Category Archives: Guest post

Guest Post: Not Inspired To Write Right Now? Here’s How To Get Unstuck, by Writer’s Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.

FYI

When life gets complicated, it can be hard to maintain your normal writing routine. You’re worried or distracted (or both!), your muse seems distant, and you’re just not feeling inspired. And if you do try to write, the end result seems merely so-so. Don’t get discouraged! If you’re not feeling inspired to write, Writer’s Relief has simple tips that can help you get unstuck and back on speaking terms with your muse.

How To Get Unstuck And Inspired To Write Again

Read Something New

If you’re a writer, you’re probably also a voracious reader. But if you want to counteract the burnout you’re currently feeling, mix it up and get out of your comfort zone! Read an author or genre that’s new to you. If you usually read science fiction, try a Western or a cozy mystery. If your favorite author is David Baldacci, pick up a book by Brandon Sanderson. Or, if most of your reading is fiction, switch to nonfiction and see where that leads you. Many writers regularly scan the newspapers (remember those?) for ideas and inspiration.

Listen To Music

Music is a wonderful source of inspiration, and author playlists continue to gain popularity. Writers have created inspirational playlists on many popular music streaming platforms, and you can listen in too! You can also create your own motivational playlist to get your muse humming along. You might consider going old school and playing vinyl records, which have resurfaced in a big way. Whether it’s classical music or classic rock ‘n’ roll, try listening to music you normally don’t tune in to—it’s a great way to shake it up, twist and shout, and work it on out!

Start A Collection

Author Ransom Riggs began collecting peculiar vintage photographs, but what he discovered is that the photos spoke to him. They each had their own story to tell, which Riggs wove together for his first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Ignite your creative spark by starting a collection of something that interests you. A coin collection may lead to ideas about what the money was used to buy or the foreign country it came from. Estate jewelry may inspire stories or poems about the person who might have worn a ruby brooch or silver airplane cuff links.

Take A Mini Road Trip

Countless novels were and are inspired by road trips, one of the most acclaimed being On the Road by Jack Kerouac. But you don’t have to drive across the country to find inspiration for your poem, short story, novel, or blog. Instead, take a drive (or a walk) around town using streets you don’t normally travel. Who lives in the old house on the dead-end street? Why are there so many pink flamingos on that corner lawn? Is that a chicken crossing the road, and where did it come from? You’ll be surprised to discover how much inspiration you can find right in your own neighborhood.

Visit Museums Online

Most museums have online virtual tours available. And you don’t have to limit yourself to art museums! Science, natural history, war, and archeology museums are all great places to find inspiration. So sit back, grab a cup of cocoa, and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Louvre, or The Museum of Natural History—all while wearing your jammies!

Try Crafting Or A Hobby

Another way to beat writer’s block is to engage in a creative, non-writing activity to help your mind reset so you can be more receptive to inspiration. Crafting is a great way to do this! If you need some new material, why not plug in that sewing machine you got for your birthday three years ago? There are lots of easy sewing patterns on the Internet to try. Knitting and crocheting are also very popular right now. When you’re finished, you’ll enjoy a sense of accomplishment and perhaps be inspired—and you’ll have a new scarf, hat, or blanket as well!

A new hobby can also help you discover new routes to inspiration for your book, short story, poetry, or blog. How about genealogy? (What? Uncle Milt was a fighter pilot and part-time spy?) Astronomy, jigsaw puzzles, or bird-watching, anyone? To get started, check out the hobbies of these famous authors.

Send Snail Mail

Social media and e-mails have taken the place of mailing a letter via the postal service, but the art of letter writing has not disappeared entirely. Some authors believe it is actually easier to process thoughts with handwritten words. Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, and Tom Wolfe all prefer writing their novels in longhand. So, if you’re seeking inspiration, pick up a pen and paper instead of sitting down with the laptop.

Mail everyone you know a card with a handwritten note inside, and the experience may reveal some insights or call to mind an event involving that person. You’ll be inspired, and they’ll love getting something from you in the mail!

Want more ways to get inspired and kick-start your creativity? We have a few articles that will help:

Post These Quotes: Workspace Inspiration To Keep You Motivated

Inspiration For Poets: 15 Ways To Breathe New Life Into Your Poetry

Starved For Inspiration? 12 Ideas To Get Your New Story Started

7 Ways To Find Writing Inspiration In Your Memories

Question: How do you get unstuck when you hit a writing slump?

Guest Post: Loving Your Hateful Antagonist by Ellen Buikema

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Thank you to Ellen Buikema and Writers in the Storm for this article on doing justice to your antagonist.

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The antagonist is a character that many readers love and many writers hate. In fact, one of my author friends told me that writing her antagonist was a painful experience. “It was a really hard book to write. I had nightmares when I was writing about this character. It was one of the best feelings in the world when I finished writing this.”

In writing my current book, The Hobo Code, I learned what she meant. The book’s main antagonist is a psychopath. To capture the essence of the character, I picked the brain of a retired forensic psychologist and her suggestions surprised me. For example, she recommended I not write chapters from that antagonist’s perspective. “You don’t want to go there,” she said vehemently. “It will give you nightmares.”

I wonder how many forensic psychologists have PTSD by the time they retire.

The Delicate Balance Between Hero and Antagonist

As in all life, there must be balance. Your protagonist needs someone or something, to push against, overcome, or to come to terms with. Some examples:

  • Nature:  Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm
  • An institution: Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games
  • Disease: Stephen King’s The Stand
  • The supernatural: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight

Note: Twilight is an interesting case as Bella’s humanity might be considered one of the story’s antagonists. Her humanity conflicts with her desire to become a vampire.

Observation and various discussions have led me to the conclusion that most people feel they are the heroes of their own life story. People in power who we believe are in the wrong likely feel that their reasons are good and just—merely not understood by the average person. Antagonists feel the same.

To read more of this article, click here.

Guest Post: Let Your Readers Think For Themselves, by Ryan Lanz

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Thank you to Ryan Lanz and to A Writer’s Path for this excellent article about how to cue your readers into what your character is thinking.

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by Ryan Lanz

Not long ago, I did a post on showing vs. telling. I’d like to continue along that same vein by talking about ways to allow the reader to think for themselves without being spoon-fed.

We often have characters discovering things. It’s a lot of fun to experience them learning new things on their own and being in new environments.

The habit authors often get wrapped up in is to announce all of the character’s thoughts. Not all of this is bad. I would be a bear with a sore tooth if I suddenly couldn’t share the character’s thoughts (often directly) with the reader.

However, like in many aspects of writing, there are times when the author takes the easy route, often without even realizing it. I will be the first to say that I catch myself being guilty of this, and this post is as much of a reminder to myself as it is to everyone reading.

Using “thought” verbs is certainly an easy route. They include words like suspects, remembers, believes, understands, thinks, imagines, wants, realizes, knows, etc. It’s so easy to say Colton thought that Tiffany liked him. It’s quick and to the point. Which is good, right? Sometimes. But most often, there is a much better way to go.

Instead of spoon feeding your readers that conclusion, instead I encourage you to paint the canvas in a way that shows the reader the situation clearly enough to where the reader discovers that conclusion on their own. In a weird way, using “thought” verbs is kind of like rewriting a classic mystery novel to put the who-did-it person in the first paragraph. That would steal all the joy of discovery for the reader. A good mystery writer doesn’t come right out and say who did it but presents all the clues for that final “aha” moment where the readers discover it for themselves (or at least have the opportunity to).

Let’s continue with the mystery analogy and ask ourselves how instead of spoon feeding the reader, we can present clues to allow the reader to discover things on their own. For that, I have a few examples.

Instead of “Colton thought that Tiffany liked him”:
Colton felt something brush his hand. He looked up and saw Tiffany leaning against his desk. She wore a tiny half-smile, as if she held a secret that nobody knew. She ruined her introduction with a small giggle that she hid behind her hand. Spots of red blossomed on her cheeks. Colton leaned back in his chair and shared her smile.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: In Defense of Editing as You Go, by Julie Glover

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We’re often told to “turn off the inner editor” and just get the whole story down before going back and editing. To some of us, that advice seems counterintuitive and anxiety-provoking. Thank you to Julie Glover and to Writers in the Storm for this balanced article about self-editing.

elements of fiction

Writing process is a topic of ongoing conversation among writers, whether just starting or multi-published. Plenty of books and articles have been written and workshops and webinars held to suggest this writing process or that one, claiming it’s The Way It’s Done.

While savvy writers out there reject the one-size-fits-all message, we still have certain presumptions that we mostly swallow. One of these can be summarized as…

Write First, Edit Later

There’s no end to the advice to simply turn off your inner editor and vomit words onto the page. Just get the story down!

Consider these quotes from some truly great authors:

“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.” ~ John Steinbeck

“Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.) Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.) Lose control. Don’t think. Don’t get logical. Go for the jugular.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

“Simply refuse to look at anything you have written until the last page is done. Period.” ~ James Frey

“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” ~ James Thurber

“Write the first draft as if you’re out for a spontaneous night with a devastatingly handsome man you met abroad. Run wild, take chances, and don’t even consider the possibility that you’re making the wrong choice. Just go for it.” ~ Christine J. Schmidt

Obviously, this works for many, or even most, writers. Too often, we don’t know enough about our plot and characters, and the first draft is our opportunity to discover, explore, learn, and hone our story.

If that process works for you, embrace it.

But Is It True for Everyone?

W. Somerset Maugham presumably said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

We don’t all write the same, and a process that turns out one writer’s best work could be the death of another’s work. Let’s look at four reasons why editing as you go is a terrific idea for some authors.

1. Get the Foundation Solid

You may be writing along and reach a point in the novel where you feel unmotivated, stuck, or that something’s just off. Perhaps you can’t put your finger on it, but something isn’t working the way it should.

We talk about story structure because we understand that a novel needs a decent foundation to hold up well. That includes a plot without holes, a strong character arc, a compelling antagonist, and much more. But whether you plotted or pantsed this far, you might have a kink in your structure and continuing to write scenes would be like adding more stories onto a tilted house.

Going back and fixing the problem, or editing as you go, could keep your story from needing a total renovation later.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: Guns in Fiction With Larry Correia, by Ryan Lanz

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Thank you to Ryan Lanz and to A Writer’s Path for this excellent article about accurately writing firearms into your fiction.

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Today, I’m pleased to introduce New York Times bestseller Larry Correia as a guest. Although he has a busy schedule, he accepted the invitation to share with us some of his knowledge on firearms in fiction.

Larry also has an interesting background in publishing. He started out as a successful, self-published author, and a few years later, he accepted a publishing offer from Baen Books. He is an author who knows how to be successful in both arenas of publishing.

Along with having been on the NYT bestseller list, Larry has also been on the Entertainment Weekly bestseller list, was a finalist in the John W. Campbell award, and was nominated for a Hugo award for best novel in 2014. He has been a full-time writer for several years.

His books are noted by many publications for his detailed accuracy of firearms usage, which makes sense considering that he has experience as a firearms instructor.

No matter what your views on guns are, you’re likely to eventually come across the subject in your writing, so I thought it would be prudent to bring on a guest to discuss how best to go about it.

I’m sure you’ve all seen wild west movies where someone gets shot and then flies backwards several feet. Or in modern movies someone shoots the bottom of a car, then it explodes easily on the first shot. With the dramatics that Hollywood adds to gun use, it’s not surprising that it eventually affects how authors write about them.

Interview:

Ryan: What are the common pitfalls in fiction where it’s clear that the author has never held or fired a modern firearm?

Larry: It isn’t just guns, but any topic where the reader is an expert and the author is clueless. The problem is that when you write something that the reader knows is terribly wrong, it kicks them right out of the story and ruins the experience for them. Guns are especially hard because they are super common in fiction, and there are tons of readers who know about them.

Most of these really glaring errors can be taken care of with a little bit of cursory research. Technical things can be taken care of by a few minutes on the manufacturer’s webpage, which will keep your characters from dramatically flipping off the safety on a gun that doesn’t have one.

Beyond that, however, is the actual use of the gun. The character using it should have a realistic amount of knowledge based on their skill, knowledge, ability, and training. If you are gong to be writing about a character who is a professional gunslinger, then you need to do some research to make sure that person does what a professional gunslinger would do.

Ryan: If an author does not have access to a firearm or gun range, what are the best methods to brush up on them?

Larry: Actually shooting is best, but if you can’t, find friends who know guns and pick their brains. The problem here is like I mentioned, realistic amounts of knowledge for a particular character and your friends are going to vary just as much in real life. Just because somebody on the internet told you something doesn’t make it true.

Most online firearms forums are pretty cool about authors coming on and asking questions. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

Be careful because there are a lot of urban legends out there about guns.  5.56 doesn’t tumble through the air. A near miss of a .50 BMG won’t tear your limbs off. That is nonsense. So, the best thing to do is ask a group of people, and in short order you should be able to tell who actually has a clue and then disregard the crazy.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: War and Conflict in Paintings, by Joy of Museums

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Thank you to Joy of Museums for putting together this compendium of the Art of War.

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The Massacre at Chios by Eugène Delacroix

A Virtual Tour of War and Conflict in Art

“The Art of War” in this context, is the artistic representation of the conflict between groups or between just two people and can range from extreme violence to non-physical aggression.

Art Galleries are full of Art representing and commenting on War. War is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural, economic, or ecological circumstances. Below we examine how Art through the ages has interpreted War between states and individuals.

To continue with A Virtual Tour of War in Paintings, click here

Guest Post: 50 New Facebook Post Ideas for Writers by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

If you want to grow your career as a writer, you need to connect with your audience on social media. Posting on a regular schedule will help you maintain and even increase your social media following, but at Web Design Relief, we know that, after a while, it may become harder to come up with new Facebook post ideas to keep your followers interested so that they keep coming back. When you’re juggling a day job, sharing carpooling duties for the kids, balancing your checkbook, making appointments to have Fluffy’s nails trimmed—and are still trying to squeeze in some writing time—thinking up new social media posts can fall onto the back burner. Fortunately, we have some ideas that can quickly and easily be turned into engaging posts!

Social Media Post Ideas For Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, And More

Pets

  1. Post a photo of your pet “reading” a book.
  2. Post a photo of a pet sleeping near you as you write.
  3. Have some fun and upload a short video of you reading to your pet.
  4. Take your dog for a walk, post a photo, and talk about how the activity inspired your writing.
  5. Get cozy with a book, a blanket, and a cat in your lap and post a photo of this moment.
  6. Post a photo of your cat lying next to your book collection.
  7. Go to an indie bookstore that has a pet, take a photo, and post it. (Be sure to tag the bookstore!)
  8. Post a photo of your dog on National Dog Day (August 26).
  9. And post a photo of your cat on National Cat Day (October 29)!
  10. Tell your followers what your pet’s “favorite” book is, and then ask them to comment on their pets’ favorite books.

Books

  1. Talk about your favorite book and explain why it’s your favorite.
  2. Post a photo of the book you are currently reading.
  3. Take a photo of the stacks in your favorite bookstore to post.
  4. Ask your followers to sum up the book they are reading in a GIF.
  5. Read a book by a debut author and write a short review.
  6. Post a GIF that explains how you feel when you buy a new book.
  7. Post your favorite quote from a book.
  8. Ask your followers what their favorite book is and why.
  9. Remember to post about your love for books on National Book Lovers Day (August 9).
  10. Have your followers select your next book to read.

Writing

  1. Share a small excerpt of your writing with your followers. Caveat: Know what counts as previously published!
  2. Post a short video of you reading a selection from your recently published work.
  3. Post a writing prompt and ask your audience to follow the prompt with you.
  4. Announce how many words you have written in a day/week/month.
  5. Encourage your followers to spend twenty minutes writing and ask them to tell you their word counts at the end of that time frame.
  6. Participate in NaNoWriMo and update your followers on your word count at the end of the day.
  7. Post a GIF of what writer’s block feels like.
  8. What is your favorite part of writing? Brainstorm a bit and then post about it.
  9. When and why did you begin writing? Let your followers know.
  10. Ask your followers what genre they write in.
  11. Tell your followers which literary magazine is your favorite, and ask them to tell you theirs.
  12. Post your favorite writing advice.
  13. Ask your followers to tell you what they like most—or least—about writing.
  14. Ask your followers to give you a writing prompt, and then post what you come up with.
  15. Post a photo of the things you use to write (favorite notebook, computer, etc.).

Locations

  1. Where is your favorite place to write? Take a photo and post it for your followers.
  2. Post a photo of the place that inspires you the most.
  3. Post about your favorite reading spot.
  4. Where were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer? Tell your followers!
  5. If you do a public reading, be sure to post about it and tag the location!
  6. Go for a walk in nature and post a photo for your audience.
  7. If you travel, take a photo of you reading at your destination and post it—but be sure to follow these safety tips.
  8. Try writing in a new location and post about how it affected your writing (if at all).
  9. Post about a place you want to visit.
  10. Write a post about the setting of your story.
  11. Write a post about your favorite coffee shop to sit in and write.
  12. If you could live in another time period, when would you want to live? Write up a post about it.
  13. What does your ideal writing setup look like?
  14. Where is your favorite writer from? Post about how you think the location affects his or her writing.
  15. Post about where you would most like to do a public reading.

Question: What is your favorite type of social media post?

Guest Post: The Incredible (Inedible) Egg by Donna of MyOBT

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A big thank you to Donna of MyOBT for her article about these gorgeous folk artworks made on eggshells.

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EggArtbyAngela on Etsy

I was looking for something to post on Easter, and I came across the Ukranian art of Pysanky (A.K.A. Pysanka). Typically done on wooden or blown-out eggs, the art form uses a wax-resist technique, similar to that used to create batik patterns. The name Pysanky comes from the Ukranian word for write, because the traditional folk designs are written on the eggs with beeswax rather than painted on.

I really enjoyed these designs, and I hope you do, too. Have a happy Easter!

To see more eggs, click here.

Guest Post: The Art of the Kiss, by Joy of Museums

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Thank you to Joy of Museums for this virtual tour of the kiss in art.

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Hellelil and Hildebrand, the Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton

The Kiss in Art

Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, romance, sexual attraction, sexual arousal, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, and peace, among many others.

In some situations, a kiss is a ritual, formal or symbolic gesture indicating devotion, respect, or sacrament.

To continue with A Virtual Tour of the Kiss in Art, click here.

Guest Post: Help Your Readers Write Good Reviews, by Penny Sansevieri

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Thank you to Penny Sansevieriand Writers in the Storm for this excellent article.

People reading books

Getting readers to write reviews, and encouraging them to do so, is a big part of what authors do to gain more visibility for their books. We know though that it’s not just any review, but a quality one that truly benefits your book. Quality reviews, meaning reviews that are more than “I liked this book,” can actually help to sell the book better than shorter, less specific reviews.

I’ve heard from numerous authors who have readers that post Amazon reviews, for which they are extremely grateful, but wish they were more detailed. You’ve all seen those short reviews on Amazon that say little more than “Loved this book!” While it’s fantastic that someone took the time to leave a review, short reviews like that do little to help a book along. They are often frowned upon by Amazon and could get pulled if the review seems disingenuous.

Read more about why Amazon reviews get pulled.

So how can you encourage your readers to not only review your book, but leave one that is meaningful?

First, let’s talk about what we look for in reviews as consumers. When a book has several great, detailed reviews, we tend to scan them for highlights on the things that matter to us. That’s how we often buy books. Both good and bad reviews can help us decide, and, frankly, I’ve often bought a book after I read a bad review because what the reviewer didn’t like was exactly what I was looking for. That’s why detailed reviews are not only helpful, but they’re a must for your Amazon page.

So, if you have readers who love your work but aren’t savvy on posting reviews, here are some tips you can share with those who want to post something about your book:

  • Whenever possible or appropriate, ask the reviewer to add their expertise on the topic if your book relates to nonfiction.
  • If you have identified your keywords, share them with any friends who are posting and ask them that, if appropriate, they include the keywords in the review.
  • Ask readers to post reviews that are between 100 and 450 words.
  • If a reader feels compelled to include a spoiler, ask them to post a warning first so the customer can chose to read on—or not.
  • Never, ever, ever offer to edit a review. You want honest appraisals, not watered-down reviews that all sound alike.
  • It’s important that the reviewer cite why the book mattered to them. This also personalizes the review for the reader.

To continue reading, go to the original article.