Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Writing Activities

Here we are at the end of July and as usual, summer seems to be slipping by us.

I hope you found time to get away, even if it's a spot in your own backyard.

Maybe you've set your writing aside while vacationing or working on projects around the house.

Sometimes rest isn't just sitting around. It can be doing something different and changing up your schedule a bit.

Here are some summer writing ideas that may be fun, help break up your routine, and energize you to finish the year out with gusto.

1) Read, read, read.

I don't read as much as I should. I used to think it was a luxury for people who had the time. Then I realized I have to make the time. Not just for relaxation but to help make me a better writer.

If you haven't been much of a reader, now is the time to start. It's been said, good writers read. Some benefits include mental stimulation, increased vocabulary, inspiration, and improves memory.

So, while you are escaping with a great novel, you are getting added benefits along the way!

2) Enter a writing contest.

My very first success came when I won in the inspirational category of one contest and Honorable Mention in another one. Both boosted my confidence and started my list of credentials. It was also very exciting to see my name in print in an anthology!

There are many, many (did I mention many?) contests out there. Do a search and you will find them. Most offer cash prizes and/or a free trip to a conference.

3) Take an online course.

Last year I took a course, How Writers Write Fiction. I am a non-fiction writer and do not enjoy writing fiction, but by the time I completed this free course, I found I could write fiction and I actually enjoyed the assignments. 

Choosing a genre you aren't interested in will help you grow as a writer. The challenge is not only fun but taps into an ability you are unaware exists.

4) Write something new.

I don't like to read poetry.

But I can write it!

Go figure.

I didn't know this until I was assigned a poetry lesson at the end of my free writing course. 

Summer is a great time to get adventurous with a new writing experience. 

How about you? What are some ways you have enjoyed the summer? 

Have you taken a full break from writing? Or is summer a time to play catch up?

Please share your comments below.

Image courtesy of Naypong at


Kathy is a K - 12 subsitute teacher and enjoys writing for magazines. Recently, her story, "One of a Kind", was published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts

Friday, July 22, 2016

How To Increase Your Reading of Books

By W. Terry Whalin

There is an old saying in the writing community: Writers are readers. As I child in the summers, I hung out in my local library and read stacks of biographies. That early experience shaped my continuing love of reading biographies. 

While I love to read, as an acquisitions editor, I have a lot of material coming my direction. I often say that being an acquisitions editor is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. The volume of information coming my direction is staggering.

As a part of being an editor, I'm always looking to see if the writer is reading the type of material that they are pitching to me. For example, if you are a novelist and writing romance (the largest genre), I'm probably going to ask if you read romances. And if you don't that tells me something about your knowledge (or lack of knowledge) about the genre that you want to publish.

In recent months, I've greatly increased the amount of books that I'm reading through audio books. In particular, I'm using Overdrive on my smartphone. Overdrive is a free app that I downloaded on my phone and it is tied to your local library. You can check out the audio book from your library for 21 days then download the entire book on your phone. Now that I have the complete book on my phone, I can use it anywhere. I listen to the book while I walk on the treadmill. Because of Bluetooth, I listen to the same book in my car—even when I drive a short distance. Recently I've been traveling and I've listened to these audio books in the airport or on the airplane. Almost always I have my phone and have access to the audio book. 

You can have different library cards on Overdrive. Each library has purchased different books so you can access a different selection. Currently I have three library cards and recently drove into Denver to get a Denver Public Library Card because they have a larger selection of books on Overdrive. Like any library, Overdrive has a wide variety of books—fiction and nonfiction.

I listen to a great deal of nonfiction—business books, biography, memoir and how-to books. You can see many of these books just checking this location on Goodreads. After I listen to the audio book, I will write a short review and post it on Goodreads and Amazon. This regular practice doesn't take much time but increases the number of reviews I write because of the increased number of books I've been consuming. 

Are you using audio books to increase the number of books that you “read?” Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.


Discover How to Increase Your Reading. Ideas at: (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers and his work has appeared in more than 50 print publications. As a frustrated acquisitions editor, Terry wrote Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success, which has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews. Get the book exclusively at this link. He has over 180,000 twitter followers and blogs about The Writing Life.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Writing the World Around You

Getting it Down Right

Recently I spoke to a friend about paying attention. We were talking about being observant in relationship to her home and neighborhood, but how much do we as writers also need to slow down to 'get it right'?

Here are some points to ponder:

  • Details: You've probably heard the adage, 'it's all in the details.' And I agree. When reading another's work, it's the details that suck me in and take me on the journey with the author. When we as writers slow down and pay attention, adding those small details makes our writing that much more impactful. 
  • Sensations: To get the details right, focus on smell, taste, and hearing as well as what you see. We have more than one sense, yet many times we forget that. Creating scenes where more than one sense is used gives a roundness to our writing that elicits connection.
  • Remember when: You were a child and the simplest things delighted you? The sound of crickets? The smell of wood smoke? The way the butterfly flits from one flower to the next? These simple things that once delighted you, can pull your reader back to a similar time and place and delight them. 
  • Dialog: How we talk to each other in real life is, many times, not at all how we think we talk to each other. Often in my conversations with family and friends we are finishing others thoughts, interrupting, getting it wrong, or getting it right, but still not necessarily listening well and responding appropriately. Dialog creates conflict, and also creates connections between your characters. Slow down and listen to conversations. Pay attention to how people really communicate with each other.
  • Find your metaphors: Metaphors add so much to your writing, but sitting in a room in front of the computer may not be the best place in which to develop them. Instead, pay attention to the detail you are trying to convey in a different way and use those same senses above to find a connection that fits. 
In this world that seems so much about hurry, hurry, hurry, it may not be easy to make the switch to slow down, listen, and feel, but your writing will be enhanced and your readers will appreciate the effort.

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem, the story of three generations of women in a small town in Minnesota was released in February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook. 

Monday, July 18, 2016


 While posting to Facebook, I found one of the most timely and moving videos ever. With all the unrest in our country and all over the world, I think everyone should watch and share this video.

Thank you Reba McIntyre for creating this!

This has nothing to do with writing or marketing. It has to do with living in what seems to be an unprecedented time of hatred and terror.

There is power in just one, but imagine the power of billions. God does hear prayers.

To our readers: Would love to know your thoughts.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Writing - How to Edit in a Rush

Guest Post by Ernest Mendozza

Every writer out there procrastinates. We're not proud of it, but we tend to find ourselves in situations where we start working on a project last minute. Sometimes literally. The result is usually disappointing to everyone involved, but, hey, at least you submitted it, right? Now it's the editor's problem.

Well, if you're that type of writer who unloads a raw draft on an editor, you can be sure you're not well regarded by them. This issue has an easy fix: editing. But how do you edit something in a rush? Those of you who do it often know how labor-intensive and time-consuming it is. And aren't you risking mucking up the piece beyond repair by not having enough time to do it at a leisurely pace? Not if you know what you're doing.

Don't Print it Out

Lots of stuff has been written about the benefits of editing the old-school analog way. There are probably still editors out there who print out the digital copy they get, write notes in the margins (with indecipherable handwriting, of course), then scan and send it out to the writer. And, yeah, this method is great if you can afford to sit down with an iced coffee to take your time and ponder whether this sentence can stand to lose this or that word.

But not in a time crunch.

When you're pressed for time, doing the editing on a computer is the only way to do it efficiently. Not to mention the fact that you're saving paper this way!

Make Peace With Your Mistakes

Since you don't have a ton of time, you'll have to deal with the fact that none of your efforts are going to cut too deep into the text. If what you wrote has some deep-level issues, there's nothing you can do about it now. Make peace with what you wrote and the fact that you can only pretty much correct surface-level stuff.

And this might go against everything you've ever learned, but don't work too hard. The way you're doing this is focused on speed, not making something perfect (which, as you might know, can never be done in the first place). Instead of beating yourself up over how the piece is never going to be as stellar as it deserves to be, focus on making it the best you can with the resources that are available. That's the best you can do in this situation.

Get it Done in Two Passes

I've learned from experience (can you tell that I write in a rush often?) that two is the perfect intersection between time-saving and editing effectiveness. Two passes, each focused on a specific aspect, with a short break in the middle, are the way to go:

First, get on the sentence level. Read your entire piece sentence by sentence, trying to get to the core of what it's supposed to be. If it has obviously superfluous parts, take them out. If what you're editing is your first completed draft, consider rewriting most of them. Remember to manage your time and keep in mind that it doesn't need to be perfect at this point. If you see one sentence that can be split into two, most of the time the text will benefit from it. If you notice language that's too flowery, change it. This is the pass where you correct your grammar, too.

Second, after taking a small break to clear your mind, go through the text paragraph by paragraph. Make sure that you're not repeating yourself. Make sure that your writing is structurally sound. Overall, make sure that what you're trying to convey is being conveyed. Lots of writing suffers from being too into itself to effectively communicate something. Make sure that's not happening.

That's it! Hit send. You've done the best you can with the limits that you're under, and you can rest easy because you've submitted before deadline (or at least not as late as you could have been). Proceed to reward yourself with an ice cream.


About the Author

Ernest Mendozza is a writer and blogger trying to find a balance between productiveness and binge-watching Netflix at 3 a.m. He writes about innovations in tech and social media. His best friend is his dog, Milo.


A Writer’s Bucket and Mop List
Finding Names for Your Characters
What It Takes to Promote a Book

Saturday, July 16, 2016

6 Tips to Increase Your Blog Traffic

1. Who is your audience? 
Why are you writing?  To give them the goods, to make it worth their while to come to your site and spend time there.  If they find value for their time spent, they will come again.

2. Be Consistent.  Get in front of your audience often and consistently.  Keep on getting out there!  As soon as you publish a post, publish a teaser to your social media pages: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.  Each teaser draws traffic back to your blog so be sure to include your Web URL address. 
3. Stay focused on your post topic and keep it relative to the theme of your blog.  Write about inspiring, empowering topics.  Staying on point will make it more powerful.  We only have a few moments to grab and keep our reader’s attention.  Go for it and capture those moments! 

For longer posts use the ‘read more’ function when drafting your post.  Blogger calls this function a “Jump” break.  WordPress calls it "insert read more tag". Using this function will not change your post; rather it creates a link to a separate page for your complete post.

4. Write your best, in your voice, your way.  Write to personally connect with your reader.  Write as you speak and use personal language so that the reader senses you are having a conversation with them directly.
5. Ask for comments.  Leave a question applicable to your post or a “What do you think?”  “Anything to add?” question at the conclusion to your post.  Questions generate reader comments as many want to respond to the conversation you have started.

6. Always proof your post before publishing.  I often revise my posts to remove passive wording and to be more concise.

Do you have a tip or question?  Please share it in comments; we all want to hear.
Thank you for reading - see you next time.  Together with you in this writing endeavor and wishing you the best!  deborah  Deborah Lyn Stanley - Writers Blog 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Recognize and Weed Out Self Doubt to Reach Your Goals

Self doubt can creep into your psyche without you even suspecting it’s there until the first niggling thought makes itself clear.

This happens to writers all the time.

If you're a writer, you must constantly be aware of your thoughts and how you’re reacting to them, so you can weed out thoughts of self-doubt before they grow and take over your creativity and destroy your goals.

Doubts can run wild in your mind, making you question your abilities about anything new or different.

If you’re prepared, you can recognize the doubts for the untrue limiting beliefs they are and let your knowledge and common sense get you through.

When you check in to reality, you’ll realize that the negative thoughts are occurring for various reasons.

For example, you could be lost in comparing yourself with other writers.

This may make you feel inadequate and doubt your ability to succeed.

Make a firm decision and stick to it.

When self doubt about what you’re trying to accomplish creeps into your thoughts, make a decision to either carry through with your goal or trash it and go on with something else you’re more certain of.

If you do decide to go on to something else, don’t think of it as a failure.

It was a learning experience that taught you a lesson and you aren’t wasting any more time on it.

If you decide to go through with the plan, take action immediately.

Making a fast decision may seem impulsive, but most likely the decision is based on intuition and the knowledge that you’ve prepared enough for the journey ahead.

You can always fine tune your plan as you progress.

At least you’re taking action toward your goals.

Replace negative self doubt with positive thoughts. Choose any method that works for you. Meditation, journaling, affirmations, listening to music or reading a good book or simply chatting with positive-minded friends may give you the boost you need to move on.

All of us find ourselves dealing with self doubt at some point in our writing careers.

But if you let self doubt get the best of you, by feeding into it and actually believing the untrue stories you’re telling yourself, it can destroy even the best of intentions for success.

Learn to recognize and weed out the crippling, negative thoughts and get on with achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Begin by becoming aware of your thoughts – check in with them a few times a day.

You’ll soon be able to discern the “keeper” thoughts from the “discard” pile.

Try it!

As the Working Writer's Coach, Suzanne Lieurance helps people turn their passion for writing into a lucrative career.

She is founder and Director of the Working Writer's Club (membership is free) and offers tips, articles, and additional resources to other writers every weekday morning in The Morning Nudge (which is also free).