Monthly Archives: December 2011

Writing and Publishing Around the Web: December 2011

Here are some of my favorite articles on writing and publishing since the end of November. I’ll be back with more lists in the New Year!

First up, a practical Social Media Survival Guide by author Jenn Reese.

Author James Alan Gardner provides some helpful guidelines for designing scenes and shares thoughts on scene beginnings and endings.

Agent Mary Kole shares Some Thoughts on Revision, particularly in regards to when to query.

Author Bob Mayer has some interesting comments on how to choose What to Write.

Author Louise Marley teaches us more about using Alternate History and Historical Fiction in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Author Janice Hardy shares helpful articles on Combining Scenes for Dramatic Punch and writing Slice of Life Stories.

Author Juliette Wade shares some insights on the current fluctuations in the publishing industry and artistic vision.

Author Ash Krafton shares some of the Numbers Games we have to play when writing and querying, and suggestions on how to use Strong Language to create a strong story.

Author Nathan Bransford teaches us how to Network Without Networking, and discusses How Art Changes With Us as we progress through our lives.

Writer Misty Massey opens a discussion on methods of backing up your work.

Author Elana Johnson shares some insightful thoughts on what she’s learned about herself six months after publishing her debut novel.

Author/commentator R.L. Copple blogs about what happens when Self-Publishing Goes Wrong.

Author Chris Eboch shares advice on how to Show, not Tell, Emotion.

Author Hilary Wagner shows off her real rejection letters and shares a message of hope.

Writer Stina Lindenblatt shares a lesson on how to write Killer Loglines.

Author Anne R. Allen lists 22 Things for New Bloggers to Avoid.

Agent Rachelle Gardner talks about Following the Market or Following Your Heart.

Editor Stacy Whitman talks about how to avoid using the trope of the “Magic Negro” when writing diverse characters.

Author Patricia C. Wrede talks about writing Too many, too much when it comes to writing plots and point of view characters.

Finally, author/editor Annette Lyon shares ideas on how to improve your focus when writing.

Enjoy the articles, and Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays and PSA

Hello friends of Writing Snippets! Happy Holidays to you all!

We’ve loved sharing the last year with you all, and look forward to another great year of talking about writing.

We’ll be back with more podcasts and articles in the New Year. And later this week I’ll be posting the final “Writing and Publishing around the Web” of 2011 (it’s been delayed a few days due to holiday fun).

Have a wonderful final week of 2011, and we’ll talk to you again next year.

Writing the Uncomfortable

From time to time, as authors we find ourselves writing about topics that we (or our audience) might find uncomfortable or even dangerous. If you’re never writing anything that might discomfort your audience you’re probably writing technical manuals or advertising (which is fine, but this isn’t about those types of writing).

Especially at this time of year. Religious holidays—and that word’s a redundancy if I ever heard one—are in the current social and political environment anathema, not to be discussed in polite society.

See my blog at for my politically correct version of Santa Claus.

I’m not going to go into the social ramifications here, and this is not a discussion of specific holy days. At some point we have to face difficult topics in our writing. Even the shallowest of writers sooner or late writes something that makes one of their readers say “Huh, I never thought of that” and it makes a difference.

If we avoid writing about the hard topics, if we deliberately or subconsciously avoid any mention of things our audience may find uncomfortable, we shortchange them and ourselves. Writing, particularly fiction writing, is about the human condition and making our readers sympathize with our characters—even the villains. If we didn’t empathize with them on some level, they wouldn’t feel nearly as dangerous. Villains are the embodiment of the dark madness that we would rather not reveal to those around us.

If you find yourself writing around a difficult topic, it may be something that you want to explore instead. Whether you choose to incorporate that topic or not is your own choice, but ignoring it should not be an option. Maybe you’ll learn something by exploring it. For certain your readers will.

By Lauren Ritz

More with Michael Phipps

Cover Art for books and CDs.
Find out how he got to do the cover work for James Dashner’s Jimmy Fincher books.
What is the difference in doing illustration for books and CDs?
How music helps him do art.
What’s the difference between working with publishers and musicians?

Download (right click and go to “save link as” to download)

Gratitude: The writers in my life

This is the season of gratitude.

That being said, I have a few things to give thanks for, or more accurately, a few people.

Almost two years ago, I started coming to a new reading group in Sandy. Not only do they put up with my truly bizarre personality and my loud opinions, they have also given me some incredible insights into writing in general and my own writing in particular. Thanks, Snippet-ers. I owe you big-time.

With what I have learned from my writing friends, I have been able to examine the published writers that I love, and I have been able, to a greater extent, to understand why I love them so much.

Robert Jordan (and by extension, Brandon Sanderson): When the author of the acclaimed “Wheel of Time” series made his blacksmith talk (and think) with analogies to metal and metal working, I finally got it through my head that a blacksmith will have language and actions and thoughts that reflect his experiences. All the time. Likewise a housewife, or an aristocrat, or a child who has lived through a devastating family disaster will have his or her experiences so woven into the fabric of speech and thought that the character gains far more depth and personality.

Robin McKinley and Lois McMaster Bujold are world and character builders par-excellence. Some existing cultures in this world aren’t as real in my head as theirs are on paper, and in my opinion, the quintessential male character is not Edward Cullen, but Miles VorKosigan. Robin McKinley’s “Beauty” is one of my favorites of all time. The fairy-tale ambiance of the story is something a reader can live and get lost in. Anne McCaffery’s “Dragonflight” was the first fantasy I ever read, and I still dream of being a dragon rider. L. M. Mongomery’s “Blue Castle” is a Cinderella story that I read over and over.

These books are my old friends, and I wouldn’t be myself without them. Like metal work for the blacksmith, these express my subconscious words and dreams, the very formation of my thoughts. I love fantasy because anything is possible. And if anything is possible, maybe I can create something beautiful enough to haunt a reader’s mind to the exclusion of all else. Maybe I can transport others into a story that can’t be put down.

By Ava Mylne