The Indispensable Skills Gained from Participating in NaNoWriMo


If you are pursuing a career in writing, there are skills that NaNoWriMo and other contests like Pitch Wars can give you that will be invaluable, and from which you will reap benefits throughout your whole writing career.

Skill 1: Learning to Write Under a Deadline. AKA: working under pressure. Continue reading

Staying Focused When Distractions Are All Around


It’s ironic for me to write this post, as I am one of the most distract-able people around. Youtube videos, tumblr black holes, Wikipedia searches and kids (none of my own, just those I live with) are only the start of things that can derail me when I sit down to write.

We won’t always have a quiet place. We might never have a dedicated office or coffee shop to escape to. So what do you do when your surroundings are full of distractions, legitimate or otherwise?

Speaking to single writers, our issue is we probably won’t always be single. So before marriage and children (and more) come into the picture, let’s talk how to start prioritizing our writing now.

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Journey to the Stars: Discoveries Shaping Sci-fi


One of the joys of writing Science Fiction is how quickly tomorrow’s technology can surpass a writer’s imagination. Computers the size of your palm? Done. Glasses that help you see 3-D worlds? Done. Real Pokémon lurking in your backyard? Well, sort of. And 30 years ago, no one really expected those inventions to become reality in their lifetime.

So what does that mean for a science fiction writer? Should we all retreat to fantasy? No!

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Fantastic Perspectives: How to Choose the Right POV


Point of View

Everyone sees the world from a unique perspective, or point of view (POV). If you’re vertically challenged as I am, you’ll likely experience life a bit differently than, say, an NBA player would.

In writing this is also true. Now, a reader’s height doesn’t matter so much when stepping into a book, but how a reader views a story does matter. Continue reading

How to Find Your Writing Style

voice-vs-styleSTYLE VERSUS VOICE: any ideas?

As writers, we talk about voice on a regular basis. It’s what makes you, you–unique and individual, separate from every other person who has written about the very thing you are now rehashing.

But what is it about you that makes you wear the red dress with purple tights and galoshes instead of jeans and a pullover? It’s style—you’re not less you one way or the other, but it’s a choice about how you’re presenting yourself to the world—today.

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Critical Things to Do Before You Write Your First Novel

Hindsight is twenty twenty they say. Before I ambitiously embarked upon the adventure of a lifetime, I had no clue what to expect. Sure, I’d read many novels and books and blog posts on how to write them.

What I quickly found out was reading about writing, and actually writing, are totally different. It’s like thinking you’re a good singer because you watch America’s got Talent and belting out off key tunes at a karaoke bar. Time for a reality check.

What I wish i knew blog image

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How to Write Fiction


Writing fiction—what a life! You can choose any time, any place, any situation, then drop in characters you’ve created. A blank sheet is a good thing. It’s raw material that you can build a new world (or worlds!) with.

I’ve worked as a history professor and researcher. It was great, but it’s a job where you have to dig and search and make sure you have your facts straight. In fiction, it comes from your head. It’s harder than I thought, but much more fun.

Here are a few tips on writing fiction and where I draw my ideas from:

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4 Ways to Write Powerful Emotional Scenes

The barista stared at me a moment then felt the need to explain. “It’s black tea.”

I could see as much.

What I wanted to know was why in the middle of Texas there were tea wrapped in rice paper with Chinese characters scrawled on them. They looked like they had gotten lost en-root some Chinese farmer’s market trip. I could picture him walking down the road in dusty sandals towing one of those big carts behind him filled with produce. A bag of tea falls from his cart and into a nearby rice field.

4 Ways to Write Powerful Emotional Scenes

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The Map to Finding your Voice


Voice is like a hidden treasure. Once you discover it and open its lid, riches abound. For some writers, voice is something they have sailed many seas to find. So, we’ve made a map to make it easier.

I’ve talked before about how VOICE comes from living life and experiencing new things, and that can be true. It can also come from within, knowing yourself, but what makes readers love the Voice of a book? Authenticity comes to mind. There is a voice inside of us all. Once we find it, we genuinely make friends through our characters with our readers. Continue reading