Monthly Archives: April 2012

Writing and Publishing Around the Web: April 2012

Here’s the monthly round up of some favorite articles on writing and publishing on the web this April.

Author Janice Hardy shares a genre breakdown to help you figure out where your story fits in, and talks about times when your characters make misleading assumptions. She also outlines a helpful method for analyzing first drafts before revising.

Author Bryan Thomas Schmidt shares 8 Copyediting Tips For Writers.

Author Anne R. Allen tells us Why You Should Be Writing Short Fiction.

In a related article, author Angie Smilbert tells how how to submit a short story.

Agent Rachelle Gardner gives us 6 Reasons Authors Self-Publish, and follows up with 6 Reasons Authors Still Want Publishers. She also shares great tips for How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear.

Author Carrie Ryan talks about Distinguishing Between Plot and Premise.

Author Misty Massey provides a helpful rundown of Tenses and Persons.

Author Nathan Bransford lists Ten Commandments for Editing Someone’s Work. He also gives us the Top 5 Social Media Blunders You Shouldn’t Make.

Author Elana Johnson tells us to Market Smarter, Not Harder.

Author James Alan Gardner gives us Fight Scene Basics.

Author Patricia C. Wrede gives tips for what to do when you feel like you’re Out of Ideas, and discusses differentiating your characters through dialog.

Author Kate Fall provides a handy review of Punctuating Dialog Tags.

Agent Kristin Nelson offers up The Criterion For Evaluating An Agent, and answers the question: How Do You Know If An Agent is A Good Agent?

In an interview, author Ash Krafton talks about How To Approach Publishers Directly.

Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about what it really means to have an Audience in the business of writing.

Author Gail Carson Levine talks about how, when and why to incorporate Backstory.

Winner of Heather Moore Contest

We have a winner of our contest to win the LDS historical novel Abinadi by author Heather Moore.

The winner is:

Elizabeth Mueller

Please email us at with your shipping information, and we’ll send you your signed copy of Abinadi. Thanks for listening and commenting.

Writing from Prompts

Do you ever need a break from your novel-in-progress but don’t know what else to write? Or are you ready to start a new project but don’t have a good idea?

One way to break free from that kind of writer’s block is to write from prompts.

Never heard of writing prompts? Here’s the idea: someone gives you a scenario, an image, a setting, a line of poetry, a song lyric, a news story, a single evocative word, etc. Then you write a story inspired by that prompt—or by a combination of prompts.

Basically it’s a way to force your mind to break out of a rut by challenging you to make a story work when it’s coming from an external source of inspiration.

Prompts might only result in a piece of flash fiction (less than 1,000 words). Or even a single scene or vignette. Or perhaps a short poem. If you get very lucky, your brain might take a prompt or prompts and turn them into a whole potential novel.

For example: my current novel in progress came from three prompts. First, I was spending a lot of time in my garden a few summers ago, and I decided to write something that involved gardening. Second, I’d recently written something about princesses and wanted to try another princess story. Third, I’d recently completed a short story set in the Aztec civilization, and I wasn’t entirely happy with it and wanted to try again. Those three ideas came together when a blog I followed issued the challenge to complete a ten thousand or more word story in two months time. So I used the prompts: Garden, Princess, Aztec, and I started a story in a Mesoamerican milieu about a princess with magical powers over plants. Eventually the princess became a priestess and her powers became linked to her god, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I got a great idea for a story that I loved by combining three prompts from three different sources. I have enough material in my mind for several novels set in my alternate Mesoamerica, now.

So where can you find prompts? Anywhere. Do you have a Google or Yahoo homepage with news articles? Collect the most interesting and thought provoking ones. If you write science fiction, subscribe to scientific magazines or blogs. If you write history or fantasy, try subscribing to periodicals or blogs on history, culture, anthropology, etc. Make notes of interesting details from everyday events. Write down interesting lines from books or poems, or even snippets you’ve overheard from strangers in the grocery store. Do Google image searches and save your favorite pictures of places or people. You never know when the prompts you’ve collected will spark a new idea in your mind, or provide a needed break from an on-going project.

If you need even more of a kick-start, some writer’s blogs regularly post prompts. Children’s fantasy author Gail Carson Levine ends nearly all of her blog posts with prompts. Podcast Writing Excuses ends all their episodes with writing prompts, and you don’t even have to listen to find them—all are transcribed into the blog posts on their website. I belong to a prompt-based writing challenge Live Journal community: Pulped Fictions (one caveat—you must have a Live Journal account and apply for membership to view the prompts). Also, a quick Google search for “writing prompts” resulted in a long list of places on the web to find prompts to get your mind spinning.

Let me finish off with a few prompts of my own:




Use just one or use them all. I 100% guarantee that your story will be vastly different from the one I came up with.

Do you have a favorite place on the web to find prompts? Or a writing-prompt success story to share? Share them in the comments—I’d love to hear from you.

Survey Part 2

Many people look at what is being sold right now and write by that standard. However, even if your book were sold today, it would be published 1 to 2 years down the line when everything may have changed.

I tend to write what I want, and hang the market. I write because I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. If I have to write for myself, so be it.

On the other hand, I need to make a living…

So part 2 of the survey I started last month.

Writing for the Market:

1    Are you willing to write what the “market” wants?

2    How do you decide what the market wants?

3    Do you question whether publishers want your work because of what is selling right now?

4    Have you ever been tempted to start writing only for yourself because what you write “will never sell”?

Showing Emotions in your writing, with Heather Moore

heather moore

In our third interview with author/editor Heather Moore, we talk about how to show emotion in your writing, something that’s sometimes difficult to do but one of the best ways to draw readers into your story. She mentions the Poisonwood Bible, and Jeff Savage, Carol Lynch Williams, James Dashner, and Ally Condie’s novels as good examples of how to show emotion. She also mentions some strategies you can use to deepen the emotion in a scene, such as:

-Describing internal and physical reactions
-Hiding emotions
-Using the senses and looking at scene analytically
-How different age groups and genders show emotions in different ways
-Making sure your characters have flaws
-Focusing on common emotions like fear, anger, grief, love, etc…
-Avoiding clichés like “their chests tighten” or “a cold tingle down the spine”
-Through dialogue, objects and metaphor

Be sure to comment on this podcast for a chance to win Heather’s latest LDS fiction book, Abinadi! The contest will end Wednesday, April 18th.

Download here

The Best of Writing and Publishing Around the Web: March 2012

This is a little late in coming, but here are some of my favorite writing and publishing links for the month of March.

Author Janice Hardy talks about how to use critique feedback in your revision process.

Author R.L. Copple asks the question: Can you rewrite voice?

Author/Editor Annette Lyon talks about how Shorter is Often Sweeter when writing dialog.

Author Sherwood Smith talks about Process Narration–or when writers inadvertently write their experience of writing into their work.

Agent Micheal Bourret and editor Molly O’Neill have a two part conversation on Everything you ever wanted to know about middle grade… and were willing to ask. Part 1, Part 2.

Agent Mary Kole talks about what sorts of character obstacles don’t work well.

Author Mike Winchell reflects on the author’s struggle to make time to write.

Author Juliette Wade shares some tips for writing action sequences, and starts a useful discussion on using and making maps for your writing.

Author Darcy Pattison talks about cutting up your story’s timeline, and asks: when are you finished with your revision?

Editor Angela James lists 10 things authors should know about Twitter.

Author Talia Vance talks about the times when Revision means Rewriting.

Agent Rachelle Gardner answers the question: What’s an Author-Agent agreement?

Author/Editor Susan J. Morris writes about Making People Laugh: the secret art of funny fiction.

Author Anne R. Allen talks about when an author should hire an editor, and how to avoid scams.

Author Mary Lindsey shares tips for how to secure online reviews for your book.

I hope some of these articles can be useful to you as you navigate your own writing journeys. Enjoy!