I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write--except for that graffiti phase I went through as teenager.
Just because a word has serial preceding it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. Yeah, sure, I'm not negating that serial killers are awful. So are serial warts. Serial drive-by opera singers give me the shivers. And let's not forget serial power outages that make your freezer thaw and all your meat goes bad and you have to spend the entire day cooking all the chicken you scored on sale last week at Winn Dixie.
Whew. Let's all take a breath and exhale out such negativity, shal
Next up on the new release docket is OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, due to release on September 6th. It's been several years in the making. Okay, so maybe slightly more than that, but hey . . . you can't rush excellence, right?
Though it's not set to hit the shelves until the first part of September, I can let you in on a little sneak preview of the cover. Ready? Drum roll, please . . . (and don't forget an excessive cymbal crash) . . . (and fireworks) . . .
And here's a blurb for the
As you may have noticed, this blog mainly dishes out writing and/or creative advice on a regular basis. I'm all about positivity and encouragement. That being said, today we're going to cover the "don'ts" because, like you, I've fallen prey to bad advice before (and yes, I do happen to have the ugly white polyester stirrup-pants still hanging in my closet, thank you very much).
Recently I came across an interesting proposition. Pen Center USA is offering an Emerging Voices Fellowship. It's explained as:
"A literary mentorship that aims to provide new writers who are isolated from the literary establishment with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to launch a professional writing career."
In layman's terms, that means a $1000 grant and an eight month professional mentorship. Pretty sweet deal, eh? But does a writer really need al
It's summer. It's hot. And do we really need to be outdoors playing Pokemon Go? I think not. We should be parking our warm bodies on the couch inside of our air conditioned living rooms and playing on the internet instead . . .
Passive Aggressive Notes
Everyone gets annoyed. This site shows you the expression of that annoyance. Some of the notes are more aggressive than passive, but they all creatively vent the writer's frustration.
Carl Sandburg is my all-time favorite poet. Emily Dickinson not so much . . . until now, when I discovered a sweet little trick to manage Dickinson's poetry.
Emily wrote her poems with a particular meter (rhythm), specifically with common meter. All that means is alternating lines of eight syllables and six syllables. Yeah, I see your eyes glazing over. Don't panic, though, because there's an even better way to categorize her poetry without all the academic syllable counting.
Feeling overwhelmed is part of the writerly game . . . or actually part of every artistic game. Even worse is that this feeling never really goes away. It keeps walking right in the front door of your life without ringing the doorbell. Not even a howdy-do. Just blammo! There it is.
It's scary to create. What's in an artists' head is rarely reproduced exactly as envisioned, which can feel like failure. Then there are all the naysayers out there
I'm gearing up to teach a seventh grade English class this fall. As in grammar. As in sweet-mercy-grammar-makes-me-throw-up-in-my-mouth-a-little. Nevertheless, I shall persevere in guiding young and supple minds in the the ways of proper English language usage.
But not with too much grammar.
No diagramming. Blechh. No memorizing vocabulary words. In one ear and out the other. And definitely not too many hard and fast rules. Why? Because clutching white-knuckled onto gra
I may be late to jump on the Poldark wagon, but hot diggity-dang! I finally hefted myself into the cart, kids, and for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, feast your eyeballs on this . . .
Mmm-mmm-mmm. Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout. England. The Coast of Cornwall. A hunky hero. All ingredients for a fantastic tale and here's the blurb for it:
Ross Poldark returns home after the American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business ve
Has your writing hit the summer doldrums? Is your story dead in the water? Here are some new craft books on the market that you might want to check out (besides, of course, WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT which is currently on sale for $4.99) . . .
A Writer's Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settingsby Mary BuckhamSetting is one of the most underutilized and misunderstood elements of the writing craft. And when writ
I’ve been writing for about fifteen years now and it’s taken me this long to figure something out. Something I should’ve learned a long time ago. You ready for this? Because it’s mind blowing.
You don’t have to write like anybody else. You can be you with your words and your stories and that’s okay.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking . . . “Seriously? It took you a decade and a half to figure that out? Sheesh. Slow learner or what?”
But it’s not like that. Of course I knew, just
When kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up, there are a few predictable responses.
If the kid says doctor or lawyer, parents beam and say, "That's my kid!"
If the kid says fireman or police officer, parents nod and say, "Respectable."
But if the kid says artist, a cold sweat breaks out on the parents brow and the finger pointing starts, "That comes from your side of the family!"
Why is that? Why is being an artist frowne
Some of your best loved books you found high-ranking on Amazon or the New York Times Best Sellers list actually paid for their reviews. What do you think about that? Is it ethical to pay for a book review?
First off, just so you know, I've never paid for any reviews of my books. Not that my stance makes me a saint. It's just where I, personally, land on the issue. Now that we've got that little disclaimer out of the way, let's explore this issu
Lord knows we don't need yet another hipster populating God's green earth, but today, I am advocating for more poetry reading cool cats to delve into some Sandburg or Frost, especially if you're a writer. Why? Because reading poetry makes your writing better.
Top 3 Ways Reading Poetry Can Improve Your Writing
Poetry shows an image to a reader, painting a vivid word picture the reader experiences. It shows. It doesn't tell. It leaves a lasting impressi
No, that title isn't a typo. I'm not speaking in tongues. I didn't slug back one too many Buds yesterday at my BBQ because I don't even like beer. Nasty, vile liquid. Oops. That probably just cost me a few home-brewing fans.
Anyway, you've all heard of NaNoWriMo because you're savvy Writer Off the Leash readers that know it means national novel writing month . . . but that doesn't happen until November so don't panic yet. Today, though, I'm introducing you to a new, geeky celebratio
In case you're looking for something to do this 4th of July, though I'd share a few of my patriotic-type favorites . . .
FAVORITE PATRIOTIC SERIES
Turn: Washington's Spies
This is the story of New York farmer Abe Woodhull who's father is a Loyalist but he's got Patriotic leanings. It shows the dilemma many Colonists found themselves in, whether they wanted to fight or not.
“The plain fact is that the world does not need more successful people, but it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.”
~ David Orr
Ever seen a superhero? I'm not talking Spiderman or Deadpool. Yes, I said Deadpool. He's kind of my favorite superhero. Don't judge me.
No, I do not self-identify with being a bearded young man.
I couldn't get my phone to sync with my for-real photos.
But you've got to admit he's a happy little writer, eh?I'm on a writing retreat this week, dreaming up a new story. More on that in another post (cue evil laughter). See that smoke curling out my ears? That's what happens when the gears get clogged with scheming up plot twists. I don't want to write just any story. I want to write one that readers go, "Whoa, baby!
It's that time of year. Toss a book into your beach bag and go get sunburned on the sand. If you need some ideas for some great reads, here is the list of the recently announced American Christian Fiction Writers fiction of the year nominees . . .
Contemporary:Finding Me by Kathryn CushmanThe Art of Losing Yourself by Katie GanshertAs Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti, Abingdon Press
Historical:Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie DobsonSecrets She Kept by
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit”~ Richard Bach
I'm always nervous when I sit down to offer feedback on an aspiring writer's first chapter. Inevitably there will be some pretty big fixes that are needed, and that can suck the can-do marrow right out of a newbies bones.
The hard, cold truth is that your first manuscript will likely not ever get published. There's too much to learn. Too much to know and do and weave together. It takes time and tears and lots and lot
I visited a new grocery store today. I know. Not a real grabber of an opening, eh? That's because I'm still suffering the effects of hypothermia. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is a misnomer. It ought to be called Jotunheim Market (you know, the land of the frost giants from Norse mythology). Yes, it seriously is that cold. My lips are blue and I haven't even eaten a raspberry icee.
So I did what any self-respecting consumer suffering from frostbite would do . . . I complained. In a nic
A brain surgeon at a dinner party says to novelist Margaret Atwood, “I’ve always wanted to write. When I retire and have the time, I’m going to be a writer.”
She replied, “What a coincidence, because when I retire, I’m going to be a brain surgeon.”
And that, my friends, pretty much sums up most people's concept of how hard it is to write a book, basically that it's a piece of cake. The truth is that completing a novel is dang hard. Here are 3 reasons why . . .
Some authors swear by writing before the sun is up. Others are nocturnal. And lots don't have a choice, squeaking in words whenever a spare minute flares up. Which begs the question: is a certain time of day better than others to write?
The best time to get your word count in is before decision fatigue sets in. Before you start mocking me, yes, this is a for-real thing. Decision fatigue is the state of being emotionally or int