Monday, January 31, 2011

Multitasking—Not as Efficient as it Seems

economysepI used to be a pretty good multitasker.

Maybe I was too good and got overconfident. I started juggling even more at a time.

Three times last week, though, I was in a real-time conversation with someone—twice via Twitter and once on the phone and I completely messed up.

The last time I messed up, I was proofing something I’d written (blog post, not my book), talking to my husband (not, I’m sure, very coherently), listening for a weather update on the television so I’d know what the children should wear for school, and messaging a writer on Twitter.

I got a returned DM on Twitter, “Sorry?” the tweeter said. “That link doesn’t relate to our conversation.”

Really? I frowned and looked at it. Sure enough, it was truncated gobbledygook from something else I was working on.

I apologized to the guy I was tweeting saying, “I’m working on 20 things at once.”

He was nice enough not to say, “And doing none of them well.” :) But I bet he was thinking it…and so was I.

I stopped everything I was doing, and focused on the one priority I really had at the moment. And that was the point that my morning started going smoothly.

Some things I can multitask. I can vacuum and write a book in my head. I can cook supper and come up with a blog post. I can exercise and work on plot lines.

Where it seems like it goes haywire for me is 1)when I try to interact with people and do something else simultaneously and 2) when I do more than one thing on the computer at once.

One thing I’ve never done is multitask around my children. They deserve my full attention—besides, kids will call you on it. But everyone else deserves my full attention, too—including my poor husband who has probably gotten completely used to incoherent sentences from me.

So here’s a new resolution for me—one thing at a time, if at all possible. And if I’m having a conversation with you, I’ll pay full attention (that means no writing the book in my head when we’re talking! Even if I think you’d make a nice character for my book.)

Are you a multitasker? How is it working for you? Are there some things you can multitask better than others?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Twitterific and Writer’s Knowledge Base

WkbBadge Terry3_thumb[1]

As usual, here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past week.

My addition this week is an efficient method of locating resources on writing topics when you need them—via the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine and software engineer and writer Mike Fleming’s ingenuity. The links I tweet (which are writers’ blogs, agents’ and editors’ blogs) all are added to the engine to make it easier for you to access the information you’re looking for.

Sympathetic antagonists:

For horror writers--a submission resource:

Writing Theory -- The Monomyth:

The overlooking and discounting of clues by sleuths in crime fiction: @mkinberg

A Proper Break…in life and in Microsoft Word:

Five Strategies For Writers to Deal With Rejection and Critique:

Four Strategies for Creating Titles That Jump Off the Page:

5 Ways to Set Smothered Verbs Free:

Crafting the Perfect Story, or, I Gush About Veronica Mars:

Goal - Conflict - Stakes. Why You Need All Three:

Ten Traits of Successful Writers:

Is The Future Of Print Books Limited Edition Beautiful Art?

Introducing the search engine for writers--finding resources that Google won't: @hiveword

Dos and Don'ts of Opening Pages:

Website Stats 101 for Authors:

Nancy Drew and The Case of the Guilty Silence:

The Making of a Novel: Set Decoration (Huff Post):

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: MY GRANDMOTHER'S MEATLOAF @CleoCoyle

8 Rituals to Get You Focused:

10 Biggest Time-Sinks in Science Fiction and Fantasy:

How to Explore New Careers (Without Quitting Your Day Job):

Breaking the Rules of Writing:

You *can* edit yourself:

How to determine your character's motivating need:

Typing vs. Longhand: Does it Affect Your Writing?

The Process of Creation – Concepts – Themes: @JustusRStone

5 writing mistakes one writer has made that he encourages you to learn from: @ajackwriting

Psychology in Writing: Adding Sound Effects to Your Writing:

Rick Riordan's top 5 misconceptions about writing:

"My Agent is Exhibiting Inappropriate Behaviors. Now What?": A Five-Step Program for the Anxious and Forlorn:

5 Things I Learned About Writing by Watching Football:

Why I won't take the bait:

How to avoid an endless revise:

The blank page--don't be afraid to make a mess:

Love, Crush, Infatuation... Do your YA characters know the difference?

An agent on the agent-author relationship:

Word count for the fantasy genre:

To Advertise, Promote or Market Your Book?

How writers avoid getting stuck with a story that feels like a bad marriage:

3 problems with writing a series:

The Essential Code for Aspiring Bloggers:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Crusted Beef Tenderloin Crisis with a Happy Ending @CleoCoyle

The art of good writing (Financial Times):

When your editor isn't great to work with:

Somebody Loves You: What To Do When An Agent Says Yes:

100 Mostly Small But Expressive Interjections:

Seven Tips for Submitting:

The Very Basics: Ten Things All Writers Need To Do:

Why Every Writer Should Complete More Than One Book:

An agent on unlikeable characters:

Three problems with writing a series:

Tips for freelancers on setting fees:

Literature maps:

Need resources on POV, voice, characterization? The writer's search engine: @hiveword

Using visualization to drive creativity:

Tightening Your (Manuscript’s) Belt: a Checklist for Eliminating Unnecessary Prose:

A Responsibility to Creativity:

Before You Decide to Pursue an MFA: 7 Essential Tips:

The importance of knowing what trips us up as a writer:

Managing coincidence in our stories:

Are You a Renaissance Soul? Use It to Your Advantage:

The 6 Essential Steps to Writing a Killer Press Release:

How to Make Your Writing Resolutions Stick:

9 Ways to Encourage People to Comment on your Blog:

"I Know Why Real Writers Have Cats":

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Ahhhh, New Orleans! @CleoCoyle

Gifts to accessorize books and e-readers (Chicago Tribune):

Definitions of Speculative Fiction (or why spec fic is specific):

Point of View: Stories Are About *people*:

Tips for encouraging kids to read:

On keeping your day job:

Bold Predictions: Half of US Publishers Expect E-books to Be Dominant Format by 2014: @pubperspectives

Mystery Writer's Guide to Forensic Science--Linguistic Fingerprinting: @clarissadraper

For freelancers--How to Organize Your Assignments, Research, Interviews & All the Rest:

How to Write Your First Novel in Under 4 Weeks:

Not Everything Can Be Made Up When Writing Fiction:

What to ask an agent:

Showing & Telling in Scenes & Dialogue:

A query and some query lingo:

13 ways to start a novel.

How Writers Can Use Dropbox Apps:

Book Contracts 101, Part 8 (Payment of Royalties):

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff: The (Back) Story of Our Lives:

A day in the life of an agent:

A Golden Rule for writers:

Your protagonist must have a goal:

The heart, mind and murder test for writers:

7 Tips for Tweeting Links that Get Clicked:

BBC to provide answer to Charles Dickens' final mystery (Guardian):

Hawk Roosting at the Library of Congress:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Mushroom and Rice Casserole @CleoCoyle

'Hunger Games': Why Kids Love Disaster, Distress and Dystopia (Huff Post):

Characters: What Are They Good For?

Tips on effective use of hashtags:

A writer with a round-up of agent advice on Twitter for the week: @HeatherMcCorkle

Does Your Novel Fall Victim to the Protagonist/Goal Switcheroo?

Need ideas to jump start your project? The Thirty-six (plus one) Dramatic Situations:

A Writer’s Shortcut to Stronger Writing:

An agent on how to write a book proposal:

How to Prevent Reader Boredom in Your Novel:

You've Written a Novel. Now What?

A day in the life of an agent:

Why being unpublished is great:

Tall, Dark & Handsome: How Much Do You Need to Describe Your Characters?

Introducing the search engine for writers--finding resources that Google won't:

Subjective Point of View: expressing judgment with adverbs and verbs:

A glossary of copyrights for writers:

5 tips for being a good book reviewer: @camillelaguire

The 3 Traits of a Writer—and Why You Can’t Succeed Without Them:

An interesting look at how crime fiction sleuths cope with the stress that murders create: @mkinberg

Another post in the interesting series "Understanding Screenwriting":

Clean Out Your Inbox Week:

Breakdown of "The Mist" to help explain the story structure concept:

Ghirardelli Mocha Challenge Winner shares his $1500 prize-winning #recipe: #chocolate #barista #coffee

5 Ways Facebook’s Discussions App Will Make You a Better Blogger:

Twitter – Time to get Social: @JustusRStone

Internet Broadcasting is the Next Big Wave:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Welcome Ghirardelli’s Mocha Challenge Winner: Jason Dominy Shares His $1500 Prize... @CleoCoyle

What’s In A Title? Everything:

The Art of A Short Story:

A Post for Procrastinators:

Can You Hear Me Now? Developing Your Voice:

Is Schmoozing the New Way Into Traditional Publication?

Typos--how much do they matter? And a list of grammar resources for writers:

A lit agent with writers' conference tips:

Forget Google. Here's a new search engine...for writers: @Hiveword

Boozing the Muse: @lauramunson

Formatpalooza--the emailed query:

8 Keys to Blogging Success:

Reasons Why your Submissions didn’t get Published:

How To Use Facebook Advertising To Market Your Book: @thecreativepenn

Crafting Outlines That Work for You:

Why You Should Read the Type of Stories You Write:

The Process of Creation – Concepts – Scenes: @JustusRStone

7 things one writer has learned about writing:

Signal words:

One writer says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel.":

8 tips for creating a unique personal brand:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs and Sausage @CleoCoyle

Top 10 dead bodies in literature (Guardian):

In the moment dialogue:

Why Writers Should Go To Writers' Conferences - It's Not What You Think:

Making use of your Kindle--some tips:

So You Want to Start a Book Blog: Pre-Blogging Advice:

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 1/21/11):

Famous literary mentoring:

The week in tweets--Twitterific:

Ten Steps to Writing Your Memoir in 2011 (Huff Post):

Is deep reading becoming a thing of the past? @CCTimes

The tone of your story:

Trail Blazing With Your Plot: Planting the Clues and Hints in Your Story:

Finding creative balance--making room for writing in your life:

3 fixes to make your first novel fly: part 3 – don’t be linear: @dirtywhitecandy

Max Your Dreams:

Going with the Flow of Your Reader’s Early Training: @TheNoteProject

The Top 20 Passwords Of All Time (That Need To Be Avoided):

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Welcome, Guest Hannah Dennison @CleoCoyle

Make your book unique by making it twist:

How Querying Agents Is Like the American Idol Auditions:

Writing a Young Narrator:

Beware of Agent Solicitations:

When Is a Story Worth Writing – Part Two: @JamiGold

What Happens to Your Blog When You’re Dead?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Couple of Reader Observations

crankMy book club, I have to admit, is a picky group.

In fact, I don’t believe I can recall attending a single meeting  where the group was in agreement.  Usually, the group is divided between folks who liked a book and disliked it.  Frequently, actually, my book club could be divided into folks who loved a book and hated it.

On Thursday, though, amazingly, they all enjoyed the same book—Crank

If you haven’t read it, Crank is usually classified as a YA book.  It’s not a lighthearted read…it covers a life being destroyed by meth.

So why would a group of  suburban women from age 35—50 enjoy the book so much?

From what I picked up from the individual comments, it was the author’s astonishingly unique approach (the book is written in poetic form, but as a narrative.  The columns could all be read more than one way)  and the fact that they felt it could happen to them…that their normal, high-performing, soccer-playing child could be consumed by the same monster that consumed the teenager in the book.

The teenager in the book was a straight-A high school junior who was completely transformed.

The conversation on the typesetting alone lasted about twenty minutes.  And you’d have to see it to believe it—absolutely brilliant.  I imagine that the book must have cost a mint for the publisher to produce—only few words on each page and a lot of pages.

I think the publisher knew it was going to be a huge hit.  It became a bestselling—a book of poetry.  That’s like a musical becoming a Hollywood blockbuster.

What was interesting to me, as a writer, was that this book club meeting dragged on way past my bedtime. :)  These women weren’t going anywhere.  They talked and talked about the book.  They worried about their children.  They blamed the mother in the book, then forgave her.

Although I don’t write cautionary tales, I’m always very interested in what strikes a chord with readers.  Y’all know that I keep an eye on the market too, but this is a little different.  This is writing with the reader in mind.

I know I couldn’t pull off a book like Crank, nor would I want to—because it’s been done so successfully already. 

But I like the idea of creating situations where readers say “this could happen to me.”  Something that pulls them into the story and makes them feel as if it was happening to them.  Of a troubled protagonist who is deeply flawed. None of those women in that room had experience with the dark underbelly of the drug world.  But it struck a chord with all of them.  They became empathetic with the drug-addicted teenager in the book.

None of them blamed the girl in the book.  And I think, to create such a deeply flawed protagonist, we’d have to set it up so the character still comes off as sympathetic—more a victim of circumstances.  And that’s a tricky balance: having a sympathetic protagonist who the reader won’t lose respect for—even though their actions are irresponsible or even dangerous.

Have you ever pulled off a character with huge personality flaws?  Do you enjoy reading these types of characters?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why I Won’t Take the Bait

Port--Jean-Julien Lemordant-1882-1968There is definitely a personality type out there that I’m running into more and more frequently (especially now that my following has increased on Twitter and Facebook.) This type of person is usually very bright and enjoys bringing up valid, if provocative, points on something that I’ve written or a link that I’ve tweeted.

From the way they’ve worded their response to the topic, it’s more in the form of a challenge. It’s occasionally a little on the rude side. It’s clear they’re looking for me to debate the topic.

And I’ll write back and just agree that I can see where someone would share their point of view and leave it at that.

When I agree that a person has a valid viewpoint, an argument is usually defused.

So, recently, a gentleman disagreed with something that I’d tweeted (regarding a post I hadn’t written, but that I’d shared.)

As usual, I wrote back and mildly said that I could see where someone might share his opinion (being, as I always do, careful not to state my own opinion.)

He wrote me back: “It’s not as much fun when you won’t argue the point!”

Do any of us benefit from getting into arguments or debates on Twitter, Facebook, or any other forum?

Here’s why I won’t take the bait:

I know there is more than one way to look at an issue.

I don't like confrontation.

Something that starts out on the friendly side can deteriorate.

I have more to lose than I have to gain.

I don’t have time to argue.

I don’t care enough to argue.

It doesn’t matter to me if I’m right or not.

There is no way I will come out looking good from an argument.

I don’t gain anything from being argumentative.

Words live forever online.

I’ve heard several stories from authors that they had an email from their publisher over a political position the writer took on their blog or an ill-advised argument they had online. I have no desire to get in hot water with my publishers. In some ways I represent them, too.

Do I really want, ten or twenty years from now, my kids to be able to access a pointless argument I had online when I was having a bad day? Or my grandchildren even? This stuff stays out there.

One of the reasons I’m blogging and active in the online community is because I’m interested in hearing a variety of different approaches and ideas from different writers. In fact, I really want to be saturated with these ideas, because that’s how I grow.

So I won’t take the bait—I’m more interested in hearing your argument than in being right.

Have you ever gotten baited online? (I’ll admit to hoping for a ‘yes’ answer because I’m starting to think it’s just me!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Knowing What Trips Us Up

La Méditation by Domenico Feti -1589 - 1624Tuesday, I was going through my daughter’s weekly folder of graded school papers--parents are supposed to review the papers, help the kids with any problem areas, and sign that the folder has been checked.

Everything looked great until I saw a writing project paper that stopped my quick flipping through the pages. There were red marks all over it, which was unusual. And my daughter’s writing looked different.

She ordinarily has a fun, and breezy writing voice. This writing was stilted and forced.

Even her handwriting looked different. It was very formal and stiff. There were perfectly-formed letters as if she'd tried to do calligraphy instead of the messier writing I see when she’s in the flow and is trying to put her ideas down on paper.

What on earth had happened?

I really didn’t want to approach her in a critical way (especially with this particular subject and coming from me), so I was just clearing my throat and figuring out what to say when she saw me holding her paper and burst into tears. Which was the last thing I wanted, of course.

They’d started a new creative writing program and the grading was going to be very strict, she said. She pointed out the rubric grid that was stapled to the back of the paper. The rubric was detailed, with four sections detailing what the paper would be graded on… from mechanics, to content, to neatness.

And she’d totally freaked out.

Honestly, it really had little to do with the assignment and a lot to do with her. I’m just completely delighted to see creative writing taught in public school at all, honestly. And it is time to really focus on getting the mechanics perfected….she’s nine years old.

For her, though, it messed her up to look at this rubric while she was writing. When I suggested that , in future, she make a rough draft first and then make corrections in the second draft, she was all smiles.

Apparently, she’s her mother’s child. :) It makes me freeze when I think too much about the mechanics of my writing while I’m being creative.

For other writers, it’s completely the opposite. Seeing all the typos and other mistakes in the first draft distracts some writers so much that they can’t move forward until the mistakes are corrected first.

There’s really so much advice out there on writing. Much of it is contradictory because it’s what works for that particular writer—and each writer is different.

I wish there was a faster way to know what works as a writer, but I know it took me ages to figure out if I was an outliner or a pantster, if I could research as I wrote or if I needed to wait, or if I should edit as I wrote or at the end.

I tried each method and just paid attention if it was a struggle or not. I noted if I stalled when it was time to write or if my writing was really unnatural and stilted—and then I tried something else.

I’m always looking for ways to be a better writer. And I think I’m still looking for ways to have a better writing process. I probably just need to stick with what works and leave it alone. :)

Have you learned what trips you up as a writer? And what works for you?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Encouraging Reading

Where the Sidewalk EndsFirst up, thanks so much to everyone for their reception of the Writer’s Knowledge Database yesterday. I really appreciate it and am so glad you found it helpful! Please continue sending in any suggestions you’ve got for the resource.

My post today goes a little off my usual topics, although I think it’s still very important to writers…it’s about encouraging children to read.

It’s hard for many of us to imagine, because we were probably all avid readers when we were kids. But I have parents emailing me every month asking me for book recommendations or general recommendations for getting their children to read.

I’m lucky that both of my children enjoy reading. But I work hard talking to classrooms and other parents to try to encourage kids to read. There are so many other distractions these days and I want to ensure that there’s a next generation of readers and writers.

Again, this is an area where I’m not an expert, but something that I feel strongly about. While I was a traditional reader as a kid, I’m happy to think more outside the box in order to loop in new readers. If I’m talking to a school or a Scout group, I’m going to think of as many ways to tempt readers as I can. These are my tips and thoughts for encouraging kids to read:

Put books everywhere. I’ve even been known to stick Popular Science on the coffee table in front of the Xbox when my son’s friends are over. They will definitely leaf through it.

Scan book blogs to find YA releases and what’s hot for juvenile literature. Sometimes if their peers are reading the newest, coolest book it might pique their interest. And then maybe they’ll move on to other things.

Shel Silverstein for the kid who won’t read a book straight through.

Try non-fiction for the reader who can’t seem to get into a novel.

Challenged readers? Give them a book above their reading level…maybe a Harry Potter. And download the book onto your Ipod or MP3 player..and let them follow along in the book and gain confidence (and an increased vocabulary.)

Look for ‘Best of 2010 (and other years) lists. You’ll find an amazing list of recommendations for different types of books for children (and adults, too) at this site: Largehearted Boy.

Graphic novels have come a long way. You can now find beautiful graphic novel versions of major classical works, even. And there are series like the Bone series that create whole worlds for kids to explore.

Not getting anywhere with books? See if a download on a Kindle makes reading more interesting.

Pick up some picture books. I bring picture books home from the library every time I go and just leave them on the kitchen table. The kids (who would definitely say they’re too old for picture books) will still read them with a lot of enjoyment, savoring the pictures and words.

Sometimes reading aloud to children every night is the best or only solution to get them interested in a book. I’ve gotten my kids started several times on books that initially didn’t appeal to them by reading the story to them, then handing the book over when I got to an exciting part.

Magazines for children and teens are another way to sneak in some more reading for reluctant readers.

Know what your child most likes to read. And for the most reluctant of readers, know what they will read. Is there just one particular book that they really enjoyed? Look up that book on Amazon and books similar to that one will crop up in their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section.

Any other ideas or tips for encouraging our future readers to read?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Search Engine for Writers

Writer's Knowledge Base graphicGoogle doesn’t always deliver.

If you want to search for information on POV, try plugging the term into Google.

The top sites returned for POV are a video that PBS made (which isn’t on writing POV), a couple of definitions by Wikipedia (several of which have to do with automobiles), a racy YouTube video, and some freeware.

That’s right—nothing to do with the craft of writing.

When I started subscribing to writing blogs, I did it to access in-depth information on the writing craft—written by working writers and industry professionals.

After amassing a huge (1587 and growing) number of writing blog subscriptions, it occurred to me that other writers might be interested in the same type of information….and that maybe they didn’t know where to look.

That’s when I started tweeting the info I found.

Realizing that not everyone was on Twitter, I started sharing the links, weekly, on my blog.

Still, the fact that the links weren’t easily searched bothered me. What if there was a writer who didn’t need that great link on book marketing now? Maybe they needed an agent post on penning the perfect query. Would they just miss out on the marketing link since they wouldn’t need it for a while? Would they bookmark it for later and end up with a ton of bookmarks?

I put a couple of pages up on my blog to try to archive the links and make them, to some degree, searchable. Still, the searching wasn’t particularly efficient.

I mentioned on my blog one day, “I’m sure there’s got to be a better way to do this, but I can’t think of it.”

Enter Mike Fleming, software engineer.

Mike knew exactly how to make the links searchable—create a specific search engine for writing links. He emailed me to bat the idea back and forth with me (actually, it was more of a one-sided tennis game, since he’s way over my head in terms of technology.)

But I loved the idea of a free resource for writers. A way for writers to access information that would help them write better books or articles.

After a lot of work on Mike’s part, the Writer’s Knowledge Base was created.

As Mike stated on his blog:

The search is done instantly over thousands of writing-related articles ranging from character development to author promotion on social media. Unlike Google, all of the results are relevant to you as a writer. They may not all interest you, of course, but at least searching for "plot" will bring back articles on how to plot your story and not news articles on terrorist plots.

Mike has also included a fun feature where a writer can browse the links and find random writing-related articles.

Who are the authors of these blog posts? Writers, agents, editors, book marketing experts. Some of your blog posts may be included, too. Writers won’t only be accessing the information they need, but they’ll also be finding new and helpful blogs to follow. And Mike will continue adding the links that I uncover each week.

When you have a minute, we’d love for you to give it a try. What do you think? Please tell us what you like, what you’d like to see added, and any ideas or thoughts you have. You can comment on either of our blogs, email me at elizabethspanncraig (at) or Mike at mike.fleming (at)

And feel free to spread the news. I’d love for this to be a real resource for writers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Little Things

IMS00173I wrote a post on this last year, but it’s a topic that has cropped up again for me.

I tweet a ton of different writing blogs on many different topics. I’ve subscribed to blogs that have nothing to do with my particular area of interest (graphic novels, scriptwriting, etc.), but which I think other writers might find interesting or helpful.

A couple of times in the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten direct messages on Twitter from users about typos in different writing blogs that I’ve tweeted.

One tweeter said that they just couldn’t finish reading the writer’s article at all because they were so distracted by the typos. It made me pull that blog post up again on my computer and look at it with a more critical eye.

The post’s content was very helpful, I thought. The writer had a refreshing take on the writing craft and sound tips to follow that could prove useful to someone facing the same issue with their writing.

I did see typos. And there was even a pretty flagrant typo in the post’s title. Was it distracting? English Major Me would have said yes. And it still distracted me a little…but not enough to keep me from tweeting the post because I found it useful. That’s because I was searching for content.

The second time was a couple of days ago and I got a direct message from a tweeter. She said sadly that she wished typos didn’t bother her…but she couldn’t seem to stop being bothered by them. I pulled up the blog post for the writing blog she’d referred to. I skimmed the author’s blog, then skimmed it quickly again. Finally I saw it…due instead of do. Homonym issue.

Again, that person’s blog post was worthy of tweeting…this tweeter was being especially picky. The post was a list of archetypes found in a particular genre. I hadn’t seen a post like that and knew that people who wrote that genre would find it interesting.

Typos happen. I think some writers don’t have an especially wonderful grasp of spelling, either. And some could use a grammar brush-up. I was an English major and am the daughter of an English teacher, but-- I still have typos, especially in blog posts, which I tend to write quickly. I do put more time into my manuscripts, as do other writers, I’m sure.

So…the question is, how picky are agents and editors? If just random writers on Twitter can get badly tripped up by spelling, grammar, and carelessness, how badly do the gatekeepers get tripped up by reading it?

I think, if the mistakes are flagrant, they can be distracting, no matter how good the content is. It would be like a person arriving at a job interview in a really inappropriate outfit—maybe they’re an excellent candidate for the position, but the fact they showed up in torn jeans and a rock band tee shirt makes the interviewer think twice.

Former Writer’s Digest publisher and editorial director, Jane Friedman, wrote in a post last summer entitled “Why I Don’t Care About Grammar (and Why You Should Stop Worrying"). Jane’s main point was that perfect grammar didn’t necessarily mean good writing.

I agree with her and I think, in my small way, proved that we can become immune to typos, etc., in the search for good content when I became temporarily oblivious to the mechanics of the interesting posts that I tweeted.

But still, I think about all the competition out there. I wonder what goes through an editor’s mind when she sees two equally good manuscripts—but one needs a heck of a lot more editing (which equals more time and money) than the other. And I think about the poor impression someone makes when they show up at a job interview in torn jeans and a rock band tee shirt.

Janice Hardy had a nice post about areas every writer should be familiar with—great summary.

With spelling and typos, I think you just have to be super careful to check your work. And not just with the spell-check program on your computer, either—it won’t catch a homonym problem.

Here are some other resources that might be helpful:

Grammar, Punctuation, Mechanics, etc.:

Online guide to grammar and writing Daily Writing Tips Grammar Girl The Grammarphobia Blog Mighty Red Pen Crystal Clear Proofing

Usage: Common Errors in English Usage

Style: The Chicago Manual of Style Online The Elements of Style

Some writers might benefit from the help of independent editors. I know there are several who frequently comment here, including Helen Ginger, Marvin Wilson, Crystal from Crystal Clear, and Victoria Mixon.

How easy is it for you to ignore others’ typos? And, are there resources that you’ve come across that you’d like to share?

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Terry3_thumb[1]Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past week.

If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog (on the black header right above my blog name…next to the Blogger symbol…the small search window is next to the magnifying glass) and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F, type your subject, and hit enter.

I’m also archiving these posts in what I hope is an easily searchable format—if you look at the Twitterific tabs under the blog’s heading, I’m posting the links there, too.

Steampunk Archetypes:

When Is a Story Worth Writing? – Part One: @JamiGold

The Process of Creation – Here’s a Concept: @JustusRStone

Getting a new idea:

Editing by instinct and some tips to distance yourself from your manuscript:

Don't Show Up In Overalls:

Failed at Installation:

6 Steps to Fight Content Theft:

The app I use to schedule my tweets ahead of time is down for scheduled maintenance. Tweeting will resume after SocialOomph is back up. :)

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Cream Scones: A Theme and Variations @CleoCoyle

Intern Tips: Query Edition:

Love's labour's located: how one writer plotted Shakespeare's London with an iPhone app (Guardian):

The 4 stages of writing--in comic form via @inkygirl:

Mystery writers guide to forensics--forensic linguistics: @clarissadraper

Quick editing tip for rewriting weak scenes:

Character building tips from King's "On Writing":

Resistance is futile: 10 ways you can find NOT to write that novel: @ziggykinsella

Thoughts on realistic sexual tension for your book:

A tip for adding realistic tension to your book:

Best Articles This Week for Writers 1/21/11: @4kidlit

Taming Time—Practical Tips to Increase Writing Productivity:

Barnes & Noble makes small -- or big? -- exec changes:

Insufficiently challenged heroes:

How to Find a Direct Line to Your Readers:

How to Feature Your Book on Your LinkedIn Profile:

When Social Media Becomes a Time-Suck:

Making your super characters extraordinary: @cvaldezmiller

10 ways to be awkward at a writers' conference:

The part that a lack of perspective and perception plays in creating crime fiction victims: @mkinberg

How Do You Know if Your Writing is Getting Better?

Why You’re Only 1/4 of A Writer And How to Make You Whole Again:

Rediscovering the fun in our fiction:

Reading like a Writer:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Vegetarian Split Pea soup @CleoCoyle

Advice From An Editor: The Three-Word Non-Magic Formula:

B&N lending features are disappearing:

Is It Just Too Much to Ask of an Author? (Huff Post):

Writer's Platform Vs. Writer's Foundation: @HeatherMcCorkle

8 Tips To Launch Successful Challenges at Your Blog:

How original do you have to be? Writing for a market:

Links addressing whether our manuscript is ready for querying: @bluemaven

The difference between "pitch" and "query":

6 Mistakes That Make Your Website Look Like a 1970s Kitchen:

RT @KMWeiland Need to brush up your grammar? Useful site for a crash course:

Formatting Your Manuscript – 25 Lines Per Page: @jhansenwrites

SFF and the Classical Past, Part 1: Atlantis:

Writers' group etiquette:

Self-Editing for Writers: Part 1, Mechanics:

Steps toward establishing a writing habit:

5 Tips for Freelance Mentor Relationships:

Authors, don't take offense at changes your editor & production team make to your book:

How to Optimize Your Blog for Google:

An agents says--Be Careful Over-working Your Story. You Will Never Finish:

Blog design counts-- tips on what to avoid:

Steampunk thoughts: the novels of Felix Gilman:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Leftovers and Editing @CleoCoyle

Do-Overs: 10 speculative fiction books that got major rewrites after they were published:

How to be a Writer and Have a Life: or, Livin’ the Dream:

Trying to Explain Characterization:

Writing The Next Book:

How blogging helped one writer find an agent:

The Increasing Importance of the First Chapter:

Need inspiration? A coffee break for writers: @elspethwrites

Developing a Unique Voice - Links, Tips, and a Useful Tool:

Interesting post on narrative distance:

What your writers block may be telling you: @flawritersconf

Unknown and unpublished: enjoy it while it lasts:

Finding--and Leading With--Theme:

Free Books Aren’t Free:

Setting the Right Tone for Your Story:

Branding: The Secret to Selling More Books (Huff Post):

Wikipedia is the non-fiction writer's best friend (Guardian):

Foreign Rights: Not for the Faint of Heart:

Edgar Nominees 2011: Mystery Writers of America: @janetrudolph

5 Reasons to Tackle Freelance Projects You Don't Love:

Is the Print-and-Pray Model of Book Publishing Dead?

Each scene in our book needs to earn its keep: @authorterryo

Should I Mention My Blog in My Query?

With All the Hype, Is Self-Publishing Really for You?: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself (Huff Post):

Beat Procrastination With a Stopwatch:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Combatting the Weather With a Southern Favorite—Goulash! @CleoCoyle

Critiquing with grace and a little panache:

Reject the "New Rules For Writers" (Huff Post):

The 2 Guaranteed Ways to Ruin Your Novel:

An agent with conference tips:

One writer's experience with Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award process: @hartjohnson

A Writer's Quick-fix Toolkit: @jammer0501

More Cuts at Borders (Publishers Weekly):

Showing your characters' emotions through dialogue: @Paize_Fiddler

Editing made easier:

How Authors Move Their Own Merchandise (Wall St. Journal):

The Writing Process: From Idea To Print:

The Snowball Effect of Social Media:

Finding Book Endorsements:

Non-Fiction–The Road to Becoming an “Expert”:

What Makes a Hero:

Me or You? Choosing Between First and Third POV:

A litmus test for your opening scene:

6 Common Dialogue Mistakes to Avoid:

The Problem - and Reality - of Adding -LY:

Why one tweeter says 'no' to RTs:

Combining characters:

Looking back on past writing goals and tweaking them for the future:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: The Particular Happiness of Orange Cake by Cleo Coyle @CleoCoyle

4 business moves you'll never regret, as a writer: @wendypmiller

Writing children's fantasy--what sets it apart from other fantasy:

An interesting journey--one writer goes from self-published success to agented author:

Authors weigh in on being published by small presses (and thoughts on distribution): @LadyGlamis

Keeping characters real by allowing them to be moody: @elspethwrites

Know thy hub:

NPR's new short fiction contest is on (LA Times):

The best practices list--for writers:

How to write a press release for your book--8 tips: @alexisgrant

The Neil Gaiman master class for writing--headhopping vs. POV shifts: @SimonCLarter

The Cons of a Freelance Career:

How to Write a Synopsis When You Have Lots of Characters in Your Story: @chucksambuchino

New Rules For Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition And More (Huff Post):

An additional post on openings--defining our characters at the start of our book: @p2p_editor

Openings: In the Beginning . . .:

Lessons from the Slushpile: Good vs. Great:

Be Focused, Be Prepared, Be Committed – Steps to Take Before Hiring a Publicist:

40 tips to become more productive:

Edits vs. Revisions: One on One Death Match:

How to Make Powerful Connections Through Social Media:

Jospeh Conrad – A Writer Must Believe:

5 desk exercises for writers (or others who are attached to their desk):

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Winter Salad with Black-Eye Peas and Spinach @CleoCoyle

Avoid this "writing contest":

Trade magazines for writers:

3 fixes to make your first novel fly: 1 – hook your reader by the head AND the heart: @dirtywhitecandy

Why ebooks cost so much:

10 Steps for Working Past the “This Stinks” Blues:

What the powers-that-be think about DRM, and an explanation of the cloud:

One reader's top 10 paranormal picks for 2011:

Creating empathy for your characters:

How to create a podcast: @thecreativepenn

Tension vs. Just Plain Old Annoying:

Using Setting to Help Build Your World:

How novels came to terms with the internet (Guardian):

America's most literate cities:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Welcome Our Guest Blogger Terry Odell: What's in a name? + Honey and Orange Glaze... @CleoCoyle

When the Bookshelves Spilleth Over: Ideas and Links for Book Donations:

Creating unforgettable settings--world building:

An illustrator's process in the spotlight:

An agent believes that writers who don't read their reviews limit their potential for growth:

Let's call the whole thing off: @sarahlapolla

This post rates a rare 2nd tweet from me...just b/c I think it's an easy, clever method for deep POV:

Ways to go from Plod to Plot:

Writing like it’s a game of chess: @JustusRStone

Literary tattoos (Guardian):

Tips for making your writing sparkle:

The use of artistically-arranged crime scenes in mysteries: @mkinberg

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gut Editing

img-013A couple of days ago I was at a friend’s house, dropping off some craft supplies for the Girl Scout meeting. I was in a hurry, as always, made my goodbyes, jumped in the car, turned the key in the ignition…and nothing happened. And I mean nothing. It wasn’t like the car even tried to turn over…and I’d just been driving the darned thing minutes earlier.

I can do a few things with a car—I can change a tire, add some oil…but I’d probably just call AAA auto club to come and do those things, since we have a membership. I had a feeling this problem was battery related so I popped open the hood.

My friend and I looked at the engine dubiously. Finally, I noticed that there was a cable that was kind of flopping around. I frowned at it. “That couldn’t be right, could it? Some cable not connected to anything?”

My friend said, “You know, I think that’s supposed to clamp onto the battery. See? It’s got a red cover on it and there’s the green one.”

Ahh. I hooked it onto the battery terminal, or whatever it was. I jumped into the car and it started right away.

I know very little about cars, but I do know when something doesn’t look right.

I’ve focused a lot on editing this week, probably because I just finished a slew of it recently. Now I’m back in the creative part again, but the editing still lingers in my mind. So my mind jumped right back to editing as I hurried back home.

I think that sometimes we can overthink the editing process. It seems so daunting (or boring) sometimes, but really…all it boils down to is that we’re searching for something that doesn’t look right.

Now the car engine was completely unfamiliar to me, so my eye went right to the thing that didn’t look right. But with a manuscript, we’ve been working so closely with our words that it can be hard to get that distance.

Ways that we can distance ourselves enough from a manuscript to find the things that don’t look right?

Time: You can put your manuscript down for as much time as possible, then return to it.

Reading aloud: This is a method that I use and it does help quite a bit.

Change of scenery: I really don’t know why this works, but it does. If I’ve written the majority of the book at home, then I’ll go to the coffeehouse to edit it, or vice versa.

Different font: I’ve heard this trick before, but haven’t used it. Some swear by putting your manuscript in a completely different font for editing.

What gives you the distance to see when something doesn’t look right?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quick Editing Tip

Pierre de Nolhac , conservateur du musée de Versailles by Henri Girault de Nolhac--1884 - 1948Microsoft Word 2010 and I have not been getting along, unfortunately. I’ve been very good to back up, as well as to save work as I go…but I’ve still experienced data loss.

Yesterday I was writing, carefully hitting ‘save’ at the end of each paragraph—and Word froze right before the end of a long paragraph. So I lost the sentences.

It wasn’t a lot of text lost, but it was enough to make me take a 30 minute break in irritation. :)

When I sat down again to rewrite the paragraph, I tried to capture the feeling and gist of the previous paragraph. I’d written quickly and I couldn’t remember my exact word choice.

I used different phrasing and I think the order of the sentences was different—and I know it reads a lot better than what I’d originally written.

I’d kept only my vague impression of the old paragraph. I had the gist of the scene but rewrote it in a fresh way.

This was accidental editing (that I sure wasn’t planning on doing yesterday), but I’ve used the technique on purpose when editing manuscripts before.

Each draft of every manuscript I’ve worked on has had a mixture of strong and weak scenes.

When reading the first draft, I’ll mark scenes that stand out as weak with a comment to myself in the margin, using Word’s commenting feature.

After I’ve finished my read-through, I’ll rewrite the weak scenes without looking at them. Well, I’ll do a really fast read-through, to get the gist of the weak scene, but not a close-enough reading to be able to remember specific word choice.

The end product is nearly always much better than the old version.

I’ve found that if I’m looking right at the sentences that need to be edited, I tend to use the same phrasing…phrasing which obviously didn’t work and which resulted in the weak scene to begin with.

Have you tried doing blind rewrites of a scene, page, or paragraph? How did it work for you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Original? How Edgy? Writing for a Market

One exhilarating thing about writing is that there are so many choices for our story.

When I’m working on the Memphis Barbeque series, the plot possibilities are endless. There are dozens of possibilities for story direction, new characters, and character development.

What I do know when I start writing, is that the book will be set in Memphis. There will be at least one murder (and probably two.) Much of the story’s activity will be centered around a barbeque restaurant.

There will not be a lot of profanity, excessive gore, or over-the-top violence.

The lack of profanity, gore and violence is because I know my genre and my readers—and I respect them. I’m writing for a particular market...and readers who might not buy my next book if they’re disappointed by a radical departure from cozy norms. Check out these posts from Margot Kinberg (she explains that these subgenre categories help readers find the kinds of books they want) and Alan Orloff (writers should know their audience and the conventions that audience expects.)

The story’s setting, the murders, and the centering around a restaurant is due to the series’ branding and the expectations of my publisher. This is how we’re marketing the series—it’s set in Memphis, Tennessee which is a vibrant city known for its barbeque. The series is a culinary mystery series.

When I signed the contract for the series, I agreed to certain conditions. My publisher paid me an advance on the books that I hadn’t written yet, and in return I promised to produce something that they could market and put on the shelf—that fit the parameters of the genre.

I was on Twitter the other day and someone sent me a message. They were interested in my agent’s name because they had written something that “had never been done before.”

I know that many unpublished writers say that they want to write a book that is unique and really stands out from the crowd…or the slush pile.

Of course you should write the book you want to write. The one with the characters that talk to you all hours of the day and night, begging for more lines.

But, if you’re looking for publication, I don’t think you have to go wildly original. And you don’t have to push the boundaries or be really edgy to stand out.

In most genres, there’s an audience for what’s considered standbys for the genre. And what you see on the shelves in those genres represent, for the most part, what works. What people want to read, what they’re talking about and sharing with each other.

It’s great to have the breakout novel that defies definition. I think many of us have a book like that in us.

But I think there’s a lot to be said for following industry guidelines for a genre and delivering something that can easily be marketed and sold. The type of book that readers of that genre genuinely love to read.

What makes your book unique and not the same as every other fantasy or YA book or mystery out there? Your characters and your voice.

So, if it’s the edgy, breakout novel that resists labeling is the one that’s asking you to be written, definitely write it.

But don’t feel like that’s the novel you have to write. There’s plenty of room for the old standards. For the kinds of stories that people go back to. For comfortable reads. For what works.

I think it’s great to wow an agent or editor with your unique voice and your amazing characters. I don’t think you necessarily have to forge new territory with a radically different or edgy plot.

And maybe…once you’ve established yourself in the industry with with reliable sales, you can more easily find a home for something really unusual or unique or edgy.

I know there are folks who feel otherwise, though, like the man who contacted me on Twitter. What do you think? New territory? Old standards? Which do you see making its way through the slush pile easier?

Keeping Busy While You Wait

Astronomical Clock detailPatience is the trait that I admire most.

Unfortunately, it’s one of the traits I’m lacking. :)

Actually, I think if I had to name my biggest fault, it would be my lack of patience. I’m always moving, restless. I have trouble sitting still…even when I write. I’ll frequently “write” in my head while I’m doing housework or errands.

And publishing? It moves veryyyyy slowwwwly.

There’s actually not a single area of the publishing industry that I can think of that moves quickly. Querying? Very, very slow. Contract agreements? Slow. (Usually back and forth between agent to editor a couple of times before getting to us to sign.) Edits? Pretty slow, again mostly due to the back-and-forth nature of it and the need for thought in regards to changes. Book production…oh Lord. That’s the slowest of all.

Of course, it takes time to write a book, too. :) Some of the time, they’re all waiting on me.

Actually, for most published authors that I know, the process is wait, wait some more, waaaait, then…hurry! Hurry! Make the deadline! Then waaaait. Then there’s an insane rush around release time that lingers.

But I never think about the waiting. I’m never anxiously wondering what stage of production my book is in.

I’d ordinarily be the worst person in the world with all the waiting…except that I’m so very busy writing books and working on promoting them.

My mother sometimes will ask me, “Now when is your book coming out? Everyone is asking me!” I’ll tell her it’s June and she’ll exclaim over the wait. And…each time I’m surprised by her reaction. It hasn’t felt that long on my end. For one, I think I’m just getting used to it.

But really, it’s just my busyness. Who has time to think?

Unfortunately, publishing wasn’t designed with impatient types in mind.

I think, if we spend too much time thinking about the wait—particularly if we’re waiting to hear back from queries—then it just makes things worse. I can’t think of a single productive internal monologue that I’ve had when I’ve felt impatient and anxious. They always end up making me feel worse.

If you’re waiting on something to do with publishing …have you tried writing another book? What else do you do to keep yourself busy while you wait? And, since I'm curious today, what part of the writing/publishing loop are you currently focusing on--writing, querying, releasing, promo, or all of them?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Editing Made Easy (Or At Least Easier)

Striped_Notepad_4710 (7)After I finish a first draft, I start into my edits right away. And boy, is there usually a lot of editing to do!

Looking at the manuscript as a messy whole is sometimes overwhelming.

To get me started on the right track and help myself feel a little more enthusiastic about the chore in front of me, I usually start out with some easy edits that make a big difference.

The first thing I do is a find {ctrl F} for my favorite words. I’ll find a lot of ‘justs’ and ‘sighs.’ This takes only minutes to do, but makes me feel a little more cheerful.

Not sure what your favorite words are? Some folks use Wordle, which highlights the most common words in a manuscript.

The next thing I look for are weak words and words to investigate…because I might need to make the sentence stronger: That, seem, there, might, something, ‘to be’ verbs (like was ____ing), had, very, so, little, almost. This takes a bit longer, but is still really easy. Terry Odell has a nice post on using Word to eliminate problem words.

I have some new words to look for, too. There was a great post on Write it Sideways last week about filter words. Quoting the post, filter words are “those that unnecessarily filter the reader’s experience through a character’s point of view.”

Those words are (again, quoting directly from the blog):

  • to see
  • to hear
  • to think
  • to touch
  • to wonder
  • to realize
  • to watch
  • to look
  • to seem
  • to feel (or feel like)
  • can
  • to decide
  • to sound (or sound like)

So, to give a quick example, a sentence using the filter word ‘heard’ might look like this:

John heard the siren.

Without the filter word, you could have this:

The siren blared.

Basically, you’re putting the reader in John’s shoes and deeper into the story.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to eliminate all of these words. And there are plenty of situations where you need them—where the wording would be too awkward otherwise.

But it’s a great place to start with editing, I think. It’s nothing if not easy. You can search for the words and just take a quick look at the sentence and see if it can be stronger or worded better.

When I knock out these easy fixes, it just helps me feel more confident about knocking out the rest of the mess. :)

Are there particular words that you look for? What words do you commonly use as fillers?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Best Practices…for Writers

nov 22 059There’s a term that I keep tripping over—'best practices.’ I’ve seen it in literature my husband brings home from work, and my son has been studying it for a business class he’s taking. It’s also mentioned on television from time to time.

According to Wikipedia:

A best practice is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive, or reward which conventional wisdom regards as more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. when applied to a particular condition or circumstance. (Wiki)

I thought I’d put together a sort of best practices list for writers of the advice I’ve heard and read most frequently from other writers.

Writing: Set a writing goal, either daily or weekly. Don't be too critical of yourself during the first draft. Try to be flexible about the times and places that you write. Keep dialogue tags simple. Showing rather than telling is usually more effective. Make sure your book has enough conflict. Read. It helps if you've either been an avid reader or are one currently. Find what works for you (outlining or no-outlining, edit as you go or later, research now or later) and do it.

Connect with other writers who understand and appreciate what you're going through. Others close to you may or may not.

Editing and Revising:

Try putting away your manuscript for a while. Be aware of industry standards for word count for the genre you've written--and try to conform to the standards, if you plan to submit for publication. Find an honest critiquer to offer constructive criticism. But still respect your gut. Read the book aloud. Printing the book and revising on paper may help.


Research agents, focusing on those that represent what you write. Check the agents against Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors.

Research dos and don'ts of query writing (lots of advice on these agents’ blogs): Rachelle Gardner’s Rants and Ramblings, Bookends, Query Shark, Pub Rants, Babbles from Scott Eagan.

Expect rejection and persevere. Learn what you can from any feedback you receive.

After Signing Your Contract and Following the Book’s Release:

Respect your editor. Think twice before arguing over a change. Market, in some form, with as much enthusiasm as you can. Make sure your publisher is aware of your efforts. Manage your time, especially online time. Be careful of what you say online..on your blog, when commenting on others' blogs, when Tweeting, while on Facebook.

Keep writing. Write while you're submitting, write while you're waiting for your book to release. Not only does it keep you busy, but it’s great practice.

Obviously, the most important thing is to find out what works best for you, then do it. :) What works for you…what would you recommend for a ‘best practices’ list for writers?

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Terry3_thumb[1]Here are writing links that I’ve posted to Twitter for the past week.

If you’re looking for a particular topic, just plug in your keyword into the search box at the top left-hand corner of the blog (on the black header right above my blog name…next to the Blogger symbol…the small search window is next to the magnifying glass) and the roundup with your subject will come up. To narrow your search down on the page, do a CTRL+F, type your subject, and hit enter.

I’m also archiving these posts in what I hope is an easily searchable format—if you look at the Twitterific tabs under the blog’s heading, I’m posting the links there, too.

How Do You Decide on Your Author Brand? – Part One: and Two:

When Dialogue is nothing but "Blah, Blah, Blah":

The use of artistically-arranged crime scenes in mysteries: @mkinberg

Secret Weapons of Successful Self-Publishers (Huff Post):

3 Things to Do While Querying:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Now, kill two New Year’s resolutions with one recipe! @CleoCoyle

6 things one author wishes she knew when writing her first novel:

Crossing over with YA:

Tall, Dark, And All Wrong:

5 Ways to Develop Consistency in Writing & Blogging:

Best articles this week for writers-- 1/14:

Tips for high concept writing:

How to fall back in love with your story: @WeronikaJanczuk

Deepening Your Character’s Needs:

The Character of the Successful Writer–A New Level or a New Devil?:

7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion: @thecreativepenn

SEO and Social Networking for Writers (Who Don’t Have All Day for It):

Tips for speaking on panels:

Point of View: A Cheat Sheet:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Winner - BWW Contest @CleoCoyle

The evolution of how @janefriedman uses Twitter:

How Soon Do I Query Again?

Saying "I'm a Writer" - The 6 Stages of Responses from Others:

Developing Characters While Waiting in Line: @LauraMarcella

Why it's a good idea to promote other writers:

25 Ways To Wake Up Early (And Maybe Get Some Writing Done):

Worldbuilding: The Art of Everything:

First Vs. Third: Point of View and Character Development:

The best font for a book:

Appositives: Quick Lesson From the Style Guide:

7 Ways to Get Your Blog Posts Shared On Facebook:

The Agent’s Role in Today’s Digital Book World:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Julie's Favorite Salad @CleoCoyle

The Making of a Novel: Courage to Tell Your Best Story:

26 Tips to Enhance Your Experience on LinkedIn:

Maintaining Your Sanity and Your Blog:

Signs of a bad writing day: @elspethwrites

Smart Self-Publishing: How to Get Published Without Getting Scammed (Huff Post):

Tips for radio and print interviews for writers:

How To Avoid Preachy Writing:

Intern Tips: The Query Edition:

5 Mistakes to End Your Freelance Career:

Are These Filter Words Weakening Your Fiction?

Thanks to @SGRedling & for my radio interview! Streaming live Fri. at 8:35 EST, if you'd like to tune in.

Why you should consider guest blogging:

The Greatest Challenge Agents Will Face: Standardization of Terms:

Got an idea for a book? Let it stew:

Why Writers Persevere In the Face of Doubt: @storiestorm

Taking The Emo Out of Emoticon:

Putting Critiques to Good Use:

RT @thecreativepenn Writing Mysteries With Elizabeth Spann Craig

7 Myths About Freelance Writing Online--

How One Writer Became a Twitter Freak in Less than a Week: @jhansenwrites

How to speak publisher - B is for Blad:

How to Write a Readable Writing Blog:

8 Ways To Convey a Professional Image When You Work from Home:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Let's hear it for LIBRARIANS!!! @CleoCoyle

How Spell Check CAN Be Helpful When Proofreading:

The Neil Gaiman Master Class in Writing--Openings: @WritingAgain

Should Writers Complain Publicly About Hardships?

Writing from the Garret: The Joys and Dangers of Readership:

Gotten stuck? Try the good vs. evil trick for getting unstuck: @SGRedling

Resist the urge to explain:

Low Paying Freelance Writing Gigs: Jump Off That Train, Quick!:

Can You Launch Your Book Without Losing Friends, Family, or Your Mind?

Tips for starting out with your writing blog (or improving it):

Want to write a mystery? My tips, from my interview with @thecreativepenn :

Formatting your manuscript – the silent scream:

7 Common Homonymic Spelling Errors:

How to let a scene write itself: @jammer0501

The 7 Secrets of an Indie Editor:

Thinking of pitching a non-fiction book? 5 questions to ask yourself: @JanetBoyer

Social Media and the Myth of the Master: @TAOXproductions

Plotting for Your Antagonist:

Tips for planning a writing convention:

50 Things to Tweet About:

A post on writing for trade magazines:

What Books Topped Bestseller Lists the Week You Were Born?

Are Publishers Becoming Technology Companies?


Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Rice Pileau (Also Pilau. And Perlo. And Pilaf…) @CleoCoyle

Writing milestones--editing:

9 Types of Listeners’ Responses - on Twitter and Everywhere Else:

Is Your Setting Helping Or Hurting? 3 Tips To Bring It Alive: @AmieKaufman

Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu…Who Knew?: Words Without Borders’ Surprise Hit:

10 reasons one writer doesn't share early drafts: @elspethwrites

How one writer approached self-publishing:

Reading Writers’ Houses:

Thoughts on changing editors:

How using lists can help you write your book:

Turn Social Networking into Character Development:

10 signs you're a published writer:

Equipping yourself to write--4 tips: @camillelaguire

Interactive fiction in the ebook era (Guardian):

An editor answers questions about whether you can mention celebrities, lyrics, etc, in your book:

Vital Secondary Characters:

Does your writing echo? Tips for eliminating repetition in your writing: @jhansenwrites

Developing Your Unique Writing Voice:

How to Dish Out Backstory in Digestible Bites:

I don't usually tweet classes, but will now: Took it in '09 & credit it for my blog & Twitter success. @blogbooktours

How to get ideas for stories – be gullible:

The 2 Ways Writing Keeps You Off the Streets & Out of the Bars:

Electronic cover letters: and

12 Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid:

Should You Consider a Small Publisher? Part I:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Cleo Coyle's Most Useful (and Useless) Kitchen Gadgets and the Perfect Hot Dog @CleoCoyle

One mother's writing habits:

Why the popularity of the Kindle means that writers need stronger beginnings to their books: @hartjohnson

Realistic, challenging writing goals:

Need writing resources? An impressive list of links for your writer's toolbox: @jhansenwrites

The power of positivity:

Ideas vs execution:

On critiquing--pros and cons for when to offer constructive criticism:

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary:

Is the Query System Dying?

Three Tips To Writing A Better Book Proposal:

Keeping It Readable: How Not to Write Dialogue Like Mark Twain:

The ABCs of character development:

Starting a book with the protagonist vs starting a book with a circumstance:

Building relationships with blogging:

A Twitter Case Study of an Author Brand:

Word formatting 101: @authorterryo

10 Tips for Your New eBook Reader:

Using Your Premise to Create Plot:

14 Lies We Tell Ourselves about Writing:

Recommendations for Debut Authors:

Best Tweets for Writers (week ending 1/7/11):

If You’re Watching The Clock, You Ain’t Really Writin’:

Are You Using “There” as a Crutch?

Top Reasons People Won’t Read Your Blog:

The Contradictory Nature of Great Fiction:

The journey of the eBook (slideshow):

Five Favorite Love Stories and Why They Work:

How POV Can Solve Your Writing Troubles:

Fiction editing checklist:

17 Killer Writing Tips for an Internet Audience:

How to Exhibit at Book Industry Tradeshows:

Signs you are Query Worthy:

Reasons not to be afraid of reading while you write:

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life:

Avoid Capital Offenses When Using Job Titles:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Welcome Guest Blogger Lois Winston! @CleoCoyle

Style blunders in fiction:

Backlinking bootcamp (learning how to use backlinks effectively on your blog):

Creating unforgettable settings:

Should we finish writing a bad book?

10 of the best explosions in history (Guardian):