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Planning a Mini Writer’s Retreat

Sometimes everyday life gets in the way of writing (and sometimes writing is that everyday life). But in the former case, one of my favorite things to do is go somewhere else — plan a mini writer’s retreat of sorts. I’m doing that with my husband this weekend. We’re heading to a B&B called Sayre Mansion, about an hour from where we live. We stay in a … read more

Changing Your Book’s Target Reader (After You’ve Written It)

My nonfiction book, The Query-Free Freelancer, has been moving along in an extraordinarily slow fashion. That’s due to a variety  of things (from several months of illness where I focused my limited work time on clients to simply shelving the project for a while for a fresher perspective). Now that I’m moving forward with that first draft again (my own edits to the manuscript before sending it … read more

Why Authors Shouldn’t Try to Think Outside the Box

Creativity is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. We often hear this concept expressed as “thinking outside the box.” Authors, perhaps even more than other creative groups, feel the stress to be “truly creative.” To avoid cliches. To add stunning plot twists. To do what has never … read more

Creating Characters from Scratch

This year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those of you not familiar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s organized by the Office of Letters and Light. Participants begin writing on November 1st, and the goal is to write a 50,000-word  novel by midnight on November 30th. As I said, this is my first year participating, but I’ve … read more

The Secret of Storytelling — From One of Pixar’s’ Masters

I don’t normally write posts this long—but this time I couldn’t resist. Andrew Stanton’s TED talk was something every author—every storyteller—should listen to.  Andrew Stanton starts off his TED Talk with a joke. “A tourist is backpacking through the highlands of Scotland and he stops at a pub for a drink. The only people in there are the bartender and an old man nursing a … read more

Breaking All the Writing Rules

Pop quiz, hot shot! How many of the old, conventional writing rules do you break on a daily basis? You probably know the ones I’m talking about. These are rules like: Never start a paper with a question. Never start a sentence with “and” or “but.” Never end a sentence with a preposition. Paragraphs must be a minimum of five sentences. There are countless more … read more

The Role of an Editor — And Why You Should Have One

Ever wonder what an editor does? Chances are it’s a lot more than you think. It’s an editor’s job to make sure your readers can see the forest despite the trees—that they don’t get caught up on typos and mistakes that will cause them to focus on the words instead of the story. And, in the process, a good editor will look for things you … read more

Do You Drive Through Stop Signs When Writing?

Last month Tim Berry wrote about learning that a stop sign requires a full stop—one where the car rolls backward slightly—and how that reminded him of decision making. That sometimes we all need a full stop now and again to think things through and prepare ourselves to head off again in the right direction. I couldn’t help but think of how the same concept applies … read more

I Write Like…Me?

I recently came across a fun writing toy and I’ve just spent the last hour playing around on it. It’s not earth-shattering, nor is it going to change the world, but it does illustrate a point rather nicely. Your voice is a secret writing weapon, so use it. Here’s the toy: http://iwl.me/ “I Write Like” is a website where you essentially paste a chunk of … read more

Compacting Your Whole Plot into Paragraphs

[This post is part of a series on writing sales copy for your book—see the first piece in the series here: The Truth About the Back of your Book.] We’re always told not to judge a book by its cover… but most people are referring to the front of the book. It’s flip side is a different matter. Without well written sales copy to convince … read more