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    The Benefits of Planning Your Novel by Laura Laakso

    By Laura Laakso My first reader (or my brutal beta, as he sometimes refers to himself) recently shared with me an idea for a crime novel and asked what I thought about the outline. I said I loved it and that he should write it. But he, ever the voice of reason, said he didn’t want the project to become a victim of his self-doubt and that instead of plunging straight into the writing, he would plan the story first. As planning a novel is an area he is new to, he asked me to blog about the benefits of planning in helping to tackle self-doubt. By a way of…

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    Trick the Mind, Get Creative and Opening Lines

    By Tina Neyer As fiction writers, we strive to create believable stories that have a message. Whether creating worlds based on fact or fantasy the best stories begin with strong opening paragraphs. Let’s face it, beginnings are hard to get right. The beginning is the most read part of any work, flash fiction or novel. The reader has a choice in those first lines whether to continue reading or not.  The opening becomes a focus in my work usually by revision five or six. Identifying the problem becomes a challenge. I word-smith, share with my writing group, and then go for a walk in the woods, bake cookies, read other…

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    Five Lies I Believed About Poetry Writing

    Over the last few months, I’ve been spending more and more time studying poetry. I’m not afraid to try new things or expand myself in new directions. I’m finding, and I’m sure that this will be news to some of you, that you can write poetry faster than you can write novels! I find this to be especially exciting. Why not try writing poetry? But the problem is that the more I studied, the more intimidated I became. I still have to work in 10-minute increments, so I’m finding that reading anthologies, listening to the Poetry Foundation’s podcasts, taking my time with this study is not hard to do. Yet, I…

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    10 Minute Novelists Conference Can Change Your Fiction Writing Forever!

    In this saturated market, you can’t afford to be a mediocre writer. For most of us, it’s not enough to read books or depend on beta readers to show what’s precisely wrong with our fiction manuscripts. We plow on, submitting here or there, facing rejection after rejection, questioning our creative choices.    What if we gave ourselves a weekend to really grow? What if we could sit with a well-experienced literary agent and get the inside secrets to writing good fiction? What if we invested wisely in instruction that could make a huge difference in our careers? What if we challenged ourselves to excel in ways we hadn’t before?  Don’t…

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    A Writer and A Narrator Walk into a Bar: Separating from Our Main Character

    by Annette Januzzi Wick   I’d known Julianna for a long time since my father passed away. Her presence in my life kept me up late nights, early mornings, so I asked her to meet me. I couldn’t shake the sense she had wisdom to impart. Julianna was the protagonist in my novel about a young woman who lives in Mississippi, separated by miles and mindset from aging parents in Ohio. When her father dies, she finds her mother’s handwriting on old Frank Sinatra song sheets and sets off to uncover the secrets of an estranged mother who is obsessed with Sinatra lyrics but forgetful of her past. The novel…

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    Networking as a Newbie Author

    I found 10 Minute Novelists as I was finishing my first book. Well, I thought I was close to done, then I started sharing my work with friends from 10 Min and realized it could be so much better. In four months my story went from I’d be embarrassed now if I’d published it, to a good first book (although I’ve learned so much since then). Why do I share this when I’m talking about networking? Because as the old adage says, “Iron sharpens iron.” You cannot be a good author if you don’t take time to learn from those who’ve been in the field. You can start the process…

  • Discipline,  Organization,  Time Management,  Uncategorized

    Burst That Bubble: Grounding Your Expectations In Reality

      by Christine Hennebury Do you base your writing expectations on work habits or on your dreams?   I’m sure most of us hope that our books or stories will become immensely popular and provide riches beyond measure. I’m not going to burst that bubble for you. (Who am I to say if that can happen for you?)   The dream bubble I want to burst is the one that keeps you floating just long enough before it dumps you in the zone of discouragement.   You know the one that I mean. It’s the dream of writing 10,000 words a week when you can only fit in one thirty…

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    Top 10 Ways Poetry Is Better Than Food

    By Katharine Grubb Poetry is better than food. At least sometimes it is. Just like we eat a variety of things so that we can nourish our bodies, I think we should read a variety of poems so that we can nourish our souls. I love that some poetry  is bite sized like a Dickinson poem or a haiku. I like that some poetry is a full five course meal, like a Longfellow poem. Hungry yet?   1. Like vegetables, poetry is good for you.  If you have the literary nutrition of a poem daily, the you can appreciate rhythm, imagery, metaphor, meaning, communication, pathos, storytelling and good craftsmanship. If…

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    Building Contrast: Why a Great Antagonist Is Good For Your Main Character

      Don’t we all love a good baddie? As much as we love endearing, likable main characters, I believe it’s their opposition force, their antagonist that can make a story richer. A good antagonist has their own agenda and backstory and should do everything in their power to prevent your protagonist from accomplishing their goal. Perhaps, your main character’s opposition is a simple one: the nosy neighbor.  Or maybe the opposing force is more complex like say, the Communists. I’d like to suggest that the more fully developed your antagonist, the more interesting the whole story can become. When you have a strong antagonist, you can: Clarify the true purpose of…

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    Building Character: Ask More Questions

    by Christine Hennebury How well do you know your characters? Do you know things about them that aren’t actually included in your story?   One side effect of being a storyteller and an actor is that I like to know things about my characters that happen outside of the events described in the story. If I can get a clear sense of what the characters are like, it makes my story richer. If you can get used to the idea of asking yourself (or your characters) more questions about their fictional lives, you will find it easier to work in their world.   I don’t include all of the details…

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    Guarding Your Time: The Hows and Whys of Time-Blocking

    If we’re going to get serious about our writing, then we have to make time for it. If we’re going to make time for it, then we need to guard that writing time diligently. This is what I mean:  Recently an acquaintance approached me, inviting me to a weekly mothers’ meeting in which we would discuss various issues of motherhood. Her argument, one that she presented sweetly, is that all mothers need a safe place to vent and get advice. She said that she had chosen Thursday afternoons from 2-4 pm on a weekly basis, at a location that was 20 minutes away from my home, for this event. I…

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    Positivity for Writers

    I recently read the book Positivity by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, and it changed how I think about my writing process.  She defines Positivity as  affirming, constructive, helpful, and/or optimistic thoughts, actions, or feelings in our lives. Dr. Fredrickson, who has researched this subject for the past 20 years, categorizes it as those moments in which we experience joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. As a writer, those are the moments when my writing comes alive.  The best lines get written. I learn something that makes a character more real. Why is it so hard to stay positive? Dr. Fredrickson compares negativity to a spiral slide-…

  • Craft,  Discipline,  Uncategorized

    Can’t We All Get Along? Making Friends with Your Inner Editor

    by Christine Hennebury Do you have an annoying inner voice? I’m not referring to your conscience. I’m talking about your inner editor. The one who keeps interrupting your first draft to remind you that it still needs work.   Unlike a real live editor, this one is kind of missing the point. Real, live editors wouldn’t expect you to have gotten everything right on the first try. And, they certainly wouldn’t interrupt you while you are writing to tell you to change that single word. Real live editors know that there is a time and a place for editing.  With very few exceptions, the first draft is NOT it.  …

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    Want To Be An Organized Writer? Start With An Effective Life

    By Katharine Grubb This idea — organizing your life — could be the elephant in the room. Figuratively, it weighs a couple thousand pounds. You’ve known that your life is a mess and you’d rather ignore it than deal with it. But like a real elephant, your piles, your messes and your chaos feels rough and dirty. Being effective seems impossible. This figurative elephant may even be eyeing you suspiciously. You’ve been told that to eat this elephant you’ll have to tackle it one bite at a time. In your hand, you have a knife and a fork and you say to yourself, “go to it!” If only getting your…