Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stranger Than Fiction

By David E. Sharp

Sometimes I am asked, "Where do you come up with this stuff?" You've probably heard this question as well. Depending on the inflection, it can sound like a compliment (you're so creative) or the opposite of a compliment (I'd prefer you didn't stand too close to me). Either way, I've never had a good answer. But I do think everyday life gives us no shortage of idea material to work with.

Some things are just too
weird to be made up.
I've said many times of a real-life situation that if I'd read it in a book, I would have criticized it as not being believable. Only, how do you argue with facts? Sometimes, the events we witness are so astounding they outperform our fictions.

Here are a few examples from my own life:

-The Librarian I knew whose last name was Shakespeare. I begged her to keep it when she got married, but alas… "You don't understand, Jennifer! These things don't happen in real life. When they do, we must not waste them!"

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Make 'Em Laugh

By Kristin Owens

As writers, we search for universal truths and themes that unite us with readers. It’s our responsibility to express the full range of emotions reflecting the human condition. But I am troubled. It seems lately we are on a downslope of despair. Someone pass me a tissue.

At the recent NCW conference, I spoke with many writers about their projects. The majority seemed to have one thing in common: sadness. The woeful plotlines included teen angst, tragedy, long-slow-suffering-death, even dismemberment (thanks to keynote Chuck Wendig for THAT one). How depressing. What happened to happy? 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Putting on Pants: The Benefits of Writers Conferences

Visit My Website

By Ronda Simmons

If you attended the NCW conference last weekend, you already know it was THE BEST CONFERENCE EVER! Okay, I may feel that way every year, but it doesn't negate the fact there were amazing sessions, fantastic speakers, and incredible agents and editors. 

I doubt the Fort Collins Marriott has ever been so full of word nerds, well, since last year. Our
This Year's Conference Was a Stunner.
beloved director, April Moore and her crew did an amazing and MAGICAL job pulling this conference together. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Great Pair of Shoes Can Break The Block

By Jessica Johnson

Struggling with writer’s block? Can’t keep moving forward with a current piece? Writers struggle to brainstorm new topics, interesting characters or satisfying conclusions… and from time to time, we just feel like there is  just nothing left inside to put onto paper.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Crutch Words

By David E. Sharp

Words make lousy crutches. Not only will they not keep you from hitting the floor if you're wobbly on your feet, they will also annoy your readers if you lean too heavily on them. In the editing process, crutch words are almost as invisible to writers as comma infractions, but they are vastly more irritating.

Even bestselling authors are not immune. I have only to find a new beta-reader if I want to hear, "Gosh, you're really fond of the word "dodecahedron," aren't you?" Who would have thought that three-dimensional geometric figures would come up so frequently in a dystopian cookbook?

How do we keep those crutch words from ruining our manuscripts?

Step 1: Admit You Have a Problem

Crutch words.
You never see them till it's too late.
Your dependence on the word "literally," is ruining your life and destroying your relationships. With your readers, I mean. You're probably not going to get fired over it.

Unless you're a journalist or something. But you are figuratively burning bridges with your readership. And I can't sit here and watch you do this to yourself!

Great! Now that's out of the way, let's move on.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

From Professor to Publisher

By Richard Gutkowski

Just months after my first self-published book (with a second literary baby on the way), my retirement to emeritus professor of civil engineering has allowed me to step in a new direction – writing for the real world. 

My first step was in the backward direction; a return to my youthful wanderlust: writing fictional works. Publishing something fictional, somewhere, somehow was the dream. Now, I had time pursue it. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Diversify Your Portfolio

by Laura Mahal

How’s your asset mix of late? Are you prepared to cope with the volatility of the market? No, I’m not asking if you’ve  invested 60 percent in stocks, 40 percent in bonds, or taken into account dropping oil prices. I'm talking about your writing portfolio.


Though an actual writing portfolio is likely considered a "thing of the past," most agents will agree that it is useful to add depth to your bio. Diversifying demonstrates a flexible attitude, which is in high demand in today’s publishing market. Consider adding some poetry to your YA, a handful of personal essays to offset your sci-fi / thrillers, or a little humor-writing to balance out your research-based nonfiction.

Extend your limits with a challenge, such as crafting on-demand short stories for NYC Midnight, with an assigned genre, character, and subject, a limited word count, and a ticking clock that allows less time with each advancing round. It's an international competition, and the feedback from judges is spectacular. NYC Midnight also has a screenwriting challenge, for those who might wish to try their hand in that field.

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