Advice for Writers

An Impatient Writer’s Approach to World Building

I’m an impatient writer. I don’t enjoy prep work, especially the kind of detailed preparation needed to create a believable imaginary world. When I first began writing, my solution was to wing it. I’d take an idea and plunge right in, letting the story take me where it would and allowing the world to develop spontaneously.

The problem was that I constantly wrote myself into corners… (Keep reading)

Writer Beware

There are sharks out there in the literary waters. Literary deceptions abound, from fee-charging agents to dishonest editors to fraudulent vanity publishers to fake contests.

The good news is that you can protect yourself, with a little information and a healthy dose of caution. Following are some tips and resources to help you do so… (Keep reading)

The Safest Way to Search for a Literary Agent

Researching literary agents is complicated enough without having to worry about whether or not the agent is honest. Unfortunately, you do need to worry. Too many agents engage in abuses–charging upfront fees, participating in kickback referral schemes, urging writers to pay for expensive adjunct services, even steering clients into the clutches of vanity publishers–for you to assume that every agent you encounter is equally reputable.

Most aspiring writers know the basic agent-hunting drill: assemble a list of prospects, prepare and polish a synopsis, write a dynamite query letter, send out submissions…and wait. To this must be added another step: weeding out the questionable agents who will inevitably wind up on your query list…(Keep reading)

Researching an Agent’s Track Record

Research is the name of the game, whether you’re searching for a contractor to put a new roof on your house or a literary agent to represent your book manuscript. How do you research a contractor? You check references. You make sure the company has experience doing jobs like yours. You verify that there are no outstanding complaints.

Your book deserves the same consideration…(Keep reading)

From Pantser to Planner: How I Changed My Writing Style

I’m the original pantser. I hate planning and preparing. I’d rather just dive into whatever it is and learn as I go. This has gotten me into some messes, as you can imagine. Deciding to refinish a table and realizing halfway through that you really ought to know how to work with furniture stripper is not a recipe for a happy outcome.

Once upon a time, that was also how I wrote… (Keep reading)

The Myth of the Evil Editor

Recently, I participated in an online conversation touching on self-publishing, in which a self-published writer commented on how happy she is that her books are truly her own–published exactly as she intended them, not mutilated or adulterated by some big publishing house editor whose main goal is to turn out cookie-cutter authors…(Keep reading)

Writing History, Writing Fantasy

Growing up, my favorite reading was historical fiction. I adored losing myself in stories of other times and places—stories that transported me, through the author’s imagination and my own, from my mundane everyday context into new worlds of excitement, danger, mystery, and beauty—so strange and exotic, sometimes, that it was hard to believe they’d once been real.

Then, when I was in my teens, I fell in love with fantasy…(Keep reading)

Writing Contests: Facts and Fakes…And How to Tell the Difference

There are hundreds of writing contests. Most are real; some are prestigious. But some are fake. While fake contests don’t make up a huge proportion of the total, there are enough of them to warrant caution. And even if a contest is legitimate, winning may not do anything to build your writing resume…(Keep reading)

The Perils of Author Mills

When first-time author Maria Harrison decided to try and get her romance novel published, one of the first publishers that popped up in a Google search looked perfect. Maria decided to submit. A day later, she received a cordial e-mail offering to publish her novel. Maria was over the moon: at last, she was going to be a published author!

But unbeknownst to Maria, she hadn’t signed with a commercial trade publisher, like Harlequin or Dorchester. She’d been recruited by an author mill. Thus began more than a year of frustration and disillusion…(Keep reading)

Poet Beware!

There are many legitimate markets and opportunities for poets. There are also many schemes and pitfalls. Some appeal to your ego, some to your frustration…and all want your money.

Here’s what to watch out for…(Keep reading)

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