Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Your Manuscript on a Diet

By David Sharp

I like to think my writing is succinct. That doesn’t mean it is. I recently learned at the NCW Conference that editors frown at manuscripts more than 90,000 words. Especially from debut authors. Mine stood at 100,000. I now had the equivalent of five chapters to cut. Yikes! Where to begin…

My manuscript was fat. Now, I could have whined that I had world-building elements, or that I had a lot of story to pack into those pages. Both are true. But if 90,000 words is the competitive length, I wanted my story to run on lean muscle when it sits on a shelf in the same store as all the New York Times Bestsellers. Time to hit the treadmill.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Place to Call Yours

by Deborah Nielsen

Writers tend to fall into two groups; those who can write anywhere no matter the distraction level and those who prefer a quiet place.

Sometimes I wish I was the sort of writer who could work on a project just any old place, but I’m one of those people who prefer a quieter, permanent place to write. A place I can leave source materials out, have pens and paper handy, a place to put the laptop, internet access, have a little music . . . . you get the picture.

I’m lucky because as a single person with an entire house to myself, more or less, I can set up a writing area anywhere.

The canines, however, think the house is a enormous doghouse. 

They can make having a place for writing a bit problematic if I want to set up at the dining room table. When I vacate the chair for more than a minute or two, Riley, the snoop extraordinaire, will squirm onto the chair to sniff and push things around with his nose.

If he gets enthusiastic, he’s on the table.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Build Your Platform with Magazine Writing

Platform is a term frequently tossed around in the publishing world. As authors we are encouraged to reach out to potential readers in order to increase our visibility (platform).

Most of us jump right to social media. We think we have to be tweeting, Facebooking, sharing photos on Instagram and on and on. And while social media, when done correctly can be very effective, I am here to tell you, there is another way to build your audience---magazine articles.

By writing articles for some of the 7,000+ magazines currently in print, you have the potential to reach thousands of readers in a meaningful way. And the good news is you don’t have to be a journalist to write for magazines, you just have to be a competent writer.

Here are the basic steps, broken way down, on how to begin this process. (If you want more depth information writing for magazines, I have an article in the 2016 Writer’s Market starting on page 30).

1. Create a list of potential topics related to a novel or book you are working on or one that has been published. Nonfiction is pretty easy to come up with ideas based on your subject matter. For Fiction, think about the different elements in the book. Does your main character have hobbies or activities he/she likes to do (knitting, stamp collecting, rock climbing, tap dancing…)? What is his/her occupation? Where does the story take place? All of these aspects of your story and your character can become the basis for an interesting article.

2. Figure out who your ideal reader is and study magazines that he/she would read. Read the articles, pay attention to the length of the articles and the style of the writing.

3. Look up the writer’s guidelines for the magazines. Write a compelling query (no more than one page) and send it to the editor. If she likes the idea she will get back to you with a contract and you will then write the article (where you can include a sentence about you at the end and your website URL).

Magazine writing is a great way to reach new readers.

At this year’s Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in August in NYC, I am so excited to be presenting a workshop, Building Your Platform through Magazine Articles. In this session I am going to talk about the different steps and strategies on how to submit to the many available publications. The goal is to give everyone the tools needed to begin building or strengthening their platform through magazine articles.

If want to learn more about this idea and you need another great conference fix, after the fantastic NCW event, consider a trip to NYC for the Writer’s Digest Conference. It is going to be an amazing 3 days filled with great speakers, an intense pitch slam and it’s a chance to make good connections.

Happy Writing!

p.s. It’s good to be back on the Writing Bug.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Have You Been Bitten?
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By J.C. Lynne

Many of us are finally gathering our wits after the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. It took me that long to gain my balance again. The two weeks of slain didn't help. 

Slain? The ungodly mix of rain and snow not needing a shovel, but requiring socks and an umbrella.

If you missed the conference, well...I won't rub it in. The marvelous Colleen M. Story wrote up a little something about it. Yes, THE Colleen M. Story the Beard is already tired of hearing about. She clearly made an impression on me about the difference between working too much and being productive. 

She's also a pretty snappy dresser. Just saying.

If you're here, you've been bitten by the bug. We all have. It's an insidious virus frequently responsible for loss of sleep, the pile up of dishes, and the constant conversations with absolutely no one. 

We welcome you to the infected masses!

If you're new to NCW or The Writing Bug, we've made some changes to our routine. We've said teary goodbyes to some of our bloggers and cheery hellos to a couple of new ones. 

The blogging schedule has changed a bit. Rather than deluge you with content every day, we'll have a new post once a week. 

We also have some floating guest spots. If you're interested in writing something for us, please email me at and I'll see what we can arrange. 

Being local means you can join us once or twice a month for our member events. It's good to put on street clothes once in a while and we'd like to see you.

Also, it gives your pets a chance to miss you.

Much gratitude for tuning in every week and seeing what our merry group has to say about writing. 

All of that said, write. Write as though your life depends on it. Write as though you're saving your sanity. For some of us it's too late, but save yourself! 

Write. It's what we do.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

“Z” Zuni, Navajo, and Inventing History

By Carol Van NattaK:\Personal\Graphics\Pixabay\indian-art-467709_1920.jpg

St. Augustine is considered the oldest living city in the U.S., founded by the Spanish conquistadors in the late 1560s. When the Spanish sent scouts out to explore the west, they ran into Native Americans who’d been there for thousands of years, with cities of their own. 

The Zuni Pueblo, which is still alive and well west of Albuquerque, was built 1,000 years ago, which makes it considerably older.

Consider that prologue while I tell you about a Kindle Worlds project. Amazon created the Kindle Worlds platform to license works from established authors and invite others to essentially write fan fiction in that universe. Best-selling author S.E. Smith invited me and eight others to be “seed authors” in the rollout of her Kindle Worlds project for her lighthearted Magic, New Mexico paranormal romance series (PNR). 

Even though I’ve never written a PNR, I happily joined Susan’s merry band. It’s not as much of a stretch as you might think to go from a sprawling space opera series to the invented world of magical creatures, because they both involve detailed world building, and they both involve strong emotional connections between characters.

Susan Smith’s mythical town of Magic placed in southern New Mexico. The premise is in the 1700s, some magical people in the world build a haven for themselves in the New World, protected it with magic, and invited other magical people to come live where abnormal is the norm. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Y" You Are Not "Slush"

By Joe Siple

The first twelve years of my writing career could be described with one word: garbage. Partially because it accurately describes the quality of my writing for the vast majority of that time. It also describes how I felt about my lack of success—no published books, no agent, no anything to show for my time and effort. But most of all, it describes where my query letters spent their days awaiting inevitable rejection.

That place is, of course, the infamous slush pile.

Now, agented at last, I can look back at those days, at all the failure and rejection, and see some things more clearly.  Things like how those two simple words—slush pile—can have an enormous impact on the psyche of an aspiring author.  I can see just how disrespectful, how insulting, how downright humiliating that phrase is. 

What I can’t see is why it’s still in use.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"X" X-nay on the GoEway—3 Biggest Tricks the Ego uses on Writers

by Tracee Sioux

I am a spiritual business and life coach who helps people figure out which of those inner voices is their Soul and which is their Ego. I wrote a book about it, Soul vs. Ego Smackdown: How to say YES! to your Soul and tell your Ego to Suck IT! 

You might say I'm a Soul Whisperer or an Ego Slayer. Or you might not.

I want to tell you what three of the biggest tricks of the Ego are if you're a writer. Knowing what they are will help you bypass them so that you can get your write on.

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