20 Feb

Plotting with Pain – Who’d be the Most Hurt?

How to Plot using Pain

How to Plot using PainLet’s say you have an idea for a setting, or an event, or a new type of technology, but you can’t transform it into a plot. There’s simply no action there, no conflict. All you’ve got is a “what if…”

How about you take one of those what ifs and ask “who would be the most hurt by this?” I.e.:

“What if all people could suddenly fly? Who would be the most hurt by this?”

Airlines. Airline pilots. Airline maintenance workers. What if it’s a airplane mechanic who really loves his planes, but now they’re all worthless and nobody wants them? “The Airplane Whisperer, coming soon to a theater near you…”

Second point would be to see how badly you can make the person hurt. Read More

24 Oct

Short and Sweet Writing Advice – Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys Review

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys - Review

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys - ReviewSometimes you read a book at exactly the right time to change your world. Algis Budrys’ “Writing to the Point: A Complete Guide to Selling Fiction” was one of those books for me.

Writing to the Point is a short (152 airy pages) yet deep (spanning everything from “Chapter 1: The Basic Basics” to dealing with agents and who to format a manuscript) writing advice book. It took me slightly less than an hour-and-a-half to read, and I haven’t come away from a writing how-to book this turbo-charged in a long, long time. Read More

17 Oct

Design Your Author Website – The Basics

Design your Author Website

Design your Author WebsiteYou’ve written your novel, published your stories, signed an autograph or two1. And then you get the question: so, what’s your platform like?

What the hell is an author platform? Have you got one? Is it contagious?

Easy there, buckaroo. Help is on the way.

An author, or author’s, platform is all the online presence you’ve got2. It’s your website, Twitter feed, Instagram account, and forum moderator powers put together. And the most basic, and easiest to do, part of your writer platform, is your author website. Read More

10 Oct

Top Ten Writing Resources – Fall 2016

Top Ten Writer's Resources Fall 2016

Top Ten Writer's Resources Fall 2016There are some things that work plain better than others, that resonate with your needs better than others. When it comes to writing, I have tons of resources that I use on occasion, some that I use repeatedly and a few that I use all the time.

This is my Top Ten List of Writing Resources for the fall of 2016 (with some bonuses and honorary mentions). Read More

30 May

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and Crashplan

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and Crashplan

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and CrashplanSome years ago I lost all of my writing in a hard drive crash. I’m not crying over spilled milk – the writing was rather horrible – but it did set me thinking about redundancy and safety. I started doing backups.

At first, I did backups to CDs. That worked all right, until I thought I had done a backup and formatted my hard drive. Of course, I didn’t have any CD with my latest stuff on it. And then, when my computer crashed and I had to reformat it, I lost a few months of work as well.

So instead of CDs, I started using an external drive to backup all of my files. Which worked fine, except that it’s a pain in the behind to hook it up all the time. And I didn’t want to leave it hooked up and out in the open because part of the reason of doing backups was to protect me in case my computer got stolen.

But, two years ago, I found my main backup and sync solution. And last month I found the perfect way to work across multiple platforms, multiple computers, in complete safety, without having to do anything. Read More

02 May

Copyright, Plagiarism, and Writing – Explained

Copyright explained

Copyright explainedSo you’ve got this great idea: world championship weightlifter Barry Hotter is approached by an enchanted dumbbell and invited to the magical Mugwart’s Academy for Jocks. There he learns ancient Tibetan psi-powers that help him lift weights with his mind, finds true love, and defends the world of non-weightlifters from the evil Lord Lift-a-Mort.

Question: should you expect a call from J.K. Rowling’s lawyers1?

That’s where copyright and intellectual property law comes into play.
Read More

11 Apr

What Type of Writer are You? – Stages of a Fiction Writer review

Stages of a Fiction Writer

Stages of a Fiction WriterSo I’m a stage 2 writer. Or maybe early stage 3. I don’t know. And until I read Dean Wesley Smith’s “Stages of a Fiction Writer”, I had no idea what any of that meant.

Stages of a Fiction Writer is a short book. Very short. It doesn’t have very much concrete content. And yet it’s eminently readable. I should know, I’ve read it twice now. Read More

07 Mar

The No Strings Attached Guide to Spectacular Publishing Success

Start at the Top

Start at the TopIf you want to be a successfully published writer, all you need are four words.

Start at the Top.

You can debate what successful, published or writer means (do self-published writers count? do exposure markets count?), but I’ll define it very simply: a successfully published writer is a writer who makes money from her writing. Simple as that. So how do you achieve it?

Start at the top.

That’s it. Start at the top. Start by pitching your top market, the best paying one, the one that responds the quickest, the one which has the most readers, or favorable reviews, or chocolate chip cookies. Doesn’t matter how you define your top market. Just find it and start there.

Why? Because 1 percent of something is a million, billion times better than 100 percent of nothing.

And yet, most writers won’t submit to their top market. They’ll throw away their chance at achieving their dream before they even try. I know, I’ve been there. And I tossed away a lot of chances before buckling down and sending out to top markets. And getting published. And if I can, you can, too. Here’s how. Read More

25 Jan

10 Surefire Ways to Create Powerful Settings

Powerful Settings

Powerful SettingsSo you’ve got an amazing character. Let’s say she’s a combat diver for a secret government agency. And she’s battling her sister who’s a nurse-come-assassin. Everything is set to be awesome.

Except you can’t figure out the right setting.

Finding the right setting is hard. If the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug1 then the difference between the right setting and the almost right setting is the difference between an amazing book and a blah one. Read More