1 Year Milestone Giveaway

Pen Friends ~ It’s our birthday. We want to celebrate by giving YOU a gift! 


During our first year we have tried, succeeded, failed, learned, grown, improved, written a lot, won contests, interviewed authors, reached goals, lost, gained, laughed, cried, made friends, built a community of writers, inspired other writing communities, and oh boy, not only did we survive, but we are stronger and plan on sticking around! Continue reading

Guest Post: What do you do with Failure?

Where are you in your writing journey? Are you NaNoing? Writing? Querying? On sub to publishers? In the midst of revisions? Taking time to read and improve your craft? Nurturing the seed of an amazing idea that’s taking root in your imagination?

Whichever of those things you are doing, or if you’re in a completely different place all together, I would like to take a minute to talk about something a lot of people would rather avoid.

No one likes to experience it, and a lot of us hold back on our dreams to shelter ourselves. But you know what? I’m a huge advocate for failing. I say let’s fail. Let’s fail BIG TIME.

Let me tell you a quick story. Continue reading

What You Need to Know About yWriter5 Writing Software

pexels-photo-52649-large-1After I started taking writing seriously, I decided that looking for better novel-writing software (say, better than Word) would likely help me to stay organized[1] as I tried to complete one of my stories.

I’ve had Scrivener recommended to me multiple times, along with other paid software, but as a mostly-poor working adult, I wanted to find something else that would serve my needs for free. And eventually I found yWriter5. Continue reading

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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The Best Writing Advice I Ever Recieved

I once spent a year learning the art of chopping in China.

Why you ask? Why not! Actually it was a cultural misunderstanding as I was under the impression I’d be learning to make Chinese food. You can imagine my disappointment and horror when my teacher brought in a live duck and slit its throat it in front of us the first week of school. This was not what I signed up for.

Life experiences

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5 Ways to Write Killer Descriptions


When crafted well, descriptions are a powerful way to draw the reader into your world by making it realistic, believable and lovable. When done poorly, readers skim over the paragraph or worse, close the book and doom it to that dark corner of the bookshelf. All your hard work, coffee, sweat and tears are gone in an instant.

Writers tend to fall into one of two camps. Overloading the senses with trivial information, or on the other hand, not adding enough realistic detail. According to Robert McKee in his book Story, “At one end of reality is pure fact; at the other end, pure imagination. Spanning these two poles is the infinitely varied spectrum of fiction.” Where do you find your own writing?

Here we will cover five ways to span this infinitely varied spectrum to help you develop your craft.

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Four Critical Tools for Editing Your Way to Success


What comes to mind when you think about the editing process? If the mere word “Editing” makes you want to hide under your comforters, or find a boat and sail off the face of the earth, I understand. Or maybe you’re a super planner and love the editing process and have all sorts of handy excel charts mapping your progress.

No matter what your feelings are regarding the editing process, there are tools and tips that can help.
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Feature Friday: Editor Talk

Pen-Friends 🙂 Today’s feature is a professional editor sharing her insight of self editing and the publishing industry.


Welcome Jessica Barnes!

SP: Please tell us more about you? 

I’m a small-town girl from Kansas who was lucky enough to get an editorial assistant position at a publishing house shortly after graduation. The fiction editor there took me under her wing and taught me how to edit novels, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Going on 12 years in the industry now!

SP: What do you like about being an editor?

I like collaborating with authors to make their story as good as it can be. Sometimes it’s just a matter of polishing things up, but sometimes there’s a problem-solving aspect, where an element of the plot just isn’t working, and the author and I have to put our heads together and brainstorm a way out of the situation.

SP: As an editor what do you wish you could tell writers?

Don’t take it personally! Continue reading