Monday, February 28, 2011

Being Open to Ideas—Whenever they Strike

Fillette endormie--Maria Blanchard- 1925I think most writers are almost overwhelmed by ideas. The problem is usually too many ideas or getting ideas for new books when they’re not finished with the old one.

That’s they way it is for me, too. But I’ve noticed that the ideas are striking at different times than they used to.

I used to always get fantastic ideas when I was out running errands. I had a notebook in the car at all times, just in case, and index cards in my pocketbook for those times when I was actually shopping when they struck.

I think what’s happened is that I’m now really focused on the errands and getting them knocked out as quickly as possible. So I have less time when my mind is wandering.

Apparently my brain is just dying for opportunities to flood my mind with these ideas that have been collecting. So lately, the floodgates have been opening while I’m falling asleep, while I’m sleeping, and as I’m waking up.

So I’ve adjusted. There’s a book light and a pencil and a notebook on my bedside table. My husband is probably wishing that my ideas would start coming during errand time again.

A couple of nights ago I had an idea that did more than wake me up and make me jot it down in my handy-dandy notebook. This idea completely launched me out of the bed and downstairs to the computer. It was the solution to a plot hole.

So what I’m gathering from all this is that I’m putting up some barriers to the flow of ideas just because my busyness isn’t making me as receptive to them. So these ideas are all popping out when I’m trying to sleep.

My plan is to tune in more to the daydreaming, idea-generating side of me and less to my to-do list or whatever it is that’s putting up walls.

How do you ensure you’re receptive to getting ideas?


Couple of quick notes:

NZFlagFirst of all, Margot Kinberg is sponsoring “Do the Write Thing” for the victims of the devastating New Zealand earthquake that struck a week ago. She’s holding a raffle to help raise money for the relief effort. For more information, please visit Margot’s blog.

WkbBadgeSecondly, the WKB newsletter that Mike Fleming and I are putting together is set to launch later this week. We’ve got a great interview with freelance editor Jason Black and links to February’s most popular writing articles. If you’d like to get on our email list for the newsletter, please sign up here:

Sunday, February 27, 2011


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

I’m delighted that now we have 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.

10 ways to find people to follow on Twitter: @emlynchand

Writing Theory -- The Monomyth:

Why do professional writers shy away from social media? via @BookMD

Writers Tips for Successful Radio Interviews: @Working_Writer

Creativity tweets of the week:

20 steps for building a Facebook Author Page and getting people to “like” it: @emlynchand

The Art of Repetition:

Tips for writing your query:

Dealing with the passage of time in a series: @mkinberg

Create a foil:

Thoughts on outlining novels and stories:

Things Could Be Worse: 12 Dystopian Novels:

Delegate Your Way To Writing Success:

Working (and Writing) Effectively With the On/Off Principle:

The Vampire Issue: Or, why Vamps Don’t Have to Suck:

Promote a Book with Twitter: 10 Strategies for Authors:

You Might Be Under Deadline If…: @jamigold

The waiting game:

How To Write A Query Letter: @bubblecow

Integrating research into our fiction:

9 Tips for Amplified Creativity:

Over 6000 links to help #writers find resources:

Writing in layers:

6 Techniques for Using Music to Help Our Muse: @jamigold

6 Reasons You Will Never Be A Writer: @StoryADayMay

Anyone Should Blog? 3 Types of Blogs and 3 Ways to Handle Them:

Spectrum surfing--trying out new genres: @AraTrask

The One Surprise Rule: @Thecozychicks

An Education in Book Reviews:

Why Alpha Male Writers Became Extinct (Wall St. Journal):

Best Articles This Week for Writers 2/25/11: @4kidlit

How to get your script read:

Google introduces e-books to Android market:

What Creates Good Writing: Instinct vs. Skill:

The tricky balancing act of red herrings for the crime writer: @mkinberg

The writer's role in submissions and negotiations:

Positive Self-Talk--Examples: @joanswan

The Book Is Dead. Long Live The Publishing Industry!

Protect Yourself from Writing’s Physical Hazards:

How To Entice An Agent In 25 Words Or Fewer:

Poetry and literature in Kensington Gardens - interactive (Guardian):

A Writer Muses on Marketing and Sales:

Giving Your Character Choices:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Scallops over a bed of Creamed Spinach @CleoCoyle

Directory for Plot Series:

Does Your Fiction Have A Comfort Zone?

Ideas for earning money as a writer:

Dos and Don'ts of writing conferences:

Starting a New Manuscript (Having a Template):

Are your characters frozen in time or aging through your series?

Do the Write Thing: Earthquake Relief & Donations: @janetrudolph @mkinberg

Writing race in YA:

Writer's Digest hosts free webinar tomorrow (2-25) on what the Borders bankruptcy means for writers:

5 Surprising Things One Writer Has Learned Since Selling her Manuscript:

Questions to ask editors at conferences:

The Loneliness of Self-Publishing:

Protagonists need to be proactive:

Cliches for Aspiring Writers:

SFF and the Classical Past—Odysseys:

Plot Arcs & The Query:

The Unreal, and Why We Love It: Recognition--

3 Types of Character Arcs: Choose the Best for Your Novel:

Revising a Short Story:

An editor with setting writing tips:

Traits of a good crime fiction character:

10 Ways to Improve Your “Likability Quotient”:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Mystery Lovers Kitchen: I ADORE SOUP @CleoCoyle

How to Use LinkedIn With Twitter for Better Networking:

Is The First Book We Write Usually Garbage?

Changing a Location Can Mean Everything:

Barnes & Noble Opens Doors for Self-Published Writers:

A writer who survived the New Zealand earthquake posts an update from his phone: @ajackwriting

Track Changes – A Critique Group Lifesaver:

Writing Every Day vs. Binge Writing:

If you are an author, everything is your fault:

Adults are just as creative as children:

Why you should — or maybe shouldn’t — be blogging:

When the words don't flow:

An agent says, "When to keep your trap shut? Almost always.":

How to Leave Meaningful Blog Comments:

Developmental Stages of a Short Story 101:

Going Neuro: Writing for Brains:

First chapters:

Researching the Historical Novel:

Size Can Matter: Novels vs Short Stories:

Authors catch fire with self-published e-books (USA Today):

An editor reviews the Sony Daily Edition eReader: @martyhalpern

Hooking the Reader and Never Letting Go:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Margarita Pie @CleoCoyle

Exploring the wonder of the genre with a space opera author:

Tweet from your phone--even if you don't have an internet-enabled phone:

Promotional Cargo Cults:

A Writer's Dress Code? @authorterryo

When Should Authors Show Off Their Book Covers?

Tips for pitching your book:

10 Signs of a Typical Writing Day: @elspethwrites

How to Grow Your Reader Community with an Author Blog: @thecreativepenn

10 Resources to Help You Write a Great Short Story:

World building in short stories:

Coping with rejection:

5 tips for squashing self-doubt demons: @tawnafenske

Tips to keep those modifiers from dangling:

Slush behind the scenes:

Point of View, Whose Head Should I Be In?

Changing times: Changing book design:

How accurately labeling your genre can help get you published:

4 Absurdly Effective Steps to Take Before Asking to Guest Post:

How to improve your writing in 5 minutes or fewer:

Building Reader Rapport through Characters’ Emotions:

A lesson in teaching writing (Guardian):

Romance Novel Tropes: Cliches We Love and Hate:

Five (Easy) 5-Minute Marketing Ideas for the Unmotivated and/or Lazy Author:

When authors met book bloggers for lunch (Guardian):

8 New Facebook Page Changes: What You Need to Know:

Mixing Past and Present Tense:

How To Write The Perfect Sentence:

What Can Literary Criticism Do For You? @amwriting

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Oprah’s Oatmeal Muffins and The Zero Fat Muffin Experiment by Cleo Coyle @CleoCoyle

Too Many Books:

Pacing your novel:

I Was Told to Like You: Marriage of Convenience Plots:

Why It's Called The Slush Pile:

Feeling Sleepy? 5 Quick Energy Tips For Writers: @ajackwriting

Why writers make reluctant revolutionaries (Guardian):

Promote Yourself, Not Your Book:

Thoughts on writing description:

Character Believability Using POV:

Examining Trends vs. Style in Children's Books:

Writing dialogue--how people really talk on the page:

Introspection--how much is too much?

How To Clearly Communicate the Essence Of Your Book To Agents And Publishers: @bubblecow

Exposition: A Little Crazy Goes A Long Way:

Modern writer survival skills:

Book bloggers can help sell your book: Tips for authors:

Network & increase blog traffic with a blog challenge: or blogfest: @AlexJCavanaugh @hartjohnson

Don’t Speak: On Writers and Angst and How to Deal:

What Does Your Email Say About You? @PStoltey

Mastering characters' inner narrative:

I Do: Tips for Co-blogging with Your Spouse:

What "Home" Means - to Your Characters and your Story:

Keeping Dialogue Real:

Has Facebook Peaked? @annerallen

Writing Conference Preparation:

A writing contest for unpublished writers: @jhansenwrites

It’s Horrible, Stupid, and I Hate It: Coping With Criticism:

The Gift of Story: @DazyDayWriter

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Hearty Crockpot Bean Soup @CleoCoyle

Seeing is Believing: The Romantic Heroine’s Journey:

30+ Visually Attracted Creative Resumes:

Playing by the Rules (of Magic):

Let your MC succeed while they’re failing – the power of reward: @dirtywhitecandy

5 ways to write an atrocious blog post: @jammer0501

What We Say When We Don’t Speak. Or, Five Ways To Put a Sock In It:

10 of the best: fictional poets (Guardian):

POV confusion? Helpful links:

5 Writing Mantras That Bear Repeating:

7 Solutions for Sentences with Problematic Parallels:

A SF author with a letter to beginning writers:

Enter the Extraordinary Heroine: Are We Ready For Her Yet?

The decline and fall of the fantasy novel:

10 Tips To Help You Become A Better Writer:

Looking on the Write Side: Turning Off Your Inner Editor:

Getting Your Work Out in the World: The Mechanics:

Using Twitter to Market Your Book:

The wonder of yes:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Please Welcome Guest Blogger Misa Ramirez! @CleoCoyle

Becoming A Writer:

Fertilize Confusion to Thrive During Creative & Life Challenges:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finding the Root Cause of a Productivity Problem

P7310014I did our taxes this week, which is cause for tremendous celebration for me.

Doing taxes is a real grind, especially sifting through all the bits of paper and receipts that I keep over the course of the year. Since my writing income puts me in the self-employed category, the tax rate on my income is higher (bleh).

I write off as many of my expenses as possible and keep all my writing-related and promo-related receipts in an envelope. The envelope is bulging by the end of the year…and then comes the fun part of sorting through it all.

Each year, I take the tax time opportunity to also go through all the non-writing-related papers I’ve collected—statements, invoices, etc. that fill the desk. I file some and shred others. It’s a very time-consuming process that I’ve struggled with for years…just because of the sheer volume of paper that we’ve got.

Yesterday, while I was shredding the umpteenth statement, I had a sudden brainstorm. I didn’t need these statements—clearly. It was a nightmare to shred or file them all. Why not just contact all the various institutions and ask them to discontinue their mailings? Why not just get whatever information I needed online?

The reason I’ve been stuck with that time-consuming chore for the last ten years is because I never thought about the root cause of the problem…the unwanted paper.

On the same wavelength, I’ve noticed the last few weeks that my mornings have been less-productive than usual. Instead of really taking a minute to figure out why, I just kept on trying to make up my lost time later in the day.

After I figured out my paper conundrum, though, I started thinking about what had changed in my schedule to cause such a disruption to my writing in the mornings. I realized it was the number of Twitter messages and emails that I was getting…and the fact that I was responding to them first thing in the morning instead of getting my work done. I never used to check messages first thing in the morning, but somehow I’d fallen into that trap recently.

So now I put off checking and responding to messages until later in the morning—and it seems to be working out a lot better for me.

It’s amazing how I can just blindly stumble along with a problem before I make time to figure out what’s actually causing it. And addressing the root cause always seems to work.

Is there anything keeping you from being productive?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Integrating Our Research

Striped_Notepad_4710 (7)As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m working on a new mystery series for Penguin/NAL…a series set in the South that involves a quilting guild.

I’ve probably never mentioned my quilting expertise before…because it’s non-existent. :)

Quilting is the perfect topic for me to research, though, because I’ve always been interested in quilting as an art form and as a way to tell stories.

Recently, I’ve been immersed in quilting books and magazines, talked to quilters, visited quilt shops, and watched videos on quilting.

I know way more information about quilting than needs to go into the book.

Sometimes I read books and feel like the author was trying to convey all of what he’d learned about a topic to the reader, resulting in an information dump.

This could be a setting dump, a character skill dump, a forensics investigation dump, etc. It takes lots of different forms, but it’s rarely fun to read. It makes me feel like the writer is showing off…although they’re probably just trying to include all the information they dug up during the long hours of research.

So what I’m trying to do with my quilting research is integrate it naturally into the story in bits and pieces.

I’m finding different ways to do this. Some of the integration is as simple as letting individual preference of quilt styles indicate the different personalities of the characters.

Some of the research figures into the detail and history of a quilt that’s an important prop in the mystery.

Some of the research integrates into setting detail as I describe the environments where the ladies quilt together (bees, guild meetings)—and where one plots murder. :)

I’m writing a murder mystery—not a how-to book on quilting. So the quilting research is there to add flavor to the novel instead of overwhelming it.

I’m looking at the research a lot like I look at character worksheets and questionnaires—I don’t need to use all the information I find out about my character. The information is just there for me to develop a well-rounded character. Similarly, the research is there for me to develop a textured book.

How do you integrate your research naturally into your novel?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Your Characters—Frozen in Time, or Aging During Your Series?

Ukrainian Girl Tending Geese--Nikolai Kornilievich BodarevskySometimes I’d like to be my protagonist. Time moves at a much slower pace for them than it does for the rest of us.

Margot Kinberg had a thought-provoking post on her Confessions of a Mystery Novelist blog the other day about the passage of time in series writing. In one interesting example, Margot points out that Agatha Christie had Tommy and Tuppence age in real time in one series while Miss Marple really doesn’t seem to age at all in her series. Christie wrote Miss Marple books for almost 40 years and Miss Marple would have had to have been well over 100 if she aged at the rate that you and I do.

I write two series with protagonists in their 60s. I also write Myrtle Clover, who is an octogenarian. I’ve decided that, while time passes (the murders in the series are not happening back to back in real time from book to book), its passage is a lot slower than ours.

This suits me fine because I like to cultivate a slower-paced, cozier feel anyway. My characters grow—but in talent and character…not in terms of age.

I’m being vague about the passage of time in my books, primarily because of my characters’ more advanced ages. But there are plenty of writers with young protagonists who stop time…Nancy Drew has stayed 18 for the past 80 years or so (well, she was 16, briefly, at the very start of the series.) Clearly, having Nancy age was going to put her in the category of ‘grownup’ to many of her elementary-school age readers.

Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone still lives in the 1980s. Grafton’s first book of the series, A is for Alibi, was written and set in 1982. Her last book, U is for Undertow, which released in 2009, is set in 1988. Time does pass…but very slowly.

Then there are writers who have let their characters age over the course of a series—which sometimes results in the end of a series. The Little Colonel books come to mind (she married and that was it), and the Little House on the Prairie books where Laura grows up and marries (resulting in the end of the series.) Because really, how far do young readers want to stretch from the familiar? Reading about married life when you’re ten years old can be something of a bummer.

So here are the possibilities, as I see them, for passage of time and character age: Follow real time fairly exactly (so, if you put out a novel a year, then your character will age each year in real time)

Freeze time completely.

Slow down time in a vague way (my current approach)

Slow down time…dramatically (à la Sue Grafton.)

Speed time forward temporarily. Maybe you’ve frozen time for a couple of books or more and now your next book is set five years out from when your last one ended.

Any other thoughts on how to wrangle space and time in a series? Which approach do you take when you write…or which do you like reading?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adults are Creative, Too

Edouard Joseph Dantan--1848-1897--SculptorI’ve always said, and believed it to be true, that I’ve never been more creative than when I was 9 years old.

My whole 4th grade year just crackled with creativity. I wrote every day, sneaked writing in during math time (no wonder my math grades were horrid), thought about what I was going to write when I got home from school, and invited children over to play and instead forced them to write stories with me.

But—I’m creative now, surely. I wrote three books last year, so how could I think I’ve not been creative? Except—I’m more methodical about it, and a lot more measured with my approach. Does that make me less creative?

Still, though, some days I feel like something is missing that used to be there.

There was an article I came across last week that made me realize what was missing. The article was by Jeffrey Davis on Psychology Today in a post titled “Think Like a 47-Year-Old to Boost Your Creativity.”

I think it’s wonder that’s sometimes missing from my creative process.

Davis said that 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire once stated, "Genius is the capacity to retrieve childhood at will." But Davis noted:

But…highly creative people are not retrieving childhood - which includes, remember, all of its muddled-ness and meanness and necessary dependency and utter self-centeredness. These adults are retrieving wonder - which is what Baudelaire meant. When we say that "Genius is the capacity to retrieve wonder at will," then we're not nostalgically trying to bring back some "lost child" or "find our inner child." We are supremely present with who and how we are.

Davis says that studies have found the adult brain to be superior in many ways to a young brain. And he says that we can not only purposefully embrace wonder, but that our “knowledge and experience can enrich” it.

So looking at the world with fresh eyes is important to creativity. The wonder of the world is what helps fuel our imaginations. We might have to work harder to feel the wonder, but we can definitely do it.

How do you fuel your imagination and keep the wonder alive?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What a Cozy Mystery Is and Thoughts on Genre Writing

The Half Holiday, Alec home from school-- by Elizabeth Adela Stanhope Forbes --1859-1912I had an ‘oops-moment’ the other day when someone emailed me and asked me to explain what a cozy mystery was.

This is what happens when you get so close to your subject that you don’t adequately explain it.

Cozies are subgenres of the mystery genre. Mystery, actually, is a genre with many subgenres. Cozies are basically traditional mysteries featuring an amateur sleuth. The reader receives the same clues as the sleuth and solves the case alongside her. These mysteries are frequently humorous, character-focused, often (not always) set in small-towns, and are part of a series. You’ll never find explicit descriptions of violence, dark themes, or much profanity in a cozy mystery.

When I talk about what I write, I’m always very specific (which is probably why I don’t even think twice when I use the term ‘cozy’ anymore.) The reason is that when I interact with people in the industry, they’ll ask me different questions based on my answer to “What do you write?” If I say I write cozies, another mystery writer might ask what my hook is (I write a Southern culinary mystery series and a Southern quilting mystery series.) If I said I was a police procedural writer, they might ask where I’d found my forensics research. If I said I wrote thrillers, they might ask if I wrote at all from the killer’s POV.

If I say I write mysteries, it just doesn’t explain much about what I’m actually writing. So I’m usually more specific.

Sometimes I get dinged for being specific. I remember a conversation with an aspiring author I had once. He asked what I wrote. “Traditional mysteries,” I answered. “What do you write?”

He gave a bit of a smirk and said, “What I write can’t easily be defined or pigeonholed.”

I just smiled back, but what I was thinking was, “Well, that’s a problem.”

Because agents, editors, publishers—they have only so many hours in their day, like the rest of us. It sure does help to be able to quickly categorize a manuscript.

And, honestly, the more narrowly you’re able to make that categorization, the better. So maybe you haven’t just written a children’s book. Maybe it’s actually YA. Maybe it’s not just YA—it’s dystopian YA. If you can accurately pinpoint what you’re writing, you’ll know where to direct your queries to agents or editors (because they’re usually fairly specific as to genres they’re looking for). And they’ll read your query and know what specific elements they’re looking for when they read your manuscript—because the elements will be fairly common to that genre.

So, taking cozy mysteries as an example. Any agent or editor worth his or her salt is going to know that a cozy mystery is probably going to be around 75,000 words, won’t have much profanity, won’t have explicit descriptions of the dead body, will have an amateur investigating, and will frequently have some sort of a hook—it will be a culinary cozy, or a gardening cozy, or a crafting cozy. These are things they will be looking for as they read.

If an agent, in particular, gets something across her desk that’s not easily defined—well, what’s she going to do with it? How is she going to sell it to an editor—who is looking for something specific to appeal to a particular reader base.

I think, also, that it’s easier to get your foot in the door if you’re writing genre fiction. There are tons of readers out there for any given popular genre—fantasy, SF, romance, mystery. These are dedicated readers who will read each month’s new releases in their favorite genre (my son is one of these. I just print out the new releases in his favorite genre each month and head to the bookstore.) So you’ve already got a reader base. This helps because, above all, you want to sell books to stay on the shelves.

I'm going to add this addendum to the post because I've had some questions on the cross-genre phenomenon. To me, it's a great opportunity to reach different (more) readers. I think that the problem would be, in a query, if a writer said something like: My book will appeal to fantasy, Sci-Fi, romance, and mystery readers. I think I'd pick the two strongest elements of the novel and put those in the query. Or, just focus on one element: My book is a mystery with a strong romantic subplot. A second challenge is shelf placement, once the book is published. I have a friend who has written books that are cross-genre mystery and romance and it seems like every store has her books in a different place. It can be frustrating to readers who are looking for her books. But this is getting to be less of an issue as everything moves online.

What genre (or subgenre) are you writing or reading?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Promote Yourself, Not Your Book

Elizabeth Craig Promo Photos 008One of the best bits of advice I picked up last week was this gem from the Gatekeepers Post: author publicity makes better sense than book publicity.

It’s something I think I’ve tried to do—promote my name(s) as opposed to individual titles—but I’ve never really thought about the why behind what I was doing.

As the article mentioned, books do have a fairly short shelf life in bookstores (online, obviously, longer.)

Also, titles and series change. Just as I’ve got you remembering that I’ve got a book out that’s titled Delicious and Suspicious, Finger Lickin’ Dead gets ready to launch.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve only got so much room in my head for titles. Especially if an author is particularly productive. I’ll definitely remember an author’s name and I’ll be able to recognize a book’s cover art. A title? Probably not.

So I put my name out there. It’s on Facebook, it’s on Twitter. It’s on my blog. And I have my covers right up there with me—they’re splashed on my Twitter background, are uploaded on Facebook, and are in my sidebar. I visit blogs and my name and comment stays behind to show I was there. And I try very hard not to talk about my book. I mean—it’s obvious I've written a book or two. If someone is interested, they’ll check them out.

Promoting a book can get obnoxious. There are many, many books that I feel have been over-promoted and overexposed by publishers, authors and PR people. It really lessens my desire to read the books. It’s a shame, because what I was usually interested in was the author. And the author obviously didn’t get it and shoved the book’s title down our collective throats, instead.

Which will ultimately be around the longest—us or a particular title? Unless we’re as unfortunate as Stieg Larsson, we’re the ones who’ll be out there writing long after the books are gathering dust.

The nice thing about promoting our name is that it also gives our books exposure. I’ve gone into the bookstore many times and asked for “the latest Elizabeth George” or “the new M.C. Beaton” or “the last release from Deborah Crombie.” I don’t even remember the title of the book I'm looking for. But I sure remember the authors.

I'm definitely promoting my next the short term. But my long-term strategy is basically author branding (although I do hate that term.)

Do you find that authors' names are easier to remember than their titles (if the books are regular releases and not a really hyped title…e.g. Da Vinci Code, etc.)?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


WkbBadge Terry3_thumb[1]

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

I’m delighted that now we have 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.

Addressing social issues in mysteries--without being preachy: @mkinberg

Getting in the mood to create:

The answer is in the work:

Need help pacing your story?

The Whole Story: Plotting Multibook Goals:

The Missing Link–NaNoEDMo:

A screenwriter answers industry-related questions:

Memo to Publishers: 8 Things NOT to Say:

An agent on why assistants should be respected:

The 3 Integral Components of a Story’s Beginning:

Does agent location matter? (Should you query agents in other countries?):

10 Ways to Piss Off Your Readers So They Never Become a Customer:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: GINGER CAKE @CleoCoyle

Konrath with numbers to encourage self-pubbing: via @evil_avatar

11 Tips To Help Make Writing Easier:

OMG! You can totally see her double spaces (on the double-space controversy):

How to use your blog to market your writing:

5 Ways Authors Alienate Readers on Social Media Sites:

Using Fear To Create A Dystopian World:

Charles Dickens – Three Principles of Writing:

Need help with scene transitions?

Prologues: Not as Evil as You Think:

A writing checklist:

How to Make the Most of Procrastination:

The Psychology of Character:

The Pros and Cons of Freelance Writing Online:

8 Tips for Dealing Calmly with Criticism:

Think kids are more creative? Think again. Think Like a 47-Year-Old to Boost Your Creativity:

The power of the short sentence:

Best Articles This Week for Writers 2/18/2011: @4kidlit

How to Help Google Find Your Site:

Science Fiction vs. Science Fantasy:

10 Tips for Effective Book Covers:

Don't lose your reader--use basic dialogue tags:

Author Publicity Makes Better Sense than Book Publicity:

Your Author Photo: Posing Tips:

Scientists Date Unreadable Manuscript:

On Moral (Fantasy) Fiction:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake @CleoCoyle

Why Twitter freaks one writer out:

Modern Heroic Fantasy: Vibrant and Diverse or Bankrupt and Nihilistic?

SFF and the Classical Past, Part 3—Heroic Romans:

Author John Scalzi's perspective on Borders and what it means to writers' pocketbooks:

14 helpful writing links: @matthewschulz

5 Ways a Character’s Job Affects Your Story:

One Writer's World-Building Tools: @SINCnational

The Care And Feeding of a Writer - Perseverance:

What's popular on the WKB search engine today?

Screenwriters: How To Have a Successful Staffing and Development Season:

A Bankrupt Borders Makes Everyone Poorer, Especially Authors:

Making It Your Business: Setting Goals:

Building our protagonist:

A screenwriter answers "What show should I spec?":

How to Break Up With Your Writing:

What Julie and Julia Can Teach Us About Writing With Gusto:

Seven Tips to Grow Your Mailing List:

Oh no! Melodrama! -- Avoiding the Reader Eye Roll:

Countdown of Ways to Keep a Novel Pacey:

5 Traits Of Common Writing Scams: @ajackwriting

No Pain, No Gain: Killing Your Darlings:

Blog Tours For Authors: The 5 Commandments Of Blog Tourists: @thecreativepenn

When Overriding-Control-Disorder Meets Writing:

How to Beat the Fear of Being a One-Book Wonder:

Worldbuilding: How description reveals the focus of your narrator: @JulietteWade

5 Things Publishers Need to Know About Mobile Apps:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Cheddar Corn Muffins @CleoCoyle

The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists:

Writers and Unrealistic Goals:

Zombies Rule, Vampires Drool:

(In)Flexibility and the Writing Process: @bluemaven

7 Pep Talk Points About Writing:

Ideas for finding more time to read:

An agent explains ISBNs:

5 Things To Do In Your First 3 Paragraphs:

Too many great links to bookmark? Try searching my tweets:

How to Meaningfully Grow Traffic to Your Site/Blog: @janefriedman

Character motivations versus plot motivations:

A screenwriter asks, "Does Having an Agent Allow You to Live Outside L.A.?" The answer:

The full list of Borders stores to be closed (via Publishers Weekly):

3 Strategies for Snaring the Senses:

Enough! Four cover tropes that should be retired:

Scenes–what they are and how to write them:

Dialogue tips:

E-Publishing: Choices and Pitfalls: @authorterryo

What one writer learned from screenwriting:

The Black Moment—When is it Dark Enough? @joanswan

Capitalization after colons:

Phrase Frequency Counter for Writers: @galleycat

How to Crush Clichés: Nix 'em or Fix 'em:

Borders Pulls the Trigger on Chapter 11: (PW)

Tax advice for writers: and

The 3 Integral Components of a Story’s Beginning:

5 Reasons You Might Be Hearing No:

An agent on the reasons behind the length of book production:

An agent answers 10 quick questions:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Creamy Corn Soup @CleoCoyle

Personality types on Twitter--avoid being a 'Debbie Downer':

A Twitter round-up listing new agents and agent advice: @HeatherMcCorkle

Self-Editing Part 2: Writing Style:

The Second Golden Rule of Writing:

What we say when we don’t speak. Or 5 ways to put a sock in it:

Wait—Who Said That? Keeping Your Speakers Straight:

Is your book's setting ho-hum?

How to Impress Blog Visitors Before they Start to Read:

Laying clues to your character's personality:

Making Your Characters a Character:

10 misconceptions about public libraries:

Don’t Go It Alone: Relationship-building for Bloggers:

Is the future of physical book publishing the same as the future of reading and writing?

5 Lessons for Mixing Past and Present Tense:

A writer on the importance of networking:

10 Ways to Embarrass Your Character:

Are You Ready to Freelance? A Quiz to Find Out:

Writing What You Don’t Know:

Head-hopping and a POV review:

An Agent Answers: Question from a Writer - What about older writers?

2010 State of the Computer Book Market, Post 2 - The Categories:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: A Classic French Dessert: Chocolate Pots de Crème from Cleo Coyle @CleoCoyle

4 Steps to Podcasting Success:

Love Your Novel: Just Don't Let it Take Over Your Life:

The Dangers of Dating a Writer:

Love letters--to our manuscript: @elspethwrites

For Valentine's Day: 10 Sexy Innuendos From Great Literature:

6 exotic places to meet your manuscript:

For a monthly recap of the most popular tweets and searches on the Writer's Knowledge Base, sign up for our newsletter:

A screenwriter with a screenwriting bible:

Descriptive Passages, Part III: Action:

14 ways to love what your manuscript loves:

How did the search engine for writers come about?

The Best Way to Make Time for Passion Projects:

Tips for Writers: How To Use Social Media:

The lost art of editing (Guardian):

Starting Your First Blog? 29 Tips, Tutorials and Resources for New Bloggers:

One arrow to shoot at a target? An agent responds:

What makes writers special: A valentine from an editor:

Borders expected to file bankruptcy this week--and an examination of what led to its demise (including bar codes):

8 Signs Your Writing Is Stuck in a Rut - and Why You Should Care:

Writing the Natural Way: Drawing on What Your Know:

Turn your screenplay into a novel:

For Valentine's Day--The 10 best love stories - in pictures (Guardian):

Advice on Online Presence from Publishing Experts:

A Love Letter to Writers' Spouses:

10 Websites For Writers: @ajackwriting

You know you're a book blogger when...

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Last Minute No Panic Valentine Treat @CleoCoyle

The E-Book Royalty Mess: An Interim Fix:

Tips for dealing with hand and wrist pain from writing:

That elusive voice:

Twitterific--the week in tweets:

Writing sex--the 'why?' :

Best tweets for writers (week ending 2-11): @janefriedman

Ready to query but don't know where to start?

Is Your Writing a Fling, or the Real Thing?

The Four Essential Stages of Writing:

Making Your Writing Exciting At the Sentence Level: via @SouthernBella03

Get the big picture of your novel:

The Rules of SciFi:

7 Habits of Serious Writers:

17 Reasons Why Entertainment Weekly Is Wrong About Romantic Comedy:

Tool for Writing Longhand: @CherylRWrites

Great Openings in Kid/YA Lit:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Please welcome guest blogger Vicki Delany - ta dah! @CleoCoyle

Roles That Bind: Roleplaying Games and the Fantasy Genre:

Writing Inspiration, Beating Blocks And How To Manage Your Time With K.M.Weiland:

The Essence Of your Book and The Unexpected Value Of Twitter: @ajackwriting

One song to the tune of another – dos and don’ts of mash-ups and juxtaposition: @dirtywhitecandy

Character checklist: @SouthernBella03

Beyond the most common fiction mistakes: @victoriamixon

You Know You’re A Writer When…12 reasons: @JulieeJohnsonn

How a Blogging Platform Can Aid Novelists - And Other Questions Answered: @thecreativepenn

How similar are you to your protagonist?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reading While Writing, Finding Time to Read

Woman reading in bed- by Gabriel Ferrier--1847 - 1914

“If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.”
Stephen King, On Writing

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Although he approaches writing differently than I do (and obviously, his method has brought him a lot of success), I did agree with the point he made about the need to read.

I’ve always been a huge reader…there are books on my Kindle, books spilling off my shelves, books in my huge pocketbook, books waiting for me on hold at the library.

This year, one of my goals is to find more time to read.

Last year, I spent a lot of time writing. I wrote, actually, three books in the space of a year. I promoted two books. Many days, I ran out of time to read.

The last few months, though, I’ve been able to pack more reading in, even though I’m writing a new series for Penguin. That’s because I’ve got a variety of different things to read and I’ve got them available to me everywhere I go.

I’ve got different types of reading: non-fiction, short stories, periodicals, lit fic, and other genres.

I’ve got books in the car, in my purse, in my laptop bag, on my bedside table, and in the kitchen (we won’t talk about my housekeeping right now. Things are looking cluttered.) :)

The #1 biggest thing I’ve done to help me read more frequently? Is buy a Kindle. I’ve got many different types and lengths of books and periodicals on my e-reader, and the Kindle is so small that I can easily take it with me wherever I go.

There was a post this week on the Gatekeepers Post blog that had tips for finding more time to read. I’ll let you read the whole article, but here are some of the tips they provided:

Read on the treadmill at the gym Take a book to the movies and read during previews Read to someone else: your students, children or elderly relatives Download audio books to your computer from your public library and listen while working Check out books on tape from your public library and “read” in the car Join a book club.

How do you find time to read?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Wince Factor

RoomEach month, I wait for my book club’s pick with some trepidation.

Book clubs are frequently fond of books that make me wince a good many times during the course of the novel. These books are usually pretty popular with readers, though, and do sell well.

I just have a hard time stomaching the content.

I didn’t used to be such a delicate, sensitive, squeamish reader. I’d read just about everything and, while I might skim during some sections, I wouldn’t just stop reading a book because of the subject matter.

I think I started noticing the shift around the time my first child was born. (Yes, we’ll blame parenthood. :) ) It also bothered me when I watched movies. My husband rented Saving Private Ryan and I wouldn’t watch D-Day. “Elizabeth!” I remember him saying, “It’s not gratuitous in any way. You should watch it—it’s supposed to be very much like the actual event.”

Precisely why I didn’t want to watch it! And those guys were too young to have to go through it all—they were practically children. I ended up watching D-Day with my hands mostly over my eyes.

So excessive violence, gore, and child-in-danger stories… I just can’t handle them.

And my book club has taken on a few child-in-danger stories, probably because it’s a group of (mostly) moms.

This month’s pick, to be discussed next week, is Room by Emma Donoghue. As soon as I heard the subject matter, I was worried. The waiting list at the library for the novel was huge, so I bought the book online, downloaded it to my Kindle and hoped it would be something I was able to finish.

The reader who chose the book said that I shouldn’t have a problem with it—although the story revolves around the fact that a woman and her five year old son are held captive in a one-room prison that the child was born in. So far, I’ve found the book really interesting. Disturbing, yes, but not explicitly horrific.

As a reader, my tastes seem to change over time. Right now, I can only handle so much violence against children or animals. And frequently, lately, I’ve been looking for lighter reads—nothing too dark or disturbing.

As a writer, I know I couldn’t write anything really dark right now—I can’t read it, so how could I write it?

I just finished writing the rough draft of a book that included a fairly dramatic death. I’m writing cozies (traditional mysteries where the murders happen offstage), so I’m definitely thinking about my reader—many of whom share my dislike of explicit violence and gore. I wrote very carefully, giving the death a certain impact, but not exploiting the violence by using graphic detail.

But it still bothered me! And I’d made it up!

Are you able to write subject matter that would be difficult for you to read? In other words, does the writing put a filter in place for you or does it make you even more engrossed and disturbed by the material? (I’d like to think I can write with some detachment, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s the case.) And--do your tastes change, in either reading or writing?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Building Our Protagonist

La Vénitienne--Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo --1480 - 1548It seems like I’ve unintentionally set up this past week as Protagonist Week. :) Can you tell I’ve been working on a new protagonist for the new series?

I’m also reading, at the same time, Stephen King’s excellent book, On Writing. I was startled to read, though, that he never felt any real sense of liking for Carrie White, the protagonist in his first novel, Carrie. He says:

Carrie White seemed thick and passive, a ready-made victim.

I’ve written protagonists that can be difficult (my Myrtle Clover character comes to mind.) But I’ve always liked them. They’re always people that I would want to spend time with. I think it would be tough to write a book when you’re not wild about the protagonist. In fact, it was apparently tough for King, too—he ended up throwing an early draft of the manuscript into the trash, until his wife fished it out.

For me to be able to work with a protagonist over the course of a series, there are definitely some traits I’d like them to have:

Humor: When someone lacks a sense of humor, they’re frequently taking themselves too seriously.

Looks and Means: Average or pleasant looking and living fairly comfortably.

Flaws: I’m a fan of flaws and I’ve mentioned writing my own into my poor protagonist.

Proactive Nature: They attack problems instead of watching to see if someone else will leap into action.

Intelligence or Cunning: If they’re not geniuses, it’s okay—but I do like a clever mind or simple common sense. Or a canny way of looking at problems.

Decisiveness: I don't like a lot of wishy-washy scenes where protagonists wonder what they should do next.

Dynamic Personalities: The characters grow over the course of the book or series.

One thing that’s important to me is knowing what motivates them. I want to have some sort of idea of what makes the protagonist tick. Otherwise, I won’t really get them and know how they’ll react in different situations.

If you’re in the protagonist building phase right now, yourself, here are some links that I’ve found useful in the past:

Alexandra Sokoloff: Creating character - the protagonist Adventures in Children’s Publishing: Character Worksheet Eclectics: Fiction Writer’s Character Chart The Writer’s Knowledge Base (and click on ‘character’) There Are No Rules: Your Protagonist Must Have a Goal Guide to Literary Agents: Agent Donald Maass On: Your Tools for Character Building

What are traits that you find easy to work with in your protagonist? (I think many writers would be looking for different traits…and desirable traits might differ from genre to genre.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When Protagonists are Unlikeable or Difficult

blog4I’d heard a lot about the movie The Social Network, and decided to rent it last weekend to see what the fuss was about.

The movie was well done, I thought. One thing that really interested me was how riveted I was by the film when I actually didn’t give a flip about many of the characters in it.

Mark Zuckerberg (as portrayed in the movie) is not exactly the most likeable guy out there. Actually, he comes across as borderline sociopathic.

The Winklevoss twins who claimed Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook? It’s hard to really feel sorry for them. It sounded like their idea was for more of a Harvard dating site.

Sean Parker, the founder of Napster? Major jerk in the movie.

I honestly couldn’t even summon up sympathy for Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfriend. Who would go out with such a person, anyway?

The only character that I found sympathetic in the film was the former Facebook CFO, Eduardo Saverin. He was only CFO because he was Zuckerberg’s roommate/friend and had money in his checking account.

I wondered why I found the movie so interesting-- usually I’m all about the characters.

The main character, Zuckerberg, is just different. He’s difficult to figure out. He’s brainy (usually an appealing trait…except when the braininess is used against you in a scheming way) but was written to be almost petty in his immaturity and jealousy.

So this seems to be a story where the complexity and ambiguity of the main character—and the hopes of a hint at what makes them tick—is what makes it appealing.

Have you watched the movie? What made you keep watching it? Or, if you haven’t watched the film, what makes you keep reading a book when there’s an unlikeable protagonist? Have you ever written one?

Character Clues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I’ve never really thought about it until now, but my friends are very, very specific whenever we set times to meet.

I’ll arrange to pick up a friend for lunch or to volunteer at our kids’ school. “Why don’t you come by at 9:35?” they’ll suggest. Or, “Elizabeth, I’ll be ready at 11:50.”

A friend pointed this out recently, “You know no one else gets precise instructions like that.” I didn’t understand. She said, “No one else is told the exact minute to meet. Most people will say something on the hour or the half-hour. Maybe on the quarter hour. The only reason people tell you that is because you’ll be there at exactly that time. You’re never early or late. If you were late, I’d call the cops because I’d know something horrible had happened to you.”

So, if I were a character (and I’m wondering now if maybe I am), a reader could possibly make some assumptions about me. Some might be right and some might be wrong.

Someone might conclude that I’m a little Type A. They might conclude that I keep an eye on the clock. Maybe they’d just conclude that I’m punctual (although apparently I take it a little too far.)

Of course I’m all about clues, since I’m a mystery writer. The fun thing about character clues is that the reader gets to figure things out for themselves. Editors love showing—and it’s a great way to show.

Frequently, when I think about character clues, I’m using clues that are physical pointers. In other words, I’d have something like a character who opens his car door and a bunch of papers and wrappers fall out. Easy to make assumptions about him, right?

But if I bring in another character, I can show that character’s demeanor when dealing with the protagonist—and add dialogue clues to hint at character traits and the characters’ relationship with each other .

Maybe you have a character that you want to represent as someone who talks too much. This could easily be expressed by interruptions from a second character or their signs of impatience. Or of them putting off a phone call with the character. Much better than pages and pages of chatty dialogue to prove the point.

Since I’m a mystery writer, I might also be interested in planting the wrong impression of a character. I might want to mislead the reader. (Other novelists might want to do the same thing, for different reasons.) Maybe the character is unnaturally chatty because they’re nervous. Maybe the second character is just an impatient person who interrupts—maybe they’re not making a point about the character’s loquaciousness at all.

How do you handle character clues?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Building the Writer's Knowledge Base—by Mike Fleming

WkbBadgeHannibal from the A-Team always loved it when a plan came together. Unfortunately, the Writer's Knowledge Base (WKB) didn't emerge from some well thought out plan. While I'm not a believer in destiny I'll admit that sometimes it does seem like a real force and the WKB could be an example. In this post I'll describe how the WKB came to be, how it works, and why I'm doing it.

When I started following writers on Twitter I quickly realized that the excellent links they posted had the lifespan of a gnat. Actually, gnats live a lot longer. It seemed like a shame that the links had such a short shelf life. The actual page at the other end of the link was still there, of course, but finding it is a lot trickier when you don't have a human curator separating the good from the bad.

While writing this post I dug through my notes to find what I wrote about the idea I had for fixing the problem. I found a less-than-eloquent entry on September 30, 2010, that says:

"Monitor writers' tweets for links to writerly subjects especially on the craft of writing. Then, user could search for "characterization" and get links to all kinds of articles."

While those two sentences clearly foreshadow the WKB as it is today, back in September it was just another idea in a bucket full of them. While I suspected it was a good idea I decided to continue focusing on Hiveword which is the fiction organizer I'm developing. In fact, the idea itself was intended to be part of Hiveword at some point. That's the context I was in at the time.

Now keep in mind that @elizabethscraig is one of the Twitterers I was following and while she is not the only one to post links I think we can all agree that she is by far the most prolific one. So imagine my surprise when I saw her post on December 13th where she was exasperated about the difficulties of making all of those great links findable.


The problem was she had content and no technology and I had technology and no content. Isn't that how Reese's peanut butter cups were born?

This smacks of destiny, I thought. So, I slept on it and on the next day sent Elizabeth an email outlining my proposed solution. After running a background check on me she decided that together we could provide a compelling free service to writers everywhere. Bloggers would benefit, too, since they would have another source of traffic. There was little downside.

With Elizabeth on board I set off to work. From concept to implementation it took under a month to do on a part-time basis since I have a day job. Part of the reason it was so fast was that I was able to leverage the platform I already had for Hiveword. Another reason is that I had an appendectomy in early January and the doctor said I should stay home for a week. How convenient. 40+ hours of work on the WKB. w00t!

Of course, telling you how it works would spoil some of the magic, no? I think you'll find that it's actually fairly mundane. But if you insist...

The WKB automatically checks Elizabeth's Twitter feed once an hour, pulls any new tweets since the last time, and stores them in a holding area in the database. Each day I manually process each link by copying and pasting the article content into the search engine component. The search engine indexes the content and makes it fast to search. That's where all the magic is, of course.

You might be wondering why I do the manual part when I could have the computer do it. I'll tell you, that's a mighty fine question given the number of links Elizabeth tweets! The answer is simple, though, and it's about search quality. If I index the entire article the search engine component will consider the whole page including header, footer, sidebars, ads, comments, etc. That can obviously throw off the relevance score when you do a search. If bloggers would agree on a standard way of marking content I could pull it automatically but there's not enough consistency for me to do that.

Then there was the fact that Elizabeth already had approximately 5,500 links on her Twitterific pages. Those links were just sitting there daring me to get them indexed. I'm pleased to say that I corralled those rascals but I didn't process them manually, of course. Rather, the entire page of each article was indexed which, unfortunately, has the drawbacks mentioned above. That's why you'll sometimes see strange snippets under a result. Sorry about that. However, there are now more than 6,000 articles in the WKB for you to learn from and enjoy.

Finding articles is rather easy because the interface is intentionally simple a la Google. Searching is an obvious way to find articles but you can find plenty of gems by trying the Random or Popular links. Random is self-explanatory and Popular would perhaps be better named "Top 100" since that's what it's really showing. Give them a try if you haven't already; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

You might also be wondering why I'm doing this. There are actually a bunch of reasons. For example, as a programmer I've benefited greatly from the work of others on the Internet who gave freely of their time and skill and I've wanted to contribute something back for a while now but hadn't been able to hit on the right thing. I always assumed it would be something for programmers but giving something to the writing community is like paying it forward. That works for me.

Also, the WKB amplifies the work that Elizabeth is doing for writers so that's a win, too. As mentioned earlier bloggers will get more recognition and traffic and users of the WKB will hopefully learn something from their time spent using it. That means four distinct parties can benefit from the WKB -- how great is that?

I'm elated by the reception the WKB has gotten from the writing community and I'm pleased that so many get value from it. I enjoyed creating the WKB and of course it wouldn't be as useful as it is without Elizabeth's help. She does a huge amount of work digging up the content in the first place.

That said, the WKB is not done. Would you believe I have a bucket full of ideas for it? Stay tuned!


Mike Fleming is a software engineer who can't seem to get enough of his craft. Give him something to do by suggesting some features for the WKB. He also maintains the WKB's Facebook page which he considers a place for insiders to stay informed about WKB news and tips. You can also sign up for the Hiveword email list if you want to be notified when the fiction organizer is ready.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


WkbBadge Terry3_thumb[1]

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

I’m delighted that now we have 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.

Hope you’ll come back tomorrow when Mike talks a little about how he came up with the idea for the Writer’s Knowledge Base and how it works.

Why Write a Novel—Your Reason is the Right One:

What Kind of Writer Are You? Career Themes:

Setting, POV, Backstory & Characterization:

Style Sheets: A Tool for You and Your Critique Partners:

If You Build it, They Will Read: Plotting With Layers:

Top 5 Things Writers Should NOT Do:

Reasons why today's crime novelists should read the classics of the genre: @mkinberg

Honing your dark hero: #amwriting

Youth *can* enjoy verbal storytelling: and @kevincordi

Do lit mags have the same chance for survival as popular titles?

Expose Your Writing Sins:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: The Food of Love: Spaghetti and Meat(less) Balls @CleoCoyle

One author's life in writing (Guardian):

10 Tips to Ensure a Productive Writing Day: @elspethwrites

The Ancient Editor Goes to Lunch:

A Feedback Format for Critiques:

Tips for Avoiding Crime Fiction "Road Hazards": @mkinberg

Nice wrap-up--Creativity Tweets of the Week:

An author with a POV Q&A: @authorterryo

Dialogue Tags: How to Kill Off Some Of The Little Buggers: @SharlaWrites

The 10 Essential Grammar Rules—of Life:

4 tips to prepare for your book launch: @hopeclark

An agent's post: How to Get Published (The Definitive Post):

Using Advertising Lessons to Make Your Story: @hopeclark

Need tips for plotting? #amwriting

10 Ways to Promote Your Book in Your Own Backyard:

Computers vs. longhand--and an interesting study on the pros and cons of both approaches to writing:

Coincidences in writing: #amwriting

Six Steps for Approaching Potential Critique Partners:

Critique Groups as an Unreliable Narrator: #amwriting

The Most Important Thing A Writer Can Do (Other Than Read And Write): @ajackwriting

When Hiring a Publicist Make a Real Connection:

10 great places freelance writers can find story ideas:

How to Be a More Effective Author Online:

SFF and the Classical Past, Part 4—Legions of Gladiators:

Handling Your Word Count:

Fantasy Writer’s Use of History:

Talking about the novel you're working on: #amwriting

The hero's journey: and

An editor's thoughts on pacing:

Improving Your Fiction: 246 Rules from 28 Modern Writers: #amwriting

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Chocolate Covered Strawberries! @CleoCoyle

Platform–Why We Need One:

Does your story involve language change? Some tips:

Examples of Sensory Details in Writing:

A trend toward present tense in YA?

3 Things the Novelist Can Learn From the Copywriter:

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Week: Word Counts:

Is your book's setting ho-hum? #amwriting

10 Reasons Novel Manuscripts Get Rejected:

Query Writing Troubles? It Might Be The Story, NOT The Query: #amwriting

Storytelling--tips for crafting a verbal story: @kevincordi

Character habits and other identifiers: #amwriting

10 ways to make editors fall in love with your work:

Top 10 love poems, in time for Valentine's Day (Guardian) : #amwriting

On business cards for writers:

What your agent doesn't want to hear you say: #amwriting

Writers react to AOL-HuffPost deal: now what?

6 Fiction Writing Techniques to Improve Your Blog:

An agent says, "It's not my job to be your BFF.": #amwriting @gatekeeperspost

7 Tips for Using Hyphens with Adjectives: #amwriting

Why Adverbs Will Really Probably Always Mostly Suck: @charissaweaks #amwriting

An agent explains remainders:

A Storyteller dives into Digital: @KevinCordi

The Subconscious In Writing: @joanswan #amwriting

10 ½ Tips for Being a More Effective Author Online:

Behind the Scenes with a Literary Agent: #amwriting

Character-Driven/Plot-Driven: #amwriting

Writer's Tools: Worksheets & More: #amwriting

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: Like Cheddar for Chocolate @CleoCoyle

Travel Writing Tips for Writers Who Can’t Write Description: #amwriting

Using (Or, Preferably, Not Using) the Subjunctive Mode:

Urban Fantasy and the Elusive Male Protagonist: #amwriting

What Your Query Says About Your Book:

Tips for switching POV characters: @authorterryo

There are no original fairy tales:

SF Editors & Authors Discuss Future of Publishing:

How to Start On Twitter (Or Open a 2nd Twitter Account) Without Looking Like a Newbie:

Can Book Critics and Authors be Friends?

Want to create vibrant characters that pop off the page? #amwriting

Lighten Up! Cutting Down Your Word Count:

Bulking Up: Fleshing Out a Too-Short Novel : #amwriting

Thoughts on when to follow your beta readers' advice and when to follow your gut:

The Scene Conflict Worksheet - Developing Tension in Your Novel:

How To Avoid Becoming Another Boring Writer's Blog: #amwriting

7 Ways to Attract Attention to Your Book Sales Page: @victoriamixon @thecreativepenn #amwriting

Three Places Where You Should Tell Instead of Show: #amwriting

Cutting Overwhelm Down To Size: #amwriting

The Future of Agents: #amwriting

Learning to write from fruit:

How to copy and paste your Kindle highlights and notes into a Word file or email: @galleycat

To Produce & Protect: 5 Things That Creators Can Learn From IT Geeks:

Want More Copywriting Clients? Here’s a Surprising Way to Find Them:

Deciding When to Show and When to Tell: @4kidlit

One editor lists the marks of an amateur:

Shades of Gray: A Somewhat Liberating Spin on Story Structure:

The value of pausing for a critique: #amwriting

The Three Dimensions of Character Development:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: A Valentine’s Day Cocktail @CleoCoyle

Working Together to Renovate Publishing–The WANA Plan:

10 Radical Ideas for Getting Kids to Read:

Listen to Full Audio of AWP Social Media Panel (Writer's Digest): #amwriting

Neuroscience for writers:

The Misleading "Research" By McSweeney's:

A weekly roundup of informative agent tweets: @HeatherMcCorkle

10 dialogue musts for scriptwriters:

Are You Totally Missing Out The Heater Syndrome In Your Writing? #amwriting

Is Your Low Social IQ Dooming Your Blog?

What's popular on the WKB search engine today? #amwriting

Self-publishing--a checklist to see if it's right for you: #amwriting

How social media sells books:

How Much Editing Does a Contracted Book Need? #amwriting

7 Steps to Writing Success: #amwriting

Story-specific Words—Fitting Word to Story: #amwriting

Writing monsters--Part I and II #amwriting @ajackwriting

Descriptive Passages: Character: #amwriting

Tools for writers--to help brainstorm, write and, promote: #amwriting

Building writer karma: #amwriting

Pre-Submission Checklist: @4kidlit #amwriting

Plotting Made Easy - The Complications Worksheet: #amwriting

It’s Time To Finish Your Book: 9 Productivity Tips for Writers: #amwriting

For those just getting started with online promoting--social media 101: #amwriting

7 Surprising Things About Blogging:

Top Ten Reasons the editor doesn't love what your critique group loves:

Tips for creating distinctive characters:

The Second Plot Point:

Advice for playwrights starting out:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: My Guilt-Free Chocolate Bliss for Valentine’s Day from Cleo Coyle @CleoCoyle

Writing Screenplays vs Books:

Batman Noir:

Writing sex--thoughts on the "how":

6 Types of Twitter Tools That Come in Handy:

Too Fast, Too Furious, and Way Too Much:

Why Agents Get Snarky:

How to Learn Story Structure in Two Minutes or Less:

Is It Your Manuscript or YOUR Manuscript?

How to write a spec for TV:,,

10 Laws for Author Self-Promotion:

Author Janice Hardy on the importance of first lines:

The Unreal, and Why We Love It, Part 4: Laughter:

Publishing Options Series: The “Traditional” Route:

YA Fiction-Style & Content-Part II:

Harper’s Magazine: The Exit Plan Cometh:

10 Marketing Strategies You Can Implement Today:

Challenges and hurdles women writers face when submitting work:

Conflict, Tension, and Stakes on Every Page:

Running on Autopilot: Working With Unconscious Goals:

A Left-Brained Approach to Revision:

Writing for the Emotions:

The Writer's Knowledge Base--now with 6000 links (and constantly adding more): @hiveword

The Critique Partner from Hell, or One Hell of a Critique Partner:

Lessons from the screenwriters:

Links of associations, guilds, and professional organizations for screenwriters:

Setting up tension:

Advice on Selling Screenplays:

The Difference Between Lit Agents & Script Agents and between a script manager and script agent: and

Talking Script/Screenplay Managers:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: 10-10-10 Pork Tenderloin @CleoCoyle

Misused Words—Common Writing Mistakes:

Tips for Fighting Writer’s Block:

Defining story arcs:

What happens if an agent says yes? (After the celebration dies down, that is.):

The Writer's Knowledge Base--now with 6000 links (and constantly adding more): @hiveword

TV scriptwriters--links for conferences and festivals:

Feel the Rhythm of the Words:

Writing: The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion: @4kidlit

List of the most commonly used YA cliches:

Using foreshadowing:

Why realism does not equate to adult (or even good) fantasy:

How writing software changed one writer's life for the better: @JustusRStone

Writing a TV series (5 parts): , , , ,

Screenwriting Software & Filmmaking Tools:

9 Techniques to Delivering a Speech with Confidence:

Twitterific...the week in tweets and the WKB:

Writing, Publishing And Book Marketing Tools For The Mac Lover: @thecreativepenn

Tips for writing description:

Seven Tips To Beat Eyestrain:

Once upon a yawn...what makes a story boring:

5 Steps to Captivating Readers with Your Secret Message:

Clichés–Are They Really That Bad?

Taxes and the freelance writer:

Myst. Lov. Kitchen: It's Super Sunday! @CleoCoyle

Running Our Races & Becoming Winners:

Finding Commas in All the Wrong Places:

How To Create a Writer’s Resume:

Format Your Novel for Submission:

How to Choose a Search Friendly Domain Name: