Writer Unboxed

about the craft and business of fiction

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Am I Still a Writer (If Words Evade Me)?

Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off” – Gloria Steinem Novelist Barbara Kingsolver wrote her debut novel, The Bean Trees, while pregnant and suffering from insomnia. Not only that, she scribbled away at the draft inside a closet so as not to wake her sleeping husband. Jean-Dominique Bauby,...

Managing Expectations, One Book at a Time

  Managing expectations—is this a thing? I laugh sardonically (or maybe maniacally) even as I write the title. Writers, by definition, are dreamers. We’re creative and our imaginations are dynamic, and naturally, this extends beyond storytelling. We see bestselling books and movie deals and plastic dolls for sale, fashioned in our character’s likeness....

Crafting Titles That Hook Readers and Optimize Success

Short story titles are important. They are the sizzle that sell your story.  While novels have back cover copy and reviews to help sell them, short stories have only the title to grab a reader’s attention. Take a moment to picture a reader flipping through an anthology. They’re looking at the table of contents, scanning the titles. If they’ve never...

Author Up Close: Alexia Gordon—Medicine, Murder, and Classical Music

Image Credit: Unsplash Julio Rionaldo  In my final 2020 installment of the Author Up Close series, I’m interviewing Alexia Gordon. Alexia is repped by Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary Services and published by Henery Press.  She’s been nominated for an Agatha Award, was a finalist for a Silver Falchion Award, and was chosen as one of Suspense...

Sustaining Hope–An Artist’s Specialty

Did you read WU on Friday? Monica Bhide submitted a lovely essay, aptly titled Powered by Hope, in which she offers a link to her Sound Bites project of the same name. Monica says she’s providing this service because she knew she “had to do something,” in response to the messages of fear and despair she was receiving due to the pandemic. Monica’s post...

DiAnn Mills Introduces AIRBORNE

ROMANCE, SUSPENSE, AND ADVENTURE! DiANN MILLS DELIVERS ALL THREE IN AIRBORNE Dear Reader, Airborne follows the story of Houston FBI agent Heather Lawrence as she works under quarantine to find the person responsible for deliberately unleashing a deadly virus on a plane full of people. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field...

Powered by Hope

“Are we going to die, Mama?” I overheard this conversation as I walked behind a young woman and her preteen daughter. The local government here had just announced the lockdown due to COVID-19 and the news was spreading. I had heard the mom tell the daughter that they would have to stay inside for now, as there was an invisible illness in the air that...

Flog a Pro: Would You Pay to Turn the First Page of this Bestseller?

Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page. Here’s the question: Would you pay...

Road, Neighborhood, Sky: A Three-Layered Approach to Writing a Novel

During the launch events for Queen of the Owls, I was often asked: “What’s your writing process like?”  People wanted to know if I had a routine, method, daily word count, comfort food, or other habit that carried me from story idea to published book. Since I tend to avoid routine, I usually muttered something about ideas coming to me in the shower...

Managing Your Cast

           If you believe mystery writers, an awful lot of murders take place in isolated country cottages or on ships at sea or on snowed-in trains.  This kind of isolation makes it harder for the killer to escape, but it limits the cast, which makes the writer’s job easier.  It limits the number of suspects, and readers know everyone from the beginning. ...

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