Writing For Literary Magazines--
A Chapters and Chocolate LIVE Interview

Literary magazines--or litmags as they're often called--have been around for centuries. And now that they have gone digital they're more widespread than ever before. 

Did you know that getting your work published in litmags will make you more appealing to literary agents and publishers?

Or that some literary agents look through the pages of litmags in search of new talent?

Or that sometimes writers don't even realize that their style of writing is what literary magazines are looking for.

If you didn't, that's OK. I've got you covered.

Grab my free guide to dozens of literary magazines online: 10 Resources for LitMag Authors and Aspiring Authors.

On Chapters and Chocolate LIVE, I discussed All Things LitMag with Rachel Thompson, published author and former managing editor of the literary magazine Room. Her book of poetry, Galaxy (Anvil Press, 2011), won the SFU First Book Competition. Rachel helps writers level-up their writing lives with...

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The #1 Thing You Must Do to Find the Time to Write Your Novel

A recent poll in my writing group Chapters and Chocolate revealed that the biggest challenge for many writers is finding the time to write in a crazy, jam-packed day. In this video excerpt I tell you the bare, naked truth about why setting priorities is so important and what you MUST do if you're serious about writing a novel.

The full video (37:41 minutes long) includes more tips and truth-talking and can be found in the videos tab in Chapters and Chocolate, my Facebook group exclusively for writers. It's filled with both authors and aspiring authors just like you. Join us!

 

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On Character Development

BECOME YOUR CHARACTER

Do the characters in your novels seem FLAT? Or are they all too similar? Do you STRUGGLE with their dialogue?

If so, you're likely not digging deeply enough into their personalities. To create MULTI-DIMENSIONAL characters who will keep your readers turning the pages, you have to get to know them inside and out.

In this video, I talk all about how I create the characters for my bestselling novels, including how I BECOME my characters.

Want to see more of my talk? The full video can be found in my Facebook group for writers, Chapters and Chocolate. Just click the videos tab and go to the Q&A video dated May 13. You can join the group--where you'll find hundreds of writers just like you--and check out the full video here.

Want more help with character development? Check out my online course Craft Your Characters.

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Become Your Character

If you worry that the characters in your novel seem one dimensional or that they all look and sound alike, then I have a question for you. How well do you know them? I mean really know them, inside and out? Particularly your lead character? 

A good way to figure that out is by examining the character’s dialog and how comfortable you feel when writing it. If you struggle with writing dialogue for the character that’s a sure sign that you don’t know her or him very well. You should know instinctively what the character would say in everyday circumstances and even some unusual ones. 

Long ago and far away, there was a TV show called Queen for a Day.Several women would get asked probing questions about their lives, and the studio audience would ring an applause meter based on the responses. Usually the contestant who'd had the toughest life got the most applause and won. She would became Queen for a Day and win all sorts of grand prizes.

I’m going...

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5 Tips to Overcome Writer's Block

You’re flying along churning out page after page of your novel, when suddenly you find yourself stuck like lint to a lint brush. No matter how much you try, you can’t shake yourself loose. You can’t get a decent thought on the page for anything. Eventually you give up trying. You’re frustrated, puzzled, worried. What the heck is going on here? 

Some call it writer’s block. Others believe there is no such thing. I won’t argue about terminology or definitions. I will say this: wherever you fall on the writer’s block belief spectrum, if you write long and hard enough you will eventually hit a slump. It may be a long one or a short one. But when it happens, the worst thing you can possibly do is hope it will soon go away on its own. No, my dear writer. The longer you let a writing slump linger, the harder it is to break free. 

So get proactive. Below are 5 tips you can try to kick that pain...in the ass....

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3 Tips for Getting Into Your Characters

One of the biggest challenges you face as a novelist is creating believable characters who don’t all look and sound the same. Besides the usual character worksheets that can help with this, here are some quick tips and tricks that I’ve used over the years to make my characters distinct.

1) ASTROLOGY BOOKS
I’m not suggesting that you copy the traits of a Scorpio or Pisces and plop them down in your novel as the main character. That would be just plain foolish. But astrology books can be a fantastic jumping-off point when trying to create colorful characters. 

One of my favorite books is an old standby, Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. Besides containing a wealth of ideas about personality types, Goodman’s book is a joy to read. Take her opening description of the Aries personality, for example: “Have you recently met an unusually friendly person with a forceful manner, a firm handclasp and an instant smile? Get ready for a dizzy dash around the...

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Shove Your Female Lead Off a Cliff

If you’re a woman I’m sure you remember listening to your parents read or tell you fairy tales about the beautiful princess riding off into the sunset with her charming prince and living happily ever after. Although we’ve come a long way since the days when I was a kiddie, many girls still get their pretty little heads stuffed with these fairy tales in one way or another. From books to movies to television. It’s as if the fairy tales, or something close to them, are wired into our DNA.

Is it any surprise, then, that variations of the happy-ever-after theme so often seep into the grownup stories that many women write? There’s often a beautiful girl with beautiful hair and beautiful eyes. And a tall sexy, breathtakingly handsome hunk. Together they ride off into the sunset. Men usually have no such illusions about their lead characters. They will shove them into all sorts of mischief and mayhem. Women are getting better about this, but I still see...

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Begin: Inspiration for Aspiring Authors

Do you know what the biggest obstacle is to starting or finishing that novel you’ve always dreamed of writing? YOU! A thousand things are going on in your life that you have to deal with day after day after day–the spouse, the kids, the job, errands, the blues, etc. And you can’t put any of that aside–or so you think.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you ever want to get that novel written, you have got to put some writing time up there at the top of that list or your novel will never get done. Squeeze in an hour in the quiet, wee hours of the morning or 30 minutes during your lunch break or a couple of hours late at night after the kids are in bed. Whatever, whenever. You have got to begin. And then stick to a regular schedule.

Before you know it, you’ll have 25 pages, then 50, then 100. And by then, nothing will keep you away from it. So somehow, someway, right now,you’ve got to make writing one of the top two or three...

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Private Places to Write Your Novel

Where do you write? I get asked this question a lot. It used to puzzle the heck out of me since it was something I never gave much thought to when I wrote my first few novels. I lived alone and had an office in my house. I simply sat down at my desk and wrote. What was the big deal about finding a place to write? I wondered.

Fast forward a few books and several years. I was married with young kids. Suddenly the question—Where do you write?—didn’t seem so trivial. Finding a place to write in private with no interruptions for even a few hours at a time could be a real challenge.  I knew I had to make some changes.

I am now far more proactive--often even uncompromising--about protecting and preserving my time and space to write. I go in my office, shut the door, and hang a hot pink DO NOT DISTURB sign. When the children were younger I would tell them to knock only if their lives were in danger. 

Privacy is everything when you're writing regardless of...

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