Free Crime Writers Week For Mystery, Suspense, And Thriller Authors – April 19-23

Free Crime Writers Week For Mystery, Suspense, And Thriller Authors – April 19-23

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. 

tips for crime writers

If you write mystery, suspense, or thrillers (or just love to read them!), then you’ll want to check out ProWritingAid’s free Crime Writer’s Week scheduled for April 19-23. Whether you’re crafting a police procedural, a whodunnit, or a good old-fashioned mystery, you’ll learn how to keep readers turning the pages.

Attend live virtual sessions with bestselling authors, including Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, Ian Rankin, Peter James, Fiona Cummins, and more. You’ll also get insider publishing advice from Katherine Armstrong, the Deputy Publishing Director for Crime Fiction at Simon & Schuster, attend workshops on writing and editing your novel, and learn from real police advisors to help make your book truly authentic. If you’re a crime reader and not a writer, you’ll get an inside look at the behind-the-scenes of the research and writing process.

Monday’s Sessions

The Elements of a Crime Novel: From Planning to Plot
Presenter: Bestselling Author Leigh Russell

Every genre requires a unique approach, and crime writing is no different. In this session, internationally bestselling crime author Leigh Russell will take you through the key elements of the crime writing process.

Crime Writing: Secrets of the Genre
Presenters: Anne Hawley and Rachelle Ramirez of Pages & Platforms

Do you have an idea for a crime novel but don’t yet know how to structure it? Got some bad deeds, clues, and some scenes that don’t really work together or entertain? In this webinar, you’ll learn the crime story essentials.

Tuesday’s Sessions

Crime Scene Management, Police Interviewing, and Covert Tactics
Presenter: Police Advisor Graham Bartlett
Retired detective, bestselling author, and advisor to over 80 crime novelists and TV writers, Graham Bartlett can help your WIP ooze authenticity. Learn how the police use mobile phones, vehicles, CCTV, and social media in their investigations, as well as authentic police interview techniques.

Insider Advice on Getting Published
Presented by: Katherine Armstrong, Deputy Publishing Director, Crime & Thriller Fiction at Simon & Schuster
This session is intended to demystify the publishing process for writers, give advice on how to get published, and answer any questions you might have about traditional publishing.

How to Edit Your Crime Novel with ProWritingAid
Presented by: Hayley Milliman, Head of Education at ProWritingAid
It doesn’t matter how many hours you spent meticulously crafting your crime novel’s plot. If your writing isn’t clear and effective, your readers won’t engage with it. That’s where editing technology can help. In this workshop, we’ll dive into how to use ProWritingAid to make key edits to your crime manuscript.

Wednesday’s Sessions

The History & the Mystery: Selecting and Creating an Authentic Setting for Crime Fiction
Presented by: Fiona Veitch Smith
Author Fiona Veitch Smith will share tips on how to research and build your historical story’s world and the importance of selecting the right investigator within the constraints and possibilities of the period.

Thriller Writer Panel Discussion with Steve Berry, Lisa Gardner, Ian Rankin, and Karin Slaughter
Presented by: International Thriller Writers (ITW)
Author and ITW Executive Director K.J. Howe will be hosting four of their members for a lively discussion around the joys and pains of writing thrillers. Expect great tips and life lessons from these popular writers as they discuss their writing journeys so far.

Common Police Mistakes Made by Crime Writers and How to Avoid Them
Presented by: Police Advisor Graham Bartlett
Graham will be back again to share the most common errors that authors get wrong in their crime novels. Who really runs a homicide investigation? When does a missing person report become a murder enquiry? Find out the answers to these and many more bloopers that could spoil your next bestseller.

Thursday’s Sessions

Debut Dagger Awards Longlist Announcement
Presented by: Crime Writers’ Association
For over two decades, the CWA has been encouraging new writing with its Debut Dagger competition for unpublished writers. The submissions are judged by a panel of top crime editors and agents.

How to Market Your Self-Published Crime Novel
Presented by: Nick Stephenson, Author and Founder of Your First 10k Readers
Marketing your book comes down to mastering three key things: traffic, conversions, and scaling up. With the right systems in place for these three things, you can grow your readership and sales without spending your entire day “worrying about marketing.”

Interview with Author Fiona Cummins

Fiona Cummins is the award-winning author of Rattle, The Collector, and The Neighbour. We’ll be chatting to her about breaking into the world of crime writing, and what it’s like to see her fourth book, When I Was Ten, being adapted for television.

The final day of Crime Writer’s Week is available to ProWritingAid Premium subscribers only. We’ll be hosting an editing deep dive, an interview with bestselling author Peter James, and finishing the week with a police expert Q&A. If you don’t have ProWritingAid Premium yet, don’t worry! Crime Writer’s Week participants will receive an exclusive discount in their confirmation email when they sign up.

Friday’s Sessions

How to Edit Your Crime Novel
Presented by: Hayley Milliman, ProWritingAid’s Head of Education
As nice as it would be, writing your crime novel isn’t over when you type “The End.” In fact, the actual work is just beginning. During the editing process, your novel will go from rough first draft to thrilling final manuscript. In this workshop, Hayley will walk you through the most important edits you should make to ensure your book is publish-ready.

Interview with Author Peter James
Peter James has become synonymous with plot-twisting page-turners. He has won over 40 awards for his work and achieved 17 Sunday Times Bestsellers to date. Learn from the master what it takes to write gripping crime novels that keep readers hooked.

Police Advisor Q&A
Presented by: Police Advisor Graham Bartlett
This is your chance to bring YOUR questions about police work and crime scene investigations to Graham Bartlett, retired detective, bestselling author and advisor to over 80 crime novelists (including Peter James).

Sign up once to get access to every event. You don’t have to attend every event, or attend live—all webinars will be recorded and sent out the following day. So, even if you are not able to make certain dates/times, it’s still worth registering to get the recordings.

 

My Latest Interviews: 3 Podcasts To Listen To While Driving

My Latest Interviews: 3 Podcasts To Listen To While Driving

I love guesting on podcasts. It’s always so much fun chatting with the host about topics I love. Below are three recent interviews where I discussed everything from online course creation to writing and editing books to turning my hobby into a business. Check out their past episodes also. These are great podcasts to listen to while driving or working around the house.

The Course Creator’s MBA Podcast

Guesting on this podcast was a thrill for me as I’m such a fan girl. I found the podcast invaluable when I was developing my first online course, and I still listen to it regularly. On this episode, Destini Copp interviewed me about expanding my business from writing and editing books to creating online courses for writers. The episode is part of  a series where Destini chats with course creators about their journey in their online course business, how they got started, the challenges they’ve experienced, and how they overcame them. My signature course, Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable, empowers fiction writers to think like an editor so they can save time and money.

Destini and I chatted about how I educated herself on marketing, website development, and sales funnels which has led to success in my online course business.

Undercurrent Stories

I stumbled onto a new podcast favorite in Undercover Stories hosted by Bob Welles. The show explores the interests that people have and seeks to discover more on a wide variety of subjects. Each episode features a guest telling all about their interest, why they do it, and Bob uncovers some fascinating stories in the process.

At some point in their lives many people have thought about writing a book. This desire is sadly often thwarted due to fears about time, commitment, and the technical aspects of editing and publishing. Since I’ve faced all these challenges, I shared with Bob and his listeners how by breaking the writing process into steps, it is possible to both enjoy the creativity of writing and produce a publishable book.

Hustle Like Hannah Podcast

podcasts

I also enjoyed talking with host Hannah Lockwood on another new favorite, the Hustle Like Hannah Podcast, your “how-to” guide and inspiration for turning your creative side into a business opportunity. Hannah, the owner of Hannah Danielle Dance, chats with inspiring people who have turned their creative hobby into a business, sharing their stories and tips to help listeners realize their potential.

Since the second novel in my Storybook Valley chick lit series, Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty, features a dance teacher who dreams of opening her own studio, it was fun talking with Hannah, someone who has accomplished that goal. I shared about my passions for writing and publishing books, editing, and developing online courses for writers, and we discussed my journey toward making those dreams come true.

What To Expect From Literary Agents And Editors @AuthorEncounter

What To Expect From Literary Agents And Editors @AuthorEncounter

what to expect from literary agentsHave you ever wondered what to expect from literary agents and editors? You’ll get an in-depth look during the panel discussion, The E & A Experience, organized by The Author Encounter. (You can watch it at the bottom of this post!) It was part of their event, Authors March Forward, held March 20 via Zoom and streamed to Facebook.

Nan Jenkins and Bethany Averie, co-founders of The Author Encounter, believe the concept “Keep moving forward” is essential to success as a professional author.

“Moving forward, developing connections, and learning from the people who have been there are the foundations for career success.” says Nan Jenkins. “The Author Encounter strives to create opportunities for authors using these foundations for career growth.”

Bethany Averie moderated the panel, which focused on common mistakes seen in the manuscript, how agents go about accepting books, and how freelance editors work with clients. I was a panelist along with literary agents Hannah VanVels of the Belcastro Agency, Ann Rose of the Prospect Agency, and freelance editor Deb Ewing.

There were lots of great takeaways. You’ll hear about the biggest pet peeves, get valuable insight into query letters, gain a better understanding of why rejection happens, and learn more about the editing process.

Thanks to Bethany and Nan for permission to embed this discussion on my blog. Visit The Author Encounter for more information about their upcoming events and how to join as an author or supporter member.

Free Time Management For Writers Mini-Boot Camp #10MinuteNovelists #Writelife

Free Time Management For Writers Mini-Boot Camp #10MinuteNovelists #Writelife

time management for writers

Since I’m launching a time management for writers course later this spring, productivity is a topic I’m very interested in. Everyone has different strategies to share and different methods that have worked for them, which is why I’m so excited to have Katharine Grubb of 10 Minute Novelists lead a guest workshop in my Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group.

Katharine will be leading the Time Management Mini-Boot Camp: A Crash Course in How to Organize Your Life For More Time To Write on March 26 at 10 am EST. Make sure to request admission to the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple group to attend live as the workshop will stream in the group, not on the event page. A replay will be available.

In this live presentation, Katharine will give you practical tips on how to organize your foundational truth, attitudes, people, time, stuff, tools, margins and fails so that you go through your day with order and determination. Through these simple steps you will gain power to be organized and make more time for the people and passions that you love. Your dreams are worth ten minutes, but the rest of your life is worth so much more.

More About Katharine

finding time to write

Katharine Grubb is a poet, novelist, and former homeschooling mom who likes to bake bread, hike the Massachusetts woods and encourage others. She is the author of several books, including Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day and is the founder and CEO of 10 Minute Novelists Facebook community.

Join the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group here.

Behind The Rewrite With @DGDriverAuthor: Turning A Script Into A Book

Behind The Rewrite With @DGDriverAuthor: Turning A Script Into A Book

revising a script into a book

I’m always fascinated by how authors approach the rewrite process, but there’s one type of project I’ve never considered before: turning a script into a book. When I was researching SEO tags for this post, I discovered that lots of people search for phrases like “how to turn a script into a novel.” Well, author D.G. Driver has valuable tips for you and she shares them in the below Behind the Rewrite. D.G. will take you behind the scenes of revising her script for Songwriter Night: A Musical Romance into book form. That’s right. It wasn’t just any script. It was a script for a musical! I’m sure you’ll find this post as intriguing as I did.

In addition to being a writer, I’m also an actress and theater director here in Nashville. Last year, when all the theaters in town closed, lots of theater types were creating virtual ways to do shows. I got a crazy idea to combine my novel writing skills with my love of musical theater and decided to write a story that featured songs, hire a cast to record it, and release it as a full cast audiobook called Songwriter Night: A Musical Romance.

Only there was a hitch. In order to have it available on Audible, there had to be a corresponding book. Well, even though the narration in the book is novelesque, I wrote Songwriter Night in script format. I had to revise and reformat the whole manuscript. The narration and dialogue remain 95 percent the same, but there were some definite snags that I want to share with you that makes up that other 5 percent. Here’s how I handled them and what I learned.

how to turn a script into a book

How To Write The Song Lyrics

There are twelve songs in Songwriter Night. Most of these have the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure typical of Country music. It felt tedious to have so much repetition of lyrics in the book version. Also, the reader can’t hear the songs like in the audiobook version, so I had to figure out how to help the reader imagine what the songs sound like. Here is an example of how I did this for one of the songs.

In this scene, Aiden, a former member of the group who’s hit the big time, has come back to show off one of his new songs, and he’s brought backup singers to sing it with him.

The three of them sing the chorus again. Instead of a bridge, the song repeats the last half of the verse, similar to the way Lyle had written his song.

“You took her on one date, and I took her to prom.”
She didn’t stick with either of us very long.
What do you say to finally letting that rest?
Clink my beer and let’s reminisce.”

A slightly longer hold on the chord builds up to the final chorus, where Aiden embellishes the notes. Trish wonders if a key change might have been effective here, but she doesn’t think it’s her place to suggest it. Aiden repeats the final line of the chorus with a nice run on ‘old days’ and a chord change to emphasize it. The girls end the song with some pretty ‘oohs’ that remind her of songs from another era. Nice choice.

Action In Narration Versus Dialogue Tags

One real plus to writing a script is that I don’t have to write “He said/she said” dialogue tags at all. With this being a full cast recording, all the actors are played by different people with distinct voices. I didn’t need to write who said what. Personally, I love books where instead of using tags, the author uses action from the character to denote who is speaking. I did this a lot more for this project than my other works. It needed a little revision from the way it looked in a script to what it needed to be for a book, though.

Here’s an example from the audiobook script:

NARRATOR: Maybe she should sing a cappella. Does anyone do that here?
TRISH: Is there anything to drink?
LYLE: Yeah. What do you want?
NARRATOR: Lyle leaps out of his chair before Trish even thinks about standing and getting the drink for herself. She looks past him at the assortment on the counter.
TRISH: Water will be fine. Thank you.
LYLE: Happy to be of service.
NARRATOR: He hands her the water, and their fingers overlap for a moment. His fingertips are callused from playing guitar, and they scratch her knuckles ever so slightly as he whisks his hand away. She opens the bottle and puts it to her mouth, hoping he won’t see her blushing.

Now, here’s the same scene reformatted for the book.

Maybe she should sing a cappella. Does anyone do that here?
“Is there anything to drink?” she asks.
“Yeah. What do you want?” Lyle leaps out of his chair before Trish even thinks about standing and getting the drink for herself. She looks past him at the assortment on the counter.
“Water will be fine. Thank you.”
“Happy to be of service.”
He hands her the water, and their fingers overlap for a moment. His fingertips are callused from playing guitar, and they scratch her knuckles ever so slightly as he whisks his hand away. She opens the bottle and puts it to her mouth, hoping he won’t see her blushing.

Adding Dialogue Tags

So, I couldn’t get away completely with narration guiding the reader toward who is speaking, especially in scenes where there are more than two people having a conversation. I definitely had to use dialogue tags. I will tell you, when your main job is to go through your manuscript and tag dialogue, it gets awfully repetitive writing “he says” and “she says” over and over. You become intensely aware of how often you’re writing that. On the other, hand, you don’t want your tags to be too all over the place or filled with unnecessary adverbs. Then it gets annoying.

Here’s a group scene from the original script:

NARRATOR: Tammy huffs instead of answers. George raises an eyebrow to acknowledge that he won that round. The rest of the group is frozen in uncomfortable silence.
NEIL: So, uh, are we continuing or not?
GEORGE: Yeah, let’s go on.
NARRATOR: George strums his guitar, and Neil begins to play.
TAMMY: You’re all going to sit here and let him embarrass me like this.
ROY: It sounds like a good song. A real tears in my beer heartbreaker.
ODETTA: I’m interested to hear how the rest of it goes. Sad songs are the clay that Country music builds with.
NARRATOR: George looks at Lyle who gives him an approving nod.
TAMMY: I’d like to point out that the middle part – the chorus? That’s mine. I wrote that.
GEORGE: You did not.
TAMMY: I did.

And here’s the novelized version. Note the variety in the tags:

After a moment, Neil asks cautiously, “So, uh, are we continuing or not?”
“Yeah, let’s go on.” George strums his guitar, and Neil begins to play.
Tammy says to the group, “You’re all going to sit here and let him embarrass me like this?”
The music stops again.
“It sounds like a good song,” Roy responds. “A real tears-in-my-beer heartbreaker.”
Odetta agrees, “I’m interested to hear how the rest of it goes. Sad songs are the clay that Country music builds with.”
George looks at Lyle who gives him an approving nod.
Tammy’s not done yet.
“I’d like to point out that the middle part – the chorus? That’s mine. I wrote that.”
“You did not,” George says.
“I did.” She sings a cappella to a tune very similar to the chorus of George’s song.
When I write first drafts, it is sometimes the dialogue tags that cause me to trip up or hit a block. I want to keep going with the action and dialogue and not waste time figuring out how to show who is saying what. Writing in script format first and then going back through the manuscript to adapt it to book format helped make this a more streamlined process. I may try this again with other projects.

More About Songwriter Night: A Musical Romance

turning a script into a book

In this sweet romantic comedy, Lyle and Trish are two aspiring Country music songwriters that meet at a Nashville coffee house. With Trish being new in town, Lyle invites her to his monthly gathering of songwriters to get to know her better. The evening of quirky characters and light-hearted singing is interrupted by the arrival of Aiden Bronson. He’s got a hit song on the radio, and he’s back to show off, stirring up some rivalry while he’s at it. How will Lyle compete against Aiden’s charisma and talent in order to win Trish’s heart?

Buy it in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon. It’s also available as a full cast audiobook recording wherever you like to get your audiobooks and podcasts. Find all those links, hear samples, and meet the cast on D.G.’s website.

More About D.G. Driver

D.G. Driver is a multi-award-winning author of young adult and middle grade books. She primarily writes contemporary fantasy, but she also loves writing realistic fiction and has even dabbled in romance. D.G. lives near Nashville, TN and is a teacher in an inclusive classroom of typically developing and special needs children in an early Intervention program. Visit her on the web at:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

Sign Up For Free Fantasy Writer’s Tips – Feb. 22-26

Sign Up For Free Fantasy Writer’s Tips – Feb. 22-26

fantasy writers tips

Do you love writing fantasy books or short stories? Our friends at ProWritingAid have you covered! ProWritingAid’s first ever Fantasy Writer’s Week will be jam-packed with free events for fantasy authors. You’ll get plenty of fantasy writer’s tips and tricks.

With live sessions from bestselling fantasy writers TJ Klune, Angela J. Ford, David Farland and Stephanie BwaBwa, a world-building workshop, and a complete World Anvil software walkthrough, you don’t want to miss this event!

Register for this free event here.

Here’s what to expect:

How To Organize Your Story Ideas And Write A Fantasy Novel

Feb 25 (2 PM ET / 7 PM UK)
Presenter: Bestselling fantasy author, Angela J. Ford
During this workshop, bestselling fantasy author Angela J. Ford will help you dig deep into taking your ideas and turning them into a story readers adore. You’ll learn how to take your ideas and organize them (regardless if you’re a plotter or pantser) before you begin writing.

How to Write Fantasy: The Tricks Of The Genre

Feb 26 (10 PM ET / 3 PM UK)
Presenters: Developmental editors, Anne Hawley and Rachelle Ramirez
Do you want to write a story set in a fantastical world but don’t yet know how to structure it? Got some great world-building and some random scenes that don’t really work together or entertain? You’re in the right place.
In this webinar, you’ll learn the basics of the Fantasy Genre so you can create emotion in your readers and have them recommending your story to others.

Your Fantasy Editing Roadmap

Feb 26 (12 PM ET / 5 PM UK)
Presenter: ProWritingAid’s Head of Learning, Hayley Milliman
As nice as it would be, writing your fantasy novel isn’t over when you type “The End.” In fact, the actual work is just beginning. During the editing process, your novel will go from rough first draft to engaging final manuscript.
In this workshop, Hayley will walk you through the most important edits you should make to your manuscript to ensure it’s publish-ready.

An Interview With Bestselling Fantasy Author, TJ Klune

Feb 26 (2 PM ET / 7 PM UK)
Hosted by ProWritingAid CMO, Lisa Lepki
TJ Klune is the Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The Extraordinaries and the 2020 New York Times #1 bestseller, The House in the Cerulean Sea. We’ll be chatting to him about breaking into the worlds of fantasy and YA fiction, his writing process and why representation is so important in literature.

Sounds like lots of great tips for fantasy writers. Sign up here.

Please note that affiliate links are included in this post.

Free Workshop: Book Marketing Strategies For Authors

Free Workshop: Book Marketing Strategies For Authors

book marketing for authors

 

UPDATE: Here is a recording of the video originally streamed in the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group.

ORIGINAL POST – Are you an author who could use some book marketing strategies? Join award-winning author, podcaster, and Story Coach Liesel K. Hill as she visits the Shortcuts For Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group in February to present the workshop: Marketing At Every Stage of the Author Journey: What to Put Into Your Story to Set Yourself Up for Easy Marketing Later.

Liesel will discuss:

  • Pre-Marketing: What you should be doing while writing your book.
    Marketing techniques for when you have only 1 or 2 novels completed.
    Techniques for when you have a few more books completed.
    Marketing techniques to explore when your backlist is 10+ books.

The event will be held in the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. EST. New members are welcome.

Join my Shortcuts for Writers group here.

By the way, Liesel and I are doing a fun swap. I’m going to be presenting a workshop on nonverbal communication for writers in her Facebook group on Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. EST.

You can check out her Prolific Author Community group here.

 

More About Liesel

Liesel K Hill is a novelist who writes across three genres including scifi and fantasy. She loved to read and write at a young age, and her earliest memories consist of her father sitting in the doorway of her room at night, relating stories of Frodo, Gandalf, and the One Ring. Her mother also read to her every afternoon as a child, sometimes for several hours a day. Today she is an award-winning author and a Story Clarity Coach. Writers can choose from her Story Clarity Coaching, Word Coaching, or Marketing Mentorship programs, ranging from her popular Power Hour Session to advanced Author Career Coaching.
Visit her:

Website
Facebook group
Instagram: @l.k.hillbooks (for readers)
@theprolificauthor (for authors)

To read some of Liesel’s writing and editing tips, visit her guest Behind the Rewrite post on making sentences less passive.

 

5 Tips For Writing Children’s Books That Are Timeless #KidLit #MGLit #Writers

5 Tips For Writing Children’s Books That Are Timeless #KidLit #MGLit #Writers

tips for writing kids books

It’s every writer’s dream, isn’t it, to create a timeless classic? To craft a story that appeals to thousands, and continues to bring joy, wonder, and comfort long after we are gone. Books like:

  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
  • Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon
  • E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web 

These books contain magical ingredients that stand the test of time.

What are these ingredients? Several accomplished, award-winning children’s book authors, editors, and publishers shared their thoughts on what makes a children’s book timeless. Their answers are below. My hope is that you glean at least one piece of advice to inspire, improve, or motivate your writing. If you haven’t begun to craft your story, then hopefully one will trigger a brand new story idea for you! But before we dive in:

An incredible bundle of resources and tools to help you create your own timeless children’s book just landedbut it won’t be here for long.

The KidLit Creators Super Stack (a hand curated collection of over $2,200+ worth of premium writing, publishing, marketing, and illustrating resources, training, and tools for just $49) expires Feb. 2.

This collection is packed so full of value, you really do need to see for yourself just how much you are getting (for almost nothing).

And now, what makes a children’s book timeless…

MAKE IT TIMELESS TIP #1. CREATE A TOTALLY IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

“You need to create a totally immersive experience. It’s the true essence of what makes a story, undiluted by extra characters and subplots. Consider every detail when creating your book, from the tone of the art to the thickness of the paper.”

Award-winning author of children’s books Grumbler, Joyride, and Pling’s Party,  Arielle Haughee is the owner of Orange Blossom Publishing, an editor, speaker, consultant, and Executive Vice President for the Florida Writers Association.

Make sure each element blends together to make the story come alive for children in a magical way. Matching the physical elements of the book to the character and theme of your story creates excellent immersion for the reader. If you ensure everything on the inside and outside of the book is the best quality  and shares a lasting message you will have a timeless children’s book.”

MAKE IT TIMELESS TIP #2. MAKE A CONNECTION WITH THEIR HEART

It all comes down to emotional connection. If your book finds a place inside a reader’s heart, it will stay there forever.

Laura Backes is a Random House published author, editor, agent, educator, and the publisher of Children’s Book Insider, Children’s Writing Monthly, and co-founder of WritingBlueprints.com. She says what makes a book timeless is…

“Emotional connection. Create it with relatable and honestly crafted characters who participate in a story built upon universal emotions of childhood. Combine these with vivid settings, well-flowing dialogue and a warm author voice and you have the recipe for a classic.”

MAKE IT TIMELESS TIP #3. GIVE THEM AN UNFORGETTABLE MAIN CHARACTER

“Write a children’s book with a unique character. This is the key to creating a timeless book. With a great character, it doesn’t matter if you have a common plot because a compelling character will take the reader on a completely unique journey through new eyes. (Think: Harry Potter, The Cat in the Hat, The Little Engine That Could, etc.)”

Author Brooke Van Sickle has won multiple awards for her children’s books including the Moonbeam Children’s Award, the Royal & Purple Dragonfly Awards, and Mom’s Choice for honoring excellence in children’s books.

MAKE IT TIMELESS TIP #4. EXPLORE WHAT KIDS REALLY CARE ABOUT

“In the world of middle grade novels, a timeless story is characterized by connection. If a young reader devours a book while hiding under their covers with a flashlight, a connection has been made. If a young reader gasps, and pauses, and holds the book next to their heart for a moment before continuing, a connection has been made. If a young reader wakes up in the morning, worrying about the main character, a connection has been made.”

Middle Grade publisher and senior editor at Chicken Scratch Books, Kiri Jorgensen, continues, “So how does a writer build that connection? It’s all about the character. Middle grade readers have to relate to the character’s choices, voice, and motive. When they can relate, understand, and appreciate those elements, they’ll dive into completely foreign worlds so they can continue to connect to the character they love.”

MAKE IT TIMELESS #5. CHOOSE UNIVERSAL THEMES THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME

“Relatability is another word for the underlying themes that relate to children’s lived experiences and curiosities according to their age level. By unearthing what the real themes below your story are about, you get to see if your story has universal underlying themes that will stand the test of time. Balance emotion and action so it’s not all emotion or all action. Action or movement keeps your story lively to avoid boredom and emotion keeps us engaged on a heart level.

Former literary agent and university professor Mira Reisberg is an award-winning author/illustrator, the acquiring editor and art director at Clearfork Publishing/Spork, and the founder of the Children’s Book Academy, an international children’s book writing and illustrating school.

Now it’s your turn

Which of these 5 timeless methods of storytelling would you like to try? If you love these ideas, but want more detailed help on how to DO everything listed above…

The KidLit Creators is the perfect place to start.

Inside, you’ll find:

😍 Easy to follow, step-by-step ecourses, covering everything you need to know to be able to turn your story idea into a published book agents will be proud to represent (even if you have little to no experience)…

❤️ The secret ingredient required to create children’s picture books that both kids and adults will love (from an award-winning children’s book author)…

👫 Access to professional one-to-one story coaching from a Pushcart Prize nominee to help you get your book started, revised, or pushed through to completion…

And so much more.

Explore everything that’s waiting for you here.

Don’t forget: this offer disappears on Tuesday, February 2nd at 11:59pm EST. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, however, I only promote products that I recommend.

Behind The Rewrite With Liesel K Hill: Making Sentences Less Passive

Behind The Rewrite With Liesel K Hill: Making Sentences Less Passive

making sentences less passiveI see a lot of writers who need to learn the logistics of making sentences less passive. In this Behind the Rewrite, Liesel K Hill explains why limiting passive voice is important and how she approached line editing her fantasy novel Dragon Magic. Since Liesel is both a writing coach and an author, you’re in for an insightful lesson.

As a writing coach, one of the main problems I see is authors failing to edit passive voice out of their manuscripts. Most of us, especially after our first book or two, know what it is, but I don’t think enough emphasis is put on the importance of learning this skill.

If readers cannot connect deeply with your words, which passive voice keeps them from doing, you’ll never create megafans. One of my secret sauce editing techniques is what I call editing for crutch words. Crutch words are words used too often by you, the author. They’re also red flags for passive voice. So, if you edit out the crutch word, you also edit out ninety percent of passive voice.

Some of the crutch words I edit for are ‘was,’ ‘but,’ ‘had,’ and ‘that.’ There are plenty of others as well, but these are some of the biggest culprits for me personally.

I edit for these intentionally, not just reading through my manuscript and hoping I catch them, but actually using the Find feature in my writing software to look at each, individual case.

Unedited Version

I’ve highlighted the crutch words and other issues in the passage below, which comes from my WIP, a medieval high fantasy novel.

     “You cannot beat me!” He practically shrieked. He stalked forward and thrust his face toward Borilad’s. “You are merely a soldier! I am fierce! I am formidable! I have powers you cannot wield or even comprehend. I will kill you, General. You know I can do it. You know I will.”

     Borilad noted that Malicroft did not even attempt to take the egg, thought it was within his grasp. The man knew better. Borilad had to give him credit for that, at least.

     He merely nodded. “I know you have powers I do not possess. I know you are willing and capable of killing me. I’ve always believed you a formidable enemy, Malcroft.”

     Leaning forward, Borilad peered into the man’s eyes. “But do not insult me by leaving me out of the equation. I’ve killed more men on battlefields than you’ve met in your entire life. I wield plenty of power, after my own fashion.”

Most of these words can be edited many ways, depending on how they’re used in the sentence. It generally boils down to the word being filler, meaning you can cut it without changing the meaning of the sentence. (And you should.) Or, it’s a vague word and you can come up with something much stronger and more specific. (Which again, you should.)

1. ‘Was’ is a lazy and vague word. Switch it out with something more specific. I chose the word ‘lay.”

2.  That can often simply be edited out. Unless you’re using it for emphasis, which I did with my second instance, it can simply be cut.

3. Had can often be cut without changing the sentence as well. In this case, this phrase is more a matter of far too many words to say the same thing. had to give became gave. I often see this with the word could as well. Something like, could hear can becomes simply, heard. The past tense, single word is much tighter and stronger than its more progressive counterpart.

4.  It also occurred to me that this is a medieval fantasy and “credit” is too contemporary a term. I changed the core word to ‘recognition’ and Borilad “recognized him for that, at least.”

5.  There are many instances where ‘but’ must be kept in a sentence, especially if you’re making a comparison. BUT, I use it far too often, as many authors do. ;D Go through each instance, read the sentence, and if you can cut it, do. That’s what I did here. If you make too many comparison sentences, consider splitting them into two separate ones. For example, “He wanted to go to the store but couldn’t find his wallet” can become, “He wanted to go to the store. He couldn’t find his wallet.” Depending on your prose, that may sound clunky, so you’ll have to see if it works for each instance, but you’ll find that often this works to cut down on overuse of the word.

Edited Version

Here is the edited passage. You’ll note a few other typos and issues that I’ve also fixed.

     “You cannot beat me,” he practically shrieked. He stalked forward and thrust his face toward Borilad’s. “You are merely a soldier! I am fierce! I am formidable! I have powers you cannot imagine. I will kill you, General. You know I can do it! You know I will.”

     Borilad noted Malcroft did not attempt to take the egg, though it lay within his grasp. The man knew better. Borilad recognized him for that, at least.

     He merely nodded. “I know you have powers I do not possess. I know you are willing and capable of killing me. I’ve always believed you a formidable enemy, Malcroft.” Leaning forward, Borilad peered into the man’s eyes. “Do not insult me by leaving me out of the equation. I’ve killed more men on battlefields than you’ve met in your entire life. I wield plenty of power, after my own fashion.”

This story, book 1 of my Dragon Magic series, won’t debut until early 2021. Until then, you can read the prequel, The Hatching. Get it on most major retailers, or download it free here.

limiting passive voice

More About The Hatching

What if a dragon looked into your eyes…and saw into your soul? Wenlyn dreams of seeing one of the legendary Harpy’s Servants up close. As a poor village boy, he can’t help but dream of the adventures the dragon-riding protectors of the Six Realms must have. Now one of them has come to Tranquil village.

With the Servant’s arrival, Wenlyn’s entire world falls away. He’s about to embark on an adventure of his own that even his wildest dreams couldn’t have conjured up.

Soar the skies with Wenlyn in this short prequel to Dragon Magic, an epic fantasy series.

More About Liesel

Liesel K Hill is a novelist who writes across three genres. Her scifi and fantasy are written under her full name, Liesel K. Hill.
She loved to read and write at a young age, and her earliest memories consist of her father sitting in the doorway of her room at night, relating stories of Frodo, Gandalf, and the One Ring. Her mother also read to her every afternoon as a child, sometimes for several hours a day. Today she is an award-winning author and a Story Clarity Coach. She plans to keep writing until they nail her coffin shut. Or the Second Coming happens. Whichever comes first. ;D

Website
IG Links: @l.k.hillbooks (for readers)
@theprolificauthor (for authors)

Watch Liesel’s workshop on marketing tips for writers, originally streamed live in the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

How Authors Can Engage With Readers: 3 Tips From The @AuthorEncounter

How Authors Can Engage With Readers: 3 Tips From The @AuthorEncounter

Are you an author seeking to connect with readers? Then you’ll definitely want to attend the January 8, 2021 Facebook live in the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple group. Nan Jenkins of The Author Encounter will be chatting with me about that very topic. The event will be held at 12 p.m. CST and a replay will be available. If you’re not a member of the Shortcuts group, you can join here. I am honored to be a supporter member of The Author Encounter. Below, Nan shares three tips for building reader engagement. You’ll also learn about another special event The Author Encounter has coming up and how you can get more information. 

UPDATE: You’ll find a recording of the above livestream at the bottom of this post.

As writers we want to tell a story and have as many people as possible read that story and love it. Whether you’re an established author or just an aspiring one, a key component to reaching as many people as possible is engagement.

Engagement, or the relationship between Author and Reader, is not always easy to establish and can be a lot of work, but is key to spreading the word about a book or book series. There are three simple keys to establishing reader engagement that every author should think about and implement when building an audience. Those keys are Engagement, Consistency, and Follow-through. Using these keys will help create an audience that not only loves your creative works, but shares and engages with them.

How Do You Establish Engagement? 

The first step in establishing engagement with readers is to engage with them. They can’t engage if there is nothing to engage with. Figure out the most comfortable method for you whether it be some type of social media or email communication. Then once you set up your profile or build your email list, the next key begins. 

What Does Consistency Do For You?

Consistency lets people know where they can find you or expect to hear from you. At first when establishing an audience it can feel like you’re doing so much and no one is listening. However, most fans are excited when they know exactly where they can find and communicate with you. Which brings us to the next key: Follow-through.

How Does Follow-through Help?

Follow-through is key to establishing engagement because it lets the people know that they are communicating with a real person, not a bot or automatic system. So when a person asks a question on social media or in an email, a response is always important. Responding and following through on statements, comments, and questions not only establishes engagement, but it builds the bonds that tie your fans to your work.

Recap From Nan

Using these three keys of engagement, consistency, and follow-through in establishing engagement with your audience will give you a strong base to reach as many people as possible. Although the keys sound easy, they can be a lot of work to actually implement. This is one of the reasons I was so excited to help found The Author Encounter. 

The Author Encounter is dedicated to increasing the visibility of authors and boosting fan engagement. You can find more information about The Author Encounter on our website.

For more information on increasing fan engagement, watch the below workshop that was originally presented in the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group.

12 Free Gifts For Indie Authors Through Jan. 5 #writingcommunity #writinglife

12 Free Gifts For Indie Authors Through Jan. 5 #writingcommunity #writinglife

Christmas goody bags for writers

Are you an author who is ready to keep the holiday cheer going for another twelve days? Then you will absolutely love the 12 Days of Christmas Party sponsored by Thriving Scribes,

2020 has been something else, this year, hasn’t it? And this holiday season, all I want to do is share as much value with you as I possibly can to make the remainder of the year spectacular (and to help kick off 2021 on the right foot!).

A few weeks ago, my friend Brit had a fun idea for Christmas this year. She wanted to throw an online Christmas party of sorts… complete with goody bags full of freebies. I was totally on board!

This is your official invitation to be my +1. Join me at the party and grab your Regular Goody Bag. 🛍️ It’s free and comes with 12 days of FREE product drops of value up to $100. 🎉

You’ll find my Overused Words Cheat Sheet, a handy PDF featuring about 200 of the most commonly overused words that I’ve seen as an editor. It’s a tool normally just available to students enrolled inside my course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable. I know some writers who have even hung this handy resource above their desks as they refer to it so often.

While you’re picking up the free gifts, be sure to check out the Premium Goody Bag 🎁 as well. It contains more than $2,000 worth of premium products.

This party ends January 5.

Here’s a sneak peek of what else you could pick up…

  • How To Create Engaging Emails Workshop (free)
  • Triple Your Writing Speed course (premium)
  • Instagram for Authors (free)
  • Indie Publishing Fundamentals course (premium)
  • 12 Step Book Launch Strategy eBook (free)
  • Trello 4 Authors (free)

And more!

Want to join the party and get your hands on one, or both, of these goody bags? Sign up here.

 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase the premium goody bag through my link, then I will receive a commission.

 

Behind The Rewrite With Clarissa Gosling – How To Increase Word Count In A Novel

Behind The Rewrite With Clarissa Gosling – How To Increase Word Count In A Novel

how to increase word count in a novel

How do you increase the word count in a novel when the book is too short? In today’s Behind the Rewrite, author Clarissa Gosling gives us a glimpse into how she fleshed out her YA fantasy Dragon Shift during the editing process. Writing too short is an issue that many writers struggle with, especially after they trim the fat and tighten their sentences. Below, you can see how Clarissa handled this common problem.

Change #1: Add Description

I write short, so before I go through and line edit I have to add in more details. My first draft is a whizz through the story and what happens, but is incredibly light on description. I think this is because I often skim over any description when I’m reading, so the first thing I have to do is go through and sprinkle in descriptions of the characters and the settings. Having a clear picture of what my characters look like is often one of the last things I know about them, sometimes not til I’m fairly well into the editing process. The same for details of the settings. It is only when I’m going through to revise that I search online for images or details that I can use. And in every scene, I aim to include details from other senses as well as what it look like. This adds to the variety and makes it more immersive for the reader. For Dragon Shift, I also chopped the first two scenes from my first draft and the last five scenes to tighten the pacing.

Change #2: Add Emotion

As well as adding in description, I look for ways to add in emotion. I find The Emotion Thesaurus an invaluable resource for this as it gives so many options for ways you can show the emotion of your characters. And showing not telling is the maximum for good fiction. So for every scene I think about the emotions that the main characters are going through and how I can portray that through their actions. Do they bite their lip or cross their arms and frown? And adding in their body language helps to break up dialogue and make it clear who is speaking without saying he said, she said all the time. (Note from Stacy: Also check out my Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions e-book and mini course for another tool about body language and emotions.)

Change #3: Include Specific Fantastical Details

My story is an epic fantasy set in another world with shifters, dragons and magic, so I want to portray that through my word use. Terms for measuring time and distance, the way they talk about magic, etc, these all need to be consistent and some to be different from what we use in the real world. For example, in my story the main way they measure time is with water clocks, so I used the words drib, dram and drogue for increasing lengths of time. It is a reminder that their time measurement is dependent on water when their terms for time are also based on liquid measures. Then I hope that the way I use those words makes their meaning clear in the text. This is a way I can show that there are differences between my fictional world and our real one. These terms add flavour and interest in an easy way, though choosing them so that they are internally consistent with how your world works takes a lot of thinking. And you need to make sure you don’t overdo this. Choose which terms you want to change and then keep others the same so that you don’t overwhelm your readers.

Change #4: Check Consistency

As I go through my first draft I look for consistency. On a large scale this is consistency in things like Point of View. As I read through Dragon Shift, I realised I had started writing the story in first person, but after a few chapters I changed to close third. On going through to revise it, I decided to switch the first section to close third to keep it all the same.

On a smaller scale, this is looking at how things work and what I’ve called them. For example, the main mode of transport in my world, at least for those who can afford it, are magically powered barges that sail through the air. As I had written my first draft I had changed the names of these through the course of the story, so in revising I picked one term (floatship) and used that the whole time.

Change #5: Increase The Romance

Though the main change I had to make was increasing the romance in the story. My first draft went from her first impression of him as a “gangly, pimply boy, a couple of years younger than her,” through very little interaction, to a heartfelt and emotional scene at the end. (I can’t say more about the end scene without giving away too many spoilers.) Needless to say, he is now a couple of years older than her, a bit more attractive-looking, and I’ve elaborated on their relationship through the story as they get to know each other. There are now more scenes where they talk more and learn about each other, as well as showing how they interact during group scenes. Increasing the screen time for the two of them together automatically develops their relationship to, I hope, a level where the final scene is more believable rather than coming out of nowhere.

At least, this was my intention to do. If you are interested to see how well I managed this then read Dragon Shift, the first in my new YA Fantasy series.

Dragon Shift

Want To Read The Book?

Half-bear-shifter half-dragon in a world where dragons are thought extinct, Birgith must face the ultimate test of her shifting ability to be accepted as an adult in the Bear-shifter clan.

If Birgith manifests any sign that she has dragon blood, she will be killed immediately and her dragon family hunted, as they are feared by all four clans in the continent of Kaitstud. But when the test comes, she is unable to shift at all. So she is exiled and classed as a human, with all the restrictions on her that designation entails. Leaving behind everything she’s ever known, Birgith sets out on a perilous journey away from her forest home to make peace with her dual heritage. A journey to find her hidden dragon family. A journey that puts her life and theirs at risk. Or that will help her embrace who she truly is.

The first in an exciting new series for readers who love magic, adventure and strong female characters.

Buy it on Amazon.

More About Clarissa 

Clarissa has always lived more in the world of daydream and fiction than in reality. In her writing she explores purpose and belonging across worlds. Having never found her own portal to faeryland, she is resigned to writing about fantastical worlds instead. She now lives in the Netherlands with her family, where she writes as much as they will let her. When not reading or writing, she drinks too much tea and has a burgeoning obsession with Bundt cakes.

Visit her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Opportunities For Writers

Are you an author interested in writing a Behind the Rewrite guest blog post? Get the guidelines here.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers Freebies including a 5-day line editing course, Facebook group, and resource for naming your characters.

Check out Shortcuts for Writers affordable courses including Book Editing Blueprint: A Step by Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable and the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions.

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