Video Tour of 7 Character Name Generator Sites

Video Tour of 7 Character Name Generator Sites

FREE CHARACTER-NAMING GUIDE BELOW! Are you a fiction writer who could use some help on how to name your characters?

Then check out this video tour of seven amazing name generator websites for writers. I’ll show you where you can quickly generate English first and last names, find out names popular in certain years, discover multicultural names, and even generate the perfect names for medieval characters, dragons, vampires, unicorns, and fairies.

Do you need a name to reflect a certain ethnicity? Or, would you like to explore what potential character names mean so that it can add a layer of symbolism? These sites will help you with all of this and more.

You can also visit my blog post which has clickable links to each site along with six questions you should be asking yourself before finalizing your character names.

Sign up for a PDF of my Tips for Naming Characters Guide, which includes a list of all the questions and character-name sites in one handy download. Get the PDF here: https://billowing-water-5216.ck.page/f47dd8ffda

In the comments, share the name of one of your characters and why you chose it. Please like this video and share it with any writers who might find it helpful! Have you used any of these sites to help you pick your character names? Do you have others to recommend. Let me know in the comments.

Never Send Your First Draft To An Editor & Other Advice For Writers

Never Send Your First Draft To An Editor & Other Advice For Writers

I had such a fun time chatting with fellow writer Kat Caldwell, host of the podcast Pencils&Lipstick, and giving advice for writers including my number one tip: NEVER SEND YOUR FIRST DRAFT TO AN EDITOR.

Even your second and third drafts may not be strong enough, as let’s face it, editors are expensive. You should only send your best work so that you’re not paying someone big bucks to catch flaws you could’ve caught yourself.

Unfortunately, many writers don’t know how to self-edit their early drafts. Kat and I discussed why I created my new course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable, a class geared toward beginner and intermediate fiction and creative nonfiction authors. It’s the course that I wish was available when I started writing as it would have saved me a lot of time, money, and aggravation.

Blood, Sweat, And Tears!

Speaking of aggravation, Kat and I also discussed our “blood, sweat, and tears years.” We were aspiring writers in the 1990s, before indie publishing took off, before Kindle, and before the INTERNET! We talked about how new authors today have so many more options than Kat and I did when we were starting out, and how wonderful it is to have writing groups and classes available online so you don’t have to drive to them.

It was fun talking with someone who remembered trudging to the post office to mail a thick yellow envelope with a self-addressed stamped envelope inside, and then the mixed feelings when your SASE eventually wound up in your mailbox. It was probably a rejection, but. . .maybe there was a slim possibility it was a publishing offer with some editing notes???

Rejections From Editors You Want To Pay?

We also fast-forwarded to the present and discussed how as a freelance editor, I’ve worked with beginner authors on 3-4 drafts of their novels, and even then the manuscripts weren’t ready for publication. They wished they could have afforded more rounds of developmental editing, but needed to save money for copyediting and cover design. That was before I created Book Editing Blueprint, which would have saved them money on those early drafts. Kat was telling me about freelance editors she’d come across who wouldn’t even accept beginner writers as clients. These editors tell writers that the manuscript needs a lot of work before they can take on the author as a client, leaving the writer confused. Wasn’t that the point of trying to hire an editor? To make the manuscript better?

Even though there are more oppportunities for authors nowadays, learning the craft is just as important as it was in the 1990s. I hope you enjoy our candid conversation about the writing life, sprinkled with lots of advice for writers. The first 40 minutes discuss the ups and downs of my writing journey and what led me to this point in my career, and then for the rest of the podcast we talk about Book Editing Blueprint and the common mistakes that writers make.

Pencils&Lipstick is for anyone who is a writer, reader or looking for encouragement to develop their creativity. Kat interviews writers, entrepreneurs, artists, and many others. You’ll get audio samples of new books coming out, and she tackles life issues that plague us all.

You can also join her Pencils&Lipstick Facebook group, a growing community where creatives come together to encourage and connect.

To listen to our interview, check out the show on Apple Podcasts or click here.

5 Reasons To Join The Shortcuts For Writers Facebook Group

5 Reasons To Join The Shortcuts For Writers Facebook Group

Today I’m going to give you a tour of my Facebook group for writers. It’s called Shortcuts for Writers – Editing Made Simple, and it’s a community for fiction and creative nonfiction writers of all levels who want to make the writing and editing process easier. https://www.facebook.com/groups/shortcutsforwriters/

As a member of this writing community, you’ll get LOTS of writing and editing tips. My mission is to make everything I teach as simple and actionable as possible. Members can download the free interactive guide 𝟳 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗽𝘀 𝗧𝗼 𝗡𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗕l𝘂𝗿𝗯. It’s filled with tips for crafting your back cover copy and book description for sites like Amazon.

In addition, you will find camaraderie and a friendly, supportive author community. Beginner writers can find experienced writers eager to help those learning the craft.

📚 𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗽 𝗶𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿: Fiction and creative nonfiction writers of all levels.

❌ 𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗽 𝗶𝘀𝗻’𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿: If you’re seeking a place to promote your books and author services, then this isn’t the group for you.

I hope you’ll check out the video and head over to Facebook so you can answer the membership questions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/shortcutsforwriters/

If you found this video helpful, please like, subscribe, and share it with your writer friends.

25+ Unique Gifts For Writers That They Will Actually Use And Want

25+ Unique Gifts For Writers That They Will Actually Use And Want

Are you searching for useful and unique gifts for writers in your life? Or perhaps you are the writer and need ideas of what to ask for during the holidays or for your birthday or graduation. Maybe your family has a tendency to buy you literary-themed mugs, T-shirts, and socks, and while those novelty ideas were cute at first, now you want a gift for writers that you could use.

Below you’ll find 25+ Unique Gifts for Writers That They Will Actually Use and Want. I polled the members of the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook Group, did an inventory of my own favorite products, and combed the Internet for ideas.

I’ll update this gift recommendation list periodically and do some spin-off lists such as book gifts for writers and fun and frivolous gifts for authors, so feel free to post additional ideas in the comments. Ready? Let’s get started.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase, then I will receive a small commission which I will use to help support this blog and my YouTube channel.

Desk Gifts For Writers

Hemingway Pencil CupThis typewriter-themed pencil holder will bring a smile to the face of a writer or aspiring writer. With a faux stone composite and ample room for pencils, it will add some style to their desk. Okay, maybe this a borderline novelty item, but we all need somewhere to keep our pens and pencils, right? So, it will get some decent use.

unique gifts for writers

TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp – How about a smart lamp to shed some extra light for a hardworking author? The LED reflects the light sideways and produces a strain-free light beam that doesn’t harm your eyes. The built-in iSmart USB charging port will power up your devices and keep them right within reach for extra convenience.

christmas gifts for authors

Coffee Mug Warmer – This earned high marks from members of the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group. This coffee mug warmer quietly maintains the optimal drinking temperature for hot drinks to 130 ℉ in 5 minutes. Writers tired of sipping cold coffee or hot chocolate will consider this gift an indulgent treat.

The Synonym Finder by J.J. Rodale –  This book features more than 1,000,000 synonyms in a simple alphabetical arrangement. It has been expanded to include thousands of new words and expressions that have entered the language in recent years. It’s a great resource for writers to keep within easy reach on their desk.

Planner Gifts For Writers

The 2020-2021 Self-Publishing Author’s Planner – This was highly recommended by a member of the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group. Here is a snippet from a customer review: “This is an excellent organizer to help keep track of the myriad of details of writing, editing, and marketing that are part of a writer’s life. The layout allows me to be non-linear when I need to brainstorm my plans, and still create the lists I have to check off as I work through them. “

Planner Pad: This is what I personally use. I’ve tried loads of planners, and this one has made me the most productive. I first heard about the Planner Pad from online marketing expert Amy Porterfield. I love how each week there is space to categorize everything you have going on in your life, such as writing, book promotion, social media, freelance work, family, chores, etc. Then you assign specific days for action and block out time to get things done. The company says that if you’re not more focused and organized in six months, you’ll get your money back. 

Word Count Stickers – Regardless of which planner you use, consider ordering word count stickers to help you stay on track with your writing goals. If you do a search on Etsy, several choices come up.

Tech Gifts For Writers


practical gifts for writers

Lap Desk for Laptop with Built-in Wrist Support, Mouse Pad, Cellphone, and Pen Holder – A lap desk is a must for authors who use a laptop. I asked my husband for this one as a Christmas gift this year as it is a huge step up from what I’m using now. This one caught my eye as it includes an ergonomic wrist support, a mouse pad for my new wireless mouse, a slot for a cellphone, and a pen holder as I’m always losing pens and highlighters. It’s a little pricier than other lap desks, but my tired wrists will thank me for the wrist support, and it will be nice to have a place for my cell phone and pens as well as a built-in mouse pad. If you don’t want the ergonomic wrist support, then this lap desk has all the other features. And if you just want a simple, no-frills sturdy lap desk, you could also check out this one which comes in assorted colors.

christmas gifts for writers

Laptop Computer Case with Shoulder Strap and Side Pockets – I use this roomy case to carry my Chromebook and other supplies when I go on vacation or to write at the library or in a coffee shop. It has plenty of room for power cords, notebooks, pens, snacks, and other items as well as enough padding to keep my device safe.

unique christmas gifts for writers

AmazonBasics Rolling Bag Laptop Computer Case with Wheels – A writer who travels a lot will appreciate this rolling laptop computer case. It fits under airplane seats and has an easy-access front pocket with compartments for smaller items like pens and notepads.

what to buy a writer

Chromebook – Writers who don’t have a laptop need to consider purchasing one as a laptop has made me much more productive. I love that I’m no longer tied to my desk and can write and work on the go. My favorite spot is my plush recliner in the living room. Personally, I prefer the simplicity of a Chromebook. I quickly adjusted to working on Google Drive, and appreciate that I don’t have to worry about installing anti-virus software like I do on my desktop. I set up my lap desk, flip open the Chromebook, and I’m ready to work. When I take a break, I can even watch Netflix on the screen. If you buy a Chromebook or another laptop, I recommend purchasing a sleeve case for it and a lap desk. Some writers may also prefer a wireless mouse to the Chromebook’s touchpad.

presents for authors

Laptop Sleeve Protective Case – I have this case in coral for my Chromebook  and love it. I use it for carrying my Chromebook around the house, or if am bringing it somewhere but don’t need a lot of extra supplies. It’s come in handy while my kids are at a birthday party or a karate lesson and I’m getting a little work done while waiting for them. Just pay attention to the measurements of both the laptop and the case so the fit isn’t too tight. For my Chromebook, I went with the 13-inch case. 

presents for writers

Wireless Mouse – Some people prefer using a mouse to a touchpad. That’s where a wireless mouse comes in. You plug it into the device’s USB port, and then it’s just like working on a desktop except without a long mouse cord. You can either buy a mouse pad to go with it, or a lap desk that has a built-in mouse pad like the one above.

useful gifts for writers

Ergonomic Mouse Pad – In the past, I’ve had flare-ups of wrist pain, so I now use an ergonomic mouse pad with a gel-filled wrist support at my desktop. I tried a couple of ergonomic keyboards, but they both stopped working relatively quickly. I found that the ergonomic mouse pad was just as beneficial, and family members sharing the desktop liked that much better than having to deal with the unusual layout and feel of an an ergonomic keyboard.

usefful gifts for authors

Gel Memory Foam Keyboard Wrist Pad – I also have this long ergonomic rest pad for my desktop computer. It comes with a small mouse wrist rest also, though I don’t use it as I find a large ergonomic mouse pad more comfortable. This product has an impressive Amazon rating, so most people are happy with the set.

best gifts for authors

Kindle Fire HD – All writers should understand what it’s like to read an e-book. Since many readers prefer e-books, it’s important for authors to be familiar with the technology so they can get a better understanding of their customers. At least, that’s a good excuse for buying one. Kindle Fires are also fun. You can read on it, choosing from millions of Kindle books and magazine titles. You can even borrow Kindle books from your local library. However, Kindle Fires can do a lot more than store hundreds of books. You can download apps, play games, listen to music from the Amazon Digital Music Store, watch movies and TV shows, check your email, and go on social media.

Tools For Writers

Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad – Highly recommended by members of the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group. Why should being in the shower slow down your creative muse? Capture and preserve your ideas on this waterproof pad.

best gifts for writers

Light Up Pen for Night Writing – Another recommendation from the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group. These pens feature a bright steady light for writing in the dark. Since many writers get their best ideas overnight, this is a great tool. Pair it with a nice notebook like this leather journal.

games for writers

Storymatic Classic – A fun way to help overcome writer’s block. This kit has 540 cards with prompts, games, and suggestions. Here is a snippet from an Amazon review: “As an aspiring writer, I sometimes get stuck or hit a road bloack. Whenever this happens, I pull out a few cards and let my imagination go. Never in my wildest imagination would I ever write about a competitive eater, driver of an ice cream truck, or a person with wings at a class reunion talking about broken promises while looking at unflattering portraits of themselves in their yearbook…Yep, this all came from the cards.” 

what to buy writers

I always recommend that my clients print a hard copy of their manuscript for editing purposes. A pack of highlighters and retractable colored pens are helpful tools for making edits on a hard copy.

A nice set of retractable black ink pens will also be appreciated by any writer.

supplies for writers

Set of 1200 neon page markers – These flags help you find what you want on your manuscript’s hard copy exactly when you need it. Use the different colors to mark different types of edits you have to make such as description, point of view, internal thought, dialogue, etc. The secure, self-stick tabs offer quick and easy tabbing and indexing. They’re easy to write on and simple to remove, replace, or reposition.

great gifts for writers

Electric Pencil Sharpener – This idea was suggested on Facebook as an addition to this post. I don’t use pencils, but some writers do, and I’ll bet they would appreciate a nice electric pencil sharpener. We have this one in our house as my husband wanted one. He and the kids use it all the time. I do sharpen one from time-to-time, and this is so much better than our previous pencil sharpener.

good gifts for an author

Amazon Gift Card – How about a gift card to Amazon, or to an office supply store, so the writer can go on a shopping spree? 

Comfort Gifts For Writers

gifts for fiction writers

Real Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer – I have one of these and take it out when I need to relieve a tight neck and shoulders after a long day at the computer. You can use it while reading or watching TV. Looks a little strange, but it works!

unique gifts for ficiton writers

Neckbone Chiropractic Pillow – This chiropractic support pillow is great for traveling, sleeping, or just reclining after a long day at the computer. I’ve also given these as gifts to relatives who had neck pain, and they raved about it. They’ve even shown it to friends who were so impressed, they went and bought one for themselves. 

special gifts for authors

Back Buddy Trigger Point Back Massager – Okay, this one looks REALLY weird! My husband makes fun of me when I use it, but boy, does it work for relieving super-tight knotted muscles when he isn’t around to sweet talk into rubbing my neck and back. I use it along with The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief.

gifts writers will love

Lumbar Support Back Cushion for Office Chair – I keep this on my office chair when working at my desktop, and have given it as gifts to family members with low back soreness. It relieves tightness in the mid-to-lower back from a long time sitting. My family members appreciated it and said it helped them, and I’m never in my desk chair without it.

Editing Software 

ProWritingAidUse my affiliate link to get a 20 percent discount! ProWritingAid is my favorite editing software, and is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. You can view my demo above or on YouTube. You’ll learn why ProWritingAid is a helpful spell and grammar checker and editing tool for writers, see examples of the strengths and limitations, and watch me do some informal, off the cuff line editing. ProwritingAid is an excellent supplement to my upcoming signature online course Book Editing Blueprint, and it’s a resource that I recommend to my editing clients. You can also read more about it in this blog post.

Conclusion 

So, there you go. I hope this list of useful and unique gifts for writers was helpful to you. As I indicated in the introduction, I plan to keep it updated and may do some spin-off lists, so I’d love to hear your gift ideas for writers and aspiring writers in the comments. 

Get ProWritingAid For 20 Percent Off Plus My Exclusive Bonuses

Get ProWritingAid For 20 Percent Off Plus My Exclusive Bonuses

Should you invest in paid software like ProWritingAid? That’s a question I hear a lot from writers. My answer is that you should definitely consider it.

I always recommend ProWritingAid as the one to purchase, and if you use my affiliate link, you can get it for 20 percent off. Also, if you forward your receipt to me, I’ll send you two exclusive bonuses. (details below)

I’ve used the premium version for years and have corresponded with their support team as a customer and as an affiliate. I like the software, know it well, and find the customer support team responsive to questions and concerns. Want to know more about ProWritingAid? Keep reading!

FAQS

Q. What is ProWritingAid?

A. It’s my favorite editing software, and is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. You can view my demo below or on YouTube. You’ll learn why ProWritingAid is a helpful spell and grammar checker and editing tool for writers, see examples of the strengths and limitations, and watch me do some informal, off the cuff line editing.

I am promoting this tool as ProwritingAid is an excellent supplement to my upcoming signature online course Book Editing Blueprint, and it’s a resource that I recommend to my editing clients.

 

Q. Why buy it through my affiliate link?  

A. I’ve got a daughter going to college in a couple years, so I appreciate the affiliate sales! If you email me your receipt, I’ll send you my two-page Overused Words Cheat Sheet, a valuable tool that will only be available to students in Book Editing Blueprint. This resource will help you to find the stale overused words in your writing as well as the “padding words” that can be easily cut.

I’ll also send you a 42-minute tutorial video that teaches you how to use the Overused Words Cheat Sheet and unleash the power of ProWritingAid and Google Docs/Microsoft Word.

These two bonuses will help you to take your line editing to a new level.

Q. Which plan should I get? 

There are different options. Here is the U.S. pricing, as of this writing.

1-year: $70

2-year: $100

3-year: $140

Lifetime: $240

When choosing which plan to purchase, think about how often you’ll use it. Are you a prolific author who churns out a couple books per year? Then maybe the lifetime ProWritingAid license would be a worthwhile investment. I found that paying a one-time fee for a lifetime license was a much cheaper alternative than renewing a subscription on an ongoing basis. However, if it takes you a long time to write a book and you only have one manuscript, then a shorter-term plan might be sufficient.

Q. I might be interested. What do I do next?

1. Watch my demo video on YouTube or above.  I’ll show you exactly what the software does and run through several sample scans. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or tag me in the Facebook group and I will do my best to answer.

2. To purchase the software, use my link.

3. Forward your receipt to me at stacy@stacyjuba.com and I’ll send you my bonus Overused Words Cheat Sheet and the accompanying training video.

Let’s make editing simple.

Do You Need Tips For Your Author Newsletter? Free Online Email Marketing Workshop For #Writers

Do You Need Tips For Your Author Newsletter? Free Online Email Marketing Workshop For #Writers

 

email newsletter tips for writers

 

Save the date! On June 12 at 10 a.m. EST, email marketing strategist Meera Kothand will drop by the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook Group to discuss a different aspect of writing and editing that many authors have trouble with—how to write for your email list. Topics will include finding ideas to write about and how to craft engaging marketing copy for an email audience.

If you’re a published author, you probably have an email list, but may need inspiration for how you can best make use of it. If you’re an unpublished author, it’s never too soon to start collecting email addresses. Perhaps in the meantime, you can promote your blog, YouTube channel, or other authors in your genre. Since my Facebook group has a mix of beginners and established bestselling authors, rather than talk about expensive email platforms, we’re going to focus on simple techniques that you can use regardless of your mailing list platform.

As you may know, I recently launched the Shortcuts for Writers website and blog, and am working on finishing up my online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable. I’m also working on creating a free line editing course, writing informative blog posts for writers, and shooting some YouTube videos. I didn’t want you to have to wait too long for great content, so when the opportunity arose to host Meera on my Facebook group, I was thrilled. After all, I have been following her for a while and find her books extremely helpful.

Meera’s latest release is 300 Email Marketing Tips: Critical Advice And Strategy To Turn Subscribers Into Buyers & Grow A Six-Figure Business With Email.

 

Buy It On Amazon

Here is the blurb for the book:

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

1. You sit down every week staring at that blinking cursor wondering what to send your email list, and then a week becomes two or more, and you can’t remember when the last time you emailed them was.

2. You have an opt-in incentive or lead magnet that’s pretty much doing nothing for you or your business.

3. You have a haphazardly thrown together email sequence that doesn’t bring you sales or engagement.

4. You silently cringe every month as you pay out your email service provider because you’re not using any of their features.

5. You’re pretty much winging it with email.

email tips for writersIf you’re nodding yes, 300 Email Marketing Tips will give you more than a bare-bones framework to put in place an email marketing strategy for your business. Here’s what’s packed in this how-to guide:

  • What branding has to do with email marketing and the #1 thing most solopreneurs ignore when it comes to their email list
  • 7 things your welcome email must do (but probably doesn’t!)
  • Why your lead magnet has to address THESE two critical points
  • 3 ways to plan your email editorial calendar
  • Answers to these questions and more:

– I have thirty thousand page views a month but get only 42 subscribers for an month. What am I doing wrong?

 – My email sequence gets a lot of engagement and opens. Everyone says they love my stuff, but I still get no sales for my e-book. Why?

Join The Workshop

If learning more about email marketing is on your to-do list, or you want to make your email newsletters more engaging and  relevant, then check out Meera’s book and be sure to join the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group. Once you answer the screening questions, our moderators will approve your membership. Read the pinned post to learn more about the group. And then on June 12, be sure to check out Meera’s workshop. Be there at 10 a.m. EST if you want to catch her live. Bring your questions!

About Meera

Meera is an email marketing strategist and 3X Amazon best-selling author of the books The One Hour Content PlanBut I’m not an Expert & Your First 100. She is also the publisher of MeeraKothand.Com, an award-winning site listed as one of the 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs  in 2017 and 2018, and the popular CREATE Planners. Using her unique Profitable Email System™ and ADDictive Business Framework, she makes powerful marketing strategies simple and relatable so that small business owners can build a tribe that’s addicted to their zone of genius.

 

 

Join Shortcuts For Writers Online Writing Community on Facebook

Join Shortcuts For Writers Online Writing Community on Facebook

Facebook groups for writers

Welcome to the Shortcuts for Writers Blog! In addition to launching this website and blog, I’ve started an online writing community on Facebook and am offering an exclusive toolkit to members. It’s called 7 Simple Steps To Nailing Your Book Blurb and will guide you through crafting your novel blurb in a series of 7 easy steps. It also lists the most common mistakes for back cover copy and gives examples of successful blurbs that have reeled in readers.

I’m really excited about this download as in my editing business, I see many clients who have trouble writing book blurbs. It’s not an easy task to boil down your book to one or two paragaphs and to make it sound enticing rather than having it read like a book report. I used to hate writing book blurbs until I came up with a system to make it easier.

You can download the free toolkit once you’re a member of the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook Group. My goal with this online writing community is to inspire you during your writing and editing journey, share editing tips, and foster a sense of community. We’ve been having fun discussions on topics ranging from the aggravation of lay vs lie and awhile vs a while to the writing habits of Danielle Steel.

I’ve been working on my new Shortcuts for Writers website and blog, as well as a free 5-day self-editing class and my signature online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable. Classes, blog posts, and YouTube tip videos are coming soon, but in the meantime, join the Facebook group where you can make some new friends and get started on writing a book blurb. Be sure to answer the quick admission questions and then you can get started. See you there!

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