Resources I Found While Writing My Novel & Things I Learned

I started this blog back in August of 2008 shortly after I started writing this novel. Initially it was on another website of mine. Last post before the move to this website was in March 2012. Resuming it here.

Amazon UK 2020 Soryteller Contest

Entering this contest, hopefully. May be a little late

Writing Contests for Fall 2020

From WriterUnboxed

What It Was Like for Sailors During the Battle of the Atlantic

Beyond the World War II We Know
"For those fighting the longest naval campaign of World War II, weather and German U-boats were constant threats."
Posting This Because My Novel is set in the Second World War.

One More Article on Breathing (Important for Fighting COVID) Before I Return to the Subject of Writing

Breathe Better With These Nine Exercises
"You can't be truly healthy unless you’re breathing correctly."

What it's like for one nurse working on the COVID-19 Frontline facing death every day (death for some patients and maybe for himself):

This nurse has discussed this on his Facebook page.

By Richard Levitan (an emergency doctor) writing in the NY Times April 20, 2020 "Covid pneumonia cases are... different"

"Covid pneumonia initially causes a form of oxygen deprivation we call 'silent hypoxia'...

"As the inflammation from Covid pneumonia starts, it causes the air sacs to collapse, and oxygen levels fall. Yet the lungs initially remain 'compliant,' not yet stiff or heavy with fluid. This means patients can still expel carbon dioxide — and without a buildup of carbon dioxide, patients do not feel short of breath....

"There are other things we can do... to avoid immediately resorting to intubation and a ventilator. Patient positioning maneuvers (having patients lie on their stomach and sides) opens up the lower and posterior lungs most affected in Covid pneumonia. Oxygenation and positioning helped patients breathe easier and seemed to prevent progression of the disease in many cases. In a preliminary study by Dr. Caputo, this strategy helped keep three out of four patients with advanced Covid pneumonia from needing a ventilator in the first 24 hours."

More breathing exercises as a defense against COVID-19 (infected or not infected):

Continuing to collect info for my health and others. This is from the New York Times which usually requires a subscription but has made its coronavirus information free to all: What Doctors on the Front Lines Wish They’d Known a Month Ago

  • "The biggest change: Instead of quickly sedating people who had shockingly low levels of oxygen and then putting them on mechanical ventilators, many doctors are now keeping patients conscious, having them roll over in bed, recline in chairs and continue to breathe on their own — with additional oxygen — for as long as possible."
  • "Other doctors are rejiggering CPAP breathing machines, normally used to help people with sleep apnea, or they have hacked together valves and filters. For some critically ill patients, a ventilator may be the only real hope."
  • "People who need breathing tubes, which connect to mechanical ventilators that assist or take over respiration, are rarely in any shape to [talk].... If conscious, they are often incoherent.... Yet many Covid-19 patients remain alert, even when their oxygen has sharply fallen, for reasons health care workers can only guess."
  • "Some patients, by taking oxygen and rolling onto their sides or on their bellies, have quickly returned to normal levels. The tactic is called proning.... Proning does not seem to work as well in older patients, a number of doctors said."
  • "...contrary to expectations, a number of doctors at New York hospitals believe intubation is helping fewer people with Covid-19 than other respiratory illnesses "
  • "For heavier patients, Dr. Levitan advocates combining breathing support from a CPAP machine or regular oxygen with comfortable positioning on a pregnancy massage mattress."

Also related to change in life information I am collecting for my health and others: New study at Rush Medical Center will have coronavirus patients lie facedown with oxygen to see if it saves them from having to go on ventilators

I just had a hay fever attack so am sharing this: Allergies and coronavirus: What you need to do now to protect your lungs

"Experts say allergies may impact your respiratory system and make it more fragile, thus possibly making it easier to catch the novel coronavirus, or worsening any Covid-19 symptoms once you did."

Change of pace, related to all of life: I've been hearing good things about breathing exercises to strengthen the lungs and I thought I would share some as I posted them for myself to remind myself to do them. Each should be started before one gets symptoms and continue through the illness and afterwards.

and another

Background with Chris Cuomo who is in the middle of fighting it

Writing Websites of Interest

6 Steps to Get Your Self-Published Book Into Libraries

Post from by Ilham Alam on
  1. Research, research, research.
    Look at the public library’s website to find out whether they have a system for accepting self-published books into circulation. Or you can contact the head librarian or the procurement librarian for the specific department that corresponds to your book genre. For example, I always looked for the head children’s librarian of the system that I was reaching out to.
  2. Nice people finish first.
  3. Create a sell sheet.
    Prepare a basic sell sheet including your book’s cover, title, the publisher, available formats and ISBNs, pricing, a brief description of the book, why it will appeal to library patrons, significant blurbs or awards, and how it can be ordered. This information can be incorporated into an email, or it can be designed and printed as a one-page shell sheet that you can take with you if meeting librarians in person.
  4. Show off (persuade) a little.
    If you pitch the library via email, definitely include links to your profile on your publisher’s website (if there is one), your own author website or blog, and your social media channels.... mention other libraries that have already bought your book, if any...
  5. Ensure your book is available from library wholesalers.
    Ensure that your book is available through Baker & Taylor (US and Canada), WhiteHots (Canada) and Library Services Center (Canada)....
  6. Offer to do an event. readings and book must do your part to promote your appearances, as you want to ensure there is good attendance at your author reading.
See the Librarian pitch template included.

Clarkesworld Magazine, a Hugo, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy Award-winning science fiction and fantasy magazine

Publishes short stories: 1000-22000 words (no exceptions). Pays 10 cents a word.

Stories must be:
  • Well-written. Language is important. There is no distinction between "style" and "substance" or "story" and "writing."
  • Convenient for on-screen reading. Very long paragraphs or typographical trickery may work against you.
  • Suitable for audio. Stories should be equally effective, but not necessarily the same, in text and audio formats.

Posting this in case I some day want to check them out:
Jenkins Group Book Marketing & Distribution Services

"Now that your books are complete, the real challenges of publishing must be met head on. Jenkins Group works closely with authors and publishers to create and execute highly effective pre- and post-publication marketing and distribution service plans; an integral part of any book publishing project.
  • We help you develop an overall marketing strategy through our one-day in-house workshop.
  • We develop promotional material specifically for your project.
  • We have connections with distributors, wholesalers, national bookstore chains and fulfillment houses to help you sell your book.
  • We submit your books to both pre-publication and post-publication reviewers to get your book noticed.
  • We research and promote your book to targeted media publications generating publicity opportunities.
  • We direct you to the best in award contests, public relations firms, and literary agents.
  • We ensure your book is properly listed with major Internet retailers.
  • Want to sell books by the thousands? We can help you find book clubs, catalogs, and corporations through our special market sales services.
  • Below is a comprehensive and unique menu of premium services that serve your needs no matter where you are in the process of creating or marketing your book.
To learn more about our services and pricing, visit"

A Synonym Finder that Even Includes "was"

Here is the list for "was".

Jane Friedman on "How Indie Authors can get into Libraries

"During a webinar on May 15, publishing industry vet Amy Collins presented an hour-long session on how self-published authors can get their books into libraries. She emphasized how it’s critical for authors to make sure their work is available through a wholesaler as a first step. Wholesalers include:
  • OverDrive for ebooks (more on this in a moment)
  • IngramSpark for print
  • Findaway Voices for audio
"If you intend to make libraries a focus of your marketing, Collins advised preparing three documents for your approach:"
  1. "One-page sales sheet: brief book description, brief author bio, marketing overview, comparative titles, book specifications (title, page count, format, ISBN, etc), and cover image"
  2. "One-page marketing plan that includes awards, reviews, and how you’ll be spreading the word about your book"
  3. "A cover letter to a specific librarian that emphasizes you’re about to launch a marketing campaign for the book that will spark demand, noting the wholesalers where the book is available."
For more detail, check out Amy’s course at Reedsy.
"While it’s possible to get your ebook into OverDrive through a distributor such as Draft2Digital, a library may not know your book is available unless you do specific marketing outreach (as described above).
"An alternative—or something you can do in addition—is submit your work for free to the Indie Author Project (IAP) and/or Self-e program; both are powered by Biblioboard, Library Journal, and OverDrive. Your work is reviewed by professionals at Library Journal, the Black Caucus of the ALA, and a network of hundreds of librarians who participate in the IAP’s regional indie ebook contests. About 8 percent of titles submitted are selected for the national Indie Author Project collection...."

Craft First Chapter Contest

Craft first chapters contest is inviting entries of excerpts from book-length fiction. The winner will receive US$2000, a manuscript critique and publication. I haven't looked into this. Deadline in 2019 is July 31. Cost/Reading Fee is $25.

Beautiful & Simple Free WordPress Themes for Writers 2018

Still trying to find a simple WordPress themes. Here are some to consider when/if.

Stephen Pressfield has a blog

At this link he has an interesting entry about the fact that the villain doesn't have an arc of change. Something Kurosawa pointed out. "Heroes evolve [says Kurosawa, cited by Kasdan]. They’re open to change and growth." Further he translates, "This state of completion/stasis/self-satisfaction is the villain’s weakness."

North Street Book Prize for self-published books

Your self-published book can win up to $3,000 plus expert marketing services. Submit during February 15-June 30 (2019). Submit one or more self-published books in these categories: Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction & Memoir (definition), Poetry, Children's Picture Book, Graphic Narrative (novels, memoirs, story collections, etc.)

Free Character Sympathy Course from Alicia Rasley

Interesting course especially for people new to writing fiction but also for someone who's still struggling.

The Readers' Favorite Annual Book Award Contest.

Deadline in 2019 was June 1st. Contest looks really good. Wish I was prepared. It "accept[s] manuscripts, published and unpublished books, eBooks, audiobooks, comic books, poetry books and short stories in 140+ genres. We do not have a word count restriction or a publication date requirement, which means it does not matter when or if your book was published. We are an international competition, but your work must be in English." $99 to $119 to enter one category/genre (less for additional categories/genres). Associated with The Miami Book Fair International. 
Early Bird deadline - April 1 ($99),
Regular Deadline - May 1 ($109),
Final Deadline - June 1 ($119)

Writing Contests

The Legal Obligations of Self-Publishing and Freelance Writing: What You Need To Know

Not legal advice but a "handy guide... to assess where you stand" with regard to contracts, taxes, fair use, insurance, copyright, brand names and trademarks, and more.

Book Bloggers by Genre

One author's [Jennifer S. Alderson's] "list of those who have kindly reviewed or featured... books on their sites – categorized by Mystery, Travel, Historical Fiction, and All Genres." So this would be useful for all authors.

RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest: Standard Manuscript Format

This is their idea of Standard Manuscript Format (a fairly common one): Use standard submission format: double-spaced, 1-inch margins all around with a ragged right margin, Times New Roman 12-point font, 24 to 25 lines per page. Start the first page of each chapter 1/3 of the way down the page. Submit as a Microsoft Word file using the title of your novel as the file title.

RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest

Accepts Submissions from April 1, 2019to May 31, 2019. FIRST 4,000 words of your novel plus a synopsis of up to 750 words. Categories: Mystery/Thriller, Mainstream & Other Fiction, Women’s Fiction, SciFi/Fantasy Fiction/Horror, Young Adult / Middle Grade Fiction. For unpublished writers of commercial, novel-length fiction

2019 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Best Published Novel | Prize: £15,000 and Best Unpublished Manuscript | Prize: Publishing deal with Bonnier Books UK. Closed for submissions on 1st March 2019. The 2020 Prize will reopen for submissions in January 2020.

Booksie has a First Chapter Contest.

Submissions close June 14, 2019

Chicago Writers Association has a First Chapter Contest.

Submissions close around October

UK Retreat has online First Chapter Competition.

Around the beginning of the year. Puts out long list around the beginning of April. 
 2019 compertition: Deadline: 27th January 2019 Entry fee: £10. First chapters must be written in English and can be up to 3,500 words (no minimum word count) and on any theme and subject (except children’s fiction). First Prize Submission package review and feedback from that year's agent. Second Prize Submission package review and feedback from publisher and commissioning editor at Retreat West Books. Shortlisted Short feedback from agent on 1st chapter she reads during the judging process.

Reading Length: How Long is a particular novel?

A great resource for writers, although it's meant for readers to discover how long it will take them to read a book.

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2019

The Write Life version

k-lytics: eBooks Marketing Intelligence - Monthly K-lytics Market Updates on 3000 genre categories

Find the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Markets; Kindle Markets & eBooks Marketing Intelligence
There are more than 136 sci-fi and fantasy genres. What if you knew the ones that truly sell?: K-lytics – Research Done For You. The K-lytics Science Fiction & Fantasy Market Seminar, New Edition January 2019. For when I finish my second book which will be YA, Science Fiction.
The Complete Seminar Package Save 30% – For Limited Time Only Only $37!
The website also has a blog with articles including this one on BISAC CODES

More Writing and Thinking Links

Writer Beware Information from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

This page has the topics: Writers Beware which include Fake Writing Contests, Copyrights, Editors and Assessment Services, Literary Agents, Self-Publishing, Small Presses, Contracts, etc.

Additional Writing and Research Links

More Writing and Thinking Links

Don’t Save the Cat! Snyder vs. Sorkin and the Marginalization of Creative Screenwriting

This article about Synder and Sorkin is interesting though I disagree with the writer's disapproval of the ideas in "Save the Cat".

Offering Free Sample Editing

More Writing Links

Need to Know / Honesty is Not Always the Best Requirement

Amazing Analysis of What it would be like to be raised to never lie, to always tell the whole truth.

Does Anyone Know Anything about BookBrowse?

They are offering a one year membership for $29, but I know nothing about them.

Amazing Story Structure Cliff Notes from Larry Brooks

In 2000 words the basics. The structure into which to fit your story.
"A novel is written in four narrative parts, always in the same sequence."

Questions to Ask Your Protagonist

These questions are things a writer should know before even starting their story (they are compiled from some of the best story consultants):
  1. What has your life been like before the story starts?
  2. What have you wanted for most of for your life?
  3. What has been holding you back? Do you have a belief that you have found useful in the past, but has also kept you from getting the thing you want most?
  4. What are your best and worst qualities?
  5. What are you afraid of?
  6. What speech patterns set you apart from others?

Blurb: 5 Mistakes Every Self-Publisher Makes

Blurb wants you to hire them to help with your self-publishing, but they are offering good advice here especially for first time self-publishers:
  1. Don’t Skimp on the Cover.
  2. Triple Check Everything. (editor's suggestion: find other detail oriented, critical people to look things over as well---no one can catch every typo in their own work!)
  3. Do Your Metadata Right the First Time. (editor's suggestion: Blurb has another post called "Use Metadata to Sell Your Book" which explains this as regards books)
  4. Make a Plan to Market Your Book.
  5. Consider Order-fulfilment Services. (editor's note: this is a plug for their services but it may be useful for someone who doesn't want to have dozens or hundreds or thousands of extra copies to deal with)
See details on each of these things by clicking on their page.

Writing Links I need to bookmark

5 Reasons Why Every Author Needs An Email List

  1. Your email list represents your audience size, your audience size determines your sales.
  2. Your email list belongs to you.
  3. Your email list conversion outperforms your social media.
  4. Your email list is meant for building relationships.
  5. Your email list is your most valuable asset.

EPIGUIDE.COM Character Chart for Fiction Writers By Kira Lerner and Toni Walker

To "help writers develop fictional characters who are believable, captivating, and unique. Print this page to complete the form for each main character you create.... [A]ll fields are optional and should be used simply as a guide; character charts should inspire you to think about your character in new ways, rather than constrain your writing.."

How to Create a Villain Your Readers Will Love to Hate

" need to create a villain your readers will love, loathe and secretly root for at times — and, more importantly, will stay lodged in memory long after the final word of your novel has passed."


"Library Extension (Only on Chrome, for now, but they say it’s coming to Firefox soon!) pops up on Amazon and Goodreads when you’re searching for books and tells if your library has any copies."

Contests to Enter for 2018

Roma Links I Want to Archive

World War II Links I Want to Archive

KDP Jumpstart

Amazon says, "New to Kindle Direct Publishing? Want a simple, step-by-step guide to publishing on Amazon? We’ve created KDP Jumpstart for authors like you. KDP Jumpstart is a streamlined, sequential approach to the steps required to go from finished manuscript to published book. To publish on KDP, you’ll complete four major milestones."

Writing Links I Want to Archive

Seven Writing Lessons From "The Boys In The Boat"

Jennie Nash's How to Write a Book blog.

List of Editors from the Creative Penn

The Creative Penn.

Sell with Gumroad

I know nothing about this and have yet to investigate it but it looks interesting and I saw someone use it in an unusual way: Gumroad.

The BBC's Reith Lectures including the ones by Hilary Mantel

The Yearly Reith Lectures by International Thinkers.

Tips on Writing from Barry Lyga who wrote the spectacular novel Bang

More than fifty BLog posts, covering everything he says he know about writing. THE WRITING ADVICE INDEX.

Women’s Novel Competition Award Information

For my information for next September. I missed it for this year. Women’s Novel Competition.

Scene Structure / Scenes and Sequels

The whole point of scene structure is to create an ebb and flow that mimics how humans balance forward momentum with the necessary introspection to process that momentum... Helping Writers Become Authors on Scenes Part 2. Also see Scenes Part 1

National Novel Writing Month (November) Approaches

It encourages you to write a spare first draft of 50,000 words in a month. And its free. NaNoWriMo.
I plan to write the basics of a new story in my head (then it will take years to get it into shape).

Consequence Magazine Women Writing War Award Information

For my information for next summer. I missed it for this year. 2017 Consequence Magazine Women Writing War Award Information.

22 Rules of Storytelling

"Back in 2012, now-former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted a series of pearls of narrative wisdom she had picked up from working at the studio over the years." Here is a resummarizing of 22 Rules of Storytelling from Pixar.

From the Book, Save the Cat Strikes Back.

Betty Ryan's short pitch guide (p. 123)
  1. Opening image — a brief "who" of the hero
  2. Catalyst — the thing that sets the story in motion
  3. Break into two — the essence of the story and poster
  4. Midpoint  —The complications that challenged the hero
  5. All is lost  —how the hero loses everything
  6. Break into three  —the solution to the hero's dilemma
  7. Final image  — how he is transformed by the story

"A movie, I think, is really only four or five moments between two people; the rest of it exists to give those moments their impact and resonance. The script exists for that. Everything does." - Robert Towne

The ScriptLab lists 8 sequences: 2 in Act One, 4 in Act Two and 2 in Act Three
  • SEQUENCE ONE - Status Quo & Inciting Incident
  • SEQUENCE TWO - Predicament & Lock In
  • SEQUENCE THREE - First Obstacle & Raising the Stakes
  • SEQUENCE FOUR - First Culmination/Midpoint
  • SEQUENCE FIVE - Subplot & Rising Action
  • SEQUENCE SIX - Main Culmination/End of Act Two
  • SEQUENCE SEVEN - New Tension & Twist
  • SEQUENCE EIGHT - Resolution
Or see this Cheat Sheet: 7-Point Story Structure
  • PLOT TURN 1 should be the call to adventure. (Example from Harry Potter: Magic!)
  • Use the PINCH to apply pressure and introduce danger.
  • The MIDPOINT, PLOT TURN 2, and the second PINCH can be shuffled around a bit as needed.
    At the MIDPOINT, the MC and friends move from reaction to action. They confront new ideas, learn something and decide to do something about it. This may actually come fairly early in the book. In other words, midpoint does not need to mean “halfway” here.
  • For PLOT TURN 2, something horrible happens, but now the main character has what he needs. This will move us from trying to succeed to succeeding. The MC despairs, but is then told or realizes, “The power is in you.” Think Star Wars.
  • In PINCH 2 the plan fails. The MC is confronted by the jaws of defeat. Classic examples include the loss of a mentor and the loss or perceived loss of “everything.” Here the MC is forced to grow up in some way.
  • The RESOLUTION wraps up in a satisfying way the plot thread. This can be traditional mystery resolutions. A big fight scene. The MC saves the day. Whatever the primary goal of your hero’s plot was. But also think of it in terms of character movement. If the MC began as a rule breaker/loner, he might achieve a more powerful position by becoming a team player in the climax.
The Plot Turn/Pinch structure facilitates the use of TRY/FAIL cycles. The MC should TRY/FAIL at least twice before achieving his goal, otherwise the goal might be too easy for the reader to care. During the course of this, you may use the fails to demonstrate consequences–“Choose wisely or else.”

Larry Brooks talks about the Four Parts of your story:
  • Part 1 of your story… the Set-up. then the Inciting Incident takes place at about the 2% mark in the story.
  • Part 2 of your story… the Response. First Plot Point
  • Part 3 of your story… the Attack. Midpoint
  • Part 4 of your story… the Resolution.

More on Pixar Story Rules

Readers admire a character more for trying than succeeding - and - "Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it."

More on Emotions from Peter Dunne’s Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot: A Guide for Screenwriters

"Essentially, Peter teaches that the plot, beat for beat, is merely there to support the emotional relationships between the characters. And ultimately, the emotional story is the main focus of your script (and film). That emotional structure is the real story. Not the plot, per se." This is from Finding the Emotional Core of Your Story Blog/Page

Speaking of Emotion, I have just run into a quote by Orwell on autobiography

Which he says "never mention the humiliations that make up severity-five percent of human life." - This is from Tom Wolfe on the "Emotional Core of the Story"

I "think" I am missing the Emotional Core of my novel's story. So I looked around for information and found Screenwriting Tip #12: What is Emotion.

Gideon's Screenwriting Tips sway: "The five basic human emotions are happiness, sadness, love, anger and fear.." "Some psychologists believe all are emotions lie along a spectrum polarized by fear on one end and happiness on the other. Everything else is a subcategory of these two key emotions." A discussion of Malow's Theory of Human Motivations which says human needs include
  • Physiological....
  • Safety....
  • Love/ Belonging....
  • Esteem....
  • Self- Actualization – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. These are egocentric behaviors allowing us to function as individuals."
Then it says "Karl Iglesias has reduced scripts to requiring four emotional elements. Audience love stories to satisfy the following needs:
  • to obtain new information
  • to bond/ socialize
  • to understand and resolve conflicts
  • to get completion/ closure
  • to be entertained"
My research on this topic also elicited the information that the core emotions of the story should be at its core not on its surface.

I have been accepted to the Odyssey Online Workshop on writing scenes.

I thought I was rejected when told I was on the short list for a spot (I was told the same thing last year) but this year a few days later, I was accepted. Even the first email that I thought was a rejection however, was very useful and I had spent the time in between the two emails doing things on my story suggested by the first email. So, now my opening is entirely different. And the first chapter is a little longer than I wanted. Still, I think it is better.

I submitting the first thousand words to an Odyssey Online Workshop.

Last year I submitted the previous first thousand words for another of their online workshops. The application is $10 and for that I received back a couple of paragraphs of suggestions when they told me I hadn't made the cut. Those suggestions were the best suggestions I got all year. I am hoping this thousand words actually gets me into the workshop this year but even if it doesn't I am hoping for such useful suggestions as I got last year. If I don't get in, I plan to get a critique from them of my first 20,000 words as soon as I go through them again.

I have been accepted to the Odyssey Online Workshop on writing scenes.

I thought I was rejected when told I was on the short list for a spot (I was told the same thing last year) but this year a few days later, I was accepted. Even the first email that I thought was a rejection however, was very useful and I had spent the time in between the two emails doing things on my story suggested by the first email. So, now my opening is entirely different. And the first chapter is a little longer than I wanted. Still, I think it is better.

I submitting the first thousand words to an Odyssey Online Workshop.

Last year I submitted the previous first thousand words for another of their online workshops. The application is $10 and for that I received back a couple of paragraphs of suggestions when they told me I hadn't made the cut. Those suggestions were the best suggestions I got all year. I am hoping this thousand words actually gets me into the workshop this year but even if it doesn't I am hoping for such useful suggestions as I got last year. If I don't get in, I plan to get a critique from them of my first 20,000 words as soon as I go through them again.

I paid for a premium membership with ProWritingAid.

ProWritingAid has been so very useful to me. It finds overused words and that helps me (it even tells me how many instances I should take out). It tells me how many times I use passive case and doesn't recommend that I take it out all the time but tells me my percentage is too high and recommends how many to take out. It points out long sentences and usually I cut them in two but occasionally I leave one the way it is after being sure it makes sense, It makes sure my spelling is consistently British spelling!!! Of course for Americans writing in American English (as opposed to what I am doing), it would check American spelling to make sure it is right. It introduced me to the idea of sticky sentences (haven't figured out what to do about most of them but I can now see them). It does so much. I cannot tell you how useful I am finding it. And I am still discovering ways it can help me. You can try it for free. I wish I had found it years ago.

I am becoming more and more impressed with

Who would have thought an online editor could be so useful. I love the way ProWritingAid finds overused words, vague words, sticky sentences (I never before knew what sticky sentences were), etc. They have a free version and that is what I have been using and they sometimes give you a pop-up to offer you a week of premium version just by tweeting about it. But Premium version is only $35 a year and that sounds really worth it to me.

I had forgotten the rule about having characters with names that start with the same letter. For a fast reader, this can get confusing.

Haven't yet decided what to do about Katherine and Kitchner but decided Hofmann was one too many names that started with an H So I changed his name to Fuhrmann. Later changed Katherine to Eleanor.

Show vs Tell from Curiosity Quills

I am having trouble with Show vs Tell: Words to search for and think about:
Words to watch out for
Felt / Feel
Heard / Hear
Saw / See
Knew / know / had known
Passive Voice words
To be Is
Have Been
Also: Past Participles (verb form often ending in -ed)
Other weak words
As if

The 5 Essential Story Ingredients By Steven James from Writer's Digest.

1. Ingredient #1: Orientation
2. Ingredient #2: Crisis
3. Ingredient #3: Escalation
4. Ingredient #4: Discovery
5.Ingredient #5: Change.
Read the article for details, suggestions, etc.


1. Take full advantage of your attorney’s profession.
2. Let your attorney mess up.
3. Stress stress.
4. Know the law.
5. Don’t create an infallible character.
6. Rip from the headlines for ideas.
7. Consider all the viewpoints at your disposal.
8. Know your vocal.
9. When in doubt about a fact or a piece of research, pick up the phone.
10. Avoid getting lost in technical details.
Read the article for details, suggestions, etc.


1. Complex Characterizations
2. Confrontation
3. Careening
4. Coronary
5. Communication
Read the article for details, suggestions, etc.

Showing Character Emotion from Writer's Digest.

"You want to avoid directly stating emotions in your writing. You’ve all heard it before: show, don’t tell. If your character is feeling anger, avoid telling the reader that “Sheila was mad.” Emotion stated so directly is not particularly convincing, and it certainly doesn’t make the character feel alive to the reader. Details are convincing. Instead, describe Sheila’s demeanor. What does she see, think, feel, taste, or smell?"
* Use fresh imagery.... use specific, imaginative, and active verbs....
* Show, don’t tell....
* Appeal to the reader’s senses.... using all five senses."
from the course Character Development: Creating Memorable Characters

How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending from Writer's Digest.

"A blueprint for storytelling." "The Four Parts of Effective Storytelling." "Guidelines for a Compelling Ending"
"The one rule of Part 4—the resolution of your story—is that no new expositional information may enter the story once it has been triggered. If something appears in the final act, it must have been foreshadowed, referenced or already in play. This includes characters.
"Aside from that one tenet, punishable by rejection slip if you dismiss it, you’re on your own to craft the ending of your story. And in so doing, the enlightened writer observes the following guidelines and professional preferences."

How to Use a Rhyming Dictionary to Improve Your Prose

“A rhyming dictionary provides a peek into words that sound similar to a word with an easy to use format. It’s mostly a database of words that are organized around a root sound with a look up facility to find the root.” and “When writing a scene, where mood is important, verb sounds can help establish the feel, i.e. the reason jazz feels like blue as well as being contemplative and moody, is because the sound connects to the action blew that shows how the saxophone or clarinet is being blown.”

Writer's Digest: 3 Easy Revision Tips and Strategies to Improve Your Manuscript

1. "Start on page one... and work your way through...."
2. "Circle passive voice words and eliminate them.... passive terms such as was, were, are, is, and have been... slow... down stories and makes it less exciting for readers.
3. "Delete all clichés" [they list] 12 of the most common writing clichés all writers should avoid (plus, there are hundreds more in the comments section—heck, feel free to add your own!)..."

Previous Posts up to March 2012