Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Do Small Presses Offer? Authors/Readers Give Their Feedback!

Recently, we've had some complaints that our blog wasn't allowing people to comment in the comment section. I think I've fixed the problem, but I'm not 100% sure. In an effort to test it out, I would really love to have as many people as possible comment on the topic below. Share your thoughts! If for some reason you can't comment, email me at and let me know!

Here's the topic:

I chatted with an author recently who doesn't have an agent and doesn't intend on getting one. I was a little surprised because I think this author is very talented and agents are the gateway to the unwashed masses...I mean, readers. However, she has been publishing extensively with small presses and having wonderful luck. No, she hasn't made the NY Times best seller list, but she is starting to make a name for herself. It got me to thinking: What do small presses offer that is so appealing to authors?

Please post your comment!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dogs and Cats and Book Stores

Mary Ann notified you about our signing at The Book Spot in the last blog entry. Some of you must have paid attention--we had a great signing! It's an unusual book store. They carry used books and have a steady clientele of voracious readers who turn in good books and buy more. Danny and Julie, the owners, also carry recent best sellers AND local authors. Their author events seem to be quite frequent.

Mary Ann, Steve, and I presented a talk to a friendly, interested group of people, gave away chocolate, signed books--all the usual things.

Plus, we played with the dogs.

My own James in a favorite box on my desk
First of all, I will say that I always thought a bookstore was supposed to have a cat. Take a look at these beauties ( and these And, finally, this CATalog ( You'll notice that some of these cats are so famous, they show up on multiple lists!

Photo from their FB page
These were all easily found by searching for "cat book store". A search for "dog book store" turns up no such sites. Brady and AJ are clearly trend-setters. They are the Book Spot Dogs.

Let me say, for the record, that I dislike small dogs. They are usually yappy and nervous. I've been bitten in the ankles and had my shoes peed upon by small dogs. But these two guys are the CUTEST. They're well-behaved, quiet, and just adorable. I now will go on record as saying I like SOME small dogs.

You can keep up with them at Or, if you're near enough to Austin or Round Rock, you can stop in and pet them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Guest Blogger: Jamie Wyman and What Have We Learned From This?

Today's guest blogger is the very talented Jamie Wyman. Her blog topic touches on something we all strive for as writers: getting an agent. But what happens when you get one and then things don't work out? Read on!

What Have We Learned From This?

When I was a kid, my parents let me make my own mistakes. If I fell or got hurt by people I'd chosen as friends or got a bad grade due to procrastination... they let me fail and helped me with the fallout. Each time, though, the question was asked, "What have you learned from this?" Even in college when I got my first speeding ticket, Dad asked me the same question. Last week, he asked me again when I told him of my latest foray into "failure".

First of all, I have to say a few things: This post will NOT name names and it will not be a bitch fest. Also, I have to thank Candace Ganger for posting about her own experience. Seeing someone else go public with such grace gave me some strength.

So, the story...

Back in October I queried some agents and a publisher. By the end of the month, I'd signed a contract with an interested agent. I'd done my research, I'd found a few entries in Writer Beware/Preditors and Editors about the agency, but those were for years ago and for people who'd been rejected. All of the first-hand info I got from other authors about the agent and agency said that I would be safe, that this was what I wanted. The high of getting the offer for representation was loud enough that I couldn't hear that Voice In My Head that says, "Dude, bad juju". My gut told me to wait, but I didn't. (Mistake #1.) I signed with her and she told me to keep quiet about it. Don't announce publicly until after we're on submission.

My gut tweaked on that.

Aren't you proud of me? Why can't I announce it? But, being new at this, I figured there was some publishing industry nuance I was missing, so I ignored the gut, complied and went about my merry revisions.

In December of last year, I asked the agent if we were ready to go on submission. She said we were and that I could announce. She sent me the list of our first round of submissions including one or two of my dream editors. I announced it on this blog and elsewhere.

With holidays approaching, I knew that I wouldn't hear anything for a while. So in early February, I contacted the agent and asked if there was news. Yeah, we'd gotten a cold call on the manuscript and a new publisher was looking. That same week, I got an email from the Publisher I Queried (PIQ) in October. They liked the book and wanted to shoot it up to higher editing staff for review, but they'd done their homework and saw that I was agented. So I hooked up my agent and PIQ and agent said the revised manuscript had been sent to them.

Then something happened. Communication completely broke down. She ignored my emails, my phone calls. Everything. She dropped off the face of the planet for more than a month. Just when I was starting to ponder terminating my contract, she called with some news and direction. She wanted a new revision to take into account some editors' notes and do a new submission round. She said she needed them in less than 7 days so she could have it for an event she was attending. I worked my fingers off and had them to her in 3. When I asked her for an update 2 weeks later, she said she was just getting through the revisions. *eyebrow quirk*

I started lining up my ducks and weighing the pros and cons of terminating a contract while on submission.

After another month of ignored emails and phone calls, the agent quit without notice. I found out because she changed her employment on her Facebook. That's right. Facebook. No notice. No nothing. I have since reached out to her to ask what happened but she hasn't responded. (Go figure.) Totally unprofessional. After being a bouncing ball of rage for a bit, I set to cleaning up the mess she'd left behind.

First, I terminated my contract. Done. Then, at the advice of a publishing professional (not within the agency), I began withdrawing my submissions. I also contacted the PIQ to see what my rights were since I'd initiated contact with them pre-agent. In that conversation, I discovered that my former agent never sent them the manuscript. In fact, they'd wondered why I'd just dropped off the radar. Other publishers began replying to my withdrawal notices saying they'd never heard of me, my manuscript or received anything from the agent. In fact, one of them had been closed to submissions for more than a year!

After more digging, it has become clear. My manuscript never went on submission at all. I don't know what she was doing with my work for 8 months, but it was not agenting. That scares me. What if my work is being stolen and there's nothing I can do to prevent it? I can react if I find plagiarism, but can't outright prevent it at this point. Guh...worrying won't help. It's not productive and it's a waste of good imagination.

The good news: In the past few days I've found out that I have several people willing to help and go to bat for me. Bad things happen to talented, good people, but there are people out there who will help you clean up the mess if you ASK. FOR. HELP. I've already got a future for this manuscript. A better one. Only good things can come from this experience.

So, what have we learned from this. Above all else: LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. I had reservations throughout the past 8 months and didn't listen. I made excuses for her...she's busy, I'm new, I just don't know how this really works...I rationalized those tweaks that said, "Something's wrong here." You can't do that. You have to be your own advocate and listen to that voice in your head. Also, put your pride aside and ask for help. Seriously, if I hadn't I'd just be flailing in the dark right now.

So yeah...I know I've been cryptic about this situation the past week. My agent lied and never submitted my manuscript. She left the agency without notice. Again, not naming names. However, I have written to Writer Beware on the matter.

Learn from my mistakes, kids.

Onward and upward into the bright future.

Ms. Wyman is a pre-published author back in the agent hunt. In May of 2011 eBookNewser included her in their list of "Best Online Fiction Authors" and featured one of her flash fiction pieces. You can learn more about this talented author at her blog:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kaye George Does It Again--Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel!

This is not Kaye George.
It's Agatha Christie.

Shhh....Do you hear that? It's a twinkly, sort of sparkle like sound...the sound of GREATNESS!

That's right. We are in the presence of pure genius in the form of Kaye George. Not only is she a proud contributor to All Things Writing, but she has one again achieved Bad Ass status by being nominated for another Agatha Award. Yes. Another one. But this time it's for Best First Novel 2011 for her fabulous book, Choke.

So what is an Agatha, you ask?

The Agatha Awards, named for British mystery novelist Agatha Christie, are given each year at the Malice Domestic® mystery convention. Five writers are nominated in each category: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Non-fiction (related to mystery), Best Short Story, Best Children's/Young Adult, and a new category this year, Best Historical Novel. The Award in each category is bestowed at the banquet during the convention, held this year April 27-29. To learn more about Malice Domestic click here: Malice Domestic Kaye was previously nominated in the Best Short Story category in 2010.

How cool is that?

If you haven't noticed, there is a link to the right of this page where you can purchase a copy of Choke or learn more about Kaye. Here's a brief blurb of the book:

Choke is set in a fictionalized Wichita Falls area. Twenty-two-year-old Imogene Duckworthy is waiting tables at Huey's Hash in tiny Saltlick, TX, itching to jump out of her rut and become a detective. When Uncle Huey is found murdered in the diner, a half-frozen package of mesquite-smoked sausage stuffed down his throat, Immy gets her chance. Immy's mother, Hortense is hauled in for the crime. Unclear of the exact duties of a PI, Immy starts a fire in the bathroom wastebasket to bust Mother out of jail. On the run from the law with her mother and her toddler daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, Immy wonders, now what?

If you'd like to meet Kaye George or the rest of the gang from All Things Writing, we will be at the Book Spot in Round Rock from 2-4pm this Saturday, Feb. 25. You can purchase a copy of Choke, The Zombie Monologues or our anthology, All Things Dark and Dastardly! Or just drop by to hear us discuss all things writing and congratulate Kaye!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Washington's Birthday and the Book Spot

Happy Washington's Birthday! When I was a child, long, long ago, there were two presidential holidays in February. We celebrated Lincoln's birthday on the 12th (but didn't get a day off from school) and Washington's on the 22nd. Then things got complicated. A day was invented, between the two, that we called Presidents' Day. It was the third Monday in February. Somehow, that became officially known as Washington's Birthday, even though it's not, and Lincoln got lost in the shuffle. Now, neither Washington's nor Lincoln's actual birthday is celebrated. If there's ever a Kaye George Day, I would like it to be on March 3rd, no matter what day of the week it is, please.

The Book Spot! We writers at All Things Writing are celebrating an entirely different day, February 25th. It's Book Spot Day! All three of us will be presenting a panel and signing at  from 2-4 pm. We'll talk about how we put the anthology together, and insights into our own writing. We're three writers with three distinctly different styles, so this should be be lively and interesting. If you're anywhere near the Austin, Round Rock area, please drop in. Our novels and our anthology will be available for purchase and signing. We love to meet readers!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Creative Commons--Guest Blogger James Hutchings

Welcome to this week's guest blogger, James Hutchings! This article is a must read for worried authors! 

Many writers, whether published or just starting out, are very nervous that someone else will steal their work, whether that be another writer using their ideas in their own stories, or someone making pirated copies of their books. When I put out a collection of my writing, I specifically gave permission for anyone at all to copy my ideas, or even to cut and paste whole stories. I also contacted the Pirate Party, a worldwide network that wants to lessen copyright, and told them that I was giving anyone permission to put my ebook on file-sharing sites. In this post I hope to show why I went against common wisdom.

Creative Commons

I used a free service called Creative Commons. Creative Commons is useful for people who want to give the general public permission to use their work, but with restrictions. In my case I didn't mind people using my work for non-profit purposes, such as posting on a blog, but I didn't want to allow anyone to make money off it. Similarly I wanted anyone who used it to give me credit. I could have just listed these things myself. However I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps I would have worded it wrong so that someone could twist what I said to do more than I meant. Also I could have been unclear about what I was allowing and what I wasn't allowing. Sure, someone could email me and ask, but the whole purpose of having a written statement is so that people don't have to ask.

Creative Commons has a series of different licenses, which give permission to do different things. They're all legally 'tight', and they're all summarized in plain language. So all you have to do is go to their site and answer a series of questions, to get to the license that does what you want. In my case I used the Attribution Non-Commercial License.


That's what I did. But why? Common sense would suggest that I'm giving something away for free that I could be selling. However I believe that, in the long run, I'll be better off. The main reason is that I've seen how many people are, like me, trying to get their writing out there. Go to Smashwords and have a look at the latest ebooks. Then refresh the page ten minutes later, and you'll probably see a whole new lot. The problem that new writers face isn't that people want to steal your work; it's getting anyone to show an interest in your work at all. If someone passes on a pirated copy of my work, it might get to someone who's prepared to buy it - and that someone would probably have never heard of me otherwise. Even if they don't want to pay for what they read, I might come out with something else in the future, and perhaps paying 99c for it will be easier than hunting it down on a file-sharing site.

Science fiction writer Andrew Burt tells the story of someone who disliked his book, and to get back at him decided to put a copy on a file-sharing site. The effect was that he got a small 'spike' in sales immediately afterwards.

I also have some less selfish motives. Many people would assume that the purpose of copyright is to protect authors and creators. Leaving aside the fact that someone else often ends up with the rights (how many Disney shareholders created any of the Disney characters? How many shareholders in Microsoft have ever written a line of code?), that doesn't seem to have been the intention in the past. The US Constitution says that Congress has the power "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Note that protecting 'intellectual property' isn't mentioned. The authors of the Constitution seemed to see the point as getting ideas out there where people can use them: almost the exact opposite of keeping them 'safe' and 'protected'.

The original idea of copyright seems to have been a sort of deal: you have an idea, and we want you to get it out into the world where it will do some good. To encourage you to do that, we'll give you a monopoly on its use for a limited time. After that, anybody can use it (it will enter the 'public domain').

A lot of people don't know that copyright used to give a lot less protection than it does now, especially in the United States. In the US, it used to be that works were copyrighted for a maximum of 56 years. Today copyright in the US can last for over 100 years. In fact Congress keeps extending the time. In practice, they're acting as if they never want ideas to go into the public domain.

This is great for the owners of 'intellectual property'. But it's hard to see how this "promotes the Progress of Science and useful Arts," or how forever is a "limited time." In a sense it's a theft from the public. Anyone who publishes work has accepted the deal that the law offers, of a limited monopoly in return for making their idea known. Congress has been giving them more and more extensions on that monopoly, but doesn't require them to do anything to earn it.

It probably doesn't matter that much that Disney still owns Mickey Mouse, or that Lord of the Rings is still under copyright. But remember that these laws don't just apply to the arts. Similar laws apply to science as well. So a life-saving invention could be going unused, because its owner wants too much money for it, or because it's tied up in court while two companies fight about who owns it.


I'm far from an expert on either the law or the publishing industry. However I hope that I've given you, especially those of you who might be thinking about publishing some writing, a different take on the whole issue of whether authors should worry about their ideas being stolen. At least I hope I've shown you that there's a different way of thinking about it, and that that way doesn't require you to just give up on making money; in fact that it might be more profitable as well as better for society.


bio: James Hutchings lives in Melbourne, Australia. He fights crime as Poetic Justice, but his day job is acting. You might know him by his stage-name 'Brad Pitt.' He specializes in short fantasy fiction. His work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, fiction365 and Enchanted Conversation among other markets. His ebook collection The New Death and others is now available from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. He blogs daily at Teleleli.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How Long Should You Query a Manuscript?

You've written the next great American novel.  You've edited, made it pretty, worked on your characters, and developed a stellar plot that no one has thought of. Okay. Now it's time to query the agents and editors.

What? You've been querying? No one's expressed interest? Bummer...

Does that sound familiar? Probably. Most writers go through the above process at least once, though I'd venture a guess that it happens more than that.  How do you know when it's time to stop querying a manuscript and move on?

First, consider a few things.

1. How long have you been at it? A month? Two? That's  it? Quit your whining and keep trying! Some agents take six months to respond to one query. I'm talking from personal experience here!

2. Six months go by and no one has requested a full, a partial, or the first 10 pages. It's time for you to look at your query letter again because it may be that it just isn't doing your novel any good. Query letters are tricky little beasts that are meant to entice the agent to want more. Maybe you aren't sending a letter that's very interesting or that captures the flavor of your novel. There are many articles on the web that will show you how to create a great query letter. A lot of agent websites will tell you exactly what they want, too. One of my favorites is Janet Reid. Talk about brutal! That lady tells it like it is and doesn't care who she crushes in the process. If you want feedback on your query, check out her webpage! I've included her link for those feeling brave: Janet Reid

3. You've queried, received requests for fulls or partial manuscripts, but you keep getting passes from agents. Okay, this one really isn't about your query. Obviously, that's getting the job done because agents want to see your work. The problem is your manuscript. Reread the rejections carefully and without emotion. Is there a common theme? Are you getting similar complaints? Then fix the problem and keep querying.

4. You've queried, been rejected, made changes, and still nothing. Oh, my friend...I've so been there and done that. You have a few options at this point. A.) Keep trying. B.) Look at small presses. Many of them would love to have your work! C.) Consider self publishing. D.) Move on to your next project.

Any of the above paths have the potential to get your work out to readers. Trust your gut and your heart when it comes to making the final decision on whether or not it's time to stop querying. While you're querying one novel, be writing the next. It's possible you may discover some flaws in the first manuscript as you work on the new project that will change your mind about its potential. Maybe it just isn't marketable as is.

These are tough things to contemplate, but no matter what, don't quit writing!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine Gifts

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Or do you think it's a Hallmark trap? If it is, I totally fall into it every year.

Or have you completely forgotten about it until now?

Worst Valentine gift I ever received? A book. From the guy I eventually, in spite of that, married. I love books. Hell, I write them. My house overflows with them. But Valentine's Day? C'mon! We were still dating at that time. The guy is trained better now. Candy and flowers. Really, that's what I prefer. He gets candy, too, but I've never found out if he really wants it. Maybe I should be getting him books. I wonder if they are actually appropriate Valentine gifts.

Most of the books I try to sell are anthologies. I did find a wonderful quote about anthologies that I can tie into Valentine's Day with it's flower reference. This is the answer to the February 13th New York Time acrostic. (If you haven't solved it and would like to, get off this page before you read further!)

When you solve that puzzle you end up with an author, a title, and a quote from the work:
A Garden of Words
The anth- in anthurium means to bloom. The Greek word for flower, anthos, gave us one of the loveliest of English words, anthology, which literally means a gathering of flowers or garland, a literary bouquet, if you will.

Having kids and grandkids is just an excuse to buy and send more cute cards and candy containers--and the blooming flower from Hallmark. I sent it to all my kids this year. Here's a link to a demo. I saw it in the store and couldn't resist!

If you feel like commenting, I'd like to hear your best or worst Valentine Day story.

Illustrations from Wiki Commons are public domain.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sure He's Pretty, But Does He Have Character? by Guest Blogger Matthew Bryant

Today we have a guest so everybody be on your best behavior! Welcome Matthew Bryant and thanks for joining us at All Things Writing!

You know that guy that put a dress on a mop, a tied a ribbon in its hair and then proceeded to introduce it to people as his date at prom?  No?  That’s because nobody outside of network television is that stupid.  This doesn’t even count as humor in a sitcom, it’s just a sad appeal for laughs.

            But how many times have you seen this in the literary world?  Sure the antagonist and protagonist have some basis of a personality, maybe there’s a foil or two thrown in, but everybody else seems like a cardboard cut-out with crudely drawn scowls or smiles.  This could just as easily slide by the casual reader who’s been skimming your book anyway, but if you expect your audience to hang on your every word, you’d better make every word count.  How do you do this?  By fleshing out as you go.

            I’ve probably stumbled across at least two dozen different iterations of the ’20 questions to ask your protagonist’.  Here’s the problem with that, you’re not speed-dating… you’re not interviewing some schmuck for an unpaid internship… you’re creating life.  In fact, the first question you should be asking is for you: “What makes this person different?”

            While personalities are flexible, a lot of what you should be considering will be specifically geared towards genre.  Whether it’s action, suspense, romance, science fiction or fantasy, it will most definitely have some unique questions.  I’m not saying you can’t ask Ricky McBlowitup if he kisses on the first date, or if he would rather take his date to the club or stay home and snuggle under a blanket, but these answers might not be pertinent to the story.  What WOULD be pertinent is if the questions make him uncomfortable, upset, cynical or he just dishes out a straightforward answer. 

            I hope you’re beginning to get the idea of the types of questions you should be asking, but for those who desperately cling to lists, I’ll throw out some examples:

·         What do you do to unwind after a long day?

·         Would you rather attend a party with lots of people, or a smaller gathering with a few close friends?

·         Is your next car going to be a motorcycle, sedan, minivan, suv, etc…

·         You just got stood up at the movies, what do you do?

·         Can you initiate conversation in a room full of strangers?

·         Where would you sit in the classroom?  (examples could be front, back, middle, by the window, by the hot girl/guy, by my friends, etc…)

·         How hard is it to wake you up?  How many hours of sleep do you typically get?

·         Are you happy with your job?  Do you get along with your boss?  With your coworkers?  With clients?

·         What would your next job be?

·         Where do you want to go when you retire?

·         Where would you go locally for a vacation?  Internationally?

·         How do you take your coffee?

The point that I’m getting at is that these are questions that ANYbody can answer… even if it’s to say, “I don’t drink coffee.”  Maybe they drink tea or soda, or maybe they have something against caffeine… there’s probably a story to that as well.  Until a character is real to you, they’ll never be real to the reader.  By the time you sit down to write your story, the personality of your main characters should feel as natural as a worn-in baseball cap.  To the degree that (and you experience writers can vouch on this one) the characters will break free from your well-plotted outline and follow a completely different lead.  Not such a bad thing.  If they’re unpredictable to you, they’re unpredictable to the reader.  Trying to rope them back in and have them do your bidding will only result in awkwardness.

Now for the mop.  Anybody that enters the story, even if it’s just the guy driving the cab or working the desk at the motel, has a story of their own.  Do you need to know the story?  Absolutely not.  Do you need to let the reader know their story?  Not unless you’re Stephen King.  So what are you getting at?  Emotions my friend, emotions.  If you want more than a cardboard cut-out, you can ask any character that saunters onto the page one simple question.  “Hey, how’s your day going?”

I made this mistake once at a bar, simply making small-talk to the guy standing next to me as I was waiting for my pitcher to fill up.  Turns out the guy was having an absolutely awful day – to the point that I ended up sharing the pitcher with him instead of my friends waiting across the room, only to drive him out to another party across town while devising a plan to save his relationship with a very upset girlfriend. 

They actually got married six months ago, just in case you like happy endings.  What was I talking about again?  Oh right, answering the question.  The point is, anybody can be having a day.  Is it good or is it bad?  Is it just another day?  Why so?  Answer this question and you’ve established a primary motive for a secondary character.  Maybe they’re suspicious because somebody stiffed them earlier.  Maybe they’re sleepy because they’re on a second shift.  It could be that your protagonist reminds them of their cousin who died two years ago and they can’t stop staring.  Just those three examples have already added a bit of intrigue to the people in question, haven’t they?  Go on… admit it… you’re a bit curious now.

And once again, the reader doesn’t need to know the motive.  They may NEVER know the motive, though you should totally watch out for red herrings.  If nothing else, you’ve got a little sauce to stir around the dialogue, spice it up a bit.  Maybe that non-essential character will come back later in the story when you least expect it.  It will certainly keep the readers hunched over your book with fingers already itching for the next page.

Matthew Bryant is a writer and artist from Dallas, Texas as well as a member of the Greater Fort Worth Writer's group. For more tips on writing or examples of his work, check out his page at

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Choosing Blog Topics

How to choose a topic to blog about...I've been asked this question a lot lately. With All Things Writing opening up to guest bloggers on Fridays, many of the emails I've received have asked about what topics we'd like to see. Personally, as long as it relates to writing, I think the sky is the limit! However, I know that some folks have trouble narrowing it down, and that's understandable. I admit that many times I'm unsure about what I want to blog about, too. It can be especially difficult if you are working on more than one blog. Loesch's Muse is my other blog, and there are days when I curse the gods for giving me the idea of keeping up with a separate one because that means I gotta think more.

You have no idea how much pain thinking more causes me.

Since coming up with blog topics is a common problem, here are a few of the solutions that I've used to combat it.

1. Keep a rainy day list of topics. I like to jot down a few ideas and then when I have a stroke of brilliance (it's rare, I admit), I add it. I don't use every idea on the list, and I don't always use an idea from the list. Sometimes the topic is already percolating in my brain, but having the rainy day list helps me when I'm stuck.

2. Interview someone. Don't know anyone? Well, then that's just sad. How about creating an interview with one of your characters instead? It's a great writing exercise and really shows the reader how you go about creating dialogue and character.

3. Write a book review. This is a good way to practice the art of the critique and show people that, yes, you have an opinion. Be ready to deal with other's opinions, too.

4. Try a How To. Write a blog about how to create characters or how to write a good query. Oh!  I know! Write a how to on How to Choose a Blog Topic. Pretty clever, huh?

5. Share a short story. Do you have a piece around 1,000 words? Spruce it up and show that bad boy off on your blog. It's a great way to attract comments and show off your creative writing skills.

Are your brain juices percolating yet? I hope so!

This Friday our featured guest blogger will be the one, the only, the mighty--Matthew Bryant. Click on his name for a sneak peek at who this creative genius is.  Be sure to check back and comment on his fabulous post!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Forming Characters

Public domain illustration of Cinderella

How do you come up with your characters? Most often, mine start with a name. Sometimes I see a name on a TV show, or a billboard, or most anywhere, and something sparks within me. Voila, a character! In contrast, if I'm trying to write one and he's not coming alive, it's often because I have his name wrong. When I find the right name, he pops.

What aids do you use? Some writers map out the whole person before they begin writing. There are exercises, like putting onto paper what is in the character's refrigerator, what is her greatest fear, his most prized possession? These are good aids, but I don't do any of them formally. That is, I don't make lists before I start writing. The details come with the character for me, and continue to unfold as the writing progresses.

I did find a great list new list of questions that I'll keep in mind for the future, though, on Pat Bertram's blog. She's an indefatigable blogger and posts lots and lots of character interview, author interviews, and helps writers get exposure. Her list is here. I'll bet, if you're having trouble with a character, you could go through this list and get help.

When I saw this, I couldn't resist giving her an interview on my bad boy, Anton, who appears in one of the stories in our recent anthology.
Jackie Cooper in Peck's Bad Boy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Bloggers: We Salute You!

Yes, it's true. All Things Writing is now open to guest bloggers. We love our readers and their wacky thoughts! Got something to say? Then read our guidelines below. But be aware that our February calendar for guest bloggers is already full! The first post will begin next Friday.

As a blog that carries pieces regarding all aspects of the writing process, we are open to your suggestions on blog topics. If you are interested in becoming a guest blogger, contact Mary Ann Loesch at Be sure to put All Things Writing-Guest Blogger in the subject field. Guest blogs will be live on Fridays and we will notify you of the date.

A few tips:

1. Be ready to submit your guest blog to us 3 days before it will go live.

2. Please check it for grammar and punctuation errors.

3. You are welcome to include a personal bio, website link, and picture of yourself or book.

4. We will promote it on Twitter and Facebook, but in order for the most amount of people to see your work, be sure to promote it on your website/blog/Twitter/Facebook page.

5. Relax and let your voice come out in your writing! We will moderate all comments.

We look forward to hearing from you!