My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Z

Z is for...Ze End!

Yep, I am cheesy and just used a word that doesn't really exist. Shame on me and this writing blog! But we have to have some fun and forget the rules sometimes, right?

Unfortunately, today is the last post for the A to Z Challenge until next year. At the beginning, I joined this challenge rather reluctantly. I had read some material about it back in March, but never really gave it much thought until the first day, when the blogs I subscribe to started flooding my inbox with "A" posts. I had just recently returned from an unplanned two-week blogging hiatus, so I figured it was worth a shot. It would give me motivation to get back into the groove of writing daily and give me a subject to talk about every day without having to scramble.

Now, I am really glad that I did it. I found a renewed passion for blogging and had a good time bouncing between writing posts, serious posts, and fun posts. I hope that my readers had as much fun with the journey as I did. And I want to send a quick shout to thank those that came up with the A to Z Challenge for such a great idea!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Y

Y is for...Yelling!

Life can be stressful. It can be awful, horrible, and downright nasty. You may have to put up with mean people, a ridiculously hard job, or an unfortunate circumstance that just doesn't seem fair. You slave away trying to fix your problems, only to have more pop up when you are least ready to deal with them. The solution?

Yell it out! Find a nice, secluded spot outdoors, step into that lost-in-the-corner closet at work, or throw your face into a pillow and empty your lungs. Stretch your vocal cords and push out all your anger and sadness. Take your nervousness and negative feelings and force them out.

This may sound like a caveman approach to some. I mean, we are supposed to be sophisticated and never loose our cool, right? Well, there is a reason that screaming is a natural response for young children in a bad situation. It works! While it won't make the things stressing you out go away, it can help you let go and relax a bit, so you can tackle the problem with a clearer mind.

So the next time you receive five rejection letters in one batch of mail, experience writer's block after the first 50 pages of your novel, or get upset because you can't find the time in your busy schedule to write, simply take a minute to vocalize your emotions, take a breather, and help yourself out!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A to Z Challenge: X

X is for...X-ray photography. Lately, there has been a photo circulating on the social networks in support of gay rights. It is an x-ray shot of the skulls of two people kissing, and brags that you can't tell what sex, gender, or race the two people belong to. While I am sure some scientists and doctors could look at the photo and tell you in several seconds many details about these people, it still gave me an interesting idea.

For today, I want to give you a unique writing prompt. Go to Google Images and search for x-ray photography. Pick one or several of the images that come up and write a story about what is being x-rayed. If it is a person, speculate on who they are, what they look like, and what they do with their life. If it is an animal, guess what kind, where they live, and what they were doing right before and after the photo was taken. If it is a plant, talk about the unique structure of the plant and the inner beauty that the x-ray reveals.

To give you a head start, I will share some pictures that I found interesting:

If you would be so kind, I would love to read your response to this prompt in the comments. Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z Challenge: W

W is for...Writing! Today, I just want to take a moment to celebrate the art, joy, and pastime that is writing. If you are reading this blog, you most likely do your own fair share of writing. Whether that means you write fiction, nonfiction, newspaper articles, blogs, or simple pieces for fun, you still have a passion for the craft.

Let's all take a moment to appreciate the gift we have. You have found your calling and the activity that lets you be creative. It can cause stress, but it can also vaporize it. It is the thing that makes you who you are.

Right now, I want you to close your eyes and picture what your world would be like without writing. And remember, no writing means no reading too! What if you had never been taught how to write? What if you lived in a country where all the books were burned? What if you lived in a household where creativity was frowned upon?

Now, keep your eyes closed and envision your life now, with writing. Think of all the different places you have traveled to, both real and imaginary. Think of all the people you have gotten to know. Think of all the things you have done and how many days you spent curled up with a book, newspaper, magazine, or with your laptop full of blog posts to read. It makes you appreciate writing a bit more, doesn't it?

Whenever you start to get discouraged or wonder if its worth the effort, remember this exercise to renew your faith and your passion.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z Challenge: V

V is for...Vikings! Ok, so that's not my whole topic that I want to talk about today. But it's a great example for what I am going to talk about!

When you write a story, it is easy to get lost in the details and have a hard time picking out the topics and genres your piece fits into. Is it a fantasy or sci-fi? Mystery or crime fiction? Or is it both? With this perspective, it is hard to find an appropriate way to market your work.

One thing that is difficult, but not impossible, and will really benefit your sales is being about pull back and see what audience you are targeting. If your story is about a man who accidentally killed his dog and is trying to hide it from his wife, then your target audience enjoys comedy, but maybe not adventure. If you need to, enlist some friends or fellow writers to help you figure this out.

The next part is to use that information to grab the attention of that audience. If your story is about Vikings, leading up to the release of your book, tweet and blog about Viking facts. They don't even necessarily have to relate to your story. Write about common misconceptions that have been debunked. Tweet about interesting Viking names. Talk about the idea of modern-day Vikings. Draw your reader in by giving them what they love! Once you have their attention firmly planted on you, you will be able to expose them to your book and give them what they want to read. Let them see tidbits from your book and let them know how it relates to their interests.

Readers will never buy a book solely on a whim; they have to have a reason to think that they will enjoy reading it. If you have shown potential readers that your story relates to their passions, then you have a better chance of getting them hooked.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A to Z Challenge: U

U is for...Undiscovered! For artists of any kind, this is a very descriptive and powerful word that can bring motivation, disappointment, or excitement. Are you the type who finds it disheartening to think of yourself as "undiscovered"? Then you need a new outlook, my friend!

The best way to think of it is to be positive. For a word such as this one, there are two parts, "un" and "discovered." The first part, "un", means not. It can also reverse the meaning of the word proceeding it. In this case, it means that undiscovered means "not discovered" or "the opposite of discovered." The great part to keep in mind is that there is an entire world of possibilities open to reversing it again, and turning you from undiscovered into discovered!

The big thing is to refuse to get discouraged. If you haven't been accepted by a company yet, or if your work has been rejected, take a step back and look at your strategy. Are you only sending to big-name companies? Does your work fit their mission? Are you keeping in touch with them, so they know you as a person, not just a submitter? Have you eliminated some possibilities that might deserve a second look? It might be time to think outside the box and open up your options.

Don't ever give up! If you get turned away 101 times and decide to push your manuscript to the wayside, you are losing the chance to have your 105th or 120th submission accepted! At the same time, you have to know when you are getting stressed and when it might be time to take a break. After you have received what seems like your millionth "no thank you" letter, see if there is another piece in your arsenal just itching to get published, and take a break from submitting your current piece. Or even take a few days or a week off from submitting and let yourself have some breathing room to regroup and regain your energy.

The best advice I can give, though, is to reach out. If you have a favorite artist, ask them how they got started. If your blogging body just recently got published, ask them how they made it through and get the real, down-to-earth story about how they finally pushed it through. Use others to keep your spirits up and remember that some very famous artists (such as Shakespeare!) were never discovered during their lifetime.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A to Z Challenge: T

T is for...The Write Practice! (Yep, I'm cheating and using "the" as the "t" word...but it's part of the official title of the blog, so it counts).

This blog is a great resource for an aspiring or established writer, or pretty much anyone who needs to get their creative writing juices flowing. Each short entry discusses a topic, situation, or happening. At the end of every post is a prompt that relates to the preceding article.

This is an invaluable and unique because, unlike websites that just list a bunch of individual prompts, this gives you a background to push off from. Readers are also encouraged to leave their response to the prompts in a comment on the post, so there is invaluable information being exchanged between not only the blogger and the reader, but between the readers themselves. This leads to an endless amount of creative ideas that can be used to get that next great story started.

If you haven't visited this blog, go there and subscribe now to start benefiting from this endless supply of knowledge!

P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. The Write practice had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from the posts and thought I would share!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z Challenge: S

S is for...Saga Writing!

This blog is a must-have resource for any fantasy and/or sci-fi writer. Actually, this blog is extremely useful for a fiction writer of any genre. It has pages specifically for making up people and making up worlds, along with a page for making up "more" and a miscellaneous page. If you are new to fantasy writing, need new ideas, or are simply looking for posts to give your creativity a boost, these posts are a great place to do just that.

Another great thing is that this blog has a non-traditional setup. It is set up more like a news website, with a photo, posted date, and the first few lines showing up on the main page. This allows you to skim the titles and find an article that applies to your current writing situation without having to scroll through long pages or keep hitting "next." Basically, it makes it easier to find what you need.

If you haven't visited this blog, go there and subscribe now to start benefiting from the endless supply of knowledge!

P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. Saga Writing had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from the posts and thought I would share!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A to Z Challenge: R

R is for...Rape. Yes, today I am going to venture away from my usual focus on writing and editing, and talk about something else.

As someone who has been personally and deeply affected by rape, I would like to take a few short minutes to enlighten those who have been lucky enough to have had no contact with this horrible violation.

If someone tells you that they have been raped, while it is great to show sympathy, unless you have been raped before, don't try to show empathy. While there are many tragedies that may be equal to rape in the amount and level of pain, they still hit a different nerve and nothing can ever truly compare to being raped.  If the event was recent, don't try to make light of it. It's rude and hurtful to try to laugh at something that has cracked the foundation of someone's life. After they have had time to come to terms with their situation, they may be able to handle having a laugh or two, but let them show you when the time is right.

The biggest thing is not to expect them to just get over it. For most people, they will be able to continue on with their lives, and they might not think of it for days or weeks or months, but it will never ever just go away. Years down the road, it can still hit them when the memory is triggered by something, and the pain and fear will be as fresh as when it actually happened. Don't think they are exaggerating or looking for attention; be a good friend and be there for them. Bring their focus back to the present and all the good things around them, all the happiness and strength that surrounds them, and help them remember that the rape occurred in the past. Give them a sense of stability and comfort them, letting them know that they are safe now and it's all over.

If you or someone you know has been affected by rape, and would like to talk to someone else who has been there, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me. I will help any way I can, even if it means just listening and offering my support.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Q

Q is for...Questions and answers. When you are developing an idea for a novel or short story, the best thing you can do is ask questions. After you ask the questions, use different sources to find an answer. Ask questions that only you can answer. Ask questions that can only be solved by cracking open a book. Ask questions that require some extensive Internet research. Ask questions to other people and hold interviews. Question everything!

By doing this, you will make your piece unique and interesting. If you write a first draft and step back to ask, "If I were a reader, would I enjoy this story? If not, how can I change it to make it better?" After this initial step, keep asking questions until you have the story ready for review.

At that point, send it off to others to read it. Encourage them to ask questions and keep a critical eye open. When you get responses and your readers have finished the piece, ask them questions that really get to the heart of their reading experience. Don't ask, "Did you like it?" It is a generic question and is really a a yes or no situation. Instead, ask them specific things, such as "What did you like or dislike about the scene that starts on page 39? What made the characters seem realistic?" By being specific and giving them a question that they need to elaborate on, instead of giving a simple yes-or-no, you open the door to improving your writing and making your writing the best it can be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z Challenge: P

P is for...Polishing and Publishing. If you want to do one, you have to do the other.

Polishing is the act of cleaning up your writing. This includes editing, proofreading, rewriting, adding and deleting, and working in suggestions. Before you even consider sending your manuscript off to be published or reviewed, you have to willing to do some heavy lifting yourself. While your first several drafts are stuffed full of wonderful things, you still need to go back over it (yes, every last page!) and make sure there are no obvious errors. Use the resources available to you (spelling and grammar checkers, dictionaries, blogs, friends) and clean it up. With all the cutting you have done to get it where you want it to be, you might have left some loose ends.

Publishing is submitting it to a publisher and getting it through all the processes to become a publicly-available work. Basically, this is the big goal (besides getting tons of sales, of course!). This includes following the submission guidelines, going through another round of edits, pulling together a synopsis and other information, and doing all the leg work to get your book past the printing press and into the hands of readers. If you think you are finished with your manuscript once you send it out and don't want to make another change or lift another finger, then don't bother. But if you are dedicated to your work and are willing to do all the heavy lifting to get it to where it needs to be, then you truly have what it takes to be a successful author.

The biggest advice for succeeding in these two areas? Stay motivated and remember why you write!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Challenge: O

O is for...Office. I'm talking about your home office, your creative space, your working area. Anywhere that you sit down to write, wherever you get your inspiration, and where you can really let your imagination run wild. This doesn't mean you have to be sitting at a desk in a room in the corner of the house, with papers strewn in front of you, a desk lamp lighting your space, and demanding absolute silence. In fact, for most people, having an office like this is rather counterproductive.

The kind of office I am talking about is the one where you can really get your brain cells firing up. If you live in the city, you might ride on the subway for an hour and observe all the people while enjoying the rocking motion of the train. If you live in the suburbs, it might be a trip to the local library to surround yourself with the greatest authors of previous centuries and immerse yourself in the heavy silence of literature. If you live in a rural area, you might take a walk to the middle of a forest and sit by a gently rolling creek, listening to the birds chirp and the squirrels scurry about.

The point is, no matter where you work, you have to make the space work for you. The environment must spur on your creativity and allow you to think clearly enough to record your thoughts. You have to enjoy the setting and really be able to relax. If you do have a "home office," then that's great, if it works for you. You just have to make sure that you pick the best area for you and your writing needs.

If you are a new writer, or if you have recently moved, or have found that the place you used to write at just isn't doing it for you anymore, then it's time to move on to picking a new spot. Don't be afraid to experiment and go somewhere you normally wouldn't. If you hate to shop, don't count out the possibility of people-watching at the mall. Keep your options and refuse to get frustrated. You just have to remember to keep looking, because the perfect office is out there.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z Challenge: N

N is for...Naked vs. Nude.

In case you were wondering where this topic came from, I was watching Calendar Girls the other day. This idea has stuck in my head for awhile, and I would enjoy hearing from others about it.

In the movie (and in my own opinion), naked is akin to the dirty kind of being undressed. Something filthy, improper, and to be avoided. Something that a lady with some self-respect would never do.

On the other hand, nude is more acceptable. It's artistic, beautiful, and natural. It's something that is delicate and should be enjoyed by proper, respectable people.

Some examples of being naked:
Streaking down the street because you lost a bet.
Taking off your clothes for a man you met at a pub.
Tanning topless around a group of horny men.
Being photographed for a trashy magazine.

Some examples of being nude:
Slowly stripping for your husband of many years.
Posing for a sculpture to be featured in a museum.
Being photographed for an otherwise classy calendar.
Keeping the bits covered that only your significant other should see.

So, I want to know your thoughts: Is there a difference between being naked and being nude? Are there any situations that could be both classy and trashy, thus covering both definitions?
Is there a way to respectably show your skin in public? Or is any situation just dirty and unacceptable?
What do you think?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

On April 9th, I was given the honor of being nominated for the Liebster Blog Award! Sandra Nikolai, an author whose blog I follow, was kind enough to give me the nomination. Thank you so much Sandra!

Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, beloved, or favorite. The origin remains unknown, but the Liebster Blog Award is a chain award passed on to promote the blogs you enjoy. It is given as a form of appreciation and support to bloggers with less than 200 followers. Although I’m not a fan of chain letters usually, I’m all for peer recognition, and I hope my five nominees will view the award in that spirit.

By the way, these days, it is hard to know for certain how many followers a blog has. With people using Google Friend Connect, following by email or RSS feed, and the ability to hide the follower counter, I took my best guess.

To accept the award:
1. Thank the person who nominated you on your blog and link back to them.
2. Nominate up to five other bloggers for the award and link back to their blogs.
3. Let them know by commenting on their blog, a tweet, or an email.
4. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

The five people I’m nominating for a Liebster Blog Award are:

Jenn Greenleaf for her blog Jenn Greenleaf: Wearer of Many Hats. Jenn has an uncanny knack for answering questions you didn't know you had and spreading the word about many great things she's tried.

Leif G.S. Notae for his blog Saga Writing. Leif has a passion for helping others write fiction and write it well, and has great advice for fantasy and sci-fi writers about how to create people and worlds.

Edie Melson for her blog The Write Conversation. Edie has many different passions and topics, including social networking advice and fighting against domestic violence. I love her blog for her unique approach to writing advice, such as one of her latest posts that compares dating to writing.

Joe Bunting for his blog The Write Practice. Joe uses his posts to present different situations, comment on real-life situations, or give writing advice, then provides a relevant writing prompt at the end. Definitely a novel idea for a blog.

EW Greenlee for his blog Daily Thoughts. EW talks about all things books, from a man's reasons for reading Jane Austen to why every independent author should make a book trailer.

I hope you check out these worthy blogs and enjoy them as much as I do!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z Challenge: M

M is for...Margins! As an editor, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of margins.

This is especially important if you are sending out a paper copy of anything. If you are sending a resume to a potential employer, then you need to leave enough room that they can take notes. If you are sending a manuscript to a publishing company or journal, then you need to allow space for questions and suggestions.

If you are submitting electronically, it is easy enough to shrug and assume that the receiver will change the margins to suit their own preferences (if you are submitting a Word document). This is dangerous and could get you eliminated before you have a chance to compete. The publisher usually has a set of guidelines to help you out with margin size and will prove that you are serious about working WITH them.

No matter how you are sending out your work, it is important to leave ample space to make your piece easy to read. If the margins are too small, it makes your sentences and paragraphs look endless and leaves no white space for relief. If the margins are abnormally large, then it looks like there is nothing on the page. You have to find the correct balance to please the eye.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Challenge: L

L is for...Lists! In every writing situation, there is the possibility that lists will come up in some way or another. Some writers prefer to place the list within a sentence. Others like to make it separate and distinct. In either case, it is important to know how to format and punctuate your list to help the reader understand you. You don't want to add unnecessary marks, but you also don't want to confuse your reader by leaving important ones out. Tread carefully and be clear.

No matter which type of list you are employing, there are five important rules to follow, according to Daily Writing Tips (

  1. Know when to use commas and when to use semicolons.
  2. Know how many ands should be included at the end.
  3. Know when to place punctuation before the list.
  4. Know how to logically group and order your listed items.
  5. Know when to use numbers and letters to identify each individual item.
By having your list logically ordered and easy to read, it will enable you to get your message across to your audience with ease.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z Challenge: K

K is for...Krispy Kreme.

Yes, I am drifting away from my writing posts today and am instead choosing a random topic. Stay with me here.

Growing up, I lived in an area that never had a Krispy Kreme shop. Nobody sold it, it was just never available. Shortly after I started my college years, one set up in my hometown, but I was never really around so I didn't get to go then either. I still don't think I've ever seen a Krispy Kreme shop in person. The only experience I've had with them is seeing the label on the Sheetz display case, but even then, I haven't bought any.

So, my question to you reader is, have you ever had a Krispy Kreme creation? Do you think they live up to all the hype? If they do, how? What are they like that makes them so amazing? If you think they aren't that special, why do you think that? What makes them so "everyday"? Or, if you are like me and have never had a Krispy Kreme donut, then tell me why. Personal choice or lack of availability? What's your reason?

If anyone out there has any horror stories or moments of rapture you would like to share, I would love to hear it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A to Z Challenge: J

J is for...Jenn Greenleaf! I know I have featured her blog on here several times before, but I really feel she deserves the extra attention. While I enjoy reading a variety of blogs and have subscribed to dozens (which flood my inbox with their daily posts, but I'm not complaining!), Jenn's blog is definitely among my Top 5 Favorites. I always get excited when I see an update in my email!

If you haven't read my previous gushing posts about her blog before, then let me elaborate on why I love her so much.
First, she is honest. About everything, which is rare. There are a lot of bloggers out there who pretend to be honest, but they are faking their openness. Jenn is the complete opposite. She tells you her honest opinion and writes about a variety of topics. She keeps you in the loop of her life and her experiences.
Second, she is helpful. Some people (face-to-face and online) will happily tell you if they consider something to be "good" or "bad", but rarely explain why they have that opinion. Even if you ask, it's hit or miss. On Jenn's blog, she doesn't stoop to the one-word answer ploy. She tells you the pros and cons and what her particular experience was. She gives you her opinion and facts and lets you draw your own conclusions.
The third is that she has multiple blogs, each one focusing on a specific subject. She has one for writing, one for coupon-cutting, and several others. By being so organized, it makes it easier to find the info you are looking for. It also allows you to browse several other topics and get new ideas without having to scroll through page after page. They are connected by the tabs at the top of each page, which makes navigation super easy.
Another thing is the format of her emailed updates. Each email contains all the updates from each blog, instead of sending an email for each one. Having everything in one email keeps the inbox clutter down and also makes it easier to access her new posts with one click, instead of jumping from one email message to another. I love the convenience!
And, before I end this post, I have one more thing that I want to praise her blogs for: she is down-to-earth! At the end of most posts, she asks her readers a question. This gives everyone the opportunity to give feedback about something specific, encouraging reader interaction and definitely makes her blog more reader-friendly, because it lets you know she cares what you think. She also stays "real" by keeping the posts specific. She shares advice for situations that she is going through that readers could be going through as well. The narrowed focus prevents her posts from feeling generic and allows the reader to benefit from what she is sharing.

If you haven't visited her blog(s), go there and subscribe now to start benefiting from her endless supply of knowledge!

P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. Jenn Greenleaf had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from her posts and thought I would share!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Challenge: I

I is for...Irony and Ignorance. These are two of my biggest pet peeve words and are the pet peeves of many other English enthusiasts and perfectionists. If you don't know the definitions of these words, then you just might be using them incorrectly. It would be in your best interest to learn the definitions, however, so that you can use them correctly in your speech and in your writing.

Irony is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a) the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning; b) a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony; c) an ironic expression or utterance." For example, if you drive past a fender-bender at an intersection, making fun of the distracted drivers, then get into a fender-bender yourself, that is ironic. If you need help distinguishing between what is ironic and what is not, try posting your dilemma here:

Ignorance is defined as a "lack of knowledge." If someone intentionally cuts you in line, they are not ignorant (at least, you can't come to that conclusion from that one incident). They might be stupid or rude, but they are not ignorant. If, however, someone admits that they do not know anything about robins, then they could be considered ignorant about robins. This doesn't mean that they are stupid, it just means that they have not had any experiences with robins.

If you have any questions about the usage of these two words, please leave me a comment and I will be more than happy to help you out!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A to Z Challenge: H

H is for...Hemingway's Tips for Writing Well:

1. Use short sentences
If you drone on and on and on and on and on, then your reader will lose interest and move on. They will walk away (See what I did there?). They want to be immersed in your topic. If you use super-long sentences, the focus shifts to your writing and the words on the page instead of the scene that the reader should be imagining.

2. Use short first paragraphs
If you start with a long, never-ending first paragraph, your reader will instantly lose interest and give up on you. Long paragraphs are intimidating and should only be used later in your writing. For the opening paragraphs, keep it short. Use this short introduction to capture your reader's attention and reel them in.

3. Use vigorous English
Always use the most powerful and effective words for what you are trying to convey to the reader. Use strong language that is highly expressive and will engage your reader.

4. Be positive, not negative
This doesn't mean you have to see the glass as half-full. What this means is that you need to keep your sentences as simple as possible. Instead of saying, "He isn't a doctor," say, "He is a professor." Instead of saying, "The air isn't hot," say, "The air is cold."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A to Z Challenge: G

G is for...Grammar Girl! Have you ever checked out this website? If not, if you are involved in the writing world, then shame on  you! This website and blog is indispensable when it comes to writing tips. Have a question about sentence fragments? Need advice on comma usage? From written advice to short recordings, this website accommodates all learning styles.

Even if you aren't directly involved in the publishing industry, this website is still insanely useful. It will give the you the tools you need to write a great report for your boss or submit an excellent proposal to a potential client. It is also part of the Quick and Dirty Tips partners, which means that the toolbar at the top gives you access to endless topics. For example, if you need assistance with technology, investing, or nutrition, you can find helpful advice here.

If you haven't visited the website, go there and subscribe to the newsletter now to start benefiting from the endless supply of knowledge!

P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. Grammar Girl and/or Quick and Dirty Tips had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from their posts and thought I would share!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Challenge: F

F is for...From Sarah, With Joy. This awesome blog is written by author Sarah Allen. She writes about a little bit of everything, though her main focus is on writing. She is honest and open about her own writing experiences, including her accomplishments and her frustrations. She also happens to be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, so she's guaranteed to be posting new content daily.

My biggest kudos for her blog, though, is that she is full of suggestions. Do you feel stuck in your writing and/or in your life? She has a list of suggestions for how to deal with it. Are you looking for tips on how to make your novel interesting? She has a list for that too. Do you want to learn from the most successful movies of our time (both those that have great writing and those that aren't so lucky)? She has a list for that too.

Basically, if you need any inspiration, ideas, or help; if you are stuck in a rut or don't know where to begin; or if you simply want an interesting blog to read, then you need to check out From Sarah, With Joy, at:
I highly recommend that you subscribe to her posts or, at the very least, check her blog often!

P.S. P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. From Sarah, with Joy had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from their posts and thought I would share!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Challenge: E

E is for...Electrifying! If you are a writer, then you want this word to describe your writing. Your descriptions should be exciting and enticing, drawing your reader in. Your characters should be captivating and awe-inspiring. Your dialogue should be realistic and absorbing. Your storyline should be new and refreshing. Overall, your work needs to be the best the reader has ever laid eyes on. But, the question is, how do you accomplish all this?

The first bit of advice is a cliche at this point, but is definitely a worthwhile tip. You must read everything. If you are writing in a specific genre, your reading should be focused on that genre, but you need to read other things too. Just because you are writing fantasy doesn't mean that you can't learn a great deal about dialogue from a romance novel (or any other writing element, but you get the point). Reading across the board has the potential to infinitely improve your writing repertoire. This includes reading nonfiction if you are a fiction writer and vice versa.

The second bit of advice is to practice as often as possible. Write about anything and everything. Even if you think what you come up with is the most awful thing in the world, you have still learned from it. You can improve your writing simply by doing it all the time. This will allow you to develop your own style and voice and to discover what you enjoy writing about most. Your skills will continue to improve as long as you keep writing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Challenge: D

D is for...Digital Book World! Today, I want to endorse another website that I find extremely helpful and think would be useful for other people in the publishing world as well. Digital Book World (DBW) provides advice on the digital publishing world. Everything from deciding how to publish your piece, the newest technology available for ereaders, and a great deal about ebook evolution.

With the development of ebooks, the work of an author has suddenly become much more self-driven. Instead of having a publisher telling you what to do, you are responsible for promoting yourself. Self-published authors feel this push even more than others. With how fast technology evolves and recreates itself, it can be a bit intimidating to jump into the pool. Not only do you have to learn about current trends, but you have to keep learning as new technology changes how the world approaches ebooks. DBW is an indispensable website for keeping up with the latest publishing news and is invaluable for an author struggling to keep their head above water in the digital publishing world.

If you have any interest in ebook publishing, whether you are an author, editor, publisher, or avid reader, then you need to check out their website and, if you are smart, you will subscribe to their newsletter:

P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. Digital Book World had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from their posts and thought I would share!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z Challenge: C

C is for...Copyblogger! Specifically, I want to talk about the Copyblogger blog. While it's main focus is on content marketing and copywriting articles, leaning mostly towards businesses, it is also a very useful tool for bloggers, writers, authors, editors, and publishers. In fact, it is pretty much useful for anyone who has to sell their own product or work. And let's face it, all of us are trying to sell something, in one way or another!

As far as being a part of the publishing world, I have found this blog to be indispensable. You want your content to reach a wide audience. You want your followers to grow, you want your page views to skyrocket, and most of all, you want your product to sell. You want your book to be popular and you want traffic to know you are alive and kicking. This blog will help you do just that! They have great tips about content marketing, how to create great content in the first place, and how to reach out to those that are most important in determining your success.

If you are in the business of selling ANYTHING, whether it be a book, a business, or yourself, you need to check them out and, if you are smart, you will subscribe.

P.S. No, this is not a commissioned post. Copyblogger had absolutely no direct influence in the writing of this post. I just really benefit from their posts and thought I would share!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z Challenge: B

B is for...Blogging! I have a very strong belief that every single person involved in the publishing process, every editor, author, writer, and illustrator, should have a blog. When you have a blog, it allows people to connect with you on a more personal level and to feel like they really know you. By having that gateway into your thoughts, ideas, and daily life, they build a connection with you. This connection is essential to expanding your network and your circle of influence.
I also believe that it is important to post on a regular basis. I have found blogs where I love the published content, but they only post once a month, or less. This is so frustrating! I often end up turning away from the blog because their content is published so sporadically, making it not worth my time, even if the posts are fantastic. A successful blog, in my eyes, should post at least once a week. If you can publish more often than that, all the better!
I also think it is important to have a theme. It doesn't have to be narrow, but most of the posts should fall within a certain field. If you are writing a book about skydiving, it is perfectly okay to write about the writing process in one post, and about a skydiving experience in the next. You just have to make sure the reader knows that there is a connection there, so they don't get confused or lose interest. It also makes it easier to find your blog, because when people search for blogs, they are usually looking for something on a specific topic.
My biggest tip to bloggers is also my biggest pet peeve as a blog reader: have a Follow By Email button! In fact, have as many ways to follow your blog as possible available to your readers. Though Kindles, Nooks, and other ereaders and tablets are becoming popular, they are still not a standard in every household, so simply offering an RSS feed is not enough. Also, while Google Friend Connect is awesome,  it requires your readers to come to you for content, instead of delivering it directly to them. While I don't think that either of these two options should be excluded (in fact, they help you reach a wider audience), I think the biggest advantage you can give yourself is to install that Follow By Email widget. This way, people can simply enter their email address and receive your newest posts straight to their inbox. Your mind-blowing posts are guaranteed to reach them and will, hopefully, encourage them to share their blog with others, because your blog is readily available to them.

A to Z Challenge...Modified

So, I have heard a lot about this A to Z Blogging Challenge, where you post on every day except Sunday, following the letters of the alphabet, for all of April. This year, it started yesterday, but excludes every other Sunday in the month, to match the 26 letters. I was thinking about participating this year. However, I missed the first day yesterday, because I was so excited about the release of emotobooks (Suburbians is live!). So, I am going to write two posts today to make up for it. One based on the letter A and the other based on the letter B.  Let's begin!

A is for...Authors! Since self-publishing has really taken off, there has been a lot of debate surrounding how to define an author and separate them from writers. Some people say that you are not an author until you have been traditionally published. This means that you have experienced the works: agents, contracts, book tours, big corporate dealings. On the other end of the spectrum, some people say that you are an author if you have written anything that is available to the public eye. This means that you can self-publish, traditionally publish, or use a vanity publisher. It also could include being featured in magazines, journals, and on blogs. Personally, I think that once you have completed your work, pushing through all the hard work to make your piece a worthwhile read, and put a respectable composition out into the world, that you have become an author. There is so much dedication and perseverance involved in moving your short story or novel from an idea to the harsh world of publishing that I think all writers should be recognized and be called authors.
Just to clarify, and I realize that there are people out there who may disagree with me, but I believe that "author" is a title that must be earned. It is a step above, an acknowledgment, maybe even as distinguished as an award. I think that anyone can be a writer, but it takes something more to be an author.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

This is the moment

Today is a very exciting day for me! The very first emotobook I have edited, the thrilling and suspenseful EmotoSingle Suburbians, written by William Kosh and illustrated by Loran Skinkis, went live this morning! It is a heart-wrenching story about a young boy, just entering his teenage years, who has to deal with a horrible secret. As you sit on the edge of your seat, you follow him through his struggle to retain his sanity and to keep his friendship intact. It is only $2.99 and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (it will be available with Apple soon, they are just taking a bit longer).

Some of you who might not have followed me for very long might be wondering, what in the world are emotobooks? To begin with, emotobooks are ebooks with illustrations blended with the text. Each abstract illustration amplifies the emotions of the characters and heightens your own sensation as you read. They are crafted by taking the highest quality popular fiction and inserting custom-made illustrations from a talented artist.
That leads to the next question: What is an EmotoSingle? The answer is simple: EmotoSingles are short emotobooks, usually between 6,000 and 10,000 words. They are an emotionally-packed short story that you can read on your commute, during breaks, or while you are lounging at home.

For the past several months, I have had the great pleasure of connecting with William Kosh and Loran Skinkis (the author and illustrator of Suburbians, respectfully) through Grit City Publications. While I am still beginning my editing career, I have learned a great deal from these two wonderful and talented individuals. We have created, through hard work and dedication, a moving and gripping EmotoSingle that will wow everyone who reads it. It has been my privilege to work with them, and I am entirely grateful for the drive and creativity they have brought to the table. Thank you, to you both.

If you would like to purchase Suburbians or read more about it, you can visit the following websites: