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…

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…

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…

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…

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)…