How to impress an agent or editor in 15 minutes or less

They say public speaking is people’s most common fear, even more than dying. So I suppose it’s not surprising that most writers fear pitching to agents and editors more than any other aspect of the writing and publishing process. Oh. And then there’s the bit where a disproportionate number of writers are shy introverts. That…

What kind of edit does your book need?

What’s involved in a book edit? Are there different types of edits? How do I know which kind of edit my book needs? Fair questions, and ones I hear often when talking to other authors and clients. But finding a simple, clear answer is surprisingly hard to come by. Terms are used interchangeably, and opinions…

How to save time and money with a manuscript consult

Have you ever written most of the first draft of your novel, only to realize there are major problems in your plot and character arcs that will require massive rewrites? I have. It’s so incredibly frustrating. You have to throw out whole scenes, chapters, even the majority of your manuscript because you were so in love…

The key to thriving when you want to give up

Have you ever felt like giving up? Not just when life gets a little hard or you think it’d be easier to just quit. I’m talking about those times when you’ve not let yourself quit time after time, and you just start feeling like your situation is never going to change. You feel like you’re…

How do I choose the right editor?

The question of how to choose the right editor is one of the most common queries I see floating around writer communities, and for good reason. It’s an important question! A quality book editor represents a substantial investment of time and money for most authors (I’m guessing you fall into that category, since you’re reading this…

Exercise solutions for the stressed-out creative entrepreneur

Almost six months ago I embarked on a journey far crazier and more difficult than anything I had previously attempted (which, by the way, includes traveling to Siberia and interviewing an ex-Buddhist monk in Myanmar). I knew I’d need to be at the top of my game, mentally and physically. I knew I’d have to…

Show vs. Tell: Draw Your Reader into Your Story

In my career as a full-time fiction book editor, I’m sometimes asked the most common problems plaguing manuscripts. And I always know exactly what to tell writers. Show versus tell. No matter how interesting the characters or unique the concept, telling instead of showing in your prose will kill your story every single time. Most authors…

Rest: The Ultimate Creativity Boost

Writers and other creatives really are their own worst enemies. Have you noticed that? Isn’t it crazy? We are always the first people to criticize our work, run ourselves into the ground striving for impossible perfection, and just generally try to do ALL THE THINGS perfectly ALL THE TIME, convinced that everyone else totally has their act together and…

Be brave enough to tell your hard stories

A year ago Sunday, my beloved aunt tried to take her own life after a long battle with depression and anxiety. A year ago, I received a phone call from my younger cousin telling me her mom shot herself and would I please come and stay with her and her siblings. A year ago,  I…

Harry Potter Meets X-Men in 1940s England: A WIPjoy Summary

At the beginning of January, you may remember my post about #JaNoWriMo and #WIPjoy and marveled at the eccentricities that are writerdom. I’ve had a wonderful time this month chatting with authors and readers about my latest WIP (otherwise known as a work-in-progress) on social media, particularly about Twitter, and answering the daily challenge questions…

Overcoming the Fear of Failure: Every Creative’s Battle

Recently I was writing down answers for an online author challenge called #authorconfession (see my blog post on writer hashtag communities on the Crosshair Press page) and I came across an interesting question. What are you most afraid of as a writer?  It kind of took me aback and I had to consider the question…

My Goal for 2017: Live Well

‘Tis the season of New Year’s resolutions (although by now, most will have given up on theirs) and goal-setting. All around me my writer friends are setting word count goals and plotting how many novels they’re going to churn out this year. And there’s not necessarily anything wrong with setting those kinds of creative goals….

When you have no words (and that’s okay)

I ask my friend in the Dillons parking lot, shoppers passing by with carts full of riches untold for most of the people in this world. “Do you ever feel like you don’t have any words left, or maybe that there’s too much to say for words?” Like you just need to be with the people you…

Celebrating 2016 (*passes the champagne and popcorn*)

Have you ever noticed that Christians (creative ones in particular) aren’t very good at celebrating accomplishments? Making to-do lists, sure. Crossing things off the list, sure. Maybe even mentioning something to a close friend over coffee, as long as you’re careful to enumerate all the ways the accomplishment is imperfect in the process. But celebrating…

JaNoWriMo, WIPjoy, and other weird things writers say

Writers are a strange breed. No, really. I mean, we search Google for the best ways to kill people. (“As a mental exercise, I’ve often planned the murder of friends and colleagues.” BBC Sherlock, Sign of Three) We wax eloquent about pacing and syntax, identify ourselves as “pantsers” or “plotters,” talk to imaginary people and…

Courage to Laugh at the New Year

My best friend loves to give quirky and/or homemade gifts for Christmas, and this year was no exception. In addition to a hilarious photo book of our escapades the last couple years, she gave me a framed typography Scripture verse that she colored during one of our many nights watching movies together on the basement…

Finding joy in every season

Every season has its charms. The flowering trees and new warmth of spring. The carefree, lemonade-sipping dog days of summer. The crisp fall air, perfect for walks in brilliantly-colored leaves. And then the Christmas season, where the dark comes sooner and the days grow colder, yet all over the world people put up lights and…

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Okay, I’ll admit it. I went into Fantastic Beasts cautiously excited and more than a little skeptical. I love the Harry Potter world and series (both the movies and the books) and I was prepared to be disappointed by a completely different story line, time period, and cast of characters. Instead, I was utterly charmed…

DON’T WRITE EMOTION IN ALL CAPS

Have you ever had that happen to you? You’re going along, calmly minding your own business when *ding* you get an email or text message from your friend or relative. You grin, humming the tune to “You’ve Got Mail,” and click on the message. HELLO!!!!! HOW ARE YOU?????!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 😛 😉 The…

Home for the Holidays: Writing Family Roles in Fiction

There’s one in every family. You know who you are. (If you don’t know, it’s probably you). There’s always a black sheep of the family, just like there’s the quirky aunt who gives you horrible knitted sweaters for Christmas, or the grandparent who forgets you grew into an adult 10 years ago, or the screaming…

Mulan, dragons, and embracing your creative inner child

When I was growing up, every night before bed my dad would read to me, while I colored in my Audubon bird coloring book (yes, I was homeschooled). At first it was short chapter books, like the Whitey series and Hank, The Cow Dog. Then we graduated to longer classics, mostly historical fiction related to…

5 Autumn Staples for the Weary Writer

It’s that time of year again, the season of colorful leaves and walks in crisp fall air and bleary-eyed writers stabbing wearily at keyboards in a mad attempt to pound out a novel in a month. The struggle is real, my friends. The struggle is real. If you’re the unfortunate friend or family member of…

How to Find Inspiration in Everyday Life

What do you do when you’re not feeling inspired? For me, lack of creative inspiration manifests in compulsive house cleaning (a revealing tell for my friends and family, as I hate cleaning), eating copious amounts of chocolate ice cream, and staring morosely at my computer screen. Alas, these activities rarely produce the desired effect–brilliant, creative…

The Power of Story

I’ve always thought there had to be a pretty compelling reason Jesus told stories all the time. I mean, He was God. He had infinite powers, infinite understanding, infinite ability to say just the right words to make people do what He wanted them to do. And He chose to tell us a story about an…

Your Novel Check-Up (Part 2)

Welcome back to the novel doctor’s office! This week we’ll be taking a look at your story structure and whether it hits all the key notes. Inciting Incident: What jump-starts your story and takes your character out of their normal into their not-normal? Terrorists attack a key government building. Harry receives his letter to Hogwarts/visit…

What does the Sorting Hat say?

I’m a total Potterhead. Unashamedly. I love the Harry Potter series, with its fantastic characters, complex plot, and rich world building. I love the concept of the different personalities of the houses, and, as an INFJ, am acutely fascinated by differing personality types and quizzes like the Meyers-Briggs test. Often writers tend to create characters…

Preventing creative burn-out

Burn-out. Such an ugly phrase. I prefer to use other, nicer words like tired or stressed or encountering writers’ block, but the result is the same. I end up discouraged and depressed, banging my head on a mental wall and desperately squeezing every last drop of creativity from my soul to meet real (or self-imposed)…

Why dressing professionally is like writing a book

Can I make a confession? I love fashion. Yes, I’m a slightly nerdy tomboy who loves action movies and rolls my eyes at drama. But I also love fashion. For artsy “free expression” types (that means me, by the way) “fashion” is usually whatever we feel like wearing. For introverts, fashion is often just another word for…

Musical Cues for the Creative Writer

Few creative mediums instantly set the tone and affect our emotions so immediately and powerfully as music. Think about the Indiana Jones theme. Now the Imperial March from Star Wars. You’re humming it, aren’t you? How did they make you feel? Were they different emotions, or the same? Now think about Lily’s theme from the last…

10 Tips for Working with an Editor

Congratulations! You’ve completed your manuscript, chosen your editor, and are ready to make your baby shine. In fact, a good edit (or several) are all that stand between you and glorious publication. Right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. Editing is a lot of work. Re-writing is a lot of work. And working with an…

Planning a “Workation” on a Budget

I curled up in an overstuffed armchair with a mug of my mostly-milk Mexican chocolate brew, editing an Appalachian-themed historical novel in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Fifty pages later, I set aside my work for a jaunt to the stunningly gorgeous Lily Lake outside of Estes, Colorado, to stretch my legs, enjoy the…

Ice, rice, and paradise

No matter how hard I try, my life just can’t be normal. Sometimes it fools me for awhile. I start to have foolish ambitions of being the cool kid who actually has things together and enjoys a nice, boring, normal life where crazy, random things don’t happen on a regular basis. Despite a plethora of…