Scheduling and Time Management by Alyson McLayne

Who doesn’t need help managing their time. Anyone who can live and thrive while wrangling five year-old twin boys deserves a medal, never mind a listen too. So with that I invite you to read this time management post by Alyson McLayne.

Scheduling and Time Management by Alyson McLayne

Ever wonder how you’re going to get everything done? Let Alyson McLayne show you how she seizes the day!

My secret? Coffee!

With January just ended, I realize I haven’t set any goals for the year. And truthfully, as busy as I am, I can’t help but wonder What’s the point? I already have goals for this year in the form of deadlines: 3 books to complete, 12 newsletters to craft, 25+ blogs to write, and the world to wow on social media—not to mention conferences to attend and edits coming out of my ears.

Maybe, like me, you’ve reached the point where you no longer sit down and write a list of New Year’s Resolutions—only to fail come December 31st. Instead, perhaps you choose an inspiring word that becomes your mantra, or theme, for the year. One year I chose the word “success”, and last year a friend of mine chose the word “courage”. This year she has a catchphrase: “Seize the moment”.

These are all good ideas. I can only imagine that if we courageously seized the moment whenever we could during 2018 it would lead to great success!

But I feel like those kinds of words and the sentiment behind them are too ephemeral for me this year. I need something with more grit, more heft, to get me through the challenges I face. Like many of you, in addition to writing, I’m also busy on the home front—I have twin five-year-olds, a puppy, aging and sick parents, and a husband who works long hours.

Read the full post at Romance University!

How to Write a Synopsis—Without Turning Homicidal

Having a great synopsis is so important because that is usually what will turn a prospective reader into a purchaser.  And I beg you please, have a one or two sentence summary that can be used to effectively advertise your book!

How to Write a Synopsis—Without Turning Homicidal

by Sarah (Sally) Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

Part One

One of the big questions I hear in my classes is, “How do I write a synopsis?”

Good question. Here’s the best answer I can give you:

Buy Gracie O’Neil’s book, How to Write a Synopsis—WithoutTurning Homicidal.

Gracie is one of our ‘down under’ folks, living in New Zealand down the road from the Hobbits. She’s funny, gracious, and brilliant, all at the same time. And, her book on synopses not only helps my students, it helps me to explain how story structure works.

She says “The first key to a killer synopsis is to find your story’s centre. Its soul. Its beating heart.”


Tell your story in 50 words or less.

I can hear the groans from here!

It’s really not that hard. Really.

Read the full post at The Write Conversation!

Becoming a “Real” Writer

This isn’t about getting a contract or a million Amazon followers, but how to express your “real” self through your writing. Finding your unique voice and staying true to it. I really enjoyed reading it and I hope you do too.

Becoming a “Real” Writer

I love to go hear other authors speak. What a kick that Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout sounds like my favorite quirky aunt, or that bestselling author Margot Livesey’s lush prose begins with characters who, like mine, nod and shrug their way through her first drafts.

I’ve walked away from dozens of such interactions thinking, “She was just so real.”

Now, isn’t that a funny thing to say about someone who makes things up for a living?

Or perhaps writing engaging fiction is one of the most emotionally truthful pursuits in which we will ever engage. A novelist can spend years crafting a story that will illustrate an emotional truth. Why? Because the point she is making is vital to her worldview. That’s pretty darned personal—it’s laid bare.

Fear of such exposure is why reaching for emotional honesty can be a significant source of writer’s block. Accomplished writers grow in authenticity the same way we all must: one step at a time.

Read the full post at Writers In The Storm!

A Look at Masterful Voice

It is human nature to compare ourselves to others, especially those we deem successful in their field. But what do you do when there is no one who writes like you do? Sometimes being the only person like you can be lonely, just ask Kermit. But it can also mean that you are unique in ways that are great, like Tigger or Aretha Franklin.  I friggin love C.S. Lakin in general, but this post is really good, about not losing what makes your writing yours. Don’t lose your voice.

A Look at Masterful Voice

by C.S. Lakin

I love talking about voice in fiction. I veer off from other “experts” in definition about voice. I believe that some people are referring to the writer’s style when they talk about voice.

Take a listen to what literary Donald Maass says about voice in Writing the Breakout Novel:

“I am looking for authors with a distinctive voice.” I hear that from editors over lunch almost as often as I hear, “I am looking for big, well-written thrillers.”

What the heck is “voice”? By this, do editors mean “style”? I do not think so. By voice, I think they mean not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches an author’s oeuvre. They want to read an author who is like no other. An original. A standout. A voice.

Read the full post on Live Write Thrive!



Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

Oh-oh I am guilty of a few of these. However, In my defense I only use “however” in business writing. Now I am going to be extra careful none of these are used in my literary writing. It is a great post because by getting rid of these words you actually make your writing more active.

Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

So I read screenplays for a living, plus I spend a huuuuuuge part of my life reading FOR FUN (wtaf!), so I’ve discovered there are certain words that crop up again and again and again which threaten to TORPEDO writers’ narrative efforts.

I call these ‘crutch words’ (quiet at the back). Crutch words are those we may rely on in EARLY DRAFTS, which we need to seek out with a torpedo of our own and DESTROY in the edit process. Whether you’re a screenwriter or novelist (trad or self published), look out for these suckers …

1) ‘Suddenly’

The actual word ‘sudden’ means ‘quick and without warning’, so it’s especially ironic that including the word LITERALLY SLOWS THE ACTION DOWN. WTAF is the point?? Compare:

Read the full post on Bang 2 Write!

How To Write Diverse Characters With Alex Anders

This is the year for diversity, of which I am so glad. I have always been cautious in my writing about cultural appropriation and wanting to have my characters be, well real. We have all read a story where someone tries to write an accent and have it just be horrible. Not just in the writing world either. As someone from the great state of Massachusetts, I can’t tell you how many times I wince when watching tv an people try to do a Boston accent. And yes, my Patriots just lost but it was a good game. ; )

How To Write Diverse Characters With Alex Anders


The Guardian UK recently reported that diversity is a trend in publishing for 2018, so today, I have an interview with Alex Anders on how to write diverse characters without cultural appropriation or stereotyping, as well as boundaries around language and an interesting discussion on gender fluidity.

In the introduction, I mention the launch of Publica, which uses the blockchain for publishing – definitely an early entry into what may eventually be a bigger part of the industry. But I’ll be waiting for the Alliance of Independent Authors Blockchain for Books white paper, launching at London Book Fair, before giving my take on it.

I also give a personal update around my screenplay adaptation, the audiobook for The Healthy Writer, and note two new podcasts: Mark Lefebvre’s Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing, plus Ingram Spark’s Go Publish Yourself.

Read the full post on The Creative Penn!

3 Ways to Change Your Thinking Today

Writing can totally mess with your mind. If you don’t show anyone what you write, are you really a writer? And who doesn’t want people to appreciate our prose? But then that means putting yourself out there, which is quite unnerving for some people. Raising my hand on that one!  Literary Agent wrote a great post on how to deal with your psyche.

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3 Ways to Change Your Thinking Today

Need to find the write word for an emotion? Pun intended.

Often used as a tool for therapists, emotion wheels can help find just the right word to describe a feeling. You start in the middle and work your way outward. Originally introduced by Robert Plutchik, emotion wheels have evolved depending on need. Great tool for writers! Below is one example but you can google “emotion wheel” to find other examples.

Emotion Wheel by Onesimusix


Self-Publishing Success Story: Roz Morris, British Indie Author

It is always nice to hear from people who have made it and maybe find out how they managed to become successful. With that in mind, here is today’s offering from the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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Self-Publishing Success Story: Roz Morris, British Indie Author

In this post we turn our Success Story spotlight on British phenomenon Roz Morris, who has come out of the shadows as a ghostwriter to emerge as an acclaimed self-published novelist in her own right, as well as diversifying into other genres. She’s also an authoritative writing coach via her series of how-to books about novel-writing. Here she shares her top tips drawing on her own multi-faceted experiences, including:

  • drawing inspiration from other art forms
  • having the courage to diversify will draw readers to your work in other genres
  • following the processes practiced by traditional publishing houses to make your self-published books the best they can be


View the full post at Alliance of Independent Authors!


Quick Link: Blogging as a Writer

Taking a quick trip to Elizabeth Spann Craig land where you can learn why it is good for writers to blog and she even has some helpful hints included!

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Blogging as a Writer

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

My first blog post was in August of 2008.  Along the way, I’ve tweaked the content and changed from Blogger to WordPress.  I’ve also played with the number of posts I run a week.  Aside from that, the blog is pretty much the same as it was nine years ago.

But along the way, I’ve seen lots of changes: some writers who used to blog no longer do.  Some folks never started. Some rarely post at all.  Which leads me to this post.  🙂   Should writers blog?  If you decide to blog, how do you keep it up?  And how do you get a blog started?

Why should you consider blogging?

Read the full post at Elizabeth Spann Craig!

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If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at or leave a message below.

Quick Link: 3 Secrets For Writing Like A Pro

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Wanna know the secret to taking your writing to the next level? It’s all about the tweaking between telling and showing. But those changes make a huge difference in the quality of your story. Award-winning author Stacey Keith, guest posting at Writers And Authors, has some great examples to show you how!

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3 Secrets For Writing Like A Pro

by Stacy Keith

Writing an email is easy. Writing a novel is the kind of hard that requires years of apprenticeship. “Apprenticeship” in this case means getting it way wrong before you get it even a little bit right. Hey, I should know.

You’ve got to commit to a lot of bad writing in order to reach a level of basic competence. Most people don’t go the distance. Most people don’t realize their beginning writing sucks. Most people, even ones who have talent, lack that most essential ingredient to success as a writer: STAMINA.

Stamina (or persistence, if you prefer) determines whether you’re going to be a hack or a writer. Not only must you suffer the slings and arrows of writing bad prose (if you stay at it, you do get better—sometimes a lot better), but if you want to level up, get an agent, get a publishing contract, trust me, you’re going to need stamina for that, too. It can take years.

Now might be a good time to ask: How badly do I want it?

Read the full post on Writers And Authors!

Quick Link: What Is a Prologue — and How to Write One Readers Won’t Skip

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Do you prologue? I absolutely love a well-written prologue, to me, it is almost like getting bonus information and sets the tone for the rest of the story. Reedsy has a great post on if you should prologue and how to write a great one. Check it out!

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What Is a Prologue — and How to Write One Readers Won’t Skip

A prologue comes before Chapter One and acts an introduction to a story, or a first of “two beginnings.” While there is back and forth on the necessity of prologues as a literary device (more on that later), it is agreed upon that a good prologue contains information that is vital to the rest of the story — though often not in a way that’s immediately apparent. A prologue should only be relied upon when it contains information that would hinder the narrative if present in the body of the novel. Think of a prologue a bit like an appetizer: if done right, it can perfectly prepare you for the main course. If done carelessly, it can ruin your appetite for the novel.

Before we talk about the best way to write a prologue, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what a prologue is — and isn’t.

Read the full post on Reedsy!

Quick Link: Plotting With Layers: 4 Steps to a Stronger Plot

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

You know every once in a while you come across something that lets you see issues in a new light? This post by the wonderful and talented Janice Hardy at Fiction University is one of those things. I personally love the idea of using layers to add depth to my stories and her tips really resonated with me. Let us know if they help you too.

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Plotting With Layers: 4 Steps to a Stronger Plot

By Janice Hardy

This week’s Refresher Friday takes a heavily updated look at why plots are like houses, and how “building” with layers will help you create stronger plots. Enjoy!

Plots are like houses. When built on a strong foundation, with good flow and an well-thought out floor plan, readers want to move in and stay awhile. Just as we build in layers, we can also plot in layers. This helps us make sure all the right pieces are in place to hold up our story and allow our characters to live within them.

Layering your plot can create more interesting stories, but it’s easy to go overboard and end up with a convoluted mess. How many layers are good? How many are too many? And mostly, how do you craft a well-constructed story that builds on itself and keeps readers interested?

I’ve talked about writing in layers before, and plotting in layers is similar. It helps to look at each layer individually and try not to build the whole thing at once.

Lay the Foundation for Your Plot

Read the full post on Fiction University!

Quick Link: A Look at Masterful Character Description Part 2

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

I am sick and I am trying really hard to find the right way to tell you that at Live Write Thrive, C.S. Latkin has written a really good post on dealing with character description. It is more of the show don’t tell, but the way Latkin puts it is quite powerful. Worth your time.

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A Look at Masterful Character Description Part 2

by C.S. Latkin

Let me begin this week’s post, a continuation of looking at masterful character description, by lifting this paragraph from last week’s post:

Description is more than what the eye sees. It involves making judgments, coming to conclusions, forming impressions. Since our descriptions must be filtered through our POV character’s mind and heart, instead of thinking of description as a laundry list of items (hair color, eye color, shoe brand), they should reveal just as much, if not more, about our POV character as the person (or place or animal or food—anything) being described.

I repeat this to be emphatic about the importance of taking the time to both know your characters thoroughly as well utilizing description powerfully and deliberately.

In other words, don’t waste space or your reader’s precious time by writing ineffective description. Make it count. Make it evocative. Make it fresh and revealing.

I’ve been pulling description from James Lee Burke’s novels, for he is a masterful wordsmith. I am continually awed by his descriptions and the way he always seems to sprinkle in these bits at the right times, creating an air of reflection and pausing at appropriate moments.

Read the full post on Live Write Thrive!

Quick Link: Get Some Rejection

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Time for some tough love from James Scott Bell at the Kill Zone. He explains why getting some rejection is a good thing for authors to experience.

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Get Some Rejection

The other day I watched an old MGM movie, The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954). It stars Elizabeth Taylor at her most gorgeous and Van Johnson at his most likable. Van plays a GI in Paris on VE Day. He gets kissed in the crowd by Liz, which is not something a GI would ever forget. When he sees her later at a party, he makes a beeline for her. Soon they are in love. Then married.

Van had been a wartime correspondent for Stars and Stripes, and lands a job in the Paris office of a wire service. But what he really wants to be is a novelist. He works diligently on his first novel, and finally sends it out.

It’s rejected at several houses. Van is naturally disappointed, but Liz talks him up, tells him to keep trying.

So Van spends the next couple of years writing his heart out. When he finishes the new manuscript he has Liz read it. As he looks on anxiously, Liz puts down the final page and gazes into Van’s eyes. “It’s even more beautiful than the last one,” she says.

Huzzah! He sends it out.

Rejected and rejected and rejected!

Read the full post on Kill Zone!