a-few-query-tips
Musing, Publishing Industry

A Few Query Tips

I’m doing a query clinic next month, and today I’m trying to turn my time in the query trenches, and all the lessons I learned the hard way, and those I learned from critiquing other people’s queries, into a concise, helpful Power Point.  Getting it right means…

permission-to-laugh
Writing Tips

Permission to Laugh

I know they said not to take selfies with bears . . . One of the hardest things about humor writing is giving your reader permission to laugh.  After all, you’re putting your protagonist in embarrassing, and sometimes physically painful, situations.  The last think your audience is going to want is to…

writing-the-things-you-want-to-read
Musing

Writing the Things You Want to Read

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni MorrisonWith Free Chocolate coming out TOMORROW,  I’ve been thinking a lot about that quote.  If it wasn’t my series, The Chocoverse would still be…

a-writer-reads-always
Musing, Writing Tips

A Writer Reads, Always

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” — Oscar Wilde“I…

well-i-wasnt-expecting-that
Literary Terms, Writing Tips

Well, I wasn’t expecting THAT!

This whole month, I want to talk about the relationship between writing and reading.  I’ve talked to so many writers who say they don’t read inside their own genre because they’re afraid of copying someone else’s idea.  (More on this later – I’m planning an entire…

freytags-pyramid
Literary Terms, Writing Tips

Freytag’s Pyramid

In 1863 Gustov Freytag, first known as a playwright and later a novelist, published Die Technik des Dramas.  (Released in English much later as Freytag’s Technique of the Drama: An Exposition of Dramatic Composition and Art.)  While his novels reflected some of the ugliness and turbulence of the time…

back-it-up-and-keep-it-organized
Writing Tips

Back it up and keep it organized!

I just want to offer a quick public service announcement.Writers, is your work backed up somewhere?  If no: rectify that immediately.  I know you never think a computer crash is going to happen to you, but everyone thinks that until it happens to them.  Even new computers can have…

writer-transform-thyself
Musing

Writer, Transform Thyself

I recently had a writer ask me which one of his many ideas he should follow up on.  There is no easy answer to that question, because it all depends on the writer’s motivation.  Is he wanting to know which one is the most marketable?  Well, I can’t…

well-darlings-youre-weighing-us-down
Literary Terms, Writing Tips

Well, Darlings, You’re Weighing Us Down . . .

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” – Stephen King (not the first person to say it, but perhaps the most ominous)It’s a common piece of advice to give to beginning writers, and it’s been attributed…

but-i-never-got-to
Literary Terms, Writing Tips

But I never got to . . .

I’m a big believer in the promises-made-to-your-reader philosophy of writing.  It’s the idea that readers file away everything you’ve laid out in the first few chapters of your story – and they expect you to follow up on it.  To see how this extends…

this-things-important-right
Literary Terms, Uncategorized, Writing Tips

This Thing’s Important, Right?

One of my favorite books from the Children’s Lit classes I took in college was Treasure Island.  Stevenson stuck with me as an example I wanted to emulate, because nothing in that book is wasted.  Every piece of foreshadowing pays off, every bit of character development comes into play…

ready-set-goal
Uncategorized, Writing Tips

Ready, Set, Goal!

Have you set goals for the coming year?  Most of us look at a new calendar, fresh with unspoiled pages, as an opportunity.  It’s a reset.  A chance to think about what we want to develop in our lives, what we are ready to let go.  A story offers…

dross-and-hero-stuff
Musing, Writing Tips

Dross and Hero Stuff

Can we be brutally honest?  As a writer, you simply cannot be a nice person – at least not when it comes to your characters.  There is no quicker way to lose reader interest than to present characters who never face failure or loss, who are never in danger, who never…

to-wiki-or-not-to-wiki
Musing, Writing Tips

To Wiki or Not To Wiki

So before I started teaching writing, I was a Youth librarian.  And as everybody says, you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl.  Especially when it’s someone like me.  I was always the one chasing down the…

liiiiiiight-buuuuuulb
Roundups

Liiiiiiight-buuuuuulb!

So as we head towards November, I’m sure a lot of you guys are working out your plot ideas for NaNoWrimo.  I hope everything is flowing right along, but in case it’s not, I wanted to do a writing prompt roundup.  (If you’re in the DFW area…

the-power-of-what-if
Musing, Writing Tips

The Power of What If

When I do my prewriting classes, I always start with a session on idea generation.  Sometimes students will already have a character in mind, or a genre they want to work in, or a few plot events, but I ask them to put that aside and – as a group – work…

im-definitely-not-in-a-story-right
Literary Terms, Writing Tips

I’m Definitely NOT in a Story, Right?

Last month I talked about character self-awareness in the psychological sense.But today, I want to get into the other way this term is used when talking books:  literary self-awareness, where we find fictional characters who either understand their genre, or who realize they are taking part in…

but-thats-not-what-i-meant
Writing Tips

But That’s Not What I Meant!

Readers are trained to try and figure out puzzles.  No matter what the genre, we give them clues in our foreshadowing, paid off in plot twists and revelations that feel surprising-yet-inevitable.  As readers, we want to feel smart – like we figured out what the writer was trying to…

oooh-look-a-mirror
Musing, Writing Tips

Oooh, look! A Mirror!

So this may get a little introspective, but I was thinking a bit today about self-awareness in fictional characters.  Too little, and your character feels cold and unlikable, too much and they feel whiney and overly sensitive.  Why is it such a delicate balance?Maybe some definitions would help…

purple-prose-the-tackiest-pants-patch
Writing Tips

Purple Prose: The Tackiest Pants Patch

Sitting around with a group of writing students a while back, the concept of purple prose came up.  Nearly all of them knew they were supposed to avoid it, but not necessarily what it was, or where the term came from.To understand the idea, you need to think in…

vacations-and-the-writing-process
Musing

Vacations and the Writing Process

Just got back from ten days in California, plus a follow-up beach weekend – all (as per my hubby’s request) without my laptop.  He knows me.  If I’d had my computer handy, writing would have been in the back of my mind, and I’d have been up…

free-chocolate-coming-next-year
News

Free Chocolate Coming Next Year

The secret is out!  Free Chocolate will be coming next summer from Angry Robot Books.https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/interstellar-chocolate-war-announcing-free-chocolate-amber-royer/&nbsp…

hemingways-iceberg
Writing Tips

Hemingway’s Iceberg

One thing I see students doing repeatedly is over-worldbuilding.  They get the idea that to make their worlds absolutely real, we need to know every scrap of backstory, and to have detailed schematics on every piece of technology.  The problem: this slows the pace and takes the focus away…

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