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Guest Posts

Making Magic Work In Your Novels

By: Gail Z. Martin | Posted on October 19, 2018

A convincing magic system can make or break a fantasy novel, and is often the best remembered aspect of the book or series.  Growing up, I read a lot of Fantasy – from Piers Anthony’s Xanth and David Eddings’ Belgariad, to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series or Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time – I remember these books most fondly because of the rich and diverse magic systems that their worlds were built on.  But coming up with those sorts of systems and worlds from scratch is a daunting task that requires a lot of thought and planning, and that’s why we turned to Gail Martin for an article on the subject. Gail is a prolific novelist who is very experienced at coming up with complex and varied magic systems, having done so for many of her own books and series. Here are her tips on how to make magic work… Read More >

Let Experiences and Emotions Fuel Your Writing

By: Stephen Bentley | Posted on October 5, 2018

As I mentioned in a previous article, the idea of writing what you know isn’t meant to be taken strictly literally and as today’s guest author Stephen Bentley puts it, the saying might be better expressed as “write what you feel”. Your experiences and emotions can be a great source of fuel for your imagination, and are the root of many great fiction novels. Learning to harness these experiences and draw from them is essential to authentic writing that draws the reader in to make them feel like they’re part of your story or world. ‘Write what you know’ is an old adage. Possibly older than me. I am now seventy-one years old. I started writing books three years ago. I guess another appropriate adage is ‘you are never too old to learn or to start.’ I have written an Amazon UK bestseller about my undercover cop days. I started… Read More >

How Short Story Writing Can Improve Your Novels

By: Kate Larkindale | Posted on September 21, 2018

When you’re new to something, a common bit of advice is to start small and work your way up to bigger and better things. This applies to writers just as well as anyone else, and is the reason short story writing often comes before novels for many authors. Kate Larkindale understands first hand why this is good advice, and she’s here giving us all the reasons why writing short stories can make you a better novelist – whether you’re just beginning your career or already well established. I wrote my first novel when I was still a teenager.  Barely a teenager.  I’d never written anything except stories for school before, and had no idea what I was doing.  And the finished novel was a complete mess.  So were the next two I attempted, and the fourth. It wasn’t until I took a step away from pouring myself into novel after… Read More >

Notes From a Writing Contest Judge

By: Anne Lovett | Posted on August 24, 2018

Many authors get their start by entering writing contests – either for the experience or just because of the added push a win or placement gives to their ego. Other writers find them intimidating, unsure if they have what it takes simply because they don’t know what to expect. So who better to give us the rundown on writing contests than Anne Loveet – a published author who doubles as a writing contest judge herself? I like to “give back” to the organizations that help me in my writing journey, and one way is to be a contest judge. This year, I’ve judged for the Golden Heart, the Daphne du Maurier contest, and our local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter contest, the Maggies. I’ve seen the gamut from wonderful manuscripts ready to publish to a few I could barely get through. Have questions about writing contests and judging? Here… Read More >

Break Through Your Fears And Write That First Book!

By: David Falkirk | Posted on August 10, 2018

Writing a book is hard, but even harder is writing that first book. How many great novelists have we never even heard of because they couldn’t push past their fears or self-doubt? Like most fears, the ones around writing stem from the unknown. Do you even know how to write a book? Will anyone read it? Will anyone like it?  For those that push through, they eventually find those answers – which explains why subsequent books are often much easier to write – but what about everyone else? For a long time, David Falkirk was in that everyone else category but he eventually broke through and is now the author of multiple novels. He’s sharing what he learned and how he did it so that you can finish your first book as well. It wasn’t procrastination. Not exactly. I’ve known I wanted to be a writer — an author — since… Read More >

A Writing Plan Can Help Your Novel Get Started… and Finished!

By: Tracy Brenton | Posted on June 29, 2018

Making time for writing is one of the biggest challenges of beginner writers, often because to do so means juggling an already full schedule.  Jobs, family obligations, or the myriad of other routines in our lives all compete with writing time – but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the dream of writing a book. You just have to figure out a plan to make it happen, and then stick with it. Everyone’s lives are unique, which means the details of your writing plan will be different than those of someone else – but that’s okay. The point of the plan isn’t so much the details, but how it helps you focus and keeps you from being overwhelmed. To that end, author Tracy Brenton shares her story of how she started writing and the details of the plan that led to her success. Maybe it can help inspire… Read More >

The Case for Reading More Often, and Buying More Books

By: Tracy Stanley | Posted on June 22, 2018

Anyone in the book industry knows how tough it is these days to get people to buy more books and spend more time reading. Books have a lot of competition, and it’s not just from traditional things like movies or television. The internet has brought a whole host of new distractions, like streaming video and music or interactive online communities. But author Tracy Stanley is here to remind us that it’s up to us to make the case that there is still a lot of value in books and, compared to many other indulgences, they can be downright bargains. It’s tough. We all know how challenging it is to find readers and to entice them to pay a few dollars for hours of learning and enjoyment. Reading is one of the best investments people can make of their time and money. We know this, but how can we pass the… Read More >

The Magic of Music and Storytelling

By: Rebecca E. Neely | Posted on June 15, 2018

There is a lot of overlap between music and books, both being rich and powerful forms of storytelling. It’s not often that we really stop and think about how closely they’re intertwined, and how one can be used to enhance or improve the other. Rebecca Neely is an author that has been affected by music her whole life, and is here to tell us about how she now uses it to help inspire her work as a novelist.  Since the beginning of time, people the world over have embraced and celebrated the phenomenon of music in all its diverse forms. In turn, it embodies the essence of people by encompassing, reflecting, recording and communicating their diverse heritage, traditions, cultures, customs, races, ethnicities, languages and religions. Even geography, climate, economics and the use of technology contributes to the creation, artistry and performance of music. Indeed, as a whole it’s not only… Read More >

Characterization and Setting – It’s All in the Details

By: Naomi Bellina | Posted on June 8, 2018

When done properly, writing with rich detail and characterization is something a reader doesn’t even notice. It just pulls them into the author’s world and allows them to image the people and places that they visit.  But how do writers create such vivid pictures? There are many techniques, and we asked Naomi Bellini to break some of them down for us. What she delivered is a great behind-the-scenes look at how it’s done that is interesting to both readers and authors. Don’t you love to fall so deep into a book you lose track of real life, and stay up way past your bedtime, because you have to read just one more chapter? Or look up from the page and totally expect to see the scenery and characters you were reading about? As authors, that’s what we hope happens when you read our stories. One way we accomplish this is… Read More >

Kindle Scout In Memoriam

By: Jim Nelson | Posted on May 25, 2018

The news that Amazon was shutting down their Kindle Scout program was sudden and came as a shock to both readers and authors alike.  Jim Nelson was one of the authors that actually had his book selected by Kindle Scout and published by Kindle Press before the whole thing shut down.  Here’s his perspective on the program, what it meant to authors, and his hopes for the future. At the end of this month Amazon’s e-publishing venture Kindle Scout will be put to rest after a run of three-plus years.  Amazon announced the winding down in an email sent to all of Kindle Scout’s registered users (“Scouts” in their parlance) on April 2nd.  The email was cool and understated considering the subject matter: “[W]e wanted to let you know of some upcoming changes being made to the Kindle Scout program” followed by businesslike details of the program’s orderly shutdown.  Amazon’s… Read More >