Category Archives: Guests

Decorating the Tree: A Professional Finish for Your Self-Pub

    My dad fusses with the ornament placement on the tree for the ninth time while the twentieth rendition of O Holy Night – this time from Manheim Steamroller – shuffles through the Christmas-music mix. Waiting for my hot chocolate to cool, I admire our handiwork. All the lights twinkle merrily, the red and…

What’s in a Name?

“-that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (II,ii,1-2) No offense Juliet, but would any other name honesty smell as sweet? Names are not as interchangeable as Juliet would have you believe. Some parents deliberate months over the name for their newborn-to-be. They want the perfect…

Thinking in Scenes: Crafting Memoir or Fiction

Possibly my least favorite blog posts to read are the ones that go like text messages. When a writer tells me a story through narration, rather than showing me with action and dialogue, I bore quickly. I see some good writers fall back on these techniques, especially when crafting a memoir. (Though plenty of fiction…

Plausibility in fiction and nonfiction: The Relationship Between the Truth and the Facts in Creative Writing

There’s a trick to twisting a story away from reality.  A world must be acceptable to draw people in. Rather than asking a reader to suspend disbelief, the writer must ask for trust. Plausibility in fiction involves three interacting factors: recognizable grounding, a lack of contrivance, and most important, internal consistency. Recognizable Grounding As readers,…

Are All Your Indians Extinct? Avoiding Stereotypes when Crafting Characters

“All Indians are extinct, right, Dad?” My mother and I turned our attention immediately to the little boy – maybe 8 years old? – as he explained to his even younger brother about the dismal fate of all Native Americans. Shocked, I wondered what this lad learned in school. Being of Cherokee blood, I was…

Ain’t It The Truth? Writing Effective Dialect

Mark Twain’s introduction to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn says, in part: “dialects … have not been done in a haphazard fashion… but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.” Here’s a quick excerpt from that book: “Say, who is you? Whar is you? Dog…

Omit Needless Words – Meet the Word Count and Electrify your Prose

“Professor— “Sven. Call me Sven.” Pause. “Really?” As a sophomore in the middle of the relentless series of survey classes for English majors, I was hardly inspired by the 6’3, mostly leg, dark-haired male with the scruffy beard and the wild eyes. I had no idea that hidden among period texts like Sir Gawain and…

A Whole New World: Tips for Crafting Settings

What makes our world real? Is it the golden leaves of autumn trees raining on the lawn? Surely our world isn’t defined solely by what we can see. Autumn would be dreary, lifeless without the smell of baking pumpkin pies drifting through the neighbor’s open window, the sound of kids and dogs playing down the…

You Can’t Fit a Penny Whistle in a 3×5 Box: Don’t Fear the Word Count

The first time I came upon a meme with a firm length requirement, I was furious. I had been blowing off word counts for months (years if you count college), but I really wanted to join this particular group’s party.  Finally, I caved in. (To satisfy my oppositional soul, I went UNDER the word count….

Amanda Hocking Envy & the Self-Published Dreamer

I’m thrilled to present the words of Tina L. Hook today. She has self-published her first novel, Enchanted by Starlight, and is generously sharing her journey with us today. We are so very grateful for her time and expertise. Please check out Tina’s personal blog, (FL) Girl with a New Life, as well as her…