Tag Archives: advice

Create Your Day

This is the most brilliant lecture I’ve ever listened to. You so gotta get an earful of this – but be sure to listen with a fresh ear, cuz some of it you’ve heard before, but the important parts are fricken magic!

line orangeWhy do you have your beliefs? Who taught them to you and why do you hold it within you? How do you perceive yourself? How do you perceive others? Do you want to learn more about the world you experience and live in? Is there a habit you want to break? Listen to this and get an idea of consciousness. Old knowledge with a new perspective.

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A Writer’s Perspective

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You Have a Unique Perspective That’s Worth Sharing

It’s in there, your voice. Your voice is your unique take on the world at large. It’s your very own special twist on things. It’s how you make your writing shine. It’s what will draw the reader’s to you, and keep them coming back for more. It’s something that only you have, and that’s pretty awesome.

You might be way ahead of me in this department, and if you are then my hats off to you. I’ve been writing for years, but I’m still struggling to find my voice. It’s because I haven’t invested the time and effort into my writing that I should.

I know you know what I’m talking about when I say voice. There are several parts of your character or personality that should be consistent in your writing style. If you’re not beginning to see some common traits of yours that shine through in your writing, then chances are you’re not writing enough.

When you find that unique voice, you might not even be able to explain how it came about – let alone describe what it is. That’s the beauty of writing and discovering as you write. Sometimes the best things just happen naturally.

Making the Commitment

Some of us just struggle to carve out the time to devote to our writing. It’s okay, I totally get it, I’m guilty of it too. I should be writing every day, learning more about what kind of writer I’m becoming, because even after a few years at this I don’t feel like I’m quite there yet.

Make a promise to yourself, to work on your writing. I’ll make that promise to myself as well. I will get up an hour earlier every day to focus at least 45 minutes on my writing. Can you do the same, carve out some time every single day to see where your writing can take you? You’re worth it.

(if you’ve had a hard time finding your voice, check out the article below by Jeff Goines, he’s got some really great tips)

Now go kick some ass, it’s Monday 😉



An exercise for finding your voice

“If you struggle with getting people to read your writing or with staying consistent in your craft, you need to stop chasing numbers and productivity and reboot. It’s time to start finding and developing that voice of yours.” – Jeff Goins



Get a Stunning Book Cover Design or Illustration from an Award Winning Artist 

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Author Chat with K.M. Weiland

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I recently had the opportunity to interview K.M. Weiland who is just super awesome! I am a huge fan of her writing and admire the vast amount of knowledge she has to share with the writing community. Check out how she got her start as a leading author mentor and more…

k-m-weilandK.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


Tell us a little about yourself:

Where are you from and what is your favorite pastime?

I’m a longtime western Nebraskan. Writing, of course, is my all-consuming passion. But I also enjoy various types of design, as well studying the psychology of personality.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I don’t know that it was ever something I “discovered” per se. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made up stories. In fact, my earliest memory is of myself dreaming up some wild story about saving my family from some unknown catastrophe. I started writing my stories down when I was eleven or twelve, and throughout high school, I wrote, edited, and published a newsletter for horse-crazy girls. Moving on to novels was a natural progression. I guess you could say I’ve always been a storyteller; it’s just inborn; it’s who I am. But the writing—the learning of the craft, the studying to show myself approved—that was something I became.

What is the number one book you would recommend to writers and why?

Tough to pick just one! But I’m going to go with Robert McKee’s Story. Blew my mind.

What inspires you to write speculative historical fiction?

I’ve always loved history—mostly because it’s… a story! But I love exploring faraway places and times and the beauty of other cultures.

Where do you come up with your ideas?

I like to say that inspiration is everywhere—and it really is. I’ve picked ideas from such disparate places as the dust on my windowsill (I’m a terrible duster) to my pets to the grapefruit I had for breakfast. It’s really just a matter of being open to whatever you’re experiencing at the moment.

But I will say that most of my inspiration is usually the result of other people’s art. The three big ones are most definitely:

1. Books
2. Movies
3. Music

I feed off other people’s stories and glean little tidbits that inspire stories of my own. The characters and themes in books and movies and the half-answered questions in songs are endless sources of inspiration for me.

What is the main theme of your fictional writing?

I’ve always loosely defined my fiction as “blood and thunder,” but a reviewer recently described them like this: “The consistent theme in each of her books is finding the best in human relationships and coming to an understanding about who you are and what you believe.” I thought that was pretty accurate, so I adopted it!

Helping Writers Become Authors

If you haven’t discovered Katie’s award-winning blog Helping Writers Become Authors, you should take the time to visit.

You are an expert in your field and I am curious to know how and when you got started? Was your author mentoring blog an early career goal, was it strategically planned, or was it created to fulfill the needs of your growing network?

Like most newly published authors, I was looking for a way to build a platform. And, like most newly published authors, I was clueless how to start. I figured blogging about writing would be more interesting than blogging about washing dishes or walking the dog. At the time, my intent was merely to spread the word about my fiction. But, of course, it’s grown into so much more.

What do you love most about what you do? How would you describe your journey as a mentor so far and where do you see yourself in the future?

I think the reward is two-fold:

1) I’m learning right along with everyone I teach. My blog and my books are just an outgrowth of my own writing journey. Forcing myself to put my own thoughts and discoveries into a teachable format has been invaluable to me in strengthening my own conscious knowledge of writing.

2) I love helping people. It’s a joy to be able to reach out and touch others in the solitary lifestyles we pursue as writers. I’m humbled and honored that I’ve gotten to work with so many people. It always makes my day to hear that something I’ve written has helped another writer have a “light bulb” moment in their own writing.

How do you carve out enough time to manage your platforms, provide such great content, and write books?

I like to say, in all seriousness, that schedules are my secret weapon. I manage my time strictly and I’m always tweaking my daily schedule to try to get my best productivity while still balancing the need for relaxation and recharging.

I like to get my writing done first thing in the morning, while the day is still fresh. Right now, I’m experimenting with staving off email, and Internet activities until the very last thing in the work day. Blogging gets its own day, in which I take care of all the weekly blogging duties in one fell swoop.

Minimizing distractions is key, so I’m very strict with myself about wasting time on the Internet, watching videos, or even reading news sites.

What advice would you give to someone carving out their own niche in the publishing industry today on how to strategize for the greatest chance of success?

Marketing is about personality. It’s about getting your personality—your books—your brand—to as many people as possible. That starts with a platform, and the foundation for that platform is your home on the web. Start building an email list as soon as you can, since this will be your only assured direct route to dedicated readers. Give them content they care about to keep their attention: drawings, freebies, special deals, glimpses into your life. Craft your book launches with care, since Amazon’s sales algorithms will treat you right if you can prove early on that you can generate sales. And most of all—have fun! Don’t let marketing be a chore; embrace it as a challenge. Your audience will sense that attitude and respond to it.

Author Advice

Write Yourself a Bad Review

I recently read a guest post you did with Patrick Ross where you gave some great advice for authors in “Write Yourself a Bad Review”. In your post, you mention our inner critics and how they might actually benefit us. I liked the idea of giving these critics the chance to be heard to identify weak areas of our writing.

I love the humor you injected into this article while also offering up a specific set of areas to focus on so the bad review pays off. Your plan of action at the end is a brilliant method for going back to a manuscript with a fresh set of eyes that has looked at the writing from a fantastic perspective.

I would recommend this unique approach as a round of edits that all authors should approach because it can provide a level of assurance that they have put their best work out for publication.

I had never come across this idea before as something that could provide such a great deal of positive criticism without seeking outside help.

When did you start implementing this technique and how did you discover it?

If memory serves I think fellow author Roz Morris had written something in her great writing book Nail Your Novel that sparked the idea. I don’t use it for every book, only those that are really giving me trouble.

What are some faults it has helped you overcome as an author?

It’s a good way to really drill down to the heart of the issues that are dogging a novel—to see them objectively, instead of just flailing away at the book, knowing something is wrong.

Do you have any other suggestions that might make an impact on an author’s final product as the process of writing yourself a bad review does?

How about writing yourself a good review? 🙂 Usually, I’ll write myself both a bad review and a good review of the idealized novel I want to create. More on that in this post: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/strengthen-your-story-by-writing/

More Author Advice

Earlier I mentioned your Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. I have these books now and love them. I have found everything I learned from them extremely helpful to me as a writer. You didn’t have the boxed sets with the workbooks like you offer now, so that’s an added bonus for anyone that’s interested. You also offer a story structure database on your website that is pretty impressive.

How can writers take advantage of that?

I have a whole post, talking about how to best utilize and navigate the Story Structure Database: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/story-structure-database/

Basically, I recommend watching your favorite movies and reading your favorite books and trying to figure out the structure for yourself. Then stop by the site, look up the story, and see how it lines up with what I’ve provided. It’s a great, hands-on way to really understand how structure works and how it affects a vast array of stories.


A huge thanks to K.M. Weiland for taking the time to  chat with me 🙂



Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

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Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writer’s Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME!
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writer’s prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments:-)

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Word Count by Genre: How Long Should My Book Really Be?

Here is a great article that was originally published on ManuscriptAgency.com by . It has so much useful information that I had been looking for. If you like what you read here, please be sure to follow the link at the bottom to learn more about Kit and to read some of her other posts.


Publishers and agents are typically inundated with manuscript submissions from authors seeking publication. And as a result, ‘the authorities’ (as I shall hereby refer to them as) are looking for reasons to reject your book. The standouts are standouts, and speak for themselves. But for every standout manuscript there are hundreds of manuscripts that are hard to place – could they be best sellers if they found the right audience? More often than not they are looking for reasons why these manuscripts shouldn’t make their lists. And scrutinizing the word count is one such method of reducing their ‘slush pile’.

‘The authorities’ ask for a list of details in your cover (query) letter for a reason, it is their way of determining your understanding of your own work, the market, your competition etc. They want you to make their jobs as easy as possible – not because they are lazy, but simply overwhelmed. They need reasons to throw your manuscript in the bin and move onto the next one – and it’s not because they are horrible people who want to force people to ‘fail’, it comes down to time pressures really.

They also are looking for ammunition to take into ‘the pitch’ meetings, where they know if they are not prepared, then it will be a bloodbath. The truth is that, even if they love your manuscript and believe in it, they still need to convince ‘the suits’ (aka the sales and marketing department). ‘The authorities’ know that by pitching a manuscript that comfortably fits into a salable category they have a much better chance of ‘selling’ your book to ‘the suits’.

Word count comes into this overall equation. Most literary genres have expected word lengths, which have been driven by audiences – in terms of their own expectations of the genre, as well as our (the professionals) expectations of them (an obvious example for this: children’s books need to be shorter than science-fiction for adults, simply because children don’t have the attention span that adults possess).

Adhering to the expected word count demonstrates that you understand your market. It also shows that you have the ability to pace your narrative and make every word count (that you are disciplined at self-editing).

Publishing realities such as ‘production costs’ are another reason that ‘the authorities’ need you to respect word count expectations. The greater the word count = the larger the book = more sections and pages that are required to be printed = upping the price of your book once it hits the shelves. And why would a publisher want to spend more on producing a book and then taking the risk of selling it at a higher price point than they have to? Ultimately, if they have five other books in your genre that are ‘as good as’ your book then what would persuade them to publish yours? It would have to be pretty darn good to demand a higher sales price point and the chance of losing sales to a cheaper book in the same genre.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to compromise your manuscript and make it homogeneous, however by trying to tick a few boxes it might well help you find publication. And keep in mind that although there are always exceptions to the rule…don’t count on it that you are that exception.

So, with the above in mind, here is a rough guide for expected word lengths for adult fiction.

Here are the general figures that you’ll want to know:

SHORT STORY:

  • Under 500 words can be described as ‘Flash Fiction’
  • Between 1000 and 8000 words is a short story (also, most short story competitions will stipulate their required word length for entry)
  • Between 5000 and 10,000 words is a long short story

NOVELLA: This is a story that is between 10,000 and 40,000 words.

NOVEL: A manuscript over 40,000 words is considered to be a novel. However, very few novels these days are as short as that. Generally a 50,000-word novel would be the minimum word count. Most novels are between 60,000 and 100,000 words. A single novel can be longer, but once the length is above 110,000 words publishers may look at cutting it back, unless it is a particular kind of book – books over the 110K word count are usually considered ‘epics’. Here are some of the genres in a little more detail:

Adult fiction (commercial and literary): usually fall between 80,000-100,000 words. Dropping below this figure is passable, however not by too much. Exceeding the 100K word count by too much could make the book more expensive to produce – the story would have to be really worth it for a publisher to want to fork out more money than necessary on production!

Science and fantasy fiction: are the exceptions to the ‘word-limit’ rule, but even so they don’t usually exceed 150,000 words (and usually fall within the 90,000-120,000 range). The reason they are the exception? Audiences of this genre are happy to read epic novels, they expect it to take time to build the fantasy world around them and want to immerse themselves into that world for some time. Publishers and agents know this and as a result they are willing to show more leniency when it comes to word limits, so you are less likely to lose out on a deal due to word count for this genre.

Romance novels: 50,000-100,000…this is a fairly vast bracket thanks to all the sub-genres that can be found in this category (think Regency, contemporary, historical, paranormal, erotic…even chick lit). Aim for somewhere in the middle and you should be pretty safe – when writing your romance novel, consider your reader: where and how will they be reading your book? On the plane, by the pool, on the commute to work? What do you think they want out of the book – is it that they want a quick, light-hearted read, or an epic love story? This will have an impact on where you take your word count. This can be applied across all the genres really.

Historical fiction: Similar to sci-fi and fantasy-fiction, you are creating a world for your contemporary audience – you need to make this real and believable for them…but not dull and lifeless. Too much information and your novel could be at risk of being boring, too little information and you will find it difficult to place your audience in the time period. Aim for the 100,000-word mark in order to offer up something that is rich in detail, but not tedious to read.

Crime/Mysteries/Thrillers/Horror fiction: All these categories have one major thing in common: suspense. Any book that falls into this category needs to be a real page-turner. Too many words and you risk losing your audience, too few and they might feel like they missed something. So it is advisable to follow the guidelines on word length for this category. Generally speaking a 70,000-90,000-word count is a comfortable range. Publishers and agents expect that authors in this genre will understand how to be ruthless with their words in order to keep their narrative on-track and moving at an engaging pace – lengthy descriptions tend to be like a needle to a balloon…it pops the crucial tension that you have spent so long ‘blowing up’.

Young adult fiction: Although we covered this to some degree in our Publishing: Children’s Books Explained article, there is a little more to YA than meets the eye. This category has an ‘expected’ word count of around 50,000-80,000…however there is a little flexibility here, due to the sub-genres found in YA. For instance a sci-fi YA title could be expected to be a little longer due to the world-building requirements and also the expectations of the reader for this genre. But general YA titles should always keep in mind the age of their targeted audience and realistically consider their attention-span to an ‘epic’ versus something they can read comfortably before moving onto their next book ‘conquest’.

Children’s fiction: see more in my Publishing: Children’s Books Explained article.

Non-fiction: I really should break this category down into sub-heads such as: memoir, history, photography, reference, design, novelty… the list goes on. And for this reason, it is almost impossible to place a word restriction on non-fiction titles. Many books in the non-fiction category are also ‘acquired’ on concept alone, rather than a completed manuscript. If you have written a nonfiction book and want to know if you are hitting the word-count ‘sweet spot’, I suggest reading widely in your area to see what others are doing – this will give you a better sense of what publishers (and readers) expect/want.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

Always keep in mind that each story has its own natural length, which may fall outside these guidelines. If this is the case, just be prepared to ‘justify’ your reasons for falling outside the ‘norm’…always keep in mind, you are selling this to the agent/publisher/commissioning editor in the first instance, but then they have to sell it to the sales and marketing team (which can be a particularly hard sell! You can emotionally trap the creative team more than you can ‘the suits’…they want numbers and figures and hard facts. And at the end of the day, they have a lot of power, so it is important to keep both these audiences in mind when you are ‘selling’ your book).


Source: http://manuscriptagency.com.au/word-count-by-genre-how-long-should-my-book-be/