How Writing Book Reviews Makes Me a Better Writer

In the summer of 2017, I attended ThrillerFest—the International Thriller Writers annual conference. A senior editor from Publishers Weekly (PW) was interviewed during one of the luncheons. He offered insights on the magazine’s book review process. I began to wonder what it would be like to review books for the publication, to have the privilege… Read more »

Exercises for Exploring the Theme of Family in Your Writing

Have you noticed we’ve been revisiting the theme of family lately? It’s for good reason, though. Our original case study on family introduced the theme and how it can be explored in stories. Then our more recent posts have investigated it further, and from different angles. If each post were to represent one of the… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Craft Strong Female Characters

Strong female characters have been all the rage the last several years, and it’s been great seeing girls kick some serious behind. But girls don’t have to swing a sword or beat the villain to a pulp with their bare hands in order to be strong. There are many kinds of strength and many kinds… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Steps to Create Agency in Your Writing Life

As with any creative endeavor, there is a certain amount of inspiration that needs to happen in your writing: the beautiful melding of your varied experiences turned into something new and wonderful, yet familiar and accessible. The problem comes when you, as a writer, think that work can only be done when you have that… Read more »

Ten Rules for Writing Killer Romance: Part Three

Welcome to the final article in this three-part “Ten Rules for Writing Killer Romance” series. If you missed Part One and/or Part Two, please click the preceding links. The reader of your romance novel has enjoyed close to three-quarters of your awesome story. You have successfully tortured the poor soul by disrupting what has become… Read more »

Conversations: Karen Brooks

I hope you’re as excited as I am about this new series for the column. Karen Brooks is a columnist, book reviewer, blogger, former academic, and—most importantly for us—a successful author in the historical fiction genre. I discovered her work in The Locksmith’s Daughter, published in the US and the UK by HarperCollins and in… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Tips for Writing Fearlessly

Fearless writing is impactful. It forces the audience to encounter characters, situations, or outcomes that they may not be entirely comfortable with—and that’s a wonderful thing. It sounds easy enough to write fearlessly, and indeed it is—right up until someone starts reading your work. I never considered what my grandmother might think about my gruesome… Read more »

Ask The Editor: Character Description

Dear Editor, I’m writing a novel in the first-person perspective, and one of my critique partners just pointed out that they don’t know what my character looks like. Is character description important? If so, how do I describe a character from their own perspective without having them look in a mirror? Sincerely, Wondering Dear Wondering,… Read more »

Deep Dive into Short Forms: Flash Nonfiction

It’s fitting, as a poet, that my first published foray into fiction, Let It Go, was a piece of flash fiction. The story clocked in at a brief 286 words. Brevity is the bedrock of writing flash. I consider flash writing forms as cousins to poetry. Grant Faulkner, the editor of the literary magazine 100… Read more »

Pet the Dog: Signpost Scene #8

Much like the second signpost scene (The Care Package) in James Scott Bell’s SuperStructure, the Pet the Dog scene gives the reader a chance to catch his/her breath while reinforcing care and concern for the story’s Lead (protagonist). Think about it, if the Lead thinks “only of himself,” readers “get a negative impression.” If we… Read more »