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Guest Post: Are Editors Scary? by Manda Waller

by Manda Waller

I’ll come clean. Straight away. I’m a copy editor (also known as a line editor). But honestly, I’m not scary!

I work primarily with independent authors, many of them writing their first novel. Every time I connect with an author for the first time, I ask them a series of questions.

These start with questions about their book:
– what’s the genre?
– who’s your target audience?
– what’s the current word count?

And go on to questions about themselves:
– have you been published before?
– have you written before?
– are you a member of a writing group?

These questions about the book and about the author help me to target my feedback at an appropriate level. They help me to get an overview.

And then I ask them the most important question:
– what concerns do you have about being edited?

And every time, I hear the same answer.

They are worried that their writing is bad. They are embarrassed. They don’t want to feel attacked, or defensive. They’ve spent a year, two years, ten years writing a manuscript. It’s their baby. And they don’t want anyone telling them their baby is ugly. They don’t want to feel judged.

hand working on paper for proofreading

I get it. I totally do. I’m an editor who has been edited. It’s scary, daunting even, to hand over your manuscript to a stranger. Someone who is going to critique it. To scribble on it in red pen.

And this is why it’s so important to pick an editor who is right for you.

From an editor’s perspective, sometimes it’s hard to understand exactly what support an author needs. Some authors want “no-frills” feedback. They want it straight. They want to learn. They want their manuscript analysed in microscopic detail. They don’t want flannel or flattery.

But other authors need a gentler approach.

What can you do to make sure that you find an editor who is right for you?

Firstly, let your editor know how you are feeling. Are you scared or defensive? Have you had a horrible editing experience in the past? If so, what did you not like about it? Tell your editor if it’s your first book. Tell them that no one else has read it. Let your editor tailor their service to suit your emotional (as well as your editorial) requirements. After all, you are paying them. You are in charge.

A sample edit is a great way to work out whether an editor is a good fit for you. Most editors will do a sample edit for free, or for a small charge, and it will demonstrate the type of editor they are. When you get your sample back, have a proper look at it. Most editors will pick up the issues – they will find the points of grammar, spelling, punctuation, pace, sentence structure etc. – but you should be looking at HOW they communicate this with you.

Are they simply highlighting something and saying that it’s wrong? Or are they also making suggestions for alternatives, for improvements? Are they insistent, imposing their amendments? Or are they clearly and gently explaining their suggestions? The editing process should be a learning experience. Read their comments. Are they using a language that you understand? Do you feel encouraged, supported, inspired?

If a sample edit isn’t available (for example, developmental editors rarely provide a sample edit as they need to digest the entire manuscript to provide feedback), then just look at how your prospective editor is communicating with you. Get a sense of whether they are asking you questions to work out your requirements, to gauge the level of support you need. Or are they just talking about themselves, their services and how great they are?

Have a look at their website – is it friendly? Does it clearly display how the process works? Can you see their fees?

Are they on social media? What kind of posts do they make?

A wise colleague of mine once said, “An author’s success is an editor’s success.” We genuinely want you to succeed. We don’t care about mistakes – if you didn’t make them, we wouldn’t have a job. Feedback can be honest AND kind. The author-editor relationship should be a team. And the author should be firmly in the captain’s seat.

About the Author:

Manda Waller is a fiction editor from the UK, working with independent authors from around the world. She specialises in romance (including chick-lit), women’s fiction, eco-fiction and fantasy and works on adult novels, YA and MG. She is a Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (https://www.ciep.uk/) a Partner Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/) and a member of Contemporary Romance Writers. She is a mum to three teenage daughters and two black Labradors. And most of all, she is kind.

www.mandawaller.co.uk
proof@mandawaller.co.uk

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Guest Post: 15 Reasons You Need to Keep Writing by Teri M. Brown

What’s In It for Your Reader? 15 Reasons You Need to Keep Writing

As an author, I am not fond of marketing. I’d much rather be settled in, a cup of cocoa on my left, a notebook on my right, and my fingers tapping away at the keyboard in front of me. However, without marketing, all that writing would just languish on a shelf gathering dust. So, market I must.

My first foray into this arena was almost my last. The guru in charge of the session asked this question – “Why should someone buy your book?” The question was supposed to help me gain an understanding of what was in it for my reader. However, I drew a complete blank. Why should they? I couldn’t come up with anything other than I had written a good story that they would enjoy, but somehow, entertainment just didn’t seem like reason enough to ask someone to spend their hard-earned money.

Thankfully, I didn’t decide to about-face toward a career with easily recognizable benefits. Instead, I determined to discover the value of reading in order to answer that marketer’s question. Here are the fifteen that have helped me understand that being an author is as noble a profession as any other

1. Entertainment

“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.” – Mary Wortley Montagu

I’ll start with entertainment because it was the only item on my original list. Without a doubt, books are engaging and entertaining. We’ve all experienced a book we couldn’t put down. And we all hope that our next experience with a book is the same.

2. Learning New Things

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Whether you read fiction or nonfiction, you can learn things while reading a book. For instance, you might pick up a new word or hear about a new place. You might grasp a new concept or pick up a tidbit of history you missed in school. If you want to learn something, read a book!

3. Better Communication

“I believe there is power in words, power in asserting our existence, our experience, our lives, through words.” – Jesmyn Ward

Communication is an important life skill because it allows us to pass on needed information, form relationships, and generally, get things done. And guess what? Readers are better at both written and oral communication. Because they read, they use a stronger vocabulary and intuitively know the right style for writing.

4. Live Longer

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

This one blew me away. There was a retirement home study that found readers lived two years longer than nonreaders. Wow! If that isn’t a great benefit, then what is?

5. Improves Sleep

“Take a good book to bed with you. Books do not snore.” – Thea Dorn

Studies concerning reading are endless. One found that when you pair reading with a nighttime routine, you fall asleep faster. The only caveat is that you must read printed material rather than on a screen. That pesky blue light can wreak havoc with your body’s natural cycles.

6. Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills

“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke

When we read, we tend to think ahead and see if we can solve the mystery, determine the outcome, or notice the one detail that puts the entire story on its end. This is known as analytical thinking and is another one of those skills that employers want their employees to have. If you critique a book with others, not only are you using analytical skills, but you are pairing them with communication skills. It’s a win-win!

7. Improves imagination

“Reading is an active, imaginative act; it takes work.” – Khaled Hosseini

When reading fiction, your imagination goes to work visualizing the scenes, hearing the characters’ voices, and feeling the emotions. And why is imagination important? The benefits of imagination are as endless as the benefits of reading! Those with strong imaginations have fewer memory problems, increase problem-solving skills, and more.

8. Better Mental Health

“Reading—the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.” – William Styron

Feeling depressed? Studies show that reading a book will help. The field of bibliotherapy uses books to help people feel better. Try it for yourself.

9. Reduce Stress

“Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.” – Nora Ephron

Remember what I said about studies? It seems that one found that reading for 30 minutes can have an impact on your health. How? It lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Another study found that six minutes of reading reduces stress by over 60%.

Feeling stressed? Pick up a book.

So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, remember the benefits of reading for pleasure and let the tension melt away.

10. Building Brain Connections

“To train your body, lift increasingly heavier weights. To train your mind, read increasingly tougher books.” – Johnny Uzan

Reading helps you build brain connections, much the same way that exercising builds muscles. The more a person reads, the stronger these neural networks become.

Do you know the phrase “use it or lose it”? Yep – it’s true for reading!

11. Concentration and Focus

“To read a novel requires a certain kind of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks, you don’t read the novel really.” – Philip Roth

There is an entire body of literature on something called deep work. Deep work occurs when you can do something for a long time without distraction. And guess what? Reading books helps a person develop this ability! Your readers need to learn to focus, so why not focus on your book?

12. Memory

“I am an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles.” – Arthur Conan Doyle,

Reading books helps to improve your memory. As you read, you have to keep all the details in mind. There’s the plot, the characters, the relationships, the environment, and more. As you store this information, your brain creates and strengthens synapses used for memory storage. The more you read, the better you will be at remembering things.

Can’t find your phone again? Read a book!

13. Motivation

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman

When you read about a character who overcomes a challenge, it can be motivating. Book characters can help us be positive, work hard, and never give up.

14. Empathize

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” – Joyce Carol Oates

Books let us look through the eyes of someone unlike ourselves. As we see the world as they see it, we gain an understanding of different points of view. In our world today, isn’t that an amazing benefit?

15. Inclusivity

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” – Jean Rhys

Along with empathy, books help us be more inclusive. They help readers become more open-minded and tolerant. It’s hard to look at someone negatively if you’ve been able to relate to their story. We don’t discriminate against those we understand.

This little exercise has made my job of marketing my books so much easier. Books have value to readers. And, as an author, I have value as well.

About the Author:

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.

Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.

Teri recently published her debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, a historical fiction set in Ukraine that follows three generations of women. You can read the first chapter for free by joining her email list at https://deft-pioneer-4478.ck.page/c6edd375dd

Follow Teri on her website www.terimbrown.com

Or via the following social media:

Facebook.com/TeriMBrownAuthor

Twitter.com/TeriMBrown1

Instagram.com/TeriMBrown

LinkedIn.com/in/TeriMBrown

Goodreads.com/terimbrown

Pinterest.com/terimbrownauthor

Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/author/terimbrown

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Guest Post: Journey Toward Publication by Amber D. Browne

by Amber D. Browne

My lifelong dream has been to write a book. With the publication of The Little Book of Hermetic Principles: Heal Your Energy, Seek Enlightenment, and Deepen Your Understanding of Your Mind, Body, and Spirit, my dream has become a reality. Thanks to independent publisher Ulysses Press, I was able to research, write, and be involved in the editing process until publication.

The Indie publisher was searching for a potential author to write a book about the Hermetic principles. I was unfamiliar with the topic, but the opportunity stated the potential author should be familiar with the wellness space, mentalism, and vibrations, as well as have excellent research skills and the ability to write in an informative yet friendly style. This sounded like the perfect opportunity for me!

My background is broadcast journalism, so I know how to take what might be considered complicated information and write it in a way for the majority of the population to understand. I have always been interested in the power of the mind and energy, so I did a little research about the Hermetic principles. I knew this project was meant for me. I truly believe God put this opportunity in front of me so that I would take the initiative and begin a new journey in this life. I reached out to the acquisitions editor and ultimately received a contract to write the book. This was the push I needed to resign from teaching and start writing again full-time. This time, though, I would start a freelance writing business.

After signing the contract and receiving the first payment, I got to work on the 4,000-word outline. Prior to writing the outline, I researched Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic principles outlined in The Kybalion. I got a better idea about what I would cover, how I would go about sharing this ancient knowledge, and what type of guidance I would include to help readers implement this information in modern times.

An outline has always been my choice to organize during the planning stage of the writing process. I divided the book into three sections: Hermes Trismegistus and Hermeticism, The Kybalion-The Hermetic Principles, and The Mystical Teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. From this point, I was able to outline each section into chapters and determine how I would organize the book. Once the publisher approved the outline, I began the journey of writing my first book.

Throughout my career in broadcast journalism and freelance writing, I have reached out to thousands of experts and officials to share their knowledge about the subject matter I would cover. Research is a great way to get information, but when you can interview experts to share insight from their fields, you may discover information that never crossed your mind. As the interviewer, you can plan questions that will guide your writing for that section. If the experts add additional information that could be included, even better! You can find a way to work it into the text.

I found most of my experts through online searches. You can Google just about anything, and many times, you can reach out to organizations, associations, government entities, etc., for guidance on finding the right person to contact. If you know someone personally who would be a good fit, reach out to them! I knew several people who were experts in their fields or had knowledge on the subject matter for the book, so I was able to interview them to share their insight.

Whether you use a digital app or a physical recording device, always record your interviews! You can transcribe your interviews to guarantee you have the correct quote and information. Once you have done your research and have spoken to your experts, you can incorporate the information into your outline so that it follows the direction you are planning for your book.

I did not write the entire book in one document. I copied and pasted each chapter from the outline into a separate Word Document. The chapters were also divided into sections by subject matter, so it was much easier to keep the information organized. Once an entire chapter was complete, I would add it to the final Word Document. You could use Google Docs, too.

Two months later, I emailed the 40,000-word book to my acquisition’s editor. From there, I received editing recommendations, which took about a week to review and return to the publisher. The book was then formatted, proofread, and returned to me for review. I answered questions from the editor, proofread the book, and returned it with a request for one final review before publication. After the changes were made by the publisher, and I made one final proofread, the book was scheduled for publication.

Throughout the book writing process, I learned about contract negotiations, more about editing in different types of software, and of course, more about the subject matter. I am grateful for every aspect of my book writing experience. I appreciate Ulysses Press for giving me this opportunity and for everyone involved in the process. From the editors to the experts, they were all a vital part of bringing The Little Book of Hermetic Principles to fruition, and I am forever grateful.

The Little Book of Hermetic Principles: Heal Your Energy, Seek Enlightenment, and Deepen Your Understanding of Your Mind, Body, and Spirit is a beginner-friendly guide that delves into the wisdom and philosophy of Hermes Trismegistus and how it can be applied to modern life. The bookbegins with a brief history about Trismegistus and his ancient texts. As readers move into the chapters regarding the seven Hermetic principles, they discover how to harness the power of the mind, increase energy, and develop gender personality characteristics. Tips on meditation, music therapy, exercise, nutrition, prayer, crystals, astrology, nature, magic, alchemy, and so on, help readers foster a better understanding of reality, how the universe works, and the interconnectedness of everything.

This is my first book to author, but it will not be my last. You can find more of my written work at www.amberdbrowne.com. You can also find me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and PinterestThe Little Book of Hermetic Principles is available for purchase at various online retailers including Amazon.

About the Author:

As a young teen, Amber D. Browne discovered her passion for the written word and for sharing information. After acquiring a BA in mass communication with a minor in history from Texas State University, Amber spent much of her career researching and reporting Texas news for radio. She later branched out as a freelance writer and editor for local magazines, and her desire to share her journalism experience led to a seven-year stint in junior high education as an English language arts/reading and media teacher. Amber resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with her husband and their two children. Find more of Amber’s written work at www.amberdbrowne.com.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Guest Post: Yes, You are a Great Writer! by Teri M. Brown

As a writer, I know that words matter. Anyone can see that when simply looking at the phrases “big bear” and “humongous bear.” The first is one you run from. And the second? Let’s just hope you are running with someone a lot slower than yourself! However, I had never really considered how words affect our personal performance.

I am a cycling enthusiast – on an amateur level. My husband and I spent the summer of 2020 crossing the United States from the coast of Oregon to Washington DC on a tandem bicycle – a whopping 3102 miles. He’s the cycling guru. I went along for the adventure. Of course, having had that experience, people now send me great articles about cycling. A recent one was a study about cycling performance and the words we use (To me, to you: How we say things matters for endurance performance).

The gist of the study is simple. How we talk to ourselves as we try to achieve something matters. And the best way to achieve something is to talk to ourselves in the second person. In the study, cyclists were asked to repeat mantras while training. Those that said something like “You are a great cyclist” actually went faster than those who said the same thing but in first person – “I am a great cyclist.” The theory is that by saying “you” instead of “I,” we become our own cheerleader from the sidelines of our mind.

Now, let’s bring this back around to writing. I know that, as an author with a debut novel, I sometimes feel like a fake. Have you ever heard of imposter syndrome? It’s that feeling that I am a fraud – that if someone could really get inside my head, they’d learn that I’m not really an author after all. Or they’d find out that this novel was just a fluke and nothing like it will ever happen again. It’s a crazy thought, but I’ve learned that I’m not the only author who feels this way.

So, I’ve decided to use the power of words to change up how I feel. Each morning, I look in the mirror and repeat: “You are an author. You write great stories that people want to read. You know how to connect with your audience.” I figure if it works for elite cyclists, it should work for me – and for you.

Give it a try. How does it feel being your own best fan? Feel free to drop me a note and tell me what you think.

About the Author:

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.

Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.

Teri recently published her debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, a historical fiction set in Ukraine that follows three generations of women. You can read the first chapter for free by joining her email list at https://deft-pioneer-4478.ck.page/c6edd375dd

Follow Teri on her website www.terimbrown.com

Or via the following social media:

Facebook.com/TeriMBrownAuthor

Twitter.com/TeriMBrown1

Instagram.com/TeriMBrown

LinkedIn.com/in/TeriMBrown

Goodreads.com/terimbrown

Pinterest.com/terimbrownauthor

Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/author/terimbrown

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Guest Post: 25 Things Writers Need by AE McRoberts

Greetings, padawan! Today I’m so excited to be writing a post for a fellow Ashley. Because us Ashley’s need to stick together…we’re only the number 154 ranked name in the world after all 😂

Today we’re going to dig into one of my favorite sections in Chuck Wendig’s book 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story. Have you read it? It’s a great writing resource, and I highly recommend it. He shares some fantastic insights, and I got a lot from it!

So, let’s go, 25 Things Writers Need:

#1: A good chair

As a writer, we spend a lot of time sitting, so investing in a good chair is paramount to both comfort and marathon writing sessions. But here’s my bone to pick…standing desks. Smart ass scientists have proven that sitting on your tush all day long isn’t exactly good for you, so I say forgo the chair and get a standing desk instead…or maybe a treadmill desk.

Lose weight and kill off characters at the same time, what’s not to like!

#2: A word processing program you don’t hate

Like any opinion, the answer to this varies wildly. Some love Scrivener (I’m in that camp), others hate it. Some use Google docs, others Word. And there are SO many writing programs available out there to choose from.

But my advice, try them all. Experiment. Learn exactly what works for you and run with it. Because at the end of the day, it’s about you, the writer, and the specific program to you doesn’t much matter.

#3: A way to track change

I use a simple numbering system. My first draft is 1.1, my second is 1.2 and so on. Once, I got up to 1.15! As with all these suggestions, do what works for you. BUT, the most important thing I’ve learned as an author is don’t delete anything (anything as in entire stories, I’m not saving like individual sentences…well, maybe sometimes, lol).

I might put a story in my ‘this is shit’ pile, but I don’t delete it. Because you don’t know when and where you can reuse something.

#4: Spreadsheets

Okay, my husband loves his spreadsheets, but I never really learned how to use them. But they are a useful and clear way to organize some sorts of information if that’s your jam. If you’re smarter than me, go for it!

#5: A way to back up your work

Thankfully, being married to a tech-savvy dude has saved me. Because early in my writing career, he drilled home the importance of backing up my work. He got me a Dropbox, and I totally love it. I have my photos, and everything I’ve ever written. Like I said above, I delete nothing so there’s a lot in there!

I’ll stress this: Get SOME sort of backup service, and regularly (or automatically) backup your stuff. Because that sinking realization that you’ve just lost an entire manuscript is the worst feeling in the world.

#6: Another way to back up your work

Proper previous planning prevents piss poor performance. In the military they say “two is one and one is none”, so in this case, assume your one backup will somehow fail, and have a secondary system. Or hey, if you’re extra paranoid, triple down. I always put my manuscripts on a thumb drive as well. They’re a cheap way to ensure that I always have what’s important.

#7: A way to take notes anywhere

Be prepared, padawan, for a story from my past. I was walking my kid to REI, (they have a great slide there), and I was listening to music. When the song “Sway” by Rosemary Clooney came on, I thought (and I still do) the chorus said ‘I can hear the sound of violence, long before it begins,’ but the actual lyric is violins, not violence.

Since I misheard the lyrics, as I walked I began plotting a story where these dudes can actually sense violence. When we got to REI, I whipped out my trusty iPhone and began world building.

It was then that I learned the truth of this statement. Always have something to record your notes, thoughts, musings, ideas on, wherever you are. It can be paper or digital. Always be prepared to follow the muse.

Some go to the extreme and wake up in the middle of the night to record dreams, but I value sleep way too much for that. If it’s good, I’ll remember it again in the morning…hopefully. Lol.

#8 A most excellent pen

I’m almost confident saying that all writers are a little obsessed with notebooks/pens. I love them 😍

Granted, I’m not really into like fancy pens, I’m more of a cheap BIC pen type (remember, “most excellent” just means you like it, doesn’t have to be fancy). But as it so happens, writing engages a different part of the brain than typing, so I always have to brainstorm/plan on paper. I can’t seem to be happy with what I brainstorm when I type. Weird, I know.

Anyhow, having a good pen and paper is inviable to give your musings a little boost.

#9 Whiteboard and/or cork board

This one fills me with sadness, so I might cry a little. 😥

My fam and I are digital nomads, so I travel around Europe, moving every 90 days or so. This means that I live out of suitcases. And unfortunately, I can’t travel with anything very large. I miss my whiteboard so much. It’s such an excellent resource to organize, plan, and structure. I could put up notes and keep track of elements I wanted to. I could write little encouraging notes and pin baby pictures. One day I’ll have an entire wall that’s a magnetic whiteboard, and that will be bliss.

You haven’t plotted a book until you’ve done it full scale on a whiteboard!

#10: The Internet

Both a writer’s best and worst friend: the internet. Between the dictionary and thesaurus, Reddit, and Wikipedia, the internet is a must-have to construct stories, edit them, and publish them.

You could go all Thoreau and write off-grid in a cabin somewhere, no internet, no electricity, but meh, that’s overkill. Having the internet at your fingertips makes writing 1,000 times easier.

And this leads to our next point.

#11: A way to escape the internet

The dangers of the internet are very real, and no, I’m not talking about spending hours and hours browsing pancake recipes. Though, that is a really perilous rabbit hole if I do say so myself.

I’m talking about procrastination.

Spending hours researching the accuracy of one line, or the endless distracting black hole of social media. It takes some self-control not to spend every moment of writing time doing something other than writing, but once you strengthen that muscle, it gets easier!

Flow helps a lot also, because once I get into the flow of writing, social media doesn’t seem as appealing. There are some tricks you can do, like website blockers and full-screen mode, but mostly it’s just self-control.

#12: A website

Every author should have one. Period. Even if it’s just a pretty picture and your name. Because once you publish, you’re going to want to have a nice place to showcase all your books and merchandise. It should be easy to remember and spell. Ideally, it should be your name (or pen name). I was lucky enough to get aemcroberts.com. Super simple, and it’s me!

You don’t need to be tech savvy either to have a nice site, you can easily throw up a nice template via WordPress or build a one-page site in Carrd.co in a matter of minutes. But your website will be the spoke of your digital presence, and your publisher will expect you to have one, so chop chop!

#13: Books and Stories

I’m of the firm opinion that a writer should also be a reader. It comes with the territory.

You can’t write good stories if you don’t read extensively, because creativity requires seeds of inspiration! So, all authors should collect favorite books and stories. I have easily fifty super-duper favorite books that I can read over and over. The good news, this doesn’t have to mean shelves and shelves of traditionally published paper books. This means fanfic, audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited, and even little kid stories!

The more widely you read, the more idea sex you can have. 😊

#14: Music and other art

This one is a little obscure, sure, but relevant. Authors are creators. We imagine and daydream and harness the muse. As creators, we should collect and appreciate material from all sorts of other creators. This means artists and musicians, sculptors, performers, you name it. The muses aren’t just limited to writing. They are that piece of you (or anyone) that urges them to go make something new!

#15: Healthy snacks

As discussed above, writers spend a lot of time sitting. That means not a lot of time spent moving. Which means that you shouldn’t be cramming artificial sugars down your throat, cause that’s a recipe for becoming corpulent, very corpulent.

But here’s the catch: brains use glucose, so sometimes to get your brain really working, you need brain snacks. That doesn’t mean go straight to some factory processed shit. Grab nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit.

#16: Blood flowing to your brain

This, Padawan, is important. Your brain is a highly efficient and complex organ. Sitting on your ass for hours at a time isn’t an ideal recipe for success At least once per hour, get up and move! Do squats or pushups. Go for a short walk. Do something to get the blood flowing.

Fun fact, I do squats as part of my prewriting routine every day. It tells my brain that I’m about to get creative and it works wonders!

#17: A good shower

I’m a shower girl. I love showers, even more than a nice hot bath. It’s the feeling of water hitting my skin and washing everything away. But when you do something routine, something familiar, that frees up your brain to think about other things. That’s why showers and driving can be so important to solving problems. So next time you’re stuck, take a shower!

And think of me while you do it. 😉

#18: An afternoon pick-me-up

Afternoons can be a slog. They drag on, you get lethargic, and sort of blah. But that doesn’t have to be the case! No!

Take some time to do something invigorating. Listen to some screaming punk music, or go for a run. But it doesn’t have to be something major. Turn on some opera and sing your heart out. Recite dirty limericks to yourself in the mirror. Mix it up. Live a little.

#19: Other writers

Writing isn’t entirely a solo sport, it’s actually very much a team effort. It takes lots of people to bring a story to life. Sure, one person might write it, but there are so many more involved in the full process.

There are alpha, beta, and gamma readers. There are editors and proofreaders. There are cover artists and formatters. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a kid., it also takes a village to make a book. So, go out and find others!

This one is hard for me because I’m an extreme introvert. Between my husband and kid, I get enough human interactions to last me forever, so it can be a little challenging to reach out. But it can be worth it!

#20: People who have absolutely nothing to do with writing, ever

Stories are about humans surmounting challenges and obstacles. To really learn how humans would react/interact, you need to have some experience with people. Experience people and all they offer, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the most excellent 😊.

Every single person you encounter, in real life or media, is a potential source of character and story inspiration!

#21: An editor

The best writers need great editors. The worst writers need editors. Editors are the saviors of the written word (cough, like me, cough).

You should have a strong relationship with your editor. They should understand you, get you, and your writing voice. But, you should also trust them enough to listen to their advice, and don’t take every editing recommendation as a personal attack. Find someone who you can strike a good balance with, and who gets you, because a partnership with a bad editor can be as poisonous as poorly prepared pufferfish sushi…well, maybe not quite that bad, but close enough.

#22: A daily writing goal

I don’t necessarily agree with this one. There are some days that I can’t write, because of whatever circumstance, or if I’m taking a writing break. But sometimes authors need that sort of push to motivate them. Stories burn in me. I have to write, and if I don’t, I go insane. Literally. So, to me, a daily goal isn’t needed. But I’m a unique pancake. If you need that motivation, then set it. Make it reasonable and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it, but have clear, simple, and achievable daily goals.

#23: Deadlines

Some perform well under pressure. Others, not so much. So, this one is entirely personal and you should decide what’s best for you (unless you sign a book deal, in which case you have a responsibility to deliver on time, and missing deadlines is no bueno…I’m looking at you Rothfuss and Martin).

Writing should be a joy. It should be fluffy pancakes piled high with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and maple syrup. It shouldn’t be stress and heartache and misery. So, if you work better under a deadline, give yourself one. Or if you work better without a deadline, then don’t…unless you have a book deal, and then see above.

#24: A finished manuscript

It doesn’t matter if it’s shit. It doesn’t matter if it’s poorly written or the best thing ever. Just finish. You can set it aside or polish it to publish. Just finish. I have like ten stories I wrote as practice that are just sitting in my Dropbox, and I’ll probably do nothing with them other than mine them for cool characters or random ideas.

But I finished them. It’s that hard, and that easy.

#25: An audience

I’m of the opinion that you should write about what inspires you, and the audience will follow. But that has a big caution flag next to it. If you write about a demented old man who goes around murdering babies, your audience might be tiny. But generally, there are people who will read anything.

Just be aware that your passion might not translate well if it’s more extreme. I find that it’s harder to write when you’re not burning with the need to write *this* specific story though, so I hope the stories you burn for have nice large audiences 😉

Well, padawan that’s it for Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things All Writers Need. What’s your score? Do you have all 25?

As I’ve said, this list is his opinion and highly subjective, and even with none of these things, you can still be an amazing writer. So, don’t stress about it, take it or leave it as you see fit, and maybe go out to Hobby Lobby and buy all their whiteboards.

Now, go forth and write!

***

AE McRoberts is a romance/fantasy author and developmental editor who lives out of suitcases and travels Europe with her husband and son. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s reading, gaming, or eating pancakes. You can read more of her writing at AEMcRoberts.com, or you can find her on Twitter and Reddit.

***

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Guest Post: Poetry by Christo N

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace:

The tree of wisdom beckons

To all who would heed its call

The ancient power of nature

Breathing life into

Our weary souls

Let this fresh knowledge

These new synapses firing

Be a rapturous discovery

Of the healing power

Contained within

The oceans, rivers and forests

As the waves wash away

The pain and longing

And the wind in the trees

Whispers sweet nothings

To nurture peace within

Our tired thoughts

With time

We could spiral upwards

With content and meaningful

Thoughts, words, actions

Gliding

Surfing

Floating

On the beauty

Found only on planet earth

This blessed world

With all its angels and devils

Has all we need to find

Heaven within ourselves

You just need to know

Where to look

Start with the tree of wisdom

Drink deeply from the springs of knowledge

And never, ever, ever give up

Christo N is a poet/writer from The ACT, Australia who spent 6 years incarcerated in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Whilst locked up he began writing poetry and has continued after release. A lot of his poetry reflects the process of self development that only comes with years of introspection and hardship.  

He uses the metaphor of being lost at sea for the hard years doing time and feels incredibly blessed to be back to the safe harbor of freedom.

You can find his blog here.

***

Interested in having your work featured here? View the submission guidelines.

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Guest Post: Poetry by Miriam Sagan

An Odd—Large—Painting

in the rental casita
a plump woman
asleep, on a lumpy sofa
bare feet
on a red pillow
despite the green
ferny wallpaper
this is no
Matisse
her unconvincing
knees
seem faraway
from her head
while her toes
are off the canvas completely

there are days
I’ve felt like this
no Sleeping Beauty
just trying to get through
a hot afternoon
a third trimester
high school
menopause
too enervated
to even put ice cubes
in a glass
of tap water

but this is bought and sold, signed
hanging on the wall
the artists’s name
a blur beneath a painted cushion

and the day seems like a to do list
I left for myself
twenty years ago
forgetting to even mention
I love you.

***

Ancestors

zodiac swam in its round
above the wooden ark
veiled women hid behind
a mechitza of water and blood
if I was a child
I ran among their legs
if I was a child I ran

in the Red Cafe in Kiev
at the teetering round table
in steam and smoke like a railway station
tea served in endless glasses
they are shouting again
those philosophers
too broke to pay
but suddenly I can’t hear them
sound fades, they’re ghosts
and what am I?

in all of history, who can care
about one girl, tired, besmirched
sitting by the coals of a dying fire
who can care
about birch trees—
there are so many…

who can care about rape
about how my eyes turn
a betraying green
or how my fingers curl helplessly
as DNA deforms my hand
the double helix of Vikings, Cossacks, the Rus
come down out of the cold shamanic north
for bad, for worse

ancestors come if I call
smelling like a snuffed candle
and come if I don’t call
smelling of hospital corridors and panic
for the angels are too busy
encouraging each blade of grass to grow
reciting the alphabet
but only from aleph to aleph
they have not yet
reached the first letter
of my name

before this, a wall
before that, destruction
before that, an ark on the deep
a raven a dove, an opinion
about what survives

***

Rancho de Taos

you think you
have problems…
windchimes
kept us awake
all night
along with the neighbor’s
barking dog
and the dance music
turned up loud
not to mention
the moon…

magpie feathers float on the air
something
killed and ate
a bird;
a cauldron, a metal rabbit, a lantern
guard the storeroom
of a different feeling

Taos Mountain is still
snow-covered,
the day after Easter
I’d be careful,
breeze ruffles the pages of a book
about grenades and the Chinese revolution

the tiny girl
like a crow
can count
at least up to five
for how mysterious
the hacienda is
that always
has one more bed
than the number
of residents.

* * *

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement. Her poetry was set to music for the Santa Fe Women’s Chorus, incised on stoneware for a haiku pathway, and projected as video inside an abandoned grain silo in rural Itoshima. Her blog is Miriam’s Well.

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Guest Fiction: Summer and Sunshine by Sharon Chidra Jonah

Everyday she breathes. Everyday she smiles. Everyday she laughs.
It was pretty normal to everyone; no one saw anything wrong. They thought she was overly chirpy. They thought she was the full definition of rainbows and sunshine. Summer itself, just like her name.

But no one saw the darkness and pain that she was quietly slipping into, like it was her safe haven, like it was where she really belonged.

Her nickname was Sunshine. It wasn’t an insult but what they thought she should be, instead of a mere human whose existence will cease to exist someday. The irony.

No one knew what she was hiding until that night. I heard crying, and I followed it to the back of the bar.  Who will be here this late at night? I asked myself, and that’s when I saw her. Her strawberry-blonde hair covered her face, but I knew it was her. Then she looked up and my breathing hitched. Never have I seen eyes as red rimmed as hers, and it struck something in me. I wanted to help her, comfort her, be the reason to bring that smile in her face again.

But, the next morning, she was all smiles again. I remembered her helping an old lady to use the computer, and a whole lot of other people after that. A sweet child, they said. She’s full of happiness, they said. Such an amazing soul, they said. They judged too quickly. Just like I did.

But for the first time, I saw the secrets and pain that were hidden deep in her eyes. I thought she was okay, but I’ve never been more wrong.

She kept that façade for a long time. The smiles, the laughter, the kindness, the everything. She kept them all. Until she stopped them all, together with everything that made her, her. Until her lips turned a deep blue. Until she could no longer say her last words. Until her skin turned pale and her blood ran cold. Until she could no longer do the one thing, she so desperately wanted to.

Breathe.

Until Summer and Sunshine was just a name, not the overly-kind strawberry blonde girl who seemed to live by her name.

Again, the irony.

 * * *

Sharon Chidra Jonah

Sharon Chidra Jonah is a teenage African girl from the Eastern part of Nigeria. Though she isn’t a published author yet, Sharon has always taken a liking to blogging and writing. At a very young age, she began to write and decided to start her own blog where she writes all her thoughts.  Sharon is working on her very first novel, which is currently on the web. Sharon loves reading, writing, and listening to music, and one day she hopes to build something bigger with what she loves doing. You can see more of Sharon Chidra Jonah’s work on Wattpad with the name “Dark Blood.” You can check out her blog www.geekysharon.blogspot.com, where she blogs about anything and  everything.

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Guest Post: 4 Things to Consider When Designing Your Characters by Marielle Ann Suy

by Marielle Ann Suy

One of the most common challenges fiction authors face is creating “believable” characters. Take note, I said believable. Designing a character is different from designing a realistic character.

You may already be aware that your character needs life. You might have been searching the internet or reading books endlessly on how to make your characters feel alive. But it’s not enough.

Thankfully, I’m here to share with you the same technique I use to create realistic characters.

Artist drawing pencil portrait close-up

 

  • The Personality

Every human has a personality.

I usually start with knowing their “type.” Are they strong and tough? Are they shy and timid? Are they preppy and fashionable?

The key question here is what are they like?

If you, by some miracle, get the chance to meet this character, what would they tell you? How will they act? Are they initiating active conversations? Do they gossip? Do they talk endlessly? Do they annoy you?

By meeting them, you learn more about them. Not just how they look, but how they act. The more you know them, the better you can craft them.

Here’s an example:

Coal Lockwood is a character from Disappeared (Quesnium). He is a medieval farmer who lives with his childhood friend, Christina Evangeline. Since he’s a farmer, he’s got ragged clothes and a pale skin from all that sunlight. He’s also quite muscular (farming requires a lot of effort) for his age.

Since he was exposed to the hard life of farmers, he’s very down-to-earth. Well, down-to-quesnium, in this case. He knows how to prioritize their needs. Say, there’s no more food in the kitchen and thankfully, he was provided with bread. What he’ll do first is break it into portions. He’ll give one, maybe two, to Christina, eat half of one portion and then store the rest. Afterwards, he’ll find ways to get more food for them.

  • The Goal

Creating your character’s goal is actually easier than you think. The goal is what your character wants.

It could be as simple as being accepted by their parents to as grand as saving the world before bedtime.

The point is that your character must want something. Otherwise, there’s no story.

Here’s an example about Coal:

Coal is a simple man. With his social status, his only goal was to survive the day and the next and the next. He’s devoted to farming. During harvest season, he stores some for himself and Christina, the others for sale. He uses the coins for various needs, like seeds for the farm, food for the livestock, and for future repairs.

The better you can visualize their goal, the better they will move towards that direction.

  • The Motivation

Motivation, in its simplest of terminology, is what inspires your character to reach their goal.

Every human has a motivation, whether or not they realize it. Say, your character wants to graduate. Their motivation is their family. Perhaps, they want to give their family a better life – a better future. That’s why they want to graduate. They want to work soon to be able to support their family.

  • The Humanity

Flaws don’t make us weak, only human.

Everyone has flaws. There’s no such thing as a perfect human (unless he’s a cyborg). Making a human with superhuman strengths and no weaknesses is close to impossible. Even Superman has a weakness.

Whether it’s an object, a hidden trauma, or a person, each character must have a weakness. At the same time, they must also have strengths. Try to balance these when assigning traits to your character.

For example, if your setting is a palace in the sky, your character may be afraid of heights, but they may also have keen senses. In a thriller, action, or adventure story, keen senses are necessary.

And there they are. Those are the 4 things you should consider when designing your characters. Happy writing!

* * *

suyA lover of fairytales and the mystical, Marielle Ann Suy is a storyteller and author. She has published two short stories. Both stories are about the sun’s disappearance, hence entitled “Disappeared.” “Disappeared (Earth)” is about a solar eclipse and how it affects the world. “Disappeared (Quesnium)” is about the sun’s disappearance and how it affects lowly farmers. A novel based on the same characters and the same premise is on its way. Stay tuned in via social media or by subscribing to her newsletter.

Social Media Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MariellesQuesnium/

Twitter – @suy_marielle

Blog – https://quesnium.wixsite.com/talesofworlds

 

Disappeared (Earth) Book Links:

Apple Books – http://bit.ly/DiniBooks

Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/DinNook

Kobo – http://bit.ly/2DinKobo

Scribd – http://bit.ly/DinScribd

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/2DinSmashwords

 

Get Your Free Copy of Disappeared (Quesnium): http://bit.ly/QuesniumFREE  

 

 

Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

 

 

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4 Self-Publishing Essentials That No Author Can Publish Without

by Rosie Wylor-Owen

Self-publishing gives authors exciting degrees of freedom over their work. We can choose how long our books can be, what to put on the covers and *squeal* how much to charge for them. When we’re bound to publishing contracts, these important elements are left in the hands of editors and graphic designers who haven’t nurtured your manuscript the way you have. Despite this, in the hands of a publisher, all the costs of producing our book babies are covered. Self-publishing freedom is not without its expense.

Indie authors aren’t known for their riches, so sometimes we might feel tempted to cut corners. While we can take steps to be frugal, there are some things we just can’t sacrifice for the sake of cost. Before you self-publish your book, take a look at the self-publishing essentials you can’t publish without:

Editing

As indie authors, we tend to have a great network of author friends who are ready to beta-read our manuscripts for some cold, hard feedback. Ouch, right? While this is hugely helpful in creating a polished manuscript, beta-readers just can’t replace real editing by a seasoned professional. Without proper editing, you could quite easily publish an error-riddled book to your adoring fans.

No matter how many times you pore over your manuscript, something – nay, a lot of things – are going to slip under your radar. Editors may cost a pretty penny but the polished manuscript you receive from them is priceless. Even if you have to save a dollar at a time, hire the darn editor.

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A Professional Book Cover

First impressions matter more than we like to think they do, and that could not be truer than of books. The front covers of our novels are the first things our readers see and are the first excuse to say “no” to our books. You might be quite artistic, but the chances of creating a fantastic book cover without some real graphic design experience are slimmer than an intern’s paycheque.

Your book title plastered across a free stock photo in sans-serif isn’t going to wow readers who have probably seen one hundred better covers that day already. Investing in a good book cover is arguably even smarter than hiring an editor, because the cover is what gets your readers to the first page. Forget about Canva and Pixabay, and start researching some good graphic designers. Your manuscript deserves the best.

Reading

This question has bounced around Facebook writing groups since time immemorial. Does a writer have to read to be a good writer? The answer is yes. Is it possible for a musician to compose good music without listening to any first? Only if they have superpowers.

Some writers insist that their writing is often complimented and they never read. Here’s the thing: a good writer isn’t just someone who can write at an acceptable level and gets themselves a few hearty congratulations from Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Tom. A good writer is a writer who is constantly improving, and there’s no better way to do that than to read regularly and write regularly. The best dishes come from the chefs who do their homework.

Networking

This writing deal really does test us, sometimes. Writing is, by and large, an introvert’s profession. We like holing up in our studies and creating in peace and quiet; no people, and lots of coffee. Bliss. So networking isn’t at the top of our to-do lists, but if we want to get our books under the noses of our ideal readers, we need a helping hand (or several).

The good news is, since the marvelous invention of social media, we don’t have to meet anyone face to face. Don’t tell me that’s not ideal.

Authors need each other to help host their book launches, to share their giveaways and to recommend their books. Without a solid backing, indie authors struggle much more to get their work noticed. Go and say “hi” in a few writing groups, and write a thank-you e-mail to your favourite indie author. You might just find friendships worth keeping.

Whether you enjoy socialising or not, we need allies on our journey; a journey we can all make together.

Whether we like it or not there are some things that we can’t do without. Books, friends, and the dastardly red pen, among other things. If you want your writing career to be a successful one, try out these ideas and see if you can take the next step towards that bestseller list.

* * *

20157114_1802529079762912_4918685668669970332_o

Rosie Wylor-Owen was born in Worcester, England at the height of baggy jeans and boy-band popularity. Her work has been featured in the literary magazines The Fiction Pool, Anti-Heroin Chic and Ariel Chart, and the Manawaker Studios Podcast. Her short story “Arm-in-Army with Alchemy” was accepted for publication by Otter Libris for inclusion in the anthology “Magical Crime Scene Investigation.” In February 2018 she won third place in the Fiction Writer’s Global flash fiction contest for her story “In Exchange for Your Sins.”

http://www.rosiewylor-owen.com

http://www.welcometothesecretlibrary.com (blog)

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rosiewylorowenauthor/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rosiewylorowenbooksquad/
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/bates_rosie

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