Teens, Dark Chocolate, and Surviving Writer Limbo

By Veronica Mixon, @WriteVMixon

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Publishing is full of waiting, and waiting for an agent or publishing to get back to you is stressful for any writer. Veronica Mixon visits the lecture hall today to share tips on surviving this writer's limbo.

Veronica began storytelling at a young age, somewhere around three, when a host of imaginary friends lived in her bedroom closet and encouraged her penchant for spinning tales. A career in marketing, twenty years of world travel, and a large and boisterous southern family supply her with ample material for the mysteries she loves to write. She lives on the Georgia coast with her husband and her nine-year-old Standard Poodle, Jasper.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | TwitterPinterest | Instagram

Take it away Veronica…