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Three Writing Exercises for Three Different Points in the Writing Process

There’s no shortage of writing exercises to choose from. Just google it. Eight Exercises to Strengthen Your Writing. Thirteen Creative Writing Exercises. Twenty-four Exercises to Become a Better Writer.  Fifty Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises. There are lists of eleven, fifteen—even one hundred writing exercises! No one can, or should,...

Getting to Know Evil

Last month, I wrote about how hard it is to write morally good characters.  In the comments, it came up that writing evil characters can be just as hard, though for different reasons. Evil characters can be easy to write because they’re often more clearly aware of their intentions than good ones.  But to write believable evil characters, you have to...

Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Summer 2022

This contest submissions season covers deadlines from June 1, 2022 through August 31, 2022. Summer is a slower time for any literary journal or contest associated with a university, but there are still opportunities between beach waves and new drafts. Thanks to Literistic, Poets & Writers, Submittable Discover, and New Pages for many of these contests....

Take Five: Sarah McCoy and MUSTIQUE ISLAND

We’re thrilled to bring you a Take Five interview with New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling novelist Sarah McCoy (Marilla of Green Gables; The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter) about her latest novel, out this past week: MUSTIQUE ISLAND.   “It’s the early 1970s, and it’s perfectly acceptable to name-drop visiting royalty,...

Gatekeepers and Creativity

I signed my book deal with Red Hen Press over two years ago, before COVID times if you can even remember those days! It comes out on June 7th and I’m in the freak-out-and-get-ready phase right now. The process of working with this indie press has been very positive and I’d be happy to chat about it sometime. (Do I recommend Red Hen Press for other authors?...

Writing Wrongs: The Color of My Low-Down Dirty Vote

At some point in your career you may get asked to participate in a story anthology with other authors. If the collection is clearly linked to the themes, style, and subject matter of your own work, a “yes” response is often simple. But on other occasions the premise of the anthology may seem so far removed to your customary niche, and you may wonder...

Grammar Un-Schooling: Your 6 Hall Passes

photo adapted / Horia Varlan We were good students, most of us. At the very least we loved reading and writing, and if our interest flagged in other subjects, we were either daydreaming or reading novels hidden beneath our desks. Complete sentences were our currency. We never started one with a cheap conjunction like “and” or “but,” or ended one with...

A Helping Hand: Supporting Your Fellow Writers

Recently I attended a book launch for Slipping the Noose by Meg Caddy, second book in a YA duology about notorious pirate Anne Bonny. Many attendees embraced the invitation to dress as pirates for the event. (Reader, I did not dress as a pirate.) The most exciting part, for me, was seeing a young writer whom I had mentored when they were in high school...

The Creativity of Emotions

My friend’s 15-year-old son has just had his heart broken for the first time. He’s also just written his first song. It’s about a guy who got his heart broken. He’s a talented musician, so it will probably be a pretty good first song. Many wonderful creative works have come from strong emotions. Aristotle wrote that everyone who “attained excellence...

The Hardworking Magic of Book Design

One of the things that has struck me most forcibly throughout my career as a writer and, later, as publishing director of a small press as well, is how important good book design is. Humans are visual creatures and an unappealing, amateurish or confused design will turn us off immediately, even if we cannot explain why. A design that might be technically...

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