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.

Gifts For Friends Who Love Writing, Work From Home, Or Yourself!

Gifts For Friends Who Love Writing, Work From Home, Or Yourself!

gifts for friends who love writing

I’m excited to announce that I have a brand new Amazon Influencer store featuring books and products for writers and entrepreneurs. They make great gifts for friends who love writing or who work from home—or for yourself! You’ll find journals, business planners, writing books, home office supplies and decor, tech gadgets and accessories, video and audio equipment, and products to help with the aches and pains that come from hunching over a computer all day. Headaches, eyestrain, backaches, neck aches, carpal tunnel—you’ll find suggestions for all of those ailments and more. I also shared some of my favorite “fun” products to decompress by myself or with my family.

You can check out the main storefront here. Please note that as an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through my links.

Below, I’ve included direct links to the various subcategories in my Amazon shop. I also embedded a series of three Show and Tell videos where I hold up some featured products that I own and do short reviews.

Let me know in the comments which products look the most interesting to you, if you’ve ever used any of these, or if you have suggestions for my lists. 

 

Main Storefront

Books for Writers

Home Office

Household Clutter Busters & Organization

Inspiration, Personal Development, & Journals

Technology, Gadgets, & Accessories

Business Books 

Planning & Productivity

Comfort and Health

Video and Audio Equipment

 Relaxing Hobbies & Games

Books I’ve Published

Again, you can find all of the products featured in the videos (and many more) in my Amazon store.  

Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

Discover The Ultimate Resource On Body Language For Writers

Discover The Ultimate Resource On Body Language For Writers

body language for writers

If you’re tired of conjuring up fresh ways to describe a gaze, smile, or sigh in your fiction, then I’ve got a resource on nonverbal communication and body language for writers that you might be interested in! I just released the Energize Your Writing Toolkit: Cheat Sheets for Character Emotions, a 100-page printable toolkit jam-packed with more than 4,000 emotional phrases arranged into easy-to-digest lists.

  • Put the pages into a binder that you can pull out whenever you need help showing a character’s emotions.
  • Get inspiration when you’re stuck or scenes need more emotion. Use the phrases word-for-word, refine them, or mix & match.
  • Use the blank lines and print extra copies of the page template to add your own phrases and categories.

The toolkit includes:

Overview of nonverbal communication and body language.

Detailed written instructions and examples on how to use the cheat sheets.

A walk-through video.

More than 4,000 nonverbal prompts that span 21 categories and numerous subcategories.

See It In Action nonverbal snippets from published books.

Discussion questions that guide you through finding your strengths and weaknesses.

Bonus nonverbal communication video from the online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable.

The Energize Your Writing Toolkit is just $29. Watch the above trailer for a quick overview and purchase here.

 

How To Write An Effective Query Letter And Synopsis For Your Book

How To Write An Effective Query Letter And Synopsis For Your Book

how to write an effective query letter and synopsis

My editing clients often ask me how to write an effective query letter and synopsis. Thank you to the team at QueryLetter.com for offering to write this guest post which outlines the difference between a query letter and a synopsis and shares some tips for how to write each of them. I’m sure you’ll find it informative. Remember, there is a free blurb unit inside the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook Group. Once you’re a member, you can download the toolkit, 7 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Book Blurb. Your blurb will become an important part of your query letter.

What’s The Difference Between A Query Letter And A Synopsis?

The publishing world is difficult. Your work isn’t over once you finish your manuscript. In fact, finishing your book is just the first step to populating bookshelves with your masterpiece! You’ll need to decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing, but if you want to see book stores stocked with physical copies of your book, traditional publishing is your best option.

In most cases, to pursue traditional publishing, you need to work with a literary agent, who will represent your manuscript and pitch it to publishers. Landing a literary agent can be a challenge, however. When doing research on pitching your manuscript to agents, you’ll come across terms such as “query letter” and “synopsis,” which may be unfamiliar to those new to publishing.

In this post, we’ll take you through the key differences between query letters and synopses and offer some tips on writing both.

What Is A Query Letter?

When you pitch your manuscript to a prospective literary agent, the most important element is your query letter. Your query letter is your chance to introduce yourself and your manuscript to the literary agent and explain why she should be interested in representing your book. The key purpose of a query letter is to intrigue the literary agent into requesting more info about your manuscript, and your query letter thus represents your first step in the publishing process.

Query letters are short, no longer than one page, and provide only a brief overview of your manuscript and your author bio. Since your space is extremely limited, you’ll need to make every word count. Essentially, you have only a few sentences to sell your book to a prospective literary agent.

What Is A Synopsis?

Whereas the query letter focuses on the whole picture, meaning you, the agent, and your manuscript, the synopsis is concerned with your manuscript alone. In essence, a synopsis is a one-to two-page description of the entire plot of your book, including the ending. It gives a prospective literary agent an in-depth glimpse into your plot and helps her determine whether your manuscript may be worth a full read.

Sometimes, literary agents ask prospective clients to submit a synopsis along with a query letter, but in most cases, the synopsis is the second step in the publishing process. In general, if you manage to pique a literary agent’s interest with your query letter, she’ll follow up by requesting a synopsis, and if she likes your synopsis, she’ll request your full manuscript.

How To Write A Query Letter

Typically, a query letter consists of two main parts: the hook and the pitch. In the hook, your job is to draw the agent’s attention with an interesting opening sentence that captures the essence of your manuscript. The pitch elaborates on the hook, providing an overview of your manuscript in two to three paragraphs that may include mentions of comparable books on the market. Finally, your query letter may include a brief author bio describing your experience and reputation—for example, if you have previous publications.

The main purpose of your query letter is to succinctly sell your manuscript. Condensing your 80,000-word manuscript into a few sentences can be difficult, so it’s better to start small and build up. Start by summarizing your plot in one or two sentences and build off that, adding only the most relevant and intriguing information. Take some time to consider the main themes and questions your manuscript deals with to help you best summarize your work.

Use others’ query letters to inspire you, as well. With a quick Google search, you can find thousands of query letter examples, so do some research into what kinds of query letters have successfully landed literary agents for other authors in your genre. This will give you a better idea of how best to structure your query letter for success.

Finally, always personalize your query letter. You can find out more about the agent you’re pitching to by browsing her social media or website, which will likely reveal her interests and the books she has represented previously. If it’s relevant, include this information in your query letter while explaining why you think this particular agent is a good fit for your manuscript.

How To Write A Synopsis

As with a query letter, your primary goal with your synopsis is to succinctly summarize your manuscript in a way that intrigues literary agents. A synopsis gives you more room than a query letter: Typically, a synopsis should be 500 words, or around two pages, unless the literary agent specifies another length. This affords you enough words to explain the main points of your plot and give the agent a solid overview of your story.

Think of a synopsis as an abridged version of your manuscript. It tells the same story, but all the details are cut out. It simply moves through all the key plot points. It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, just like your manuscript. A good way to build a solid synopsis is to start by condensing each chapter into one or two sentences. From that, build a comprehensive synopsis with a clear narrative arc that explains the major plot points.

Your writing style matters in your synopsis, too. Keep things clear and concise—no flowery prose or wordiness. At the same time, don’t just mechanically explain each event. Use your personal style and make the literary agent feel something. Your synopsis should be a mini version of your manuscript, not an emotionless description.

The Importance Of Feedback

Aside from helping to proofread your query letter and synopsis to eliminate typos, a trusted writing colleague, beta reader, or friend can be instrumental in providing feedback that helps you detect issues with clarity or style. A polished query letter and synopsis will maximize your chances of success, so seek out and incorporate as much feedback as you can, finding ways to improve your query letter and increase the intrigue.

If you don’t know where to start in terms of writing your query letter or synopsis, reach out to the team at QueryLetter.com. As experienced industry professionals, the QueryLetter.com team knows publishing inside and out, and they work with authors to help them navigate the challenges of the publishing world and get their books out on bookshelves.

Cost-Effective Book Editing Livestream – Get Some Tips!

Cost-Effective Book Editing Livestream – Get Some Tips!


This is an interview I did for Emma Dhesi’s podcast for new writers, Turning Readers Into Writers. It was also livestreamed in her Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers With Emma Dhesi.

The topic was cost-effective editing and self-editing tips. Thank you to Emma for generously giving me the video to share. We discussed my writing background, delved into common mistakes that writers make, and I shared about how my self-paced online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable saves writers time and money.

During the interview, I also responded to questions from Facebook listeners about working with an editor.

Emma is an extremely inspiring writer and coach who helps beginner writers find the time and confidence to write their first novel.

ENROLL IN MY COURSE, BOOK EDITING BLUEPRINT, USING EMMA’S AFFILIATE LINK

You can find Emma here:
Turning Readers Into Writers Facebook group:

Website

Podcast

Read her interview on the Shortcuts for Writers Blog

The Writing Cooperative: A Helpful Website For Writers @WritingCoop

The Writing Cooperative: A Helpful Website For Writers @WritingCoop

How Do You Start Writing? Think Like A Writer! #10minnovelists #setthetimer

How Do You Start Writing? Think Like A Writer! #10minnovelists #setthetimer

how do you start writing

Katharine Grubb of 10 Minute Novelists has a brand new book out and it delves into questions such as how do you start writing, how do you visualize yourself as a writer, and how do you get your writing done. Below, Katharine tells you a little about her book Think Like A Writer In 10 Minutes A Day and shares an excerpt. If you’re a new writer, or if you’re having trouble fitting writing into a busy schedule, then it’s time for you to meet Katharine! 

Are you a writer? Or are you not one? Do you see yourself as a writer? 

Have you fallen in love with the written word? Have you ever savored a story, wondered how words came together, longed to see your name on a cover? 

Have you ever thought you’d like to create something, anything, with words, but you don’t know how? 

The first step? See yourself as one. Then, as you get used to this new “identity”, you can take steps to physically and emotionally set yourself up to be productive. This will mean creating a writing space, organizing your time, seeking inspiration, and writing regularly without fear. 

Katharine grubb

I made this jump from non-writer to writer back in 2006. I had five children, all eight years old and younger, and decided that it was time to restart my lifelong dream to be a writer. Once I saw myself as a writer, grew in organization and discipline, and conquered my fears, I finished projects and published them. Since 2006, I’ve written ten books. 

My newest book Think Like A Writer In 10 Minutes A Day is for the hesitant writer who hasn’t made that jump yet from non-writer to beginner. This book is for that critical first step: to think like one.  

Here is an excerpt of the book’s introduction.

think like a writer

Introduction

Back in the early days of my writing life I was asked one question more than any other: “Are you a pantser or a plotter?”  I don’t remember how I answered because I don’t remember understanding what they were talking about. I found out later, that this ubiquitous, reductionist, and rather uninteresting question was really asking, “How do you think?” 

If I answered, “I’m a plotter,” then it would be assumed that I had studied story structure, logically worked out plot points, and analytically planned my story before I began the drafting process. If I answered, “I’m a ‘pantser’,” then that I would imply that I “wrote by the seat of my pants,” pursuing emotional tangents rather than a strict plan, and preferring creative spontaneity instead of structure. If I did have a preference, and it was the opposite choice of the person who asked the question, then I may have received a condescending rebuttal on why my choice was “incorrect.” Sometimes it might even be implied that once I claimed a “side” I had to be loyal to that “side” for the rest of my career. 

All of that is hogwash. In reality all writers, whether they want to admit it or not, need both approaches in the way that they think not just of their stories, but also of their writing goals. 

What does it mean to think like a writer? There are as many ways to think about and approach writing as there are books on a public library’s shelf. Writers, especially new ones, don’t need a false dichotomy to dictate how they should approach their writing. Both “pantsers” and “plotters” think like writers, and if they are comfortable with their methods, then they are successful at it. How much more interesting it would be if writers were asked instead, “Oh, you’re a writer too? How do you process your ideas?” Or, “What’s going through your mind when you create?”

All successful authors, back in the beginning of their careers, to a mental leap and first saw themselves as writers. They set up their lives, physically and emotionally to achieve their writing goals. They all, for lack of a better term, had a writer mode in their settings, either analytical or emotional (or a combination of both) and tuned into it as they worked on their projects. 

If they were in “writer mode” then they organized at their time and resources in such a way that they were able to get their writing done. In “writer mode” they were conscientious of their environment, looking constantly for inspiration, and came up with ideas from a myriad of places. But also, because “writer mode” is solitary, they may have faced self-doubt and fear, and perhaps slipped into despair. (Sadly, thinking like a writer has a sordid history.) All writers, new and experienced, have to set their minds intentionally, and decisively, on what they want to accomplish or they will never see their dreams come true. 

I had to make that decision too. Back in 2006, I had five small children, all 8 years old and younger, and I thought it was the perfect time to start my writing career. Even though I didn’t know how to begin, I decided to commit at least ten minutes a day to my writing dream. I had to think differently in order to become something different.  I had to change the way that I viewed my time, energy, and environment, to meet this simple goal.  I knew I needed to think like a writer in order to be one. But I didn’t know to do that, so I guessed

I read library books on writing, scoured writing blogs for fresh insight (whose advice was often contradictory), and slapped together my first website.  I “pantsed” well over 200,000 words on my first novel before I formulated some sort of plot. I probably could have saved a lot of time had I a plan of action, or a community, or even another writer to tell me what to do next. I wanted to think and act like a writer, but I had no idea what that was, so I just followed every whim. For better or worse, I “pantsed” my way into thinking like a writer. 

Had I “plotted” my way into thinking like I writer, I might have created a regular writing schedule, and equip myself better in organization and discipline.  I would have educated myself on storytelling basics. I would have read more books that were similar to what I wanted to write. I would have worked more deliberately to expose myself to culture and beauty so I would be inspired. I would have understood that all writers struggle to find their voice and purpose. I would have come to terms with my emotional resistance, who kept telling me “what makes you think you can pull this off?” I probably  could have thought like a writer from the beginning, but I couldn’t get out of my own head to do it. 

What I needed to learn came 10 years after I started: I finally realized that writerly brilliance was not ever easy. 

Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, had the truth I needed. “A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do. It might take a lot of tinkering or low-level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears that the art is created in the moment, not in tiny increments.” (P. 51.)

I did get the tiny increment part right. It was in 2006, in between childcare, household management, and homeschooling that I began to set my timer for 10 minutes. I put the time in, but how much more efficient that time would have been had I been thinking like a writer in the first place. 

This book is for the new writer who is facing the ocean of possibility as a fiction writer and doesn’t know what to do. This is a hand-holding, coaxing book of instruction to new writers who don’t have the skills or courage to put their toes in the water, much less sail. This book is meant to save the struggle of figuring things out for the first time fiction writer. To change metaphors, my previous book, Write A Novel in Ten Minutes A Day, is the Couch25K for fiction writers, but Think Like A Writer in 10 Minutes A Day, is picking out the first pair of sneakers. After each section, this book provides exercises that can be done in a series of 10 minute increments. They are meant to be personal, journal type responses with no real deadline, and certainly no right answers. To do the exercises, you’ll need a notebook, or a new document on your laptop, or some way to keep everything together. You can do these exercises as you see fit, perhaps one a day. Some can be accomplished in 10 minutes, some will require several 10 minute increments. All are completed when you say they are. 

This book is divided in three sections. The first section will address the more analytical, logical parts of writing. In this part, I’ll be leading you through exercises to help you clarify your personal definition of success, challenge you to use your time and space better, and review you on the basic understanding of writing skills. These are important concepts, but they’re not that sexy, so we’re addressing them first to get them out of the way.  If you are really into Seth Godin or Getting Things Done, you’re going to love this part. Each of the exercises, in this, the logistical thinking section, will help you think more objectively about your writing journey. 

Then, the second part will address the more touchy-feely, artsy-fartsy ways in which you can think like a writer. In this section, I will be encouraging you to get in touch with your feelings, identify yourself as a creative person and speak to yourself about your desires to write. Then, we’ll wrap it up on the importance of authenticity in your writing and how to tap into your reality as a creative person. If you are really into Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, then you are going to love this part of the book. Go ahead, write in the margins. Stain the pages with your tears. That’s what the emotional thinking part of the book is there for.

But there’s a third part too, resistant thinking. This part is arguably the most important, because if you can’t manage it, you certainly can’t succeed in the writing world. Like it or not, there is a part of your brain that is quite happy if you stay on your couch, flip back and forth between Netflix and Hulu, and eat your weight in Hot Pockets. This part of your brain does not want think like a writer. This part of your brain knows that writing is hard, so it will do everything to stop you. It will throw you lies, doubts, fears, and the reminder of what that teacher said to you about that poem you wrote all those years ago. If you have read Austin Kleon, or know what lizard brain means, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I have a section here to help you combat resistant thinking and hopefully prepare you for the constant battle resistant thinking will fight as long as you decide to pursue this dream. 

Brenda Ueland said this in her book If You Want To Write (p. 4) “Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.” I believe that because you chose to read this book that you have something to express too. Perhaps like me, you need to get yourself out of your own head, think like a writer is supposed to think, and begin your journey. 

Exercises

1.1 Find a way to journal; either create a new document on your computer, a note on your phone, or pick up a cheap notebook somewhere, set a timer for ten minutes and write the answer to this question: Based on the Brenda Ueland quote you read above, what would you like to express? 

1.2  Would you most likely be a “plotter” or a “pantser”? Why? 

1.3 Which of the ways of thinking: logical, emotional, or resistant, do you think is the easiest to understand and practice? Which do you think will be most challenging to learn about? 

Buy it on Amazon 

More About Katharine

Katharine Grubb is an almost-done-homeschooling mother, poet, hybrid author, camping enthusiast and confident home cook who thinks that she is the funniest person in her family. She is the founder and CEO of 10 Minute Novelists and lives in Central Massachusetts, USA, with her husband and a ever-varying number of her five mostly-grown children. She is the author of Write A Novel In Ten Minutes A Day (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.) 

Can you relate to any of the above struggles? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Emma Dhesi Helps Beginner Writers Find Time And Confidence @emmadhesi

Emma Dhesi Helps Beginner Writers Find Time And Confidence @emmadhesi

beginner writers

I’m so excited to bring you this interview with an extremely inspiring writer and coach, Emma Dhesi, who helps beginner writers find the time and confidence to write their first novel. I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for an upcoming episode of Emma’s podcast, Turning Readers Into Writers. She also invited me to talk about self-editing during the 20-day August Accelerator event coming up in her Facebook group. (August 2020)

Emma’s motto for beginner writers is: Get Focused. Get Confident. Get Published. Read the interview below to learn more about Emma and how she is helping beginner writers to approach the monumental task of writing a book.

How did you get interested in helping beginner authors to find the time and confidence to write their books? Do you do coaching?

It took me a long time to finish my first novel, over five years in fact. But when I did, it changed everything for me. I suddenly saw myself in a whole new light and realised that if I just put in the time and regular effort I could finish, not just a first draft, but a published novel.

I was so amazed by new capabilities that I knew I had to help other women achieve this as well. It’s all too easy for women to get caught up in the role of mother or wife or worker, especially those in the second half of life. It’s vital to recognise you still have so much to offer. Writing your novel might not change the world but it will change you. You'll realise you're capable of so much more than you ever dreamed. Click To Tweet Not just in writing, but in other aspects of your life too. If I’d known five years ago that I’d be doing what I do now, I would have thought you were crazy! 

I don’t do one-to-one coaching but do offer group coaching. I strongly believe in having a safe and supportive community and do my best to offer this to all my students. I have an online resource called How To Write Your Novel – A Proven 4 Step Guide For Busy Beginners Who Want To Write Their First Novel. Applications are closed for the moment, but I will be opening it again in the future.

beginner writerTell us about your blog. What are some examples of posts you have published?

My blog is aimed specifically at beginner writers. My audience has told me that they struggle most with finding the time to write and building their confidence. Much of my content helps students find ways to find that time and grow their confidence via shared experiences as well as techniques they can try. For example, I’m a big believer in scheduling your writing time. In my experience, if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done!

In addition, I help with aspects of craft, introduce people to debut authors and share resources that have helped me in my writing journey.

Popular blog posts include Show Don’t Tell, How To Finish Writing Your Novel and How Long Should Your Chapter Be?

Tell us about your free cheat sheet on 30+ ways to find time to write? How can people get it?

Because finding time to write is something a lot of my students struggle with, I have a free guide called 30 Top Tips To Find Time To Write. It’s aimed at busy people who need to fit their writing time in around their existing commitments. It’s not always possible to sit down for a whole hour or two in one sitting. Instead, a lot of us need to fit our writing in when we can.

It was Elizabeth Kostava who inspired me when she said she had to write what she could when she could. This guide is full of practical and simple ways that you can slot writing sessions into your week. You can get a copy of it by going to www.emmadhesi.com/30TopTips.

How long have you been doing the Turning Readers Into Writers Podcast? What is your goal with the podcast? 

I mentioned earlier that writing a novel changed my life in many ways, not least that it made me see I could do much more than I ever thought. Launching a podcast is one of those things. It’s new on the block as my first episode went live in March this year.

It too is aimed at beginner writers. I cover the same topics as I do in my blog but offer it here in audio form so that it can be listened to on the go. Again, I interview debut authors and experts in their field; for example editors and other writing coaches. If you are a debut author, and would like to chat with me about your writing process and how you balance writing and your day to day life, I’d love to hear from you. I think it’s so valuable for new writers to hear how other people work. It opens up new ideas about how a creative life can be incorporated into a professional life.

You also have a Facebook group for beginner writers. What are some of the things that you discuss in the group? 

It’s free to join and we discuss all sorts in there. It’s a safe community for people to ask questions whether that be on mindset or craft. Members gain not only moral support and encouragement but benefit from a weekly Live Q&A session and visiting guest experts. We recently had Marjorie J McDonald come in and talk to us about how to write for children, as well as storytelling expert Blake Morris on how to structure a story.

You have a big event going on in August. What do you have planned? 

August Accelerator is a 20-day event throughout August 2020 during which I have invited a number of experts to come into my Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers, to talk all things writing! Not only do I have guests speaking about, amongst other things, How To Write Romance, Non-Fiction and a Series, guests will also be discussing how you can use manifestation or tarot cards in your creative life. And of course we will discuss how you can manage imposter syndrome and procrastination as well as how writing can help maintain balanced mental health.

It’s going to be a wonderful month and I’m really looking forward to hearing what all my experts have to say. If you’d like to come in and listen to any of the talks and conversations, you can do so by going to the Facebook group, Turning Readers Into Writers. The videos will be streamed live and replays will be available for a limited time only.

Is there anything else you wanted to get across?

I cannot emphasise enough how Doable it is to write your first manuscript. With consistency and realistic expectation of what you can achieve in a given time period, there’s no reason you can’t finish your first draft. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, I urge you to, at the very least, finish your first draft. Then you will know once and for all whether it’s something that lights your heart or isn’t what you expected.

Novel writing should be challenging but it should also be fun and I also encourage your readers to see writing as an opportunity to be curious about the world. It’s hard to do, I know, but try to enjoy the journey as well as the finished product.

More About Emma Dhesi

Emma Dhesi writes women’s fiction. She began writing seriously while a stay-at-home mum with three pre-school children. By changing her mindset, being consistent and developing confidence, Emma has gone from having a collection of handwritten notes to a fully written, edited and published novel. Having experienced first-hand how writing changes lives, Emma now helps beginner writers find the time and confidence to write their first novel.

Links:

Website

Podcast 

30 Top Tips to Find Time to Write

Facebook group 

beginner writer tips

Emma’s Writing

The Day She Came Home – Nicola left her husband Ross, and son Sam, to begin a new life on a remote Scottish island. She thought she’d left her childhood and her old life behind her, but the desire to reconnect is too strong. She must find a way to get a second chance.

Ross can’t move on with his life until he knows what happened to his wife. When she turns up out of the blue and asks for a second chance, he’s not sure he can forgive her. Stephen and Mary are devastated when their long-lost daughter returns and accuses them of the most horrific crimes. But as Stephen always said, no one would believe her. When family secrets are brought to the surface everyone is forced to face their past. Can they forgive and forget? Would you take her back? The Day She Came Home is the first in a series of contemporary family dramas.

Buy it on Amazon.

It’s All Greek To Me: Why Authors Need Cultural Consultants

It’s All Greek To Me: Why Authors Need Cultural Consultants

cultural consultants

Are you writing a book set in another country and that uses words in that language? How about cultural elements? Then my guest today, Maria A. Karamitsos, is going to explain why you need a Cultural Consultant! I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading Maria’s informative post full of tips on how to write about other cultures.

It’s All Greek To Me

It’s all Greek to me. I’m Greek. I hear this phrase often with Greek language and things to do with Greece. This Shakespearian idiom means people don’t understand something and often concerning a foreign language. What does this mean for a writer? Well, if you’re writing a book set in another country and use foreign words and include cultural elements, to avoid errors, you need help from someone who speaks that language and knows the culture.

As a Greek speaker, an avid reader, a book reviewer, and a writer and editor, I’ve seen many books and articles written about Greece, set in Greece, or with Greek subject matter that fall short in this area. But you’re thinking, “A big house published that book,” or “I spent a lot of money on professional editing. What do you mean there are errors?” The truth is, even the best professional editors can miss these issues because they don’t have experience with the language and culture. I see this happening often in terms of Greece, so I’m sure it does with other languages and cultures.

Why Is This Important?

You’ve researched thoroughly. And what did you add to your characters and story to make them believable, to bring them to life? Details. It’s those finer details that lend authenticity. Getting them right elevates your story from good to outstanding.

Who is your target reader? If you’re penning a book set in another country, with characters from another country and/or culture, a good portion of your target market are people from that country/culture. You don’t want to hurt the sales of the book–and future works.

Cultural consultant for authors

We never want to undermine our precious work, the work we’ve toiled and researched countless hours. That’s what these errors do.

How Does This Happen?

Let’s examine some ways.

  • The editor isn’t familiar with the language, country, and/or culture.

You’re thinking, “A competent, professional editor, someone recommended, would catch it!” Not necessarily. Many times, editors without experience with a language and culture, rely on the author’s research and knowledge that these things are correct.

 

  • Foreign languages are complex. You can’t translate literally.

Languages are nuanced, and sometimes poetic. With Greek, there are on average eight distinct ways to say something. Word usage depends on context. Some will check programs like Google Translate, but the results can be disastrous. While they’re good for a general idea about something (say an article or a post on social media), please do not use these translations in your work.

I’ve worked in Greek-American media for 18 years, and for four, I published a digital magazine. Once, a writer sent me an article for publication. A non-Greek, but a lover of Greece, she sprinkled in Greek words. I flagged multiple instances of incorrect usage. She argued that she looked them up and verified them. For example, she used the Greek verb for charm. She wrote “mayévo,” which can have a negative inference. It was also incorrect in context. The word she wanted is, “ghoitévo.

Perhaps you asked someone who speaks that language how to say something. While this is a step in the right direction, I’ve seen writers get tripped up here because they didn’t provide context.  

  • The author spent time in that country and listened to people speak.

With a language as complex as Greek with words with difficult pronunciations and sounds, it’s possible to mishear. So when someone said the name for a Cretan spirit is Tsikoudiá and you heard and repeated, ‘tsoukouda’, which stuck in your mind and you used it, you’ve made a mistake. I’ve even observed Diaspora Greeks who don’t speak the language hear a word like koumbaRo, which is a man who has a relationship with you because of a religious sacrament (i.e. wedding sponsor or godparent), and say it and write it as koumbaDo. That’s what their ear hears. There’s no D in there—the Greek character is ρ which makes the R sound. That word with the “D” doesn’t exist.

Years ago, an author friend emailed me while penning a novel set in Greece. She asked, “How do you say, ‘Congratulations’ in Greek?” I asked for context. “A wedding,” she explained. In Greece someone said synchartia to me when I got a book contract.”

Well, my friend not only got the word wrong (syllables missing) but she also selected the wrong word. Although syncharitiria means congratulations, a Greek would never say that at your wedding.

  • The choice of character names led to questioned authenticity.

Editors won’t question character names since authors have specific reasons for selecting them. But did you know that the name could trip up a reader? And not just in the “I knew a nasty person with that name” kind of way. A name flub, messes with the authenticity of the character, leading the reader to doubt other elements.

Here’s an example. I read a book with scenes set in Asia Minor in the early 1900s. The protagonist’s last name originated from Cyprus instead of Asia Minor. This distracted me; then I started questioning other things. It’s a fascinating story, the historical elements on point. But every time I read the last name (and it came up often) it took me out of the story. NOTE: Naming your character with a name from another region changes your story. 

 

  • Selected word(s) makes sentence(s) impossible.

Last month, I read an amazing historical novel set in Greece. The author wrote, “… and the yiayias were nursing the babies.” Greek speaking readers–or anyone with Greek friends–would get stuck on the impossibility. Yiayia is the Greek word for grandmother. So, unless these were young grandmothers who’d just given birth, I’m not sure how this would happen. The book was published by major house and no doubt edited by a professional, but the errors got through because people weren’t familiar with the language.

  • Cultural misuse.

Another author penned a manuscript for a novel set in Thessaloniki, the protagonist born and raised in that city. She described a character, “…wearing a Sariki, a traditional adornment worn by men in Thessaloniki.” She sent it to me, as a beta reader. I questioned the use of sariki. She said she saw a picture of a Greek man wearing one and it was “intriguing.” Oops. Sariki is a netted scarf worn by men on the island of Crete. Crete is the southernmost Greek island, and Thessaloniki is a city in northern Greece–each with very distinct culture. It may sound minor, but it’s a tremendous mistake. Chances are you won’t see a man from Thessaloniki wearing a sariki–well, unless he’s from Crete or bought one there as a souvenir. But again, that changes your character and story.

  • A misspelling or misplaced accent mark changed the meaning.

In Greek, you can move the accent mark or even change one letter and it alters the entire meaning. For example, take the Greek wordfilo. Accent placement can alter the meaning: FEE-lo (fílo) means a male friend, but could also be the flaky pastry sheets used in many Greek dishes (in Greek characters they have different spellings); and fee-LO (filó), means I kiss you. Big difference, right?

What Do I Do?

You’ve put your heart and soul into your work, labored innumerable hours. Then you (or your publisher) hired a professional editor–but these errors slipped. Or if you’re writing or editing, you’ll want to avoid these mess-ups. They aren’t minor.

So what do you do?

Hire a Cultural Consultant. I know. You’re thinking you already spent–or will spend–a ton on different phases of editing, and now I’m telling you to spend more money on a consultant? Yes. Because you want your story to be the best it can be.

Likely part of your target market are readers from that culture, and you don’t want to turn them off. You may be viewed as a cultural ambassador, and you don’t want to provide inaccurate info! You publish a book to make money. And you want to grow your audience and publish more books. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to stop reading or to discount your otherwise amazing work.

What Do I Look For?

  • Hire a person who speaks the language, knows the culture, and the country.

Choose someone of that culture. Someone who has lived in that country for many years can also be helpful. Language and culture are multifaceted.

  • Check their qualifications.

Have they done this work before? Discuss past projects and their experience with said language, country, and culture.

  • Send the entire manuscript.

Discuss the story with the consultant. He or she needs to know the story, the setting, the character dynamics, your goals, the context, etc.

This service shouldn’t break the bank either. Consider it cultural proofreading.

While this may seem nitpicky or you believe that readers won’t pick up on the errors, you don’t want to be the author that writes, “I’ll have some krazi” instead of “I want some krasí. Krasí is the Greek word for wine. Unless you want some “crazy.” But that’s a whole other story.

If it’s all Greek to you, work with a Cultural Consultant. And oh yes, don’t skip the editing.

Questions? Send me an email at hello@mariakaramitsos.com

More About Maria

Maria A. Karamitsos has been a positive voice in Greek media since 2002. She was the founder, publisher, and editor of WindyCity Greek magazine. For 10 years, she served as the associate editor and senior writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Her work has been published in GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, Harlots Sauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, Neo magazine, KPHTH magazine, XPAT ATHENS, and more. Maria has contributed to three books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes; The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook; and the inaugural Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal. She’s a sought-after book reviewer and enthusiastically promotes books set in Greece, those with Greek subjects, and books by Greek authors. As a Greek Cultural Consultant, Maria helps authors with Greek references in their work. She’s currently editing her first novel. Learn more at mariakaramitsos.com

Connect with Maria on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

 

6 Ways To Write While The World Is Stressing You Out By @alliepleiter

6 Ways To Write While The World Is Stressing You Out By @alliepleiter

I know that many writers are having trouble tapping into their creativity during the pandemic. Thankfully, Allie Pleiter has a book that can help with this problem, and I asked her to share some tips about writing under stress. Read on for some helpful advice from Allie. You’ll also learn more about her valuable book, How to WRITE When Everything Goes WRONGA Practical Guide to Writing Through Tough Times.

Allie’s Tips For Writing Under Stress

As the author of How to WRITE When Everything Goes WRONGA Practical Guide to Writing Through Tough Times, Ive been getting a lot of cries for help from writers these days. The crisis we find ourselves in right now can squelch any writers creative energy. New words can feel impossible, the focus to revise eludes us, and were just plain stressed.

How to writeright now? Believe it or not, there are several things you can do to help yourself. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

#1: Try Small Batches In New Formats.

The trick is to pick a word count that feels doable–even if it must be tiny. One hundred words, for example, can fit on an index card. I suspect even the most traumatized of writers could manage six imperfect sentences that can be edited later. That work, once accomplished, can become the foothold for more. Can you tuck three or four cards into your pocket and set yourself the challenge to fill them? Your smartphone, a small notebook, or even email can help a small task feel small. All you need at first–maybe all you need at all–are baby steps.

#2: Change Locations.

Give yourself time in a different location in order to compartmentalize your brain space. You may not be able to go farmaybe only to the next roombut even that shift can make a difference. Ritualize it if it helps, saying: At two p.m. I go out on the balcony with a cup of coffee and do my writing,or After lunch I make myself a cup of tea and write.Remind yourself this is your time to work, and you can be fully present to whatever problems are facing you when you are done with your writing.

#3: When You Feel You Cant Escape Your Situation, Start By Describing It.

Many booksfiction and nonfictionhave been born of personal difficulties. Writing about where you are right now can prime the pump,proving to your creative self that writing is possible. As a bonus, you may also discover the seeds of a new project in the process.

Creativity is possible. You are just going to have to go about it in different ways for a while. @alliepleiter #writingtips #writingcommunity Click To Tweet

#4: Embrace The Lousy First Draft.

Brilliance is likely beyond your reacheven if you discover you work great under pressure. Tell yourself: It doesnt have to be perfect; it just has to be written.You can revise and polish your draft at another time once you get through the difficult stage of putting the words down on paper no matter how inelegant they feel. As best-selling author Nora Roberts famously said, You cant fix a blank page.

 

#5: Set A Timer.

Pick whatever span of time feels possibleeven fifteen minutes. Most of us can stand fifteen minutes of almost anything. Once or twice a day, set the timer and have at it. During those minutes, give yourself permission to be a writerrather than someone ill, caring, or coping. Starting is often the hardest part, and you may discover you can work longer than you think.

 

#6: Try Dictation.

Chances are you wont need any special equipment for dictation because most computers and nearly every smartphone comes preloaded with some form of basic dictation software. If typing feels beyond youor if you have a physical limitation such as carpal tunnel syndrome, eyesight issues, a bad back, or a broken wristclose your eyes and dictate a scene, a setting, or even a character description to get you started. Carry on dictating as long as you can. An added benefit of dictation: You cant edit or see mistakes, so theres nothing to impede your progress.

Creativity is possible. You are just going to have to go about it in different ways for a while. The gift of writing God has given you hasnt gone awayit may just be in hiding. I hope these tips will give you help to go find it. The world needs your stories!

As the author of The Chunky Method Handbook, Im passionate about creative people be more productive. If youd like to join my Chunky Method mailing list and get many more writing productivity tips, simply text the word CHUNKY to 22828.

how to write when everything goes wrong

Buy The Book

How to Write When Everything is Going Wrong: A Practical Guide to W riting Through Tough Times by Allie Pleiter – Is your muse yelling “SOS”? How do you keep the words pouring onto the page when your real life feels like it’s under attack? Every writer knows how stress and personal crises can strangle your creativity. Help is on the way in this brilliantly practical guide. Inside, you’ll find advice that:
– Gets you through the thick of your crisis
– Gives you tactics that will energize you to keep writing
– Teaches you to use your stress to inspire your writing
– And much more! As the author of over 30 books and the creator of The Chunky Method of time management for writers, Pleiter has met deadlines in the midst of some imposing traumas. With candor, insight, and the wisdom of experience, she shares practical and inventive strategies for how to stay afloat and creative amid life’s stormiest seas.

 

writing in difficult times

More About Allie

Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction working on as many as four books at a time. She is the bestselling author of over fifty titles with a twenty-year career of over 1.5 million books sold. Allie also coaches on productivity and speaks on the creative process. Visit www.alliepleiter.com. 

Get a free download of her 15 tips for writing under stress!

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