Writing Resources 10 August 2013

Writing Resources ADJ 08102013Here you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy.

Inform & Inspire

Shawn Coyne: Stories Are About Change. Excerpt: “In his wonderful book The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz tells the story of Marissa Panigrosso, who worked on the 98th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. She recalled that when the first plane hit the North Tower on September 11, 2001, a wave of hot air came through her glass windows as intense as opening a pizza oven. She did not hesitate. She didn’t even pick up her purse, make a phone call or turn off her computer. She walked quickly to the nearest emergency exit, pushed through the door and began the ninety-eight-stairway decent to the ground. What she found curious is that far more people chose to stay right where they were.Highly Recommended–knowing why people reacted the way they did defines a powerful story key.

Steve Martin, CMCT (not the actor/comedian): Why We Agree to and Achieve Goals. Excerpt: “Imagine you need to persuade an individual or a group of people to complete a task that will take time, multiple steps and actions in order to achieve it.  Would you be more effective by taking a flexible approach and allowing them to choose the order in which they carry out the steps required? Or, would it be better to be rigid and prescribe the specific steps yourself?

Nick Thacker: Want to Know the REAL Secret of Productive Writers? Excerpt: “Quite honestly, you could use this post for literally anything: If you’re a writer, use this information to write a book. If you’re an entrepreneur, use it to produce a product. If you’re an artist, use it to create something. Every. Day. That’s right – I’m going to reveal to you in this post the most powerful technique I’ve ever learned about productivity.

Carol Brill: 4 Must-Know Tips to Reach Your Writing and Publishing Goals. Excerpt: “I’m a pretty persistent person, but I won’t lie. More than once on my journey to write and publish my novels Peace By Piece and Cape Maybe, I considered giving up, taking a hammer to my keyboard, and destroying every draft. As my initial meltdown wore off, my persistence gene kicked back in, reminding me that in spite of being clueless about how to craft a novel when I joined my first critique group, I’d reached my goal and written two books. Couldn’t I apply the same goal achievement tactics to self-publishing and marketing? Here are the tips that helped me succeed. Regardless of where you are in your writing and publishing process, these simple tips can help you realize your goals, too.


Jami Gold: Are Genre Stories More Stupid? Excerpt: “There’s never an end to those who want to put down such-and-such movie for being dumb and unworthy of reviewer stars or such-and-such genre for being formulaic or unrealistic. Those same people all too often then put down those who read or watch such stories, as though if we enjoy genre stories, we can’t possibly be capable of appreciating more than one style.

Janice Hardy: 7 Tips on Writing a Series. Excerpt: “A series is an investment, both on the writer’s part, and the reader’s. It’s designed from the start to span multiple books, either open-ended or with a predetermined number of books planned. It’s a commitment to live in the same world with the same characters for years—or decades in Sue Grafton’s case. If you’re planning a series, it’s worth spending a little extra time to determine the broader strokes of the series and how you plan to maintain and sustain it.

Art Holcomb: The Rule Book. Excerpt: “Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about motives and consequences. If there are two separate story paths that exist in each tale we tell, then there is an engine that drives each and they are quite different from one another:The Plot line moves forward when we ask the question: “What happens next?’ The Emotional line develops when we ask, in contrast: “How will my characters react to the next turn-of – events?” Every story begins at the same place. Act I always starts with a status quo – life as normal – until the Inciting Incident occurs. Then suddenly, something changes and our characters begin their journey by reacting to it. Nothing happens without the Incident and the subsequent and necessary Reaction.

Cate Russell-Cole: Writing About Shock and Trauma. Excerpt: “You are writing about the scene of a car crash. There is mangled metal, the Police and Paramedics are in attendance; but where is the driver of the car? Several blocks away, a dazed woman with blood on her forehead is wandering around, muttering about buying tissues. She doesn’t know what just happened. You are writing about a character who is experiencing psychological shock. This post is a basic introduction to psychological shock which will help you understand it, so you can use it effectively in your writing.

Catie Rhodes: The Roots of Anger. Excerpt: “In my experience, most anger is rooted in fear or hurt. I know that sounds simplistic, but fear and hurt are both broad terms. Much fear and hurt can be traced back to baggage. I use the term baggage to refer to previous hurts and wrongs. Most of us lug this crap around like that heavy old Sampsonite luggage. I’ve found, if I analyze carefully, I can find the root of my anger…and it’s usually fear or hurt.

Laura Pauling: The Big Lie: Encouraging your Readers to Suspend Disbelief. Excerpt: “Suspension of disbelief is the ability to accept the core premise of a story as truth. It usually refers to an unbelievable element such as magic, time travel, or entering a magical land through a wardrobe. Suspending belief is both easy and hard to do. I love entering a movie or a book with a premise I’m excited about. I’ve made it real easy for the writer because I’ve already suspended my belief. But it’s up to them to keep it suspended. Every plot point, every complication, every twist, they need to prove it again.

K.M. Weiland: Most Common Mistakes: Is Your Prose Too Complex? Excerpt: “If story is an art unto itself, then prose is a different kind of art altogether. Writing a book is about the melding of two different worlds: story and words. Most of us start out as storytellers, in love with the sheer power of the tale. But most of us also end up falling in love with the wordplay. If you’re like me, then stringing together gorgeous sentences—one word after another, like gems on a silver chain—is almost as rewarding as the upwelling of inspiration that creates the story itself. But don’t be fooled. Prose isn’t as easy as the poets sometimes make it look. Good prose is about creating the proper effect.

Writer Support

Roz Morris: I’ve started my novel – is it too late to write a plan? Excerpt: “What happens when you realise half way through writing that you needed to plan more? There’s a story I tell in Nail Your Novel about how I learned the value of planning. Years ago, I embarked on a novel, ever so excited, wanting to explore a disturbing incident and see where I’d go. The first chapters galloped along nicely. I read it out to my writing group, who loved it. On I went, flinging ideas down. And soon I realised I didn’t know where the hell I was going. After 60,000 words I gave up. And I’m not a person who does that. It annoyed me intensely.

Dr. John Yeoman: 5 Quick Fixes for a Story that Goes Wrong. Excerpt: “Every serious author has panicked at some point when drafting their novel. The story that was conceived as a perfect whole has gone seriously wrong. A major plot line has collapsed or characters refuse to behave as scripted. Worse, the concept itself seems so trite and unoriginal that there appears nothing for it but to toss the whole wretched thing away and start again. Six months of work down the shredder…Have you ever had that experience? Don’t panic! Here are five typical challenges you’re likely to meet in your first draft, and how to fix them…

Elizabeth S. Craig: The Importance of Knowing Our Audience and Genre. Excerpt: “Considering how much I post on Twitter, it’s amazing how little time I spend there. There are a few things that I see on Twitter that make me wince.  One is a BSP (blatant self-promotion) tweet that’s a variant of: my book is for anyone who loves a great story! Well…sure.  We hope that anyone who enjoys reading will love our books, right?  Just the same, I know a good deal about who I’m aiming for with my books.

Laura Nance: Why I LOVE research! (And how it helps me plot…). Excerpt: “If you’re a writer, you should already know that it’s important to get your facts and figures right. Readers come from all sorts of backgrounds, and someone will eventually notice if you slip up on even the most obscure piece of information. One or more of them will give you a one star review for missing a fact, even if they loved the book. Trust me, I know.

Chuck Wendig: Yes, Virginia, You Can Totally Force Art. Excerpt: “You can’t force art.” Google that phrase, you’ll get over 20,000 hits. Many of them seem to agree with the notion that, indeed, you can’t force art. Can’t do it. Can’t force art, creativity, innovation, invention. To which I say a strongly-worded:POPPYCOCK! BALDERDASH. HORSESHIT IN A 7-11 64 OUNCE THIRST ABORTER SODA CUP. I’ll posit that not only can you force art, but you in fact must force art.

Kristen Lamb: Take Your Career to the Next Level–Getting Pruned. Excerpt: “For any of you who’ve done any yard work, you know that for a vine to bear fruit, for a rose bush to produce more flowers, for a tree to grow taller, it needs to be pruned. One of the key ways we grow in our careers (or even as people) is to be pruned. Pruning hurts. It sucks. It takes away all the pretty fluff we thought was “progress” and renders us naked and vulnerable. After pruning, we might not look like a lot to others, but inside and beneath, great things are happening. Our roots (commitment) dig deeper so we can stand taller.

Social Media

Jami Gold: When Should We Start Building Our Platform? Excerpt: “Those who create fake legitimacy aren’t in this for the long haul. They’ll be caught (or burn out) long before they reach a ten-years-in-publishing or a twenty-release (per persona) milestone. Those of us who plod along, watching the big picture, making incremental progress, are more likely to reach those goals. Yeah, turtle-like slow-and-steady progress isn’t as sexy as a big breakout, but we’ll build readers one release to the next. Similarly, we’ll be better off if we keep that same long-term attitude for our approach to social media and building our platform.

Anne R. Allen: Social Media Secrets Part II: How to Blog your Way out of the Slush Pile and onto the Bestseller List. Excerpt: “In a survey published this week, 63% of readers said they discover books most often on author websites (a blog is a website.) Facebook nearly tied with that, but other forms of social media were also-rans, with newsletters at 36%, Goodreads at 27% and Twitter at 18%. I think every author can benefit from a well-maintained blog. Even if you only blog once a month.

Joel Friedlander: Do You Know How to Avoid These 3 Blogging Mistakes? Excerpt: “There’s nothing I find more depressing than running across blogs that have been abandoned by their authors. You see the archives: lots of posts for a couple of months fading to a trickle, until there’s one post left that starts with something plaintive like, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while…” and then silence. I don’t want that to happen to you. Let’s take a look at the 3 biggest mistakes I see authors make when they start blogging. If you can get these things right, you’re much more likely to stick it out, find readers and build a community you’ll enjoy—and profit from—for years to come.

Dan Blank: Attack of the Social Media Zombies. Excerpt: “Over the years, I have become jaded about the term “best practices.” For example: perhaps you want to know the best practices about how to use Goodreads to sell more books. That’s logical, right? The problem I have with “best practices” is that by the time they are known practices, everyone is using them. Every day, every hour, every minute. The effectiveness experienced when the “best practice” was first discovered has likely worn off.

Jason Kong: 7 Reasons Why Social Media Isn’t Growing Your Fiction Readership. Excerpt: “Sure, you’ve met some cool people and had some fun conversations. You’ve been interesting enough to get a few subscribers to your feeds. But the big promise was to gather an audience, a group of readers united by an interest in your fiction. That hasn’t happened. Don’t give up on social media just yet. I’m going to identify some common obstacles that may be blocking your way, along with suggestions on how to address them.


Dean Wesley Smith: Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing: #1. Excerpt: “MYTH #1: THERE IS ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO ANYTHING IN PUBLISHING “That is the only way to do it.” How often do writers in this business hear that phrase? Some writer or editor or agent telling the young writer to do something as if that something was set in stone. Nope. The truth is that nothing in this business is set in stone.

Victoria Strauss: Expanded Alert at Writer Beware: American Book Publishing / Alexis Press / All Classic Books / Atlantic National Books. Excerpt: “Last October, I started getting inquiries about a publisher called All Classic Books. I hadn’t heard anything about it, though its rather odd website (a sort of online journal format, with content mill-style essays) along with the lack of concrete information about its staff and its apparent lack of publishing history (according to Amazon, just four books published, all of which appear to be public domain titles) did give me serious pause. So I wasn’t entirely surprised, a couple of weeks ago, to receive my first documented complaint about All Classic Books, from an author who reported a variety of problems through the production process. What really caught my interest, though, was the heavy pressure placed on the author to spend thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of printed galleys to send out to reviewers.


Michael Cahill: Healthcare for the Self-Employed Writer. Excerpt: “If you’re self-employed, you know what it feels like to pay way too much for health insurance, or to feel like you have no option for affordable insurance. It’s no wonder that many self-employed Americans remain uninsured. But it’s always a good idea to have some form of health coverage, because life is unexpected and, as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Let’s assume you agree and you want to find health insurance—and that getting coverage through a family member’s plan is not an option. Now what?

Susan Spann: How to Choose a Literary Executor. Excerpt: “Last month’s #PubLaw guest post on WITS asked the question “Do you Need a Literary Executor?” This month we’re following up with a look at how to choose one—which an author needs to know how to do, even if the estate isn’t large or complex enough to require a separate literary executor. Here’s why:If the estate is large or complicated enough to merit a separate executor (or trustee, in the case of a trust) to manage the literary works, it’s important to choose a qualified person to fill that role.

Sean Duncan: The Profit and Loss Statement – What You Have to Know FIRST. Excerpt: “OK… before I start diving into all the technical stuff let me teach you the most important thing about the Profit and Loss (a.k.a. the “P&L”, a.k.a. the “Income Statement”):The P&L is not for your banker. The P&L is not for your CPA. The P&L is not for the IRS. While all those people and/or organizations are important and are going to be very interested in the information found there, the primary reason you need a P&L is so you, the business owner, can use it to make educated business decisions. That’s it.

That’s all for this week.

Peaceful Journeys.

About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
This entry was posted in Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Writing Resources 10 August 2013

  1. Marcia says:

    Great lineup, as always, Gene. I especially look forward to reading the posts about the business side of writing. Those topics can easily be forgotten when we’re heavy into drafting a book. Thanks for bringing them to us!

  2. Another great batch, Gene! Thanks so much. Hope you’re having a brilliant weekend. 🙂

  3. Laura Drake says:

    Loved the REAL secret of productive writers! And thanks for the WITS shout-out, Gene!
    Keep up the stellar work!

  4. Cate Russell-Cole says:

    Gene, thank you so much for the mention. Your blog is gold for writers and we appreciate it.

  5. Pingback: Mind Sieve 8/12/13 | Gloria Oliver

I'd love to chat with you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s