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Setting Free the Angel

by Jennifer Paros

In creating a piece of writing, or in moving toward any goal, there is a strong temptation for me to gauge where I am in relation to where I want to be.  But when I check on a project looking for progress and assessing the work – my energy splits in its focus and it becomes hard for things to advance.   I’ve often heard the analogy of a seed used to explain the nature of allowing a project to grow.  We plant a seed and we wait.  But if we constantly check on it by digging it up and looking for its progress, we never see progress. 

In Greek mythology, Orpheus’s wife Eurydice gets bitten by a viper and dies.  Upon finding her body, Orpheus travels to the underworld hoping he can sway Hades to release Eurydice.  Hades does agree, but under the condition that while returning to earth, Orpheus must walk in front of his wife, never looking back – a directive Orpheus ultimately fails to follow. 

Orpheus actually already “has” Eurydice – they are almost home. But to want something so desperately that we stop trusting it is and can be and seek evidence outside ourselves, is the point at which the dream seems lost. more...


Attracting an Agent
It Takes More than Good Writing

by Erin Brown

You’ve written an epic novel (The Sound and the Fury, Part Two: The Really Loud and the Really Mad), or the next great self-help book (You: A Renter’s Manual) and you figure, “That’s it. Now this puppy will sell itself. Agents and editors will realize the gold mine they have on their desk and the rest is history!” Right? Wrong. You might well have the next best thing since sliced bread and your writing talent could be genuinely brilliant, but if you don’t present yourself well to an agent (and an editor!), then you could very well shoot yourself in the foot. Sure, writing a fantabulous manuscript is essential to landing an agent and selling the book. But presenting yourself as an amenable author that an agent and publishing house wants to work with is a huge component too. more...

At Last, Lie/Lay Explained

by Cherie Tucker


These two verbs cause way too much trouble.  Here’s how they work:

LIE describes something at rest.  You cannot do this word to anything.    

LAY describes the action of putting something down  You do this to something.
Here are the tenses, present, past, and the past and present participles that require a helper verb:

Lie    Lie down.


Lay     Lay that down.

Lay   He lay there sobbing.


Laid    He laid his gun down.

Lain  The manuscript had lain there for years. Laid    They have finally laid the tile.    more...


Foreshadow and Backshadow
What Are They and How to Use Them

by Joe Moore

Most authors know about flashbacks and how they allow us to convey backstory while the scene usually remains in the present. It’s a common technique in the writer’s toolbox for filling in the important history of a character or other elements in the story.

This article is about a cousin of the flashback called foreshadowing, a technique that also deals with time. Just about everyone is familiar with foreshadowing, although few know about a companion technique called backshadowing. Both work well when used discreetly.

Let’s start with foreshadowing. It’s the planting of hints and clues that tip off the reader as to what may come later in the story. For example, a character who is destined to die in an automobile accident 10 pages from now could complain about the icy condition of the roads as the weather gets worse.



How to Write an Effective Book Description

by Richard Ridley

One of the most crucial elements to selling a book is also probably the most difficult element to create for authors. The book description is your lead-in, your chance to hook readers and get them to crack the cover and satisfy their curiosity. Even in an online environment, the book description can bridge the gap between having just another title among a sea of choices and a sellable book worth reading.

The problem is that many authors have a hard time writing a good book description. The main reason it can prove so difficult is that they don’t want to leave anything out. As the creator of the material, there’s a natural instinct to find a way to cram all or as much of that material into the description as possible. But too many details can render your description confusing and ineffective.   more...


Seven Strategies for Strong Character Arcs

by Jason Black

If you haven't heard by now the advice to work some sort of character arc into your novel, chances are you haven't been listening.  A character arc is no great mystery.  It is nothing more than the process by which a character becomes a better person. You get to decide what "better" means in the context of your book, and how the process of achieving it plays out within your plot.

Readers love character arcs because when the storyline is over, the character’s final moments of personal growth leave the reader with the feeling that the book meant something.  We are left with the sense that the story held value above and beyond whatever the plot held at stake. more...



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