Friday, April 30, 2010


I think these recap posts get better stats than all my others! :)

I’m doing this a little early this week because I’m flying to the Malice Domestic conference today and won’t likely have time to compile these while I’m gone.

I’ll also probably not be good this weekend at answering comments on my blog and visiting others’ blogs. I’m looking forward to a return to normalcy next week!

2 years, 3 manuscripts, and 50 rejections--anatomy of an agent search:

What should be do with our bookmarks? Some marketing ideas:

The dialect dilemma:

Dorian Gray's true picture of Oscar Wilde (Guardian):

On building a publishing house:

World building is not just a genre issue:

How NOT to make your characters real:

Corporate English:

How to read a publishing contract (part 7):

Examples of why show is better than tell:

The life of a commercial fiction author:

Writing humor:

Tips for hitting the NY Times Bestseller list (GalleyCat):

Do blurbs matter?

Tips on building suspense:

Harnessing Shadow: A Writer's Way to Overcome Shortcomings:

Ingredients of a great crit partner: @RoniGriffin

Publishers should learn fearlessness:

Writing about a life or social issue? Do it justice:

Tips and links to help with plotting:

WordPress permalinks 101:

Style guideline--rules on writing numbers:

Nancy Drew turns 80 (GalleyCat):

Author pitch tips:

The books powerful women love (Daily Beast):

Carve out satisfaction instead of pursuing cut-throat success:

Tips on pacing from the Pike's Peak writing conference:

He had blond hair and blue eyes you could lose yourself in for days… and other stereotypical crap:

10 musts of personal branding:

The dark appeal of the short story (LA Times):

The dangers of onomatopoeia:

How writers can get more out of Twitter:

Running and Writing: Focus, Endurance and More--

An agent says that writing is a lifestyle, not just an activity:

An agent on passing manuscripts to other agents in the agency:

Disclaimers for book endings:

3 ways to find an agent via Twitter:

Branding for multi-genre writing:

The components of a solid pitch for a memoir or how-to:

To critique or not to critique:

After Loss, Turning To Poetry For Grief And Healing (NPR):

An agent on starting your career as a writer:

10 steps to writing...or not writing.

How quitting can help you finish your writing:

Dialogue that matters:

You don't need time to write--you need space:

How to support an author:

The great myth about publishing:

How to get your privacy back from Facebook:

Character is destiny: The Edward/Bella dilemma-- @msforster

A couple who started a publishing company in Nigeria--feeding the African imagination:

10 ways to keep your prose strong and simple:

Do you have a security manuscript?

The shrunken manuscript method of revision:

Some insights on querying:

An agent on rejection:

What made Twain famous (Daily Beast) :

Thoughts and tips on plotting and outlining:

An editor advises going to the heart of the revision instead of following advice to the letter:

When business is personal--using Facebook's privacy settings:

Auditioning characters:

Why start a website or blog if you have nothing to promote? (Writer's Digest)

How Amazon's Pricing Affects Author and Publisher Profits

How does theory of mind relate to creating believable characters? @p2p_editor

World building in urban fantasy:

The No. 1 grammar trap and how to avoid falling in:

Telltale signs of a bookaholic:

Michael Ignatieff and the imperfect world of book blurbs (Globe and Mail)

How writing a novel is similar to taking care of a newborn:

Great series on plotting:

Memoirs Require More Than Just Facts (Huff Post):

An editor on coincidences in our book (avoiding them):

Book bloggers behaving badly--the unforgivable book blogging sin:

Free software apps for writers:

Do readers want to learn trivia or useful info in novels? Should novelists consider including such info?

Do unpublished books need trailers?

The Holy Grail of focus for writers:

Setting up the tension in your book:

A guide to creative visualization:

Establishing mood: @MermaidHel

Garden therapy for writers:

What an agent does:

Does your agent have to love your book?

Why Digitization and E-books are Good for Literacy :

Understanding screenwriting (with examples from film):

Writer's Envy--what to do when you're feeling green about a friend's success:

Writing the cozy mystery--keeping it delightful:

Top Ten Things Authors Should NEVER Do To Promote Their Book:

An agent says to be (slightly) afraid of posting your work online:

How to write powerful paragraphs:

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Writing That Thing You Need to Write--

How to write about life, the universe and everything (What's your book *about*?)

Write a how-to book--cookie cutter writing:

Blockbuster movies and bestsellers--what do they have in common?

Mystery writers--a guide to crime scene investigations: via @micheleemrath

The ethicist's blessing of e-piracy revisited...with the same result:

Back up your data:

If we make life simple, can we write more? 95 posts on simple living:

The difference between a 'bad' book and one someone just didn't like:

How to find online writing markets and write for the web:

Putting emotion into your characters:

10 ways to write skinny sentences: @KMWeiland

A quick guide to ISBNs for the self-published:

Why translators deserve some credit:

Parents must let kids choose what they read (Guardian):

The truth about some crime fiction myths:

What are your rules for reading? (Chicago Tribune):

Suspension of disbelief--getting readers to believe the magic in your fantasy or SF:

The Roots of Steampunk--.

Death to prologues?

A writer's life--permission to take a break:

Working at home isn't home anymore:

Why men don't read--how publishing is alienating half the population (Huff Post) :

101 uses for a failed author:

YA novelists send tweets back to their high school selves (Publishers Weekly):

When poets became monsters (Telegraph) :

How not to hook an agent:

7 paranoid provocations on Ebooks:

Revisions--Cutting Words:

A historian confesses to writing the Amazon poison pen reviews (Guardian) :

Trying to figure out how to write the 'first act' of your novel? This analysis of "The Matrix" might help:

To blog or not to blog?

How to find an agent (when you're self-published):

Plot points for mystery writers:

The 4 paragraph approach to writing cover letters:

Necessary arts that writers must master:

Stop lying about the way your characters lie (tips on lying) :

Negotiating with the idea fairy:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Agents and Social Media

blog15 A week ago I was on a social media panel, talking about the benefits of networking and giving some tips.

Afterward, one of the attending agents asked a fellow panelist and me if we think people choose agents based on whether or not they’re active on social media. He was also curious whether we thought social media was important for agents to engage in.

I thought these were interesting questions. And my gut reaction, of course, was to say that everyone needs social media and to hop on it right way.

Of course, there are many agents blogging daily, tweeting, and Facebooking. The benefits to writers are tremendous.

But no, I really don’t think anybody chooses agents based on how active they are with social media.

Here are my thoughts about pros and cons of social media for agents.

Pros for agents:

Networking with editors and other industry professionals.

Participating in online dialogue with clients.

Possibly attracting more clients.

Educating writers on querying and writing in general—and maybe getting better-quality queries?

Cons for agents:

The time-sucking factor. And this is a huge consideration because there are only so many hours of the day when you’re not reading queries/synopses, sample chapters; submitting manuscripts to editors; following up with editors; etc.

Do agents need more clients unless they’re just starting out? Or are they already completely swamped?

I’ve got more pros than cons listed here, but then I’m a social media fan. What do you think—how active should agents be online? And how important is it to you as a writer that they are? Can you think of any other pros or cons?

I forgot to mention before that I'm hosting Alan Orloff on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today. He's got a fantastic recipe for chocolate babka--please join us!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Does a Character Want?

La Primavera 1936--Anselmo-Bucci-1887-1955During the recession of the early 90s (which looks like nothing compared to the one we’re in now) I was fresh out of college and working for very little money at a magazine. Begrudgingly, I took on a bank job as well as writing for the periodical.

I ended up (oddly, considering my lack of leadership skills) in a supervisory role. Basically, if someone sent the bank written correspondence (no one really had email then), I would get it and reply.

So I was the complaint letter girl. And, wow, did people complain.

These letters, for the most part, were poorly-written, rambling rants.

And what got me was that no one asked what they wanted. The bank had screwed up. What did these customers want in return? What kind of reparation were they looking for? It seemed like the sole purpose of their letters was just to let off steam.

If they didn’t ask for anything, I didn’t offer them anything. I just apologized on behalf of the bank.

The whole experience (besides giving me insight into writing effective complaint letters) made me realize how important it is to express…or even to know….what we want.

I’ve read plenty of books where the conflict is apparent and well-written. The character reacts to what’s thrown in his path. But what does he want during the novel? Just a return to normalcy? Or can we make his wants (and, by extension, himself) more complex ?

How do they show what they want? Dialogue with a friend? Internal monologue? Through their actions?

Knowing what our protagonist wants can also propel the plot—because then we can effectively withhold it.

Do you know what your character wants?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Changing Roles

Mother and Child-- by Elizabeth Bourse 1860-1938 So we’re replacing the downstairs carpeting.

And we have a few really massive pieces of furniture.

The carpet company said it would move one of the biggest ones, but the rest were up to us.

My husband and I moved a few piddly things out of the room and closets, then we approached the (very large) sofa. My husband said, “Can you take one end?”

I did. And I couldn’t budge it. Not with my arms, hip, legs—the thing just refused to move.

My husband called out for our 13 year old son. “Honey,” I whispered to him as our son was thumping down the stairs, “there’s no way he can…”

And I watched as he and my husband moved the sofa right into another room. Followed by two other pieces I couldn’t budge.

It was the end of an era. My son is definitely stronger than I am. Much stronger. Yes, I’d noticed he’d gotten taller, yes, he’s beefed up a bit. Yes, his clothing budget is through the roof because he’s growing out of everything. But somehow, in my head, mamas are stronger than their children.

It was a very odd feeling. I felt proud of him. But I felt old and wimpy, too.

One of my protagonists, Myrtle Clover, gets a similar feeling quite a bit. Her son is trying to farm her out to a retirement home and she’s pushing back with plenty of resentment. This adds a little extra conflict to my stories as well as propels the plot—Myrtle’s son is a police chief and she gets involved in his cases to needle him.

What if you’ve got a character who suddenly retires when they’re used to being in charge in an office? Does this mean she’s suddenly redirecting her efforts to another area of her life (one where people maybe aren’t appreciative of it?)

These changing roles don’t have to be age-related.

Stress also comes when a character is suddenly thrust into a leadership role when they’re not used to taking one on.

Or a character who is very active could be forced to take more of a backseat role—like Jimmy Stewart’s character (laid up with a broken leg) in the Hitchcock movie Rear Window. His frustration and boredom drove the plot early in the film.

Maybe you’ve got a really outgoing character who is used to speaking his mind. He decides to run for office…and wins. Now he’s got to watch what he says.

I think these type of scenarios—where our characters change roles in life—can serve a couple of different purposes. For one they serve as additional conflict for the character to deal with. For another, they can help to propel the plot—particularly if the character is frustrated in some way.

Are any of your characters playing new and unfamiliar roles in your book?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Planning Tomorrow’s Writing

The Fisherman's Cottage-- Harald Sohlberg--1869-1935 I like having a writing plan.

This doesn’t mean that life goes according to plan.

Kids get sick. New carpet gets installed. Cars need to go to the mechanic. Life happens.

I grab my writing time when I can find it—if my plan has been completely scrapped.

But having that basic plan in place—which includes writing—helps me out from the very start of the day.

5 ways to pave the way for writing (the night before):

Check your calendar. Make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises to hijack your day. If there are things on the calendar to do, then plan your writing around those things, in advance.

Make a tentative writing schedule for the next day. Is your morning looking hairy? Can you write and eat lunch during your lunch hour tomorrow? Can you write during an evening commute home (public transportation riders only, please!) Or does it look more like a 9 p.m-10 p.m. type writing day? At least you’ll have a plan to start out with.

Plan now when to catch up with social media the next day. Decide whether it’s better to check emails/tweets/FB statuses/blog comments before you write (and risk being distracted….unless you use a timer and have a stern attitude with yourself) or after you write (in which case you might be like me and have heebie-jeebies wondering what’s lurking in the inboxes.)

Plan to disconnect from the internet if you don’t trust yourself to ignore the online distractions. Tell yourself now the repercussions you’ll face tomorrow if you keep checking in on social media.

Prep for the next day’s writing by making a (very) short sketch of what you’re going to write. It can keep you from five minutes of wondering where you left off the day before. This can be as vague as: Pick up with Susan asking Anne where she was the night of the murder.

It can be really tough to squeeze writing in. But starting out with a plan—and giving ourselves permission to veer off it—helps ensure we make the time.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Preparing for a Conference

blog65 Friday morning at o’ dark-thirty, I’m going to the Malice Domestic conference in Washington, DC.

Cool things about this: I get to meet (in person) some of the great folks I’ve gotten to know online over the last year or so. And I’m looking forward to the panel I’ll be on Saturday afternoon--"Senior Sleuths versus Middle-Aged Meddlers and Crime-Cracking Kids: How Age Impacts the Story."

Uncool things? Well, I’m packing and flying. I should write a book entitled The Paranoid TravelerTips for Neurotics.

I won’t check luggage because I’m convinced it’ll end up in Belarus.

“So,” my sister asked me, slowly, “you’re wearing an evening dress Saturday for the banquet. And …you’re putting it in your carry-on.”

I nodded.

“Okay. Maybe if you wrap it in tissue paper?” She stops, shaking her head. “I just don’t know how this is going to work out, Elizabeth. What about the rest of your clothes?”

“Well, I’m wearing Friday’s dress on the plane. And I guess I’ll wear that dress to the Berkley dinner that night. Maybe I’ll sleep in it too because I definitely won’t have room for pj’s. And then I’ll just pack a couple sundresses for Saturday and Sunday. If I roll them up they won’t look too bad. There’ll be an iron in the room. And the dress for the banquet I’ll just stick on top of the others. I was going to pack the blue dress, but it was too poofy. My red one looks wrinkled…but I think it’s supposed to. It always looks wrinkled. It’s perfect for carry-on.”

“And shoes?”


“What about your shoes?” she looked pointedly at my flip flops.

“Oh. Well, I’ll probably wear my flip flops there and then pack some dressy sandals for the banquet.”

She’s looking concerned now. I redirect.

“See, I have to have room for the potholders…”


“The fifty potholders. They have “BBQ” on them and I’m going to tie a tag with my Memphis cover on them and give them away at my book signing after the panel.” I’d actually bought ALL of the potholders at the store. They were completely sold out. But they had “BBQ” on them…

So maybe I don’t have a handle on conference attire and packing.


Things I Think I’ve Gotten Right:

I’ve got my business cards and bookmarks printed and ready to go.

I’ve reviewed the program and I have an idea when people will be where. I know the people I really want to meet.

I’ve programmed my agent’s number in my cell phone (she’ll be there) and I’ve programmed the numbers of author friends I’ll be seeing while I’m there.

I’m prepared to be more outgoing than usual. I’ve been more antisocial than usual lately so I could save up all my visiting for this weekend.

I’ve got a couple of short, snappy descriptions of my mysteries if I’m asked what my books are about.

I’ve got something to give out during my book signing. Potholders.

It’s also probably a good idea to carefully gather your clothes and promo material together during the days before the conference—do laundry, pack, study your checklist. Definitely don’t do anything like have your downstairs re-carpeted a couple of days before you leave. Because—ha! That would just be crazy…


Saturday, April 24, 2010


Terry3 As promised, I’m running a post with the past week’s interesting writing/reading related links that I found in my Google Reader and tweeted on Twitter.

Well,it’s almost a week’s worth. :) The page acted like it wanted to crash, so I’m backing off putting any more data up on it for right now.

Again, this isn’t meant to overwhelm anybody—I’m hoping that by posting these links in a searchable database (my blog), that maybe we can access these helpful links by topic—when we need them.

If books were made from chocolate: Writing fiction with the 1-3-1 method: Canadian authors embrace Ebooks: Scrawled in the margins, signs of Twain as a critic: Finding a literary agent-- in YA: Dialogue is not necessarily how we talk: Potential first chapter problems: Chapter endings and the "Hunger Games": Creating conflict in your novel: @MermaidHel One writer with a new way of looking at balancing the writing life: London Book Fair conference hears that publishers must become "fleet of foot": Propelling the plot: 3 ways writers can make the most of contests: The baby steps method to writing a novel: Self-doubt--sometimes it can't be shelved: An agent on "is writing fun?": An agent with 10 tips on writing: Uncommon complaints about the ipad (New Yorker): Do aspiring writers need websites? Patterson signs up to work with British writer: What's the greatest reward of writing? Productivity in 5 words or fewer: The dark side of Dickens (Atlantic) : Author's Angst (how people we know can rain on our parade): Common writing errors: @cpatrickschulze An editor answers a question on write-for-hire scouts: To outline or not to outline? Inky Girl's survey results: @inkyelbows What to do and *not* do when you get "the call": Book opening vs. movie openings: Getting your novel critiqued: Do you suffer from Shiny New Idea syndrome? Writing related grad degree links: Payment models--the need for a good content model for a sub-$5 book purchase: @jwikert Creative people shouldn't shut off their brain: The character likability factor: How important is accuracy in your novel? Anatomy of a story: @bluemaven A writer's guide to going green: An agent says publishing always has changes--writers should roll with them: How to interview experts (more on primary source research): Why don't publishers promote and market the books they publish? (Writer's Digest): 6 ways to become productive on Facebook: Unlikable characters: Query letter--the beginning: @jasouders On motivation in writing: On the importance of our writing--make no excuses, take no prisoners: How writers build courage: Fiction is so subjective, it's the agent equivalent of "it's not you, it's me." An agent on falling in love: Writing exercise--put the epigram before the horse: Write and get published--the old way, or DIY? The ipad--7 things it CAN do for authors, 5 things it CAN'T, 3 things it's changing for them: Proposals and Synopses (@stephanellaw) 7 caffeine-free ways to increase awareness: Irony, juxtaposition, coincidence: Book marketing tips from around the Net: Writers--making a living off of Kindle? (GalleyCat): An editor on 1st chapter mistakes: Tips for writing a fight scene: Were the 'mad' heroines of literature actually sane? (BBC) Stuck at the London Book Fair--Erupting Eyjafjallajökull is Unexpected Boon to Some Authors: Why companions are important for our characters: A post on the importance of NOT writing: Can Sci-fi be fused with anything and still be considered SF? Publishing 3.0: A World Without Inventory (recommendations for publishers): Some help for writers using courtrooms as settings: An agent on book marketing: Improve your writing with word limits: Fantasy fiction--the battle for meaning continues (Guardian): A fantasy reader's comments on the Guardian's look at "battle for meaning" in fantasy: The role that luck and timing play in getting published: An agent says that publishing is not like other businesses: Blog promotion--are you a fan or not? Writing historical fiction: @SylviaDSmith 21 tips to land a guest post every time: An agent on starting your career (and promoting it): Keeping complex novels organized: Defining and working with theme: @AlexSokoloff A necessary torment for our characters: On hooking a good query: Writing secondary characters in novels: 10 questions to ask an agent before you sign: The middle way--the independent publisher: 9 writers prove age is just a number: An agent is looking for writers with high internet presence (GalleyCat): Kindle, iPhone, iPad: Exploring the Impact for Writers and Authorship (Writer's Digest): How one writer has become successful on Kindle--with no platform or name recognition: Goal setting and what to write: The battle of (fantasy) evermore? The 20-to-1 rule of social media promo: 7 ways to be a green writer: Don't bog the reader down with too much back story. Work it in: @authorterryo Social media glossary:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Setting Up a Blog--and a Thanks

blog9 First of all, I want to thank Writer’s Digest for the honor of choosing Mystery Writing is Murder as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers (Genres/Niches). Their list has just been published in the May/June 2010 issue, just hitting the stands now. Thanks so much!

But it’s all due to my friends who are so active on my blog—supporting me with their comments and making me think. Y’all are incredibly supportive and I really, really appreciate it.

I spoke Thursday evening at the Women’s National Book Association of Charlotte meeting with Susan Dosier and Carrie Ryan about social media promoting for writers.

One thing I found interesting was that many of the attending industry professionals were on Facebook and Twitter but didn’t blog.

I think it’s easy for the blogging world to get a little insular. I’m starting to think that everybody blogs and that’s just not true.

So here’s a quick post on setting up your writing related blog.

The first thing I would do is set a goal. What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? And I’d caution that even if a blog is supposed to be a promotional vehicle, that’s probably not going to fly for very long in the social networking world. Social media is really all about supplying content—and providing a service to your readers. A soft sell approach is best in the social media sphere.

After you know what you want, decide how much time you have to spend on the blog. If you’re honest with yourself and realize you don’t have a lot of free time, then limit your posting right out of the gate. It really doesn’t matter that you’re only posting once a week…but you need to let your readers in on your plan. Even if readers are using Google Reader to tune in to new content, it’s still nice to know that “if it’s Wednesday, there must be something fresh on Julie’s blog.”

Then I would write a whole slew of posts before the blog goes live. Write as many high-content posts as you can handle. That way you’ll have a buffer between you (and your busy life) and your blog.

Decide who you’d like to host your blog. WordPress gets the best press and is probably less-buggy…but I’ve gotten used to Blogger, quirks and all.

Keep your blog somewhat focused, at least at first. Otherwise, readers might get a little confused about where you’re going with it. Sometimes I’ll visit blogs and one day they’ll focus on politics, another day on humor…that’s fine if you already have your audience. If you’re building an audience, that can make things tricky. If you want to regularly show photography or focus on your hobby, etc, it might be good to assign it to a particular day of the week..and even post those days in the sidebar so that we all know that Wednesdays are “Wordless Wednesdays” with photography featured.

Give your readers a way to follow you and become part of the community. Feature an RSS feed button, a “Followers” button, etc, prominently on your blog page.

Develop your readership (and learn how blogging is done) by visiting blogs that are similar to your own. When you hang out at blogs that are frequently updated and with regular commenters, then comment there—adding content to the post with your comment, if possible. Link back to your blog.

Visit other blogs in this active blog’s blogroll. If those are active and healthy, comment on those blogs….adding content and a link back to your blog.

Make sure, if you’re an author, to have a buy button on your site, “contact me” info, and that you’ve made it clear that you’re a writer. Profile pictures are nice, too, and help readers to relate to you a little better, I think.

Blogging has been an incredibly experience for me and I’ve gained so much from it. Is it time-consuming? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Setting the Mood

Guido Marussig-1885-1972--The Fan and the Eyes Usually my son gives me a play-by-play of what he’s working on at school.

But the past couple of weeks, his Language Arts class has been concentrating entirely on writing to prep for a standardized exam. And somehow he neglected to tell me until a couple of days ago. :)

I guess he thinks I'll be entirely too interested. He's right. Writing, I think, is hard to teach, and I’m curious how people approach it.

In preparation for this exam, the school had each of the six 7th grade English teachers specialize in a particular area and then teach it to the rotating student body.

His favorite class of the series was on mood. To pull the children in, the teacher had shown them a YouTube clip on the SmartBoard that was a parody of the Mary Poppins movie.

First she showed the regular scenes with Mary Poppins drifting gently down from the sky with her umbrella, surprising the children by swooping up the banister, and magically cleaning the nursery.

Then she showed the other version, where the creator of the clip had given it all a menacing tone with spooky music when Mary came from the sky and with horrified expressions of the children when the nursery went crazy—topped off with Mary Poppins’ head spinning around in a very non-Disney, Exorcist-type fashion.

The mood in the two pieces was totally different.

It's probably easier to create mood on film. You’ve got the benefit of using music (sometimes it’s overused, but it’s always an option.)

But we can accomplish the same type thing in our writing. We just don't want to make the reader feel like they’re being manipulated. And we'd want to make it as seamless as possible.

Setting is one big way of creating mood. How the author treats the setting is also important (the author's tone.) The author can turn the spooky old house into a lovely historic home just by his word choice.

What kind of imagery are we using? If we write all the senses, we can create an ominous or a happy mood even with aromas—is there a strange smell coming from the woods? Is the sweet smell of gingerbread making the kitchen a cozy place?

What sort of sounds are in the scene? Eerie whistling as the character is walking alone at night? Birds chirping in the backyard? Children laughing?

Characters’ thoughts and actions can definitely work toward mood creation—how are they reacting to the situation they’re in? Are they relaxed? Nervous? Frightened?

What kind of a climate are we creating in our WIPs? How do you create it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010



What happens if you have two things—or two facets of a character’s personality—that are equally important to the protagonist but conflict with each other?

We could use the tug between a character’s work and his family—and a character who loves both things equally. Suddenly we increase his work demands and his family needs simultaneously. How will he respond? What kinds of choices will he make and how will it change the plot? Maybe he misses his shot at promotion when he spends more time at home? What does that do to him?

We could invent an obsessively neat character who is always perfectly polite. Then we could dump a freeloading, messy, down-on-his-luck relative on him.

One of my neuroses is my punctuality. I have to be on time. My daughter just got the role of the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland” and I burst out laughing—the White Rabbit should be my avatar in life. I also want to do a Good Job with everything I take on. So where does the need to be punctual and turn a project in conflict with my desire to have it be as perfect as possible?

How do our characters handle this stress? How does it affect their decision-making?

So we can personalize the torture we’re putting our characters through. What are these characters like? What do they need? Do they need two things—and what if these needs conflict with each other?

What matters most to our characters and how can we threaten it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Tiptoeing

Breton Girl Carrying a Jug--Sir George Clausen Living in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’m—surprisingly—one of the few Southerners I know here. I’m surrounded by neighbors who’ve moved from the North for (mainly) banking jobs.

In the small Southern town I grew up in, we would have called these folks Yankees. Not in a derogatory way, but more as an explanation. (“She couldn’t understand a word I said. She’s a Yankee.” Or maybe: “A big water bug landed right next to her on the table and she screamed bloody murder! She's not used to bugs that big because she's a Yankee.”)

Sometimes Yankees were even people who just weren’t from around the area. Someone from Iowa could be a Yankee. Or a Californian.

But in Charlotte, people from the North don’t want to be referred to that way. That’s completely understandable. Southerners don't care to be called 'rednecks,' even if it occasionally fits. I’ve squashed that Yankee word from my vocabulary…pretty much.

I was having lunch with a friend from New York. And lately, I’ve had a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease….I really don’t know why. I’m starting to think the fact I don’t get out much is beginning to show.

But my friend was talking about another friend’s daughter. “Ah,” I said. “Yes, she’s sort of sassy.”

“Fresh?” she asked.

I paused. Fresh was something that I used in reference to baked goods. “Yes,” I decided. “She’s fresh. I guess. If that means sassy.” I thought about it. “Actually, the girl’s mom has said that before, too. That Emily is fresh.”

My friend said, “So they’re from the North, too? Like me?”

I said, “Yes, they’re Yannn….Northerners.” I was so proud of myself.

“From New York?”

The accents all run together for me, not being as familiar. I can tell a Charleston, SC accent from a New Orleans one, but Northern accents? “Yes,” I said. Then I thought for a second. “Or maybe from Ohio.”

So of course she burst out laughing at New York and Ohio being anything at all alike. All my tiptoeing came to naught—it was clear that I lumped everything over the Mason-Dixon line all together.

This is one reason why I stay away from subjects I’m not familiar with in my writing. And why I don’t tarry long around religion and wouldn’t touch politics with a ten-foot pole…I just don’t trust myself not to screw up and accidentally offend someone (or show my ignorance!)

I’ve read books where it’s handled well—where religion and politics are side issues. I’ve read books where religion and politics are the issue—but I think it’s tricky. If it’s not handled well, you risk alienating a lot of readers, or even an editor or your agent.

How do you handle sensitive subjects in your writing? Or do you avoid them altogether?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Problem Solving

View of the Kaag--Willem-Bastiaan-Tholen-1860-1931 Since our novels are all supposed to have tons of conflict in them (major, minor, and in between), our protagonists need to use their problem solving skills…usually.

In real life, I think our personalities have a lot to do with the way we approach our problems.

Some people panic, some people shut down, some avoid problems as much as possible, some people deny there is a problem, some attack problems head-on.

Some people have a methodical approach to solving problems, some have a wait-and-see approach.

My books are mysteries, so my protagonists do have some organized methods for investigating the murders…or else we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere in the book.

But I’m curious about other protagonists and their approaches to conflict. Because I don’t really think that in real life most people attack problems directly.

In books, though, don’t readers lose interest if the protagonist doesn’t confront their problems? Does the story drag if the character is just having things happen to them and not working through the issues?

If you do have a reticent protagonist, how do you keep the reader interested while they either avoid the problem or deny the problem? Or while they wait to see what happens?

Or do we all have protagonists who are natural leaders? I think many of us might…

Sunday, April 18, 2010



Once again, I’m posting writing links that I previously posted to Twitter.

The idea of doing this isn’t to overwhelm anyone---I’m overwhelmed looking at this list myself! But I thought that if I kept track of these writing links in a searchable database (you can search my blog on the top left of the page) then maybe we can access some of these helpful links by topic, when we need to?

Helpful writing sites: @gracefuldoe about 1 hour ago

10 of the best breakfasts in literature (Guardian): about 1 hour ago

Planting clues about our characters: about 2 hours ago

Help others, help yourself: @ajackwriting about 2 hours ago

New Twitter feature--retweets page: @bookmarketer about 1 hour ago

The declaration of an independent author: about 2 hours ago

The challenges of 21st century writing: @PoetryFound about 2 hours ago

Cool alternative for writers who hate networking: about 2 hours ago

One thing that's more important than reading publishing blogs:

Dreaming a 3-dimensional dream: @VictoriaMixon about 18 hours ago

What battles choose your protagonist (or vice versa?):

Dialogue red flags and tips for writing it well: @RoniGriffin

There are only so many plots: @simplywriting about 19 hours ago

Losing my book advance taught me how to write (Huff Post): about 19 hours ago

Why we need to cut Stephanie Meyer some slack already (Huff Post):

Public speaking--how I prepare: @merylkevans about 19 hours ago

5 great reasons to use Gmail: @merylkevans about 19 hours ago

How to get your self-pubbed novel reviewed:

Slow writers anonymous: @victoriajanssen about 21 hours ago

Writing battles--some specifics: @magicalwords about 21 hours ago

What photography has taught me about writing: about 22 hours ago

Getting our characters from point A to point B--and not making it boring:

Advice for the lovelorn--I mean, writers: about 22 hours ago

Soccer as it applies to writing: about 23 hours ago

Creating a novel from your short story: @wmfreelanceconn

2 tips to help you with revisions: about 23 hours ago

Avoid a repellent plotline: @gretchenrubin about 23 hours ago

Is the Arab world ready for a reading revolution? (Guardian): about 23 hours

How to get started writing your book: @bookmarketer about 24 hours ago

Why (and how) writers should blog every day: @BubbleCow

8 tips for organizing writing time: @JodyHedlund about 24 hours ago

The 30,000 word crisis point: about 24 hours ago

If Snow White wrote a to-do list (and why your character needs one too):

The writer's life--right brain rules! about 24 hours ago

Have you gotten stuck in your WIP? 11 ways to get past it:

The Great Passoff from agents to editors: about 24 hours ago

On loneliness and productivity: @litdrift 6:06 AM

Children's book sales down but publishers not worried. Why?

Write through your character's emotions: 6:05 AM

Beyond writing an ebook--pricing, marketing, and landing pages: 6:03 AM

The springboarding technique of prewriting: @murdershewrites 6:02 AM

How to find an agent: 6:01 AM

Take a look at old blogs and old writing and see how far you've come: 6:01

A simple way to eliminate distractions while you're writing:

How to read a publishing contract (part 4): @annerooney 5:59 AM

No character? No problem!: @bluemaven 5:58 AM

Behind the numbers--women and the Pulitzer: @BookofOdds 5:53 AM

We are fiction's legacy: @WritingAgain 5:53 AM

What doesn't kill you, you can write about later: 5:51 AM

One writer has named May anti-procrastination month: 5:51 AM

Why rejections are great: 5:50 AM

Tightening conflict--lesson 5: @EmilyCaseysMuse 7:23 PM

Foreshadowing: 7:22 PM

The Elizabeth Gilbert effect: the ills of "feministy" memoirs (Guardian):

Orwell prize shortlist announced (Guardian): 7:21 PM

What potholes can teach us about plot holes: 7:21 PM

Picture books--publishing's problem or promise? @MuseInks

Writing about writers--dirty laundry: 7:20 PM

Get your story straight...organizing your novel: 7:19 PM

Emerging? Established? Writers at all pts in their career need each other:

50 words or fewer--the art of writing shelf talkers: 11:19 AM

An in-depth look at mystery genres and sub-genres: @StephanieLMcGee

How to motivate yourself to write when you're tired: @Writeitsideways

140 characters and the shift to longer form content: 11:15 AM

Top 50 banned or challenged books of the decade (Globe and Mail):

Writing through the fog (the uncertainty of the creative process):

Finding and using primary sources for writing (part 3): 11:10 AM

How a tiny press published a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (WSJ):

Ebook annotations, links, and notes: must-haves or distractions? @radar

How NOT to write a series: 11:08 AM

The importance of knowing who we are as writers: 11:07 AM

British Library archive sheds light on Plath-Hughes romance (Guardian):

Challenging ourselves--the 2 different types of challenges and deciding which is best: 11:05 AM

A post about a reviewer who questioned his perspective on a book:

Stephanie Meyer joins ranks of most-challenged authors (Guardian):

Starting out with your platform--tips on setting up your author website:

It's official...everyone IS an author (at least in America):

What should an ending do? 5:57 AM

Get your work out--to alternative markets: 5:56 AM

Writing emotions--feel big, or go home: @WritingAgain 5:56 AM

Some thoughts and tips on writing characters' emotions: #writetips

About book launch parties: 5:53 AM

Character And Voice: Picks For National Poetry Month (NPR)--

How long is a book? @nicolamorgan 5:51 AM

Does profanity have a place in novels? 5:50 AM

All info doesn't want to be free--should content licenses be less expensive for digital content? 5:50 AM

Writing opportunity for writing abroad--Ntl. Geographic is looking for writers: 5:48 AM

5 dumb blog design mistakes (and how to fix them): 4:59 PM Apr 14th

"Morning Pages"--an exercise for unblocking creativity: 4:57 PM Apr 14th

They don't tell you this in writer school: @ericaorloff 4:55 PM Apr 14th

How libraries choose books to purchase: @victoriastrauss

E-books and book signings: @bradvertrees 4:53 PM Apr 14th

The end=the choice: 4:53 PM Apr 14th

Word choice, part 1: @magicalwords 4:51 PM Apr 14th

Promo between trade and vanity--how much and how different?

7 writing principles: @TeresaFrohock 4:50 PM Apr 14th

The Techie--Twitter, Part 2: 4:48 PM Apr 14th

Why the Gemmell award is bad for the fantasy genre: 4:46 PM Apr 14th

Amazon raises profile of used books: @jane_l 4:45 PM Apr 14th

Great beginnings--different ways to start a novel: 4:44 PM Apr 14th

Some thoughts and prompts on book titling: 4:43 PM Apr 14th

Different levels of love scenes and how to know which level to write:

20 things every writer should know about his protagonist:

Writing past the pain of critique: @bbetty 4:35 PM Apr 14th

Ways to add backstory to your novel: @annellealtman 4:34 PM Apr 14th

7 survival tips for the query process: @alanorloff

An author provides info on writing for a living: 8:32 AM Apr 14th

You might be a writer if..: 8:31 AM Apr 14th

Online resources for crime writers: @PStoltey 8:30 AM Apr 14th

Thoughts on the confusing publishing timetable: @JodyHedlund

Promote your book with public speaking: @bookmarketer 8:28 AM Apr 14th

An author's list of the top 10 seafaring tales (Guardian): 8:27 AM Apr

How to feel inspired when you've lost motivation: 8:26 AM Apr 14th

Helpful revision tips for slipping material into your draft:

Completing the circle--reader to author: @NovelMatters 8:24 AM Apr 14th Do Twitter and Facebook help or hinder your writing? @alexisgrant

An author on making promo bookmarks and squashing her perfectionism:

What role does emotion play in your writing process? 5:32 AM Apr 14th

An agent on 7 wonderful things about her job: 5:31 AM Apr 14th

How to be a multi-media author and stand out from the crowd:

True confessions--a romance writer dishes on writing sex scenes:

How writing a long synopsis can help you improve your novel:

Donald Maass' character checklist: 5:26 AM Apr 14th

An agent with a query critique: 5:25 AM Apr 14th

Recycling--the literary version: 5:25 AM Apr 14th

Writing? You're better off being a window cleaner: 5:24 AM Apr 14th

Tips and links for promoting on blog radio: 5:22 AM Apr 14th

In praise of the creative contribution of the individual to a novel (Huff Post): An agent answers questions from writers: 10:03 PM

The used-to-be years of book publicity: @Bookfan 10:02 PM

Shelf wars--what authors should know about bookstore visibility: 9:57 PM

"Not right for us." A look at rejections: 9:56 PM

4 steps to increase your writing productivity: 9:55 PM

A look at Kindle bestsellers--what's behind the phenom? : 9:54 PM

An agent says the greatest strength of a writer is willpower: 9:53 PM

How to kill your imaginary friends--viruses: 9:52 PM

Rooms NOT of one's own--the traveling writer (Guardian): 8:59 AM

Pulitzer prize goes to little book from little publisher (Guardian): 8:59 AM

Is online genre fiction all-powerful? 8:58 AM

50 prompts for writing what you already know: @Writeitsideways 8:58 AM

Recipe for a synopsis: @SylDSmith 8:57 AM

10 common writing mistakes: 8:56 AM

Teen readers speak out on what they like to read: 8:55 AM

3 low-cost marketing strategies: 8:55 AM

Plotting by the seat of your pants: 8:54 AM

5 ways to show the power of transformation in your story: @authorterryo

Learn punctuation rules to make them work for you: @WritingAgain 6:01

Everybody speaks Hamlet: @writing_tips 6:00 AM

An agent on keeping track of queries, income, and sales: @RachelleGardner

Expatland--on working in publishing in Switzerland and Australia:

Why crime novelists don't get women (Daily Beast): 5:57 AM

Narrative voice explained: 5:56 AM

The writing life--that magic phone call: 5:56 AM

The novel as an offensive weapon (Guardian): 5:55 AM

Picture book novelties: @nicolamorgan 5:54 AM

Why (some) authors fail (Huff Post): 5:53 AM

Trying to build up your blog? One site is holding a blogathon: 5:53 AM

Book factories: @MarkCN 5:51 AM

Ironic plot twists and incorrect "facts": 5:49 AM

How do you make the time to write? @JaneFriedman 5:48 AM

When your protagonist is a 1st class jerk: @@p2p_editor 5:47 AM

What is a happy ending? @silverwriter 5:46 AM

The blown publishing coup of the century: 5:45 AM

How do authors earn credibility? 5:43 AM

Canada turns over a new leaf and welcomes Amazon (Guardian): 5:43 AM

How to read a publishing contract--part 3: @annerooney 2:40 PM

How to use Evernote to organize your writing: @fuelyourwriting 2:39 PM

Library appreciation-- 20 reasons to love them: @srjohannes 2:38 PM

3 warning signs writing is driving you batty: @Writeitsideways 2:36 PM

Don't be nice to your characters: @TeresaFrohock 2:33 PM

Knowing the purpose of every scene: @annastanisz 2:32 PM

Book marketing tips one 1st-time author wishes she'd known: @jakonrath

How long do I have to submit after a ms request? @Kid_Lit 2:30 PM

Your best editing tool: 2:28 PM

Next generation writing tools--when pen and touch collide:

Considering Ustream for author to reader contact: 2:26 PM

Tips for driving traffic to your blog: @CPatrickSchulze 2:25 PM

Discovery is why one writer loves to write: 2:23 PM

A writer is hosting a write-a-thon: 2:22 PM

Plodding towards your dreams: @DeadlineDames 2:21 PM

Little things you can do to make your scenes shine: @iapetus999 2:20 PM

Writer mood and writing productivity: 8:57 AM

The proper care and feeding of readers: 8:57 AM

Does 'putting in the time' really matter? How long until writers are ready to publish? @JodyHedlund 8:56 AM

Components of a good writing workshop: 8:56 AM

How do your characters fight? @KatieGanshert 8:55 AM

On boundaries between our writing life and our personal life: @ericaorloff Writing the perfect book means listening to your muse: @mcbourque 8:53 AM

What's your revision mojo? 8:50 AM

Can your book get published if it's ahead of its time? 8:50 AM

More spring cleaning for the disorganized writer--decluttering tips: 8:49 AM

Defining basic blogging terms: 8:48 AM

Avoiding tunnel vision with our writing: @magicalwords 8:48 AM

Globish and its discontents (Guardian): 8:47 AM

One writer makes herself over to keep from losing herself totally to the writing world: @aswinn 8:46 AM

Using your senses to show, not tell-- @greyhausagency 8:45 AM

Tips for deciding which story idea to go with: @alanorloff 6:04 AM

The tug between being creative and needing to be commercial: 5:46 AM

Critique of a successful query letter: 5:44 AM

Dear innocent writer...don't 2nd guess yourself: @Kristifaith 5:44 AM

Markets, jobs, and opportunities for writers: 5:42 AM

Do you orient or orientate yourself? 5:42 AM

The future of feminism panel (on writing) that wasn't: 5:41 AM

For all the writers with cluttered houses--spring cleaning tips: 5:39 AM

8 tips for writing compelling imagery: 5:38 AM

How Facebook and Twitter lead to self-censorship: 5:37 AM

A romance writer shares her favorite marriage proposals: 5:37 AM

3 types of online personalities--diva, expert, and observer? Which are you?

An agent with some tips on handling your writing income: @RachelleGardner

Most writers won't earn royalties because of low print sales: @BubbleCow

Heroic or wimpy? Letting our hero cry: @murdershewrites 5:32 AM

Alternatives to traditional publishing: 5:31 AM

The return of radical bookstores (Guardian): 5:31 AM

On editing ourselves--knowing the mistakes we're prone to: 5:30 AM

SCBWI was a live- blogged conference---lots of info: 9:52 PM Apr 11th

Negative reviews=good news! 9:51 PM Apr 11th

5 articles about creating characters: 9:50 PM Apr 11th

Kegels for poets: 9:49 PM Apr 11th

Can first time writers get book reviews? 9:49 PM Apr 11th

Information on England's Crime Fest: @JanetRudolph 9:48 PM Apr 11th

5 tips for writing fiction I learned from writing cartoons for TV: @OCCRWA

No, your MFA may not help you get published: 9:45 PM Apr 11th

When a writer ruins a fine story--The Kite Runner: 9:44 PM Apr 11th

Don't give up on your writing--keep on trucking: 9:43 PM Apr 11th

Further whining about contemporary writing: 9:42 PM Apr 11th

8 tips for aspiring writers: @salamicat 9:40 PM Apr 11th

Will the ipad change book publicity? 8:37 AM Apr 11th

Is print a subsidiary right? 8:36 AM Apr 11th

Look at me! Expanding your markets: 8:34 AM Apr 11th

A writer weighs in on the ebook pricing discussion: 8:33 AM Apr 11th

A tribute to trilogies: 8:32 AM Apr 11th

Science fiction for fantasy buffs: 8:31 AM Apr 11th

I am English. Leave me alone. @Ghunibee 8:31 AM Apr 11th

How one writer works on his books' endings: 6:56 AM Apr 11th

Using the weather to help tell your story: 6:54 AM Apr 11th

Literary life (lit news from the Telegraph): 6:53 AM Apr 11th

How classics rewrite themselves: 6:52 AM Apr 11th

A helpful video on making a standout author Facebook page:

Literary critics scan the brain to discover why we love to read (Guardian):

Is your WIP ready to submit? One writer who gets paralyzed at the point of sending off her work: @cvaldezmiller 6:49 AM Apr 11th

Sleights of hand and other ruses to trap the killers in our mystery novels: @mkinberg 1:41 PM

50 Best Book People to Follow on Twitter (Huff Post): 1:39 PM

Subverting the character tropes: 1:38 PM

Sales of "Wuthering Heights" quadruple thanks to Twilight (Telegraph):

Can't keep up with social media? Just do what you can: 9:08 AM

One writer's specific revision process: 9:07 AM

An agent on e-book returns and agency commission model: 9:07 AM

Why do you write and what do you want from fiction? 9:06 AM

The key to giving a good critique: 9:05 AM

Bulking up--when your novel is too short: 3:52 PM

Author/poet intent and reader lack of context or understanding: 3:46 PM

Best practices for giving & receiving feedback: @annellealtman 3:43 PM

12 ways to start a novel: 3:42 PM

Another author's take on outlining: @sterlingediting 3:41 PM

Outlining a story-- @sterlingediting 3:40 PM

For all the caffine-addicted writers out there--the pleasures and pains of coffee: 3:38 PM

How to harness the power of rejection: @KarlenePetitt 3:37 PM

How to read a publishing contract, part 2: @annerooney 3:35 PM

An agency intern on story elements and design: 3:35 PM

Know what you write, not write what you know (& figuring out WHAT you know): 3:34 PM

Can you surprise your readers? 10 questions to ask yourself:

Love interest a must in YA? @Casey_McCormick 3:31 PM

10 social media meditations: @gwenbell 3:30 PM

6 things I learned from NOT writing my next book: 3:29 PM

Haunting film of Petit Prince author Saint-Exupery for auction (Guardian):

Conference spotlight--NYC Pitch & Shop: @HeatherMcCorkle 3:26 PM

The zen approach to negative comments: 12:06 PM

How to clear your life of nonessential tasks (and maybe free up some time for writing?) :

Watching out for plot holes: 12:05 PM

The craft of writing erotic scenes: 12:05 PM

Norman Mailer's writing colony and how I missed my shot (Huff Post):

Sex sells--lessons in writing: 12:03 PM

Dialogue and POV tricks: @lkblackburne 12:03 PM

An editor on how she could work through 2 dozen submissions in an hour:

What to do to improve your blog today: 11:59 AM

You're free to write--others aren't so lucky. On imprisoned writers (Guardian):

Top 10 things to do if you want to write a novel: 11:58 AM

Why to be a writer:

10 songs for English majors & other word nerds. @litdrift 8:20 AM

An open letter to poets who hate the creative writing MFA. @litdrift 8:18 AM

An organized way to handle writing feedback/critiques: 8:08 AM

Tips for creating memorable characters: @CPatrickSchulze 8:02 AM

How to become a hermit: 8:01 AM

Rereading old books to help with memory retrieval: 8:01 AM

Writing contests--fiction and poetry: @katcop13 8:00 AM

Social media--how much is too much self-promo? @JodyHedlund 7:59

Writing as an art--painting the plot: 7:59 AM

Blog tours for authors--do they work? And tips on having one:

Write to serve--giving deeper purpose to your craft: 7:57 AM

What goes on in the second act of your novel? 7:56 AM

On the cheap...a writer gets a home office of her own (NY Times):

How Virginia Woolf became a novelist: 7:55 AM

On negative feedback for our writing: 7:54 AM

How to read a publishing contract: @annerooney 7:53 AM

Pigeonhole your book--tips for genre ID: @layindalayinda 7:52 AM

1 writer who's hitting her writing goals feels this means her goals should be harder: 7:51 AM

20 apps to organize your thoughts: 7:50 AM

Researching your novel and how horrible histories can help: @BubbleCow

Confessions of a blog litter bug: @joannapaterson 7:49 AM

Revisions--when is enough enough? @magicalwords 7:48 AM

Why I love being a book blogger: @cathyskye 7:47 AM

Blog roll etiquette and advice: @cathyskye 7:46 AM

The death of books? It's deja vu all over again: 7:45 AM

Some online tools for writers: @HOHWWriter 7:45 AM

Asking for blurbs never gets easier: 7:44 AM

Genius at work vs working writer: 1:20 PM Apr 8th

Your inner critic is a jerk: 1:18 PM Apr 8th

How to layer points of view: @Kid_Lit 1:17 PM Apr 8th

The worst thing you could do to your characters: 1:16 PM Apr 8th

Tips on writing middle grade (what kids love): 1:15 PM Apr 8th

7 steps to handle getting flamed on your blog: 1:15 PM Apr 8th

Twetiquette--what to do and what NOT to do on Twitter: @dlschubert

Didn't write today? Don't beat yourself up: 1:13 PM Apr 8th

Quotes from authors on writing about sex: @CKHBFiction 1:12 PM Apr 8th

When you should and shouldn't consider self-publishing: 1:11 PM Apr 8th

2 new tools to cut the Twitter clutter: 1:09 PM Apr 8th

An agent on when to say when--querying old and new projects:

Pros and cons of character sheets: 1:08 PM Apr 8th

Helpful self-editing tips: 10:21 AM Apr 8th

A collection of book marketing posts and tips: 10:20 AM Apr 8th

An editor on why it's difficult to improve publishing: 10:20 AM Apr 8th

Conventions and workshops--investing in you: 10:19 AM Apr 8th

Dig out those discarded stories and ideas from your file drawers: 10:18 AM

How one writer pens books quickly: 10:18 AM Apr 8th

The difficulty of writing that second book: @SaraJHenry 10:17 AM Apr 8th

An author with a rant against reviews: @murdershewrites 10:16 AM Apr 8th

On critiques and criticism (and the need for distance from our writing):

12 great tools for effective Twitter searches: 10:13 AM Apr 8th

An agent says to celebrate the small successes: @greyhausagency

Some info on the adventure genre and its sub-genres: @StephanieLMcGee

Legendary Greenwich Village hospital where Millay was born and Dylan Thomas died, is closing: 10:11 AM Apr 8th

What Europe has taught me about writing: #amwriting 10:10 AM Apr 8th Have bad parents taken over children's books? (Guardian): 10:09 AM Apr

How do you breathe new life into an old plot idea? 6:49 AM Apr 8th

Thoughts on genre-blending: 6:48 AM Apr 8th

Tips on speed reading (part 2): 6:47 AM Apr 8th

More on permissions (copyright issues): 6:47 AM Apr 8th

Bring old blog posts back to life: 6:46 AM Apr 8th

4 Twitter tips for writers: @WritingAgain 6:45 AM Apr 8th

Is there life after 'the call?' : 6:44 AM Apr 8th

3 essential tips for writing a publishable novel: @BubbleCow

Sex and violence in YA: 6:43 AM Apr 8th

Lessons from the slush pile--what editors owe writers: 6:43 AM Apr 8th

Avoid cliches when writing: 6:42 AM Apr 8th

Is it 'then' or 'and then?' An editor answers: 6:42 AM Apr 8th