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ME, as I work on my middle grade novel.

No guarantee that my middle grade novel will ever be published; that's out of my control. I'm trying to focus on what I can control: (1) Writing the best book I possibly can, and (2) FINISHING the book. Source: inkygirl.com Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing   Read More

Good Grammar 101: The Essential Guide

Good Grammar might seem old fashioned in a day and age when LOL shows up in newspapers, when best-selling authors regularly splice their commas, and where your Facebook wall is filled with seventy-two misused ellipses. However, agents and editors still care about grammar, and they will reject you if you show you don’t understand grammar rules. With this Grammar Guide, you will have the chance to use The Write Practice’s model of deliberate practice to improve your grammar skills in less time. 10 Steps to Keep Your Editor From Killing You Good grammar is like good hygiene. Often, the last person to know why people are complaining about the dead dog in the room is the person who stinks. Fortunately, we’ve created this course of ten lessons to help you impress your readers and edito Read More

The Truth About Believing in Yourself

Finding authentic faith in artistic expression I remember my first “vision board.” I spent all day feverishly cutting out photos of old bungalow-style houses with porch swings, beach vacations and strong, fit, successful women. I printed out my bank statement and added a few zeros to the balance. I typed and printed the words, “New York Times Best Selling Author, Ivy Shelden” and plastered it among the other photos and clippings. Here we go, I thought. Now I’m ready to start believing in myself. I stared at the board until my eyes crossed. Next to the vision board, I’d printed a list of “affirmations” to say aloud each day, until I believed them. They included statements like: I am worthy of, and open to abundance. I am thankful for my new job. (I didn’t have one yet) E Read More

The Bi-Cultural Writer

I’ve spent my life living between India and the U.S.A. One blog post can’t begin to describe the challenges, privileges, lows, and highs of it all. I can, however, talk about being a bi-cultural writer and writing in various global dialects through one language. I am a weird kind of third-culture kid. I was born in the U.S and finished elementary school there. Then I did middle and high school in India and returned to the U.S for another 8 years where I finished college and my Master’s degree. I’ve since been back to Bangalore, India since 2011. First, let me tell you about my accent. I code shift – my accent and cultural references can change according to country, and who I’m talking with. I still get teased about it. Because of my experience, I see English as two very diffe Read More

Getting Somebody Else’s Town Right – Researching Settings for Your Writing

The old adage is “write what you know.” Most writers, though, have to step outside that comfort zone sooner or later. If you are writing something set in the “real world,” you might set it in your hometown, or a town where you have lived for several years. However, you might also want to set your story somewhere else. One way, used by many, is to create a fictional town or city. DC Comics has Metropolis, Lovecraft has the infamous Arkham, and Agatha Christie has created wholly invented towns like Chipping Cleghorn. Ah, but what if you really do want to use real-world locations? Maybe you want to set your book in San Francisco but have never been further west than Minneapolis. Or, you discover that Copenhagen is the Las Vegas of Europe and need to do a shotgun wedding. This artic Read More

Top 9 Influential Female Characters In Science Fiction

Let’s take a look at some influential science fiction female leads and see how we can use them in our writing.  Here’s some strong, complex creations … None of them scream, faint or need rescuing. They’re the ones getting the job done. These 9 are my personal trail-blazers of female science fiction. Let’s go! 1) Princess Leia We had already seen earlier in Star Wars that Leia could handle herself. The way she dealt with Vader and Tarkin after she was captured showed us that. But it was when Han Solo and Luke came to rescue her that Leia became so much more than a conventional damsel in distress. By taking over what had been seen as the male role, rescuing herself and generally wise-cracking her way out of trouble, she created a whole new type of character. Write Tip: Change Read More

How to Write a Short Story: Free Tutorial

Short stories were once the training grounds for the best writers in the world. Writers like Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, and Stephen King learned the craft of writing through short stories before they published their first novels. Even though short stories have gone out of favor, they are still the best way for writers to learn the craft quickly. In this free tutorial, you will learn why short stories are important for aspiring writers, how to write a short story, and how to submit your short stories to magazines and get them published. Ten Steps to Publishing Short Stories This effective tutorial will be conveniently delivered to your email inbox in ten manageable chunks. You’ll also get links to helpful resources and professional services. Here are the topics we’ll c Read More

Why Humans Love Story

So, following on from last week, in our 4 post series which will be part of Harness Your Reader’s Psychology, we’re delving deeper into why readers read. This week, we’re exploring exactly why we are so drawn to narrative…and it may not be the reason you think! If you were to ask a fellow Homo Sapien why they read, they’ll give you a variety of answers. In fact, I polled my readers, asking them this very same question, and here are some of the answers I received: ‘If I’m having a bad day or I’m stressed, I block everything out and pick up a book. I feel much better after I’ve spent a few hours reading.’ ‘I read because I love stories! As a mom of five kids it is a stress reliever to be able to pick up a book and let my imagination take over for an hour or so. ‘ Read More

How to Captivate Your Readers with Seeds of Curiosity

Have you ever become so engrossed in a TV show that you spend hours binge-watching the episodes? (My weakness is British murder mysteries.) Maybe your friends told you it was an amazing show that you absolutely had to see. So when you finally have free time on a Saturday evening, you decide to put on the first episode. At first, you’re leaning back in your chair and enjoying the show, but you have one eye on your phone as you scroll through social media. (Yes, I’m guilty of this.) And then: Bam! The unexpected happens. A plot twist changes everything. You put your phone away, and you’re now on the edge of your seat. Before you know it, you’ve finished episode five. It’s late into the night, but you can’t tear yourself away from the screen. You have to find out what’s g Read More

9 of the BEST Quotes on Writing Ever!

Today’s post is a fun post, a collection of quotes on writing I have been sharing on the Positive Writer Facebook Page over the last few weeks and I thought you’d enjoy them as well! These are 9 of my favorites.   Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the water is turned on. ―Louis L'Amour   If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. ―Margaret Atwood   Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way. ―Ray Bradbury   I believe myself that a good writer doesn't really need to be told anything except to keep at it. ―Chinua Achebe   A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. ―Richard Bach   I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I am looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want a Read More

4 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Writing (And What to Do About It!)

Oh, the lovely struggles of a writer’s life — bloodthirsty deadlines, toxic clients, lack of inspiration… These things come with the package, whether you like it or not. But did you know that you are the greatest enemy of your own work? Out of hundreds of excuses — bad days, the dreaded writer’s block or simple laziness — you, as a writer, bear the sole responsibility for whether words appear on the page or not. It took me a while to acknowledge this and improve (a bit). Now I want to make it easier for you. Take a look at these four signs and see whether you’re making the same mistakes! 1. You Don’t Prepare an Outline As much as I like to get “adventurous” with my writing once in a while, my disorganized soul always craves for a grain of order and structure. It’s s Read More

Fascinating Words for Colors (and the Battle of Magenta)

Imagine not having a word for "yellow" or "beige" or "orange." For many years, English got by with a lot fewer words for color than we have today. By Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl   This a Stitcher Premium exclusive Grammar Girl podcast episode. Want to hear it? Head to stitcherpremium.com/grammar and use code GRAMMAR to sign up for your free trial and get access to all archived ad-free episodes, bonus episodes, and more. Colors are such fundamental, tangible things that it’s hard to imagine not having names for them, but the number of words for colors varies widely by language and for many, many years, English got by without a lot of the color names we take for granted today. In nearly all languages, the first col Read More

Magic Without Rules

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard When we say “without rules” we’re talking about stories whose magic is not held under logical scrutiny for the reader. There are lots of reasons why you might do this, and in this episode we’ll talk about not just about the why, but also the how. Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:18 — 14.0MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS Take a story with rule-based magic. Now have the rules all go wrong, the characters realize they don’t really understand the rules at all. Source: writingexcuses.com Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing Read More

When Fiction Doesn’t Work—What Can Be Learned?

By Bonnie Randall  Part of the How They Do It Series  JH: You can learn just as much from a bad book as a good book. Stephen King said “Unless you read, you do not have the tools to write.” Books that whisk us deeply into a story, have characters who become dear friends, or use language in such a way that leaves us breathless, are powerful tools for writers, because those elements are replicable and take our fiction to higher, deeper, and more meaningful levels. What, though, about fiction that doesn’t move you in any sort of positive way? Can writing lessons be gleaned from these pieces also?  I am currently reading a novel that has me turning pages—but not in a good way. I am so frustrated from waiting for the reveal of the ‘Big Bad Secret’ the heroine is withholdin Read More

The Secret to Writing the Killer Plot Twist

A woman in Poughkeepsie plucks your debut novel off the shelf. Okay, fine. It doesn’t have to be Poughkeepsie. It can be anywhere—Marietta, Springfield, Sedona—wherever. The town doesn’t matter because your debut novel flew off the shelves in every big and small town across America. Mostly because of one big thing. You pulled off the killer plot twist. Now everyone who reads your book thinks they’re your biggest fan. That lady in Poughkeepsie? You’re about to become her favorite author. And she’s going to hand your book to her best friend and tell her in an urgent and serious whisper, “You have to read this. I still can’t believe the ending.” Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Because the secret to pulling off the most memorable plot twist since Psycho isn’t a m Read More

The 7 best cookbooks for beginners, according to an insider

Need to find the best cookbooks for beginners? A cookbook publishing insider shares the 7 best cookbooks for beginners, no matter what kind of beginner you are! There’s almost nothing more exciting than new beginnings, and to me, there’s definitely nothing more exciting the start of a new cookbook collection. Anytime a graduation, wedding, baby shower or any other gifting occasion comes up, I have to physically restrain myself from buying 5 new cookbooks for that friend entering a new stage of life. And I mean it–someone (ahem, Jarrett) has gotta hold me back. Because, you see, I think that finding your way in the kitchen is one of the great pleasures of life. And that’s not even mentioning the practical incentives. Like that whole thing about how cooking at home is the #1 be Read More

10 Reasons Why You Should be Proud to be a Writer

Sometimes I compare my job as a writer to his and I wonder if I’m bringing enough value to the world and helping enough people. Genevieve Parker-Hill The above quote comes from a wonderful post called Write the Book, Save the World. In the post Genevieve wonders why she should be proud to be a writer when her husband who works with a large nonprofit organization seems to be bringing so much more value to the world? Here at WritetoDone we believe every single writer matters. As Genevieve says: what if your work helped just one person? What if your work connected with one person and colored their life with joy for one moment? What if it gave just one person a powerful connective experience, a sense that they aren’t alone? Below are 10 reasons why you should be proud to be a writer in Read More

25 Ideas for Your Author Blog

By Bryn Donovan Part of The Writer’s Life Series JH: Writers hear it all the time—“Oh, you should start a blog.” Not a bad idea, but the hard part is knowing what to blog about. Bryn Donovan visits the lecture hall today to share some ideas on just what to do with our authors’ blog. Bryn Donovan earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, and in her day job, she’s the acquiring editor for Hallmark Publishing. She’s published novels both as Bryn Donovan and as Stacey Donovan, and she’s also the author of 5,000 Writing Prompts and Master Lists for Writers. She blogs about writing and positivity at bryndonovan.com. Take it away Bryn… When I first began my blog a few years ago, two friends of mine, my husband, and my sister-in-law were my only r Read More

How to Find Inspiration—Fiction Therapy

Whether you’re wondering what happens next in your story, want to write your first novel, or are about to start on the next instalment of your long-running series, there are always times when you’ll need inspiration. And it is often surprisingly close by. ‘Be observant,’ said the dramatist, Lajos Egri, ‘and you will be forced to admit that the world is an inexhaustible pastry shop and you are permitted to choose from the delicacies the tastiest bits for yourself.’ It’s that easy. Except it’s not. It’s difficult to suddenly ‘be observant.’ You don’t have time to sit around looking at things. You have to pick up the kids, get to the supermarket, make dinner, finish off that last game of solitaire. And you have to write! Hemingway noted that it was difficult to be Read More

Creating Believable Villains

What are the trademarks of a villain? Do they have dark, piercing eyes, a snarly grin, crooked-yellowed teeth, knobby fingers, an evil laugh? Or is there more to it than that? The antagonist can be the hardest character to write but also the most fun. How can we be successful at it? Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way. Make them appear human – nobody likes a pure evil villain. They need to be likable or they fall flat. Give them a redeeming quality. Maybe we even want to cheer for them. Think Hannibal Lector or the Blacklist’s Raymond Reddington. Yes, they are evil but still have amiable qualities. We find ourselves applauding them. Give them a clear motivation for their actions – we need to know why they’re doing their evil deeds. Their motives need to feel fair and Read More