Mailing List Catch-Up

Draft Cover for Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Pre-Teens
Draft Cover for Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Pre-Teens

Well, the race is on. My goal has been to finish my draft of Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Pre-Teens (working title–open to suggestions) before 100 people signed up for my mailing list. Today, I sent a thank-you to the 71st person to sign up. Thanks for the motivation! I have three chapters to go and the first draft will be completed.

This is also a shout out to Paige, Taylor and Emily who signed up for the list in mid-March. When I sent your thank-yous and bonus links, the emails bounced back as unknown addresses. If you’re a spambot, no problem, but if you’re wondering what happened, please try entering your email addresses again. My “reply system” is simply me at the computer, so I’m happy to give it another try.

I’ve played around with the cover design, making it match my previous book, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens. I’m debating about whether or not to keep the photo of the keyboard on the cover, and instead, to switch it for something like the photo below, thinking it might be more in keeping with the age group, but knowing that no matter what the age, keyboards are a reality of life, and … well … you get the idea. Decisions, decisions ….

Now back to the writing. Hope you have a creative week ahead!

If you would like to know when the new book comes out, please fill out the following form. I promise that you will not be bombarded with spam emails, just the odd thing that I come across that you might find useful, and, perhaps a sample chapter or two. 🙂

School Supplies 3

New Edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens

BookCoverPreview 2I’m very happy to announce the release of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens–Second Edition.

The second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens contains expanded chapters and over 50 writing prompts to help young writers find story ideas and defeat writer’s block.

Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens has the concise answers that teen writers need to their writing questions. Whether at the beginning of a story or in the middle, or whether the words or flowing or or mired in hesitation, teen writers will find writing prompts, encouragement, concrete solutions to writing problems, tips for plotting, writing dialogue, characterization and more.

Reviewers of the first edition said:

Writing Fiction is a bare-bones resource. If the information isn’t useful, it isn’t there. That is what makes it so valuable. Teens don’t have to wade through pages of padding to get to the good stuff. The book contains only the good stuff. Teens interested in writing will make good use of this book.”

CM: CANADIAN REVIEW OF MATERIALS, Manitoba Library Association

“This guide to writing fiction speaks directly to young writers and provides tools to help them become successful in their writing endeavours and to have fun doing so … The author’s love of writing and enthusiasm for sharing her expertise with young writers shines through this guidebook, making it a wonderful resource for young writers.”


To read a couple of sample chapters, please click here.You can purchase copies at here and here.

Self-Publishing – My Experience & Lessons Learned

A Tagxedo view of my website.
A Tagxedo view of my website.

I have fumbled my way through self-publishing over the past few years. Trying things, making mistakes, seeing how things turn out. Thought I’d share a bit of that experience.

I’ve used a couple of publishers since I started self-publishing. Right now I’m using CreateSpace and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)  After I finish setting up my book in CreateSpace, I can choose for it to be sent to Amazon KDP (they are the same company.) CreateSpace will also send it to other epub distributors, too. Both services are free, though CreateSpace offers services like custom cover designs, copyediting, and marketing for a fee, if you want to take advantage of them.

I’m using CreateSpace for my second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, and I’m fine with having them distribute it to Amazon and other sellers, such as Kobo. For my sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl, I’m going to go with CreateSpace and KDP only. There are some promotion options with KDP that are only available if it is the exclusive distributor for a set period of time. I’d like to try those promotions, so I’m going to give that option a try for my fiction. For 201 Writing Starters, I went to Smashwords . They had a very easy-to-use product and also provide a free service. If I do another edition of the book, I will probably go through CreateSpace, though, because it offers free cover design options that I prefer to use rather than coming up with my own.

The first edition of Writing Fiction was published through iUniverse, a vanity press. I wouldn’t choose that route now for a couple of reasons. First, I want to earn more money per sale, and royalties are much better on my own. Second, I am more confident about being able to format a book that would look professional, and third, I know a lot more about the industry. I was lucky in that I took advantage of a sale offer at iUniverse and didn’t spend money on extras, and I can say that I have earned my money back. A few writers I know who took the vanity press route have realized they will never earn their money back.

I got the templates for the interiors of the dragon books and Writing Fiction – Second Edition from Joel Friedlander at a very reasonable cost. You can see inside the book here to see what one of his formats looks like:

If you’re thinking of the self-publishing route, be aware of the new trend among traditional publishers to have their own vanity press. They make it look like you’re working with Simon & Schuster for instance, but you’re really paying to have your book published with a vanity press that is part of a large company with a very poor reputation. Read this blog from Writer Beware®: The Blog to get the details: To make sure that you are working with a reputable company always check Preditors & Editors, an excellent site that has a listing of publishers/agents along with recommendations and cautions.

To end on a more positive note, here’s a link to a great blog post from Jane Friedman with a lot of helpful links to help you make some decisions about your publishing future.

Good luck!

New Year – New Edition

Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens Second EditionI’ve been in serious editing mode for a while now, and am finally nearing the launch of the second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens. I’ve added a few things, updated a few things, and included 50+ writing prompts.

What I’ve really enjoyed is doing all the work myself, rather than going through a vanity press, which is what I did last time. I’ve learned a lot more about the publishing industry since then, and hope to put some of those lessons to good use with the book’s sales, promotion, and distribution. To begin, this book will be priced lower than the original! I had fun creating the interior look of the book, too, using templates from Joel Friedlander. You can take a peek at what he offers here.

So, now I just have to wait until my review copy arrives, then one last batch of edits (mostly, I hope, for the inevitable typos that I never catch when I’m proofreading on the screen) and out it will go into the world.

The next project is already underway–more editing! I finished writing a sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl last year, so I’m now in editing and formatting mode for that one. Oh, and I have a cover story for a local magazine to work on and a series of short stories to edit, too. And, there’s still teaching on the agenda. A busy January 2014 is in progress.

Hope your new year is off to a great start, too!

Classroom Visit and NaNo Thoughts

I had a great morning yesterday, visiting a class of Writer’s Craft students at a local high school. I talked with them for an hour about publishing: different ways to get your work published, some warnings, some resources and some facts about the money side of the business. The time flew and the class was attentive and asked good questions. I hadn’t visited the school before, but I was made very welcome. I was a bit early and while I waited for the teacher to meet me, without exception every teacher that passed me smiled and said good morning. That doesn’t happen everywhere.

In the conanowrimo_participant_06_100x100urse of talking about writing resources with the teacher after the class, I mentioned National Novel Writing Month. She teaches a course in the first semester that would overlap NaNoWriMo’s dates, and I thought it might be fun for her students to explore.  NaNoWriMo has a fantastic program for young writers with lots of excellent resources for the writers and for teachers who might want to get their classes involved.

So this got me to thinking about this coming November. Will I join NaNo and try to write a novel in 30 days? The first time I attempted NaNo, I stopped around 20,000 words. I was happily writing a suspense/romance and enjoying just letting the story go where it may, when I realized that if I could write 20,000+ words in a couple of weeks, why wasn’t I writing the book I had wanted to write for several years? Duh. So, I stopped the novel and finished Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, instead. My 13-year-old son finished his NaNo novel with 50,000+ words and a lot of pride. The second time, just as we started NaNo, my much-loved mother-in-law began a swift and deadly decline due to pancreatic cancer.

There’s a unique quality about NaNo that seems to crack through something in me that just gets words on the page. Maybe it’s because the objective is so absurd that the writing can’t be overthought or second-guessed, and I don’t put up my usual procrastination roadblocks because I need to post a number every night.  Yup. Seeing that graph head upwards really motivates me.

Have you tried NaNoWriMo? What do you think about the experience? Are you thinking of signing up this year? If you’re a teacher, have you ever used the resources or used NaNoWriMo with your class?

Win copy of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens

I’m a guesTwitter_bird_logo_2012_svgt at #yalitchat on Twitter tonight between 9:00 and 10:00 Eastern time talking about freelance writing. If you join the chat, host Georgia N. McBride (@Georgia_McBride) will be giving away 4 copies of my book throughout the hour. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me at @hwrightwriter. I generally just post links to interesting writing blogs that I’ve found. I will be talking about my new book soon, but don’t expect any hourly hard sell sales pitches.

Welcome to a Work-in-Progress

IMG_4429Nothing stays the same, and over the past few years the purpose of this site has grown and evolved. I decided that it’s about time that the design caught up with the ways in which this site is used by my visitors and with the ways I need to use it now and in the future.

The first thing I’ve done is simplify the tabs. I’ve grouped the material by the needs of my audience. So click on the tab that applies to you and explore. I haven’t deleted any of your favourite links, but if you have a problem finding something, please let me know.

I’ve also turned this first page into a blog where I plan to share great links for teachers and young writers and chat about my own writing, as well.

I’ll appreciate your patience as I work through the challenges of making some necessary changes to the site. As always I wish you all the best with your writing and teaching endeavours.

The photo above shows my collection of writing journals. A couple are still unused, but most of them have bits and pieces of stories, and some a lot more. Do  you write in journals or are you strictly a keyboard writer?

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