Tips on Writing Humor

Photo by Kim Byrd Copyright 2014

In articles about writing funny, some authors say if you can write well, you can also be funny. That sounded reasonable. Others say humor writing is "tricky." Getting warm. Note: mustn't mistake for hot flashes. I didn't even let Frank Gannon discourage me when he said, If you want to write humor "you obviously have something wrong with you, and that is the one single quality that all humorists must have. You have something wrong with you, but you don't want anyone to notice what it is. Therefore, you try to make them laugh." What a relief. Finally, someone has the guts to tell me what's wrong with me--I want to write humor!

Jokes aside the truth is, most say humorous writing is hard work. I say, we writers work hard at everything else. Why not humor, too? Here are three reasons to try:
  • People love to laugh; laughter is good for us.
  • Humor is an effective communication tool that can humanize our work and even make the act of writing more enjoyable. Also, it boosts creativity by challenging us to approach our craft in new ways. From: How to Write Better Using Humor, by Leigh Anne Jasheway.  
  • Toss in the bottom line and there you have it, every reason to give humor a go: "Humor is the one thing that I've never seen an editor say they have too much of . . . period. They all say they'd like to see more." Jan Fields, Author, Instructor and Web Editor of the Institute of Children's Literature.
Ways to Ease into your Funny Bone

Make your humor lighthearted: Try poking fun at human nature. Funny things happen around you every day. Everything you do has potential for humor. The keys are to remember to be gentle, be consistent throughout the book; and as stated below in the Tips, your humorous parts must move the story forward and/or relate to the story's theme (just like everything else, or out it goes).
  • An unexpected turn in Bruce Coville's book, The Skull of Truth, made me laugh out loud when the main character, Charlie, ate dinner with his family. Charlie had somewhat of a problem: he was a liar. Throughout the book the theme of "Don't lie" came out loud and clear. The dinner table discussion offers a seamless example of combining humor with the book's theme: "Andy Simmons ate a bug today," put in Charlie's youngest sister, Mimi, who was in kindergarten . . . "Then he spit it out. It was gross." She looked very pleased with herself. Charlie wondered if the story had any truth to it. He still hadn't figured out how to tell when Mimi was fibbing."
  • Jack Gantos' book, Dead End in Norvelt, the 2012 Newbery prize winner, is replete with good ole, new-fashioned edgy humor. If the first sentence about Jack's mother ruining his summer vacation doesn't grab you, the excruciatingly long second sentence will: "I was holding a pair of camouflage Japanese WWII binoculars to my eyes and focusing across her newly planted vegetable garden, and her cornfield, and over ancient Miss Volker's roof, and then up the Novelt road, and past the brick bell tower on my school, and beyond the Community Center, and the tall silver whistle on top of the volunteer fire department to the most distant dark blue hill, which is where the screen for the Viking drive-in movie theater had recently been erected." Talk about getting hooked by an introduction. I was already smiling, which made absorbing the opening facts effortless.
Exaggerate: Author Connie Willis wrote that Mark Twain called exaggerations "stretchers." Stretching the truth is funny, just don't go too far.
  •  Later in the Norvelt story, it would be hard to top how Jack saved a deer his dad had in his sights when they went deer hunting together. At the most intense moment when his dad was about to pull the trigger, Jack was squatting high up in a tree house in the freezing cold   . . . when . . . "a gut desire to save the deer gave me just enough oomph, and I let out a thin stream of gas which sounded roughly like the slow opening of a creaky coffin lid that had been closed for a thousand rusty years .  . .'Good timing.' [his dad] said sarcastically without even looking at me." (I urge you to read this exhilarating, hilarious yet touching book because this example is far too brief and covers only a slight part of that scene; like so much else in the book it is hilarious while at the same time pulls the heart strings.)
For Children:
Bathroom humor: Describe situations where someone breaks wind, something smells, mention underpants, make-up words and names
Slapstick comedy: Exaggerate physical clumsiness, such as slipping on a banana peel
Tell Jokes

David Lubar, author of Hidden Talents, an ALA Best book for Young Adults, voted onto over twenty state lists by thousands of kids and educators; the sequel True Talents, and short collections including, In the Land of the Lawn Weenies on writing funny:
Overstatement: Comic exaggeration or overstatement is especially easy with first-person narration. In "Get Out of Gym for Free:" "I figured the gym teacher would be tough, but he looked like he was about to bite off someone's head and spit it on to the floor. Maybe after sucking out the eyeballs."
Understatement: In "At the Wrist:" "I'd lost Dad's hand. This was not good."
Death, and taboos: In general can be funny as long as it isn't personl. Lubar wrote a whole series about a dead kid that is a hoot.
Relief: We laugh at pratfalls because we're relieved that they happen to someone else.
Surprise: The joy of figuring out the unseen connection or seeing the unexpected solution. Humor arises when the reader figures out the unstated connection. In "Cat Got Your Nose?": "Emily liked visiting Miss Reaker. She made wonderful cookies, as long as you didn't mind a bit of cat hair among the chocolate chips, and the occasional little crunchy thing that was better left unidentified." Seeing the connection between two objects is funny, too: "Even with his face wrapped in black cloth, I had no trouble identifying Jimmy, thanks to a unibrow that could have been mistaken for a climbing rope." FromSeven Stages of Humor, by David Lubar.

Ideas from Susie Brown's blog

Use Funny Words:  For "destroy, " say "pulverize;" for "impractical," say "dorky."
Timing: Construct an artificial lull by starting a new paragraph before something funny happens; gives the reader time to think about what came before and brace themselves.
Tell a dumb joke, then make fun of it.
Say the punch line in a foreign language.
Make fun of yourself: Keep self-ridicule light; don't be afraid to call yourself a dimwit, but if you do, do it proudly. The key to self-ridicule is confidence. FromWrite Funny--You'll Make More Money.

Additional sources: How to Write Funny, by John Kachuba, Chapter 6, "The More and Less of Writing Humorous Fiction," by Connie Willis, and Chapter 12, "Writing 'Funny Bits' for Kids," by Patricia Case; "Writing Humor--But Seriously, Folks," by Esther Blumenfeld and Lynne Alper, Writer's Digest, January 1982; "How to Write Funny," by Lynn Coulter, from an undated SCBWI newsletter; "Funny Business," by Frank Gannon, Writer's Digest, December, 1993.

Next month: Tips on Writing Humor, Part 2

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-9 year olds. Publishing credits include Biography TodayHighlights for Children, Pockets; Hopscotch; and true stories told to her by police officers about children in distress receiving teddy bears, which she fictionalized for her column, "Teddy Bear Corner," for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Newsletter, Dayton, Ohio. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Improve Your Writing

They say there is nothing new under the sun. 

When it comes to writing, I say, yes, there is!

Writers are emotionally invested in their writing. Personal experiences help create what we write. We can be protective of our writing to the point of forgetting how we can improve - or that we should improve.

We're never too old to learn or re-learn some things we thought we knew. 

Here are some helpful points to keep us fresh:
  • Be humble. Do we think "been there done that?" I hope not! There is always room for learning and growing. See your life as a never-ending journey of anticipation for improvement. Take a refresher course in grammar rules. Take a course to help you write tighter. Stay humble. Learn from anything and anyone you can.
  • Be curious. Don't get stuck in a rut. Are you a seeker? Scouring the sea shore for shells never gets old. But do we take time to scour fresh ideas to improve ourselves?  Schedule some time each week to learn something new. Peruse the internet for new articles on writing or marketing skills. It might just open up a new door for you.

Every day, every week, every month is a fresh start. There's always room for improvement!


After raising and homeschooling her 8 children, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -

Stand Up for Writers

Panic tremors shiver down my backbone. My legs jerk and my feet tap the floor uncontrollably. Some part of my brain 
wonders pathetically if this could be considered exercise. Too little, too late. 

I am doomed to disability according to a new study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

I can do exercise classes twice a week, muck out my horse twice a day, diet on the odd occasion, but if I'm sixty years 
old or older, every hour spent sitting may well double the risk of becoming disabled.

"This is the first time we've shown sedentary behavior was related to increased disability regardless of the amount of moderate exercise," said Dorothy Dunlop, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago,  and lead author of the study. "Being sedentary is not just a synonym for inadequate physical activity."

Dangers of Sitting

So it's the sitting that does it. And all writers spend most of their working day sitting or do they?

Do the new findings mean I can sit till I'm fifty-nine and 364 days? Till I'm fifty-five? Till I'm sixty-one if I exercise a lot?

All studies should be read with caution and Professor Dunlop points out that because the study examines data at one point in time, it does not definitively determine that sedentary behavior causes disability. "It draws attention to the fact that this is a potential problem." 

Animal studies have shown that immobility is a separate risk factor for negative effects on health. Professor Dunlop's study, co-authored with Rowland Chang M.D.,is the first to corroborate that data using objective evidence from over two thousand adults over sixty.

Stand Up for your Health

According to Pilates instructor Nina Cranmer, sitting is one of the worst postures for the human body. A new mother and nowhere near sixty. she parks her laptop on a high window ledge and always stands when using it. 

My mother was a great believer in Winston Churchill's dictum. When asked to what he attributed his success, he said, "Economy of effort. Never stand up when 
you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down."

I realize now she never followed this advice herself, being always on the move. But it was a great way to keep children at bay.

Now shall I wriggle about on my Pilates ball while I write or find a book to read in bed? No contest. I'm with Churchill all the way.

All tips to help writers avoid a sedentary lifestyle welcome in the comments below.

 Anne Duguid is a freelance content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she passes on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips from time to time at Slow and Steady Writers 

Writers and Cabin Fever

Will this winter ever end?

Plans changed, events cancelled, over and over again. Snowstorm after snowstorm and bitterly cold temperatures have been the status quo lately.

I like to get out of the house and do something fun on occasion, meet with my writers group, check out the bookstores and libraries, and look for inspiration. It seems like I have been housebound more than I have been away from home! And to top that off, I just got over cold #2 for the winter of 2013-2014. At least I don’t do public speaking for a living!

Thankfully, we have had power, so I've been able to do some research, reading and writing. Recently, I found a website that can be helpful for those of us who seem to be spending a lot of time inside and might be going a little stir crazy:

Toasted Calender – writing prompts for every day of the year. There are also writing contests, forums, chats, writing exercises, even a pre-NaNoWriMo challenge.

However, I am so ready for an off-site conference, retreat, dinner out, shopping expedition, a walk in the park . . . .

How has your winter and your writing been going? What are your ideas for beating cabin fever?

24 more days until spring!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Three Tips for Finding Writing Inspiration

Are you ready to start a new writing project but are struggling with finding that new story?  I have known a number of writers who can't seem to find a new direction after finishing a big project.  If you're need of some inspiration try one of the following techniques to jumpstart your next writing project.

Dream Your Manuscript into Being: If you having trouble coming up with that
next story, stop thinking about it and start dreaming about it.  After finishing her first novel, debut author Crystal Chan worried that she might not have another story in her. One night while tossing in bed she woke up and saw in her mind's eye a boy with outspread arms standing on the edge of cliff. As she saw him jump, she heard in a girl's voice the words "Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother John".  She jumped out of bed, fired up her laptop and Bird was born.  By the time she stopped typing that night, she had written the first chapter.  If you don't think you can jump out of bed when inspiration rouses you from your sleep, keep a notebook on your nightstand.  This will keep those creative ideas from slipping back into your subconscious.

Create a Vision Board of the Story that’s Coming Next:  I often recommend story vision boards when you have a clear plotline.  You can also use this technique if you need to come up with the topic for your next project by creating an Idea Vision Board. You'll need a poster board, markers, glue and a few magazines. Start pulling out pictures and words that you are drawn to and glue them to the paper. If a picture evokes a feeling, write the word on the board. Do you want to travel across the country speaking about your next book, put pictures of faraway cities. Have fun with the process.  Fill the board with images, words and colors. When you’re done, post it where you can see it each day and see if you can find some inspiration in the board.

Find Your Story Through Creative List Making:  On your mark, get set, go! You have 90 seconds to create a list of possible characters.  Next make a list of... 
        • settings
        • personality quirks
        • problem situations
        • time periods
The list categories could be endless.  Once you've created your lists, mix and match items from each list. (e.g. A single woman in the Bayou, bites her lip when she’s nervous, just lost her job, 1950s)  Keep your lists; you can come back to them when you are ready for your next writing project.

I’d love to hear how you find inspiration when your searching for an idea for your next writing projects.

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life coach. For more information check out:  

Five Challenges Writers Face

Now that I have your attention. Everyday, writers face challenges that keep them from the page. 

1. Distractions: These can include telephone calls from friends, those emails in your inbox, or the fox that crosses the yard in front of the window of your work room. Limiting distractions is something every writer must learn to control. I remember speaking to a writer and hearing how whenever anyone flew into town, they called him to pick them up at the airport, after all, he was just sitting around at home. Teach those around you that your writing time is valuable and a job that you take seriously. Then train yourself to quickly clean your inbox and keep focused on the page.

2. Fear: We all face fear at sometime in our life, whether it's related to our writing or driving in an unknown city. The best way to deal with fear is to move forward and get your thoughts on the paper. Later it can be edited by you or the professional you hire. Don't worry about grammar or format, worry that you can't type fast enough to get it all down and keep going. 

3. Negativity: I remember someone asking me, "Don't all writers only have one book in them?" "No," I snapped. "The saying is everyone has one book in them. Writers have multiple books, several poems and a number of screen plays." If only I had time to flesh out all the story lines that cross my path. Remove yourself from those who tell you it can't be done, and instead surround yourself with positive thinkers.

4. Procrastination: Putting off until tomorrow what can be done today is not the way to live your life as a writer. Writing is hard work and it requires effort. Don't put off your writing project, instead sit down now and get started.

5. Perfectionism: So you finally get your story down and then you go back and edit and change and edit and change and edit and change. Perfectionism can stop a writer cold. Of course, you can always find a slightly better word choice, it's just that at a certain point in time you need to move on. 

Don't let the five challenges stop you from achieving your dreams. Instead, sit down and get to it. 


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

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. 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 at or on Facebook

Writing for Magazines - Is It the Perfect Job for You?

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

Happy Valentine's Day from the beach! Life is good here in Florida, where I live and write by the sea. One of the reasons it is so good is because I have the perfect job. This wasn't always the case.

Years ago I was a classroom teacher in the midwest. While I loved working with my students, I did not love the restrictions of working in a classroom, so one summer I decided to quit my teaching job to become a full-time writer. It was scary at first. But within 3 months I had more than doubled my monthly income as a teacher. One of the ways I was able to do this was by writing for magazines.

In many ways, writing for magazines is the perfect job for me. If you like to write, it just might be the perfect job for you, too.

The Pros of Writing for Magazines
One of the best reasons to write for magazines is because you can create a substantial income this way. But there are lots of other perks, including:

1. You can work when and where you want. Now that I live in a beautiful condo on the beach in southern Florida, I often work on magazine articles in the early morning as I watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean from my balcony. Other times I take my writing with me when we travel. I might write from a hotel room, or a friend's house in some distant city. I've even been known to jot down a few notes for a magazine article in my pocket notebook when we're having dinner at a nice restaurant.

2. You can write about a wide variety of topics, depending on your interests, skills, and contacts. Almost anything can be turned into a piece for a magazine. I've written articles, essays, and stories about all sorts of things, and it's so fun to see these pieces published in magazines. It's even MORE fun to be paid for writing them.

3. You can become a better writer. Writing for magazines has helped me become a better writer in many ways. I've learned how to research a topic and find expert sources. I've learned how to turn a fun idea into a marketable idea (one an editor is willing to buy).

4. You can turn your travels into articles. While I'm not a travel writer, per se, I have used my travels as the basis for articles from time to time. This has also resulted in free press passes, and even my family being featured in a national magazine.

5. You can have assignments come to you. It's tough to keep tracking down new assignments, week after week, which is why writing for magazines is the perfect job. Once you break in with one of the publications you wish to write for, and you write at least a couple of articles for this publication, most likely, the editor will start contacting you with assignments.

6. You can write magazine articles faster than you can write books, so you can make more money quicker. I've written over two dozen published books. Many of these books were written on assignment from a publisher. Most of these books have taken months to write. All of the magazine articles I've written have taken just days or weeks to write. With this in mind, I make much more writing a magazine article than I do writing a book and I make it faster. I love writing books. But when I need cash, I write magazine articles.

While there are many great things about writing for magazines, there are also a few things to consider before you decide if this might be the perfect job for you.

The Cons of Writing for Magazines
1. It often takes a while to break in with any publication. Most writers who try writing for magazines give up when they don't immediately get an assignment from a publication they wish to write for. You must be prepared to submit several queries to a particular publication before they finally accept one of your queries. If you learn how to write "winning queries" you'll have a better chance of breaking in with your first query. But don't give up. Keep pitching ideas until you finally get an assignment.

2. You'll need to start with no-pay or low-pay markets, for the most part. You probably won't get an assignment from OPRAH magazine until you get some clips from smaller markets. Still, there are ways to break in with major magazines even before you get published in smaller publications. You just need to learn how.

3. You need to have plenty of ideas, all the time. Writing for magazines is a numbers game. You need to have queries out making the rounds to publishers at all times.

4. You must be able to handle deadlines. If you're a professional writer, you already deal with deadlines. But magazines often have tight deadlines because once you break in with any publication, an editor can call with an assignment that another writer suddenly couldn't do or complete and you'll have only days or weeks to meet the deadline if you accept the assignment.

5. You must have confidence in yourself and your writing ability. If you're afraid of rejection, writing for magazines probably won't be your perfect job because you'll get rejections all the time, even when you start breaking in with major publications.

6. You must be willing to take direction from editors. Again, if you're a professional writer you're used to taking direction from editors. But if you hate to change a single word you've written, then writing for magazines won't be your perfect job. now that you have some of the many pros and cons of writing for magazines, you might decide, like I did, that this is the perfect job for you.

If you do, what's the next step?

Well, you should study the markets, of course.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications. She lives and writes by the sea in Jensen Beach, Florida. She can teach you everything you need to know to start making money writing for magazines. Find out more about her new program, The Quick Start System to Writing for Magazines at and sign up for her free 5-module e-course, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career, at

Writing From the Heart

Today's post is by Writers on the Move member Gilda Evans. She had some technical difficulty getting the post up, so I posted it.

Gilda's article below is an excellent example of the power of writing. Along with writing books, there is article writing to inform, to enlighten, to touch the heart, to be controversial, to be thought provoking, to shock, to be cathartic, and so much more.

What emotions does this article invoke in you? Please let us know in the comments.


When We Grow Up, revisited

By Gilda Evans

The recent Los Angeles Times article featuring my father has served not only as an inspiration to many, but also as a reminder of things that should never be forgotten. My thanks to my agent, Terrie Wolf, who suggested re-posting this blog story from 2012. It is an appropriate companion to my father’s story which you can read via the link near the end of this post.

And now, a blast from the past -

Yesterday was a beautiful morning – sunny, not too cold with the hint of coming spring in the air. Yet, this beauty was marred by an act so ugly and abhorrent it caused one to momentarily overlook the natural surroundings and become aware of the basest part of human nature. An Israeli flag with a swastika painted on it was placed near one of the gates leading to my daughter’s school. So, one has to ask – what would prompt such a senseless act of hatred? When the children passed by and saw that heinous emblem, who answered them when they asked why? And how did they answer? How confusing for those young people to wonder what they had done to illicit such venom directed at them.

In fact, this type of despicable act has no place in what purports to be an advanced or enlightened society. Whether these acts are directed at one person, or a group of people because they happen to be jewish, muslim, black, gay, female or pink with purple polka dots does not condone the action under any set of circumstances. None of these criteria gives anyone the right to judge another person’s value, character or righteousness. I believe that a person is defined by their words, but even more so by their actions. Stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, senseless hatred is wrong. Yet, there are those who are guilty of these and other atrocities in every ethnic and lifestyle group, including all those I just mentioned (pink with purple polka dots excluded).

And so, it makes me wonder what the human race is going to be like when we finally grow up. We are by nature greedy and territorial. Our genetic make up insures survival of the fittest, and our need to mate is intended to insure survival of the species. So, if we are defending our mate, our clan or our home against an enemy we are programmed to fight and protect ourselves. And because of this programming, chances are there will always be battles to be fought on some level, in politics and in business on a domestic and global scale. But hatred based on the simple color of someone’s skin or lifestyle choice is not given to us by nature. It has to be learned, and is therefore given to us by those of the prior generation who haven’t grown up yet. Those who haven’t learned how to share their toys or play nice in the sandbox. Those who bully and steal lunch money because they can. Funny…isn’t it usually the bullies who end up in jail or in some menial labor job and the nerds they picked on who end up running the big corporations?

Just recently Billy Crystal came under fire for donning black make-up to portray Sammy Davis, Jr. in one of his skits at the Oscars. Even the daughter of Mr. Davis later came forward to say that her father would have given his blessing to his dear friend Billy’s skit. Yet, there are those who still say that it wasn’t ok and choose to take offense at what was intended to be good-natured humor. My question is then, if that isn’t ok, why is it ok for a film like “White Chicks” to be made, where a couple of black guys put on white face and dress like women? Shouldn’t all white females be outraged? The answer, of course, is no. In both instances, those who do take offense need to grow up. One of the basic cornerstones of an adult attitude is the ability to laugh at yourself and appreciate the humor in life. (I’m talking about humor here, not blatant racial slurs or bigotry.) Because the reality is, it doesn’t really matter who the joke is directed at – it’s just a joke, and we’re all just people. When you cut us, we all bleed red. That’s the bottom line, and until we all as a global society take that to heart, we will never get to graduate.

Original source:

Gilda Evans
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Write Tight: Self-Editing Tips

Every writer should present the most-polished, best version of what you have written, whether to an agent, a publisher, or especially if you are self-publishing. I recommend everyone have your work proofread and professionally edited.

Here are some things to look for when you are ready to polish your work.

1. Ask this question: Does this scene (paragraph, dialogue, sentence) move the story forward? If I take it out, will the story still make sense? Or, can it be condensed, streamlined, simplified to do so?

2. Watch for weak passive language: the “ly” words, “to be” verbs, especially when used with “ing” words. Use strong, active verbs to “show” rather than “tell.”

3. “Show” versus “tell.” If you write “She was sad,” I, as reader, want to know how sad feels? I want to experience it with the character. Every action elicits a re-action. Someone you thought was a friend ignores you at a function. How do you feel?

Use the five senses whenever possible to show feelings, indicate mood and develop the character. (Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch)

4. Look for extraneous words: That, Just, Very, Really, Some, Stand up = stand, Sit down = sit, Turned around = turned, He thought to himself = He thought, She shrugged her shoulders = she shrugged, She whispered softly = she whispered, He nodded his head = he nodded .

5. Taglines: Do you try to find 101 ways to say “said”? Not necessary. If you use a tagline, it’s best to stick with the simple. But, whenever possible, use an action or a reaction instead. This helps to build the character by showing what he is thinking, how he is reacting, and it provides action in a what could otherwise be a static “talking heads” situation. And if you commonly write “Dialogue, blah, blah, blah,” she said, AS she did some action—delete the “said” and go with the action.

These are just a few (but important) things that can help you polish your manuscript. Do you have any other tips to add?

she A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, will be published in May 2014. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.

Take Action: Move Towards Success

Copyright 2014 Joan Y. Edwards
"Take Action: Move Toward Success" by Joan Y. Edwards

Here we are in the second month of the year. How is it going? Are you moving towards your goals? 2014 is a year marked as one for your publication success. Don't sit on your dreams. Do your part. Move toward your goals now.

Here are 7 ways to help you keep moving to your goals.
  1. Be Thankful
  2. Accept Yourself As You Are
  3. Relinquish Control
  4. Have Faith in Yourself
  5. Exercise
  6. See with Different Eyes
  7. Celebrate

1. Be Thankful

  • Albert Schweitzer quote: “In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
  • Buddha quote: "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful."
  • Thornton Wilder quote: "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
  • Yogi Bhajan quote: "Gratitude is the open door to abundance."
If you want something other than what you have, be grateful for what you have. If you are unhappy with the situation you are in, be grateful that it's not worse, and believe that it will get better. Focus on what you want. Be thankful for what you have.

2. Accept Yourself As You Are

For the last four years I studied Hale Dwoskin's Sedona Method about letting go. Letting go of expectations allows you to enjoy the moment as it is. Letting go of wanting and trying to get control of the people in your life, frees you to enjoy the gifts another person offers to you. They might not have the gift you demand and expect from them. When you put a block out and don't accept others as they are, you may never recognize the gift they reach out to hand you. Because your Mother or Father was a certain way, you may think a prospective mate might be that way. Look for the good in people. Let go of your unreasonable expectations in yourself and others.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't set goals for yourself. It means to stop spending all of your energy resisting the way things are. When you take back your energy, then you make a better pathway for your new and improved life to enter.

I think a lot of unhappiness comes from not enjoying things as they are and wanting something else.
The saying is very powerful and healing: "It is what it is." Accept it. Make plans to improve the situation in which you live. Love. Reach out in kindness. Look for the good in others. Look for the good inside yourself.

3. Have Faith in Yourself

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen...Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Don't feed your mind with negative thoughts. If you do, you will come to believe them...Catherine Pulsifer
  • If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning...Gandhi
  • It is not so much what you believe in that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action...Lin Yutang
  • Believe in yourself and try not to take anything personally...Chris Kattan.
  • Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string...Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Believe in yourself. Your belief will take you to your goal. When you stop believing in your ability to get there, something happens. You crumble. In order to meet your goal, you have to stabilize your belief system so that it gets you where you want to go.

4. Relinquish Control

It's amazing how much human beings want control of things. When you don't know how it's going to turn out, you are afraid to venture into the "unknown." If you know it's going to turn out okay, then you are willing to take a chance. When you get your belief system straight, you realize that all events lead you to your goals. They may be interesting detours, but if you reset your beliefs and restate your goals, you will get there. Why do I say that? Because inside your mind, you have an automatic success mechanism. Maxwell Maltz explains this in the Psycho-Cybernetics book. Like airplanes with automatic piloting systems, when you set your goals and believe you can do it, your automatic success mechanism goes to work and takes you to your goal.  If you stop believing, it takes you in the direction of failure. Believe in you and your goals. Believe in you.

5. Exercise - Move your body

When you move your body, you also help your mind. This keeps your emotions from going haywire. It keeps your body in shape. It keeps your mind's gears moving smoothly. Do what you can. Move to your own rhythm. Dance, jog, walk, sit and move whatever you can. Just move it. You'll get ideas to solve problems. Your stress levels will decrease. You'll be healthier. Try it. You'll like it.

6. See with Different Eyes

It's possible to get to your goals, you might need new skills. If you've lost your zest for your goals, perhaps you need to find a path that's fun for you.  Look at things differently.  You need to look at the situation with a different eye. Talking with a good friend sometimes opens up possibilities of ways to get there that you have never heard of. New roads can be built to your goal. Build them in your mind. They will take you where you want to go.

7. Celebrate

It is great to celebrate any time and every possible moment in your life.Oprah Winfrey said, "The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."
Help others celebrate, too. Fill yourself with as much joy as you possibly can. There's one thing about joy, it is contagious. It spreads from you to another person.

Have you ever noticed what happens when one person starts laughing uncontrollably. Oh my goodness! That is such fun. Others who are close to them will also start laughing. Pretty soon, endorphins (good feeling healing chemicals are dancing inside your body and mind. Try it. Here's a recording of me laughing. I hope you start laughing with me: recording of my laughter.

Record a spontaneous laughing session with your whole family.  Record you and two of your friends laughing. Play it back on days when things are tough. It'll help you remember that good things are coming your way.
  • Have a picnic on your living room floor.
  • Read your favorite book.
  • Call a friend.
  • Sit at the edge of your yard and watch for wildlife.
  • Sit at a window and rejoice that you are comfortable.

Right now. List 10 things you can do to move closer to your goal. Go ahead. Send a letter to yourself.  Text yourself. Each time you take action say to yourself, "This is getting me closer to publication of my book."


Thanks for reading this post. I'd love for you to share your goals and the steps you've taken or plan to take to succeed.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

My Books:
Flip Flap Floodle, even mean ole Mr. Fox can't stop this little duck
Paperback, Kindle and Nook
Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release date June 2014 by 4RV Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


Building Relationships in 2014

As important as book marketing and promotion is, building relationships is even more important. In fact, it’s really part of marketing and promotion—the most important part. In marketing textbooks, it’s usually mentioned as “networking,” but the word “networking” can obscure the real meaning behind relationship building.

We all know what building relationships is. The thing is, with the advent of the Net, the possibilities for relationships are so much greater than they were. Relationships have become—if not a more important part of a good promotion campaign—at least more widespread. “Social networking” is the new term for some of that relationship building and I don’t neglect that concept in the new edition of my The Frugal Book Promoter ( ). Having said that, the basic concepts and tools of public relations with an emphasis on building relationships are still the drivers behind promoting with any kind of marketing including using new media.

Marketing and all it encompasses (PR, branding, promotion, building relationships, and more!) works. But it works incrementally better when relationships are built and maintained.

You may well ask, “How do I do that?” Fair question, but unneeded. You’ve been doing it all your life so you know how. Parents. Friends. Teachers. The trouble is, too many writers don’t put that knowhow to work when they go to promote their books. In order to do that “maintenance part,” you will need to keep up your contact lists. But when you think about it, you’ve been keeping lists all your life, too. Think “holiday greeting card list” and you about have it.

Until we get into the habit of applying “relationships” to everything we do, it might help to make yourself a little sign and paste it to your computer. It should say something like “Relationships First.”

That sign will also remind you to apply relationships to every aspect of your marketing campaign. That means encouraging interaction. Maintaining your voice. Using humor. Keeping in contact. Writing thank you notes. Sending birthday and/or holiday wishes. But especially in trying to be as helpful as possible to those who are helping you.

So you make relationship building an integral part of:

Your newsletter.

You blog or blogs.

Your social networks.

Your contact list building process.

Your events.

Your everyday e-mail correspondence.

Your online launch campaign.

Your book signings at bookstores.

Your book reviews.

Your interactions with editors and bloggers.

What else do you do to promote your book? Relationships are a part of it. In the interest of building relationships, I’d like to know the ways you use relationship building in your marketing campaign. E-mail me at Put RELATIONSHIP BUILDING in your subject line and include your contact information and a quick pitch (with a buy link!) for your book. And, if it’s something new or has a new slant to it, I’ll try to include it in my newsletter. In any case, I’ll answer and we’ll build a relationship. Promise.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Trust your Readers--Part 3

Over-explanation is at the heart of non-subtle writing.  It takes many forms, such as showing and THEN telling (see part 1) and beating your readers over the head with big themes (part 2).

Another issue is leading your readers step by step through obvious realizations or mundane actions, as if they can't imagine these for themselves.  Life is full of boring tasks.  Don't make your readers suffer though them.  Read on for examples. 

Problem #3:  Spelling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G Out

She pulled on her socks, one by one, tugging them over her heels.  Then she slid her right foot into her right shoe, took the laces in both hands, went right over left, made two loops, and pulled them tight.  She moved on to the next shoe. 

This shows all right, but it's boring, and doesn't advance the plot. 

If your character is so deep in depression that putting on her shoes is a major victory, go ahead and show it.  If she's headed out to face a firing squad and is trying to delay, the scene could work.  Otherwise, give your reader credit for knowing how to put shoes on. 

Another example:

He turned right on State Street, then left on Haley, continuing on for nearly a mile.  At the stoplight at the intersection of Haley and Grimes, he turned left again.  Finally he reached the post office.

Unless you pepper this with atmospheric descriptions (He passed the abandoned Woolworths where John Haley had fought his last battle against corporate America) or add some sort of drama, consider going straight to the post office scene   As Elmore Leonard says, " Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."  Of course, if your character's specific route makes him miss the scene of the accident where he might have been able to save his wife, keep some of it in, but try to add interest and/or foreshadowing.

He hesitated for a moment at the stop sign.  First street or Haley?  If he took Haley, he might catch a glimpse of the new blond waitress at the diner.  What could it hurt?  His wife would never know. 

One more example:

Susie added two plus two on her paper.  Four!

Only if she gets five or twenty-two or the last number in the nuclear detonation sequence do you really need to include the answer.  

This pace-killing tendency of repetition and careful explanation may come from the high school thesis-body-conclusion rule:  "tell readers what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you said." This works for a five paragraph essay, but it doesn't work for fiction.

Solution to Spelling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G Out

Practice looking for this pattern in other people's work.  You'll find it.  As with any writing rule, nothing is ever wrong in all situations, and sometimes step by step descriptions and explanations work well.  Analyze the books you like, trying to pinpoint when it works and when it could be trimmed.  Soon it will become easier to see and evaluate in your own work.

Then, get ruthless.  Cut out excess explanation.  And trust your readers to fill in the blanks.

For more:

Melinda Brasher is the author of Far-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel, and Leaving Home, a collection of short stories, travel essays, and flash fiction.  Her short fiction appears in THEMA Literary Journal, Enchanted Conversation, Ellipsis Literature and Art, and others. Visit her blog for all the latest:  w

Special WOTM Post: An Updated Award-Winner Is Help for Anyone Who Writes

Writers on the Move subscribers, visitors, and fellow participants have been an important part of my network for a long time now. You can read "network" as "friends," if you like for that is networking should be. 
Naturally, our trusted leader Karen Cioffi-Ventrice offered me a special spot to let our Writers on the Move principals and audience know about my new book because we're both convinced that reading is one of the best ways to further our professional careers.  It's friends like you that qualify me to give others advice on editing. So here goes! 

authors:From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your new bestseller is a New! Updated! Expanded! Second Edition of the multi award-winning first edition. It has a new subtitle, a new cover by Chaz DeSimone with a new 3D sensibility by Gene Cartwright

I am including “Seven Editing Myths” in this post. I hope it will highlight the idea that most writers can use a little updating on our editing skills. And it never hurts to brush up on some great new editing tips like formatting your ellipses the quick and professional way, or letting Word rid your copy of those pesky two spaces between sentences. Or leaning why I believe great editing is also great marketing.

Have a wonderful 2014 including great editing and great marketing!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Editing Blog:

Seven Editing Myths Waiting To Trip Up
Your Campaign To Sell Your Work

Your submission to contest judges, agents, publishers, producers, and editors may never get read if your query or cover letter violates professional expectations. Here are seven editing misconceptions that can lead you astray:

Agents are a cantankerous lot. (Nope! In The Frugal Editor twenty of the nation's best agents tell you their pet peeves and they do it in the best of spirits.)

2.      If your English teacher told you something is OK, it is. (No! Language rules have changed since you were a sophomore.)

3.      If a manuscript or query is grammar-perfect, you'll be fine. (No! Lots of things that are grammatically correct will annoy publishers, agents, and editors.)

4.      Always use your Spell and Grammar Check. (No! Some suggest you don't use it at all but The Frugal Editor will help you make this tool your partner instead of your enemy.)

5.      It's easy to avoid agent and editor scams. Just ask around. (The Frugal Editor tells you how to avoid being taken.)

6.      Your publisher will assign a top-flight editor. (Maybe, but don't count on it. Besides, you can be a better partner for an editor if you know about the process.)

7.      Formatters and editors will take care of the hyphens, ellipses, and all the other grungy little punctuation marks that English teachers avoided teaching because they didn't know how to use them. (Chances are, you'll catch even great formatters and editors in an error or two if you know your stuff!)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the classes she has taught for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program.
The first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter was named USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book” and won the coveted Irwin Award. Now in its second edition, it’s also a USA Book News award winner and received a nod from Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards. Her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success was also honored by USA Book News and won Readers’ Views Literary Award. Her marketing campaign for that book won the marketing award from New Generation Indie Book Awards.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of 14 women of “San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 

Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing Uni...