Our Deepest Fear

It’s not what you think it is… There’s a poignant scene near the end of the 2005 movie “Coach Carter” where a student finally responds to Carter’s insistent question of “what is your deepest fear?”. It is a quote often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela but originally written by Marianne Williamson (“A Return to Love: […]

On Writing: Moving From Prosaic to Spectacular

What makes some writing stunning and other writing lackluster? Mostly, it’s the language—the words—you use. And, it isn’t just words you use; it’s how you use them. Here are a few things you need to consider when translating your work into something that “sings”. Use Active Verbs and Reduce Modifiers Many writers, not just beginners, […]

How to Accept Rejection

We’ve all suffered rejection and disappointment. Perhaps that job you coveted or someone you loved who might have even led you on before dropping you. It hurts. But you move on. And it does get better. It does, trust me. Being a published writer involves accepting rejection. Think of rejection as an integral part of […]

Who Is Your Audience, and Why Should You Care?

The artistic process, whether painting or prose, is admittedly the child of self-expression. The long-standing image of the cloistered artist in her studio — hunched over her writing desk or standing before her canvas to create from the depths of her soul — is surely a truism. Artists create from the heart; we dive deep […]

The Power of Myth in Storytelling

“If a being from another world were to ask you, ‘How can I learn what it’s like to be human?’ a good answer would be, ‘Study mythology.’ ”—Joseph Campbell For Joseph Campbell, perhaps our era’s most influential student of mythology, myths express our basic need to explain, celebrate and immortalize the essence of life. Given […]

Using the Subtext of Body Language in Storytelling

Kinesics is the study of “body language”, which explores how movements and gestures project a person’s hidden thoughts. Blushing is an obvious reaction. But more subtle ones can be used. When body language contradicts verbal expression, tension, conflict and interesting scenarios increase. This is a great opportunity for writers. According to Janet Lee Carey, author […]

Are You a Closet Synesthete?

“A person with synesthesia might hear and taste her husband’s voice as buttery golden brown, feel the flavor of food on her fingertips, sense the letter J as shimmering magenta or the number 5 as emerald green,” says the introduction to David Eagleman and Richard Cytowic’s 2009 book Wednesday Is Indigo Blue. The book explores […]

Female Heroes in Literature

For my birthday last year, I went to the cinema to watch the popular—and somewhat controversial—Hunger Games. Well, controversial among some critics and followers of critics, anyway. I came across a particularly juicy tidbit by critic Jeffrey Wells on Hollywood Elsewhere, in which he attributed the movie’s success to “reviews by certain female critics” who […]

How to Hook Your Reader and Deliver

A great story opening arouses, delays and rewards. Constructing a compelling beginning—often called a hook—is a common challenge for even established writers, and one of the most important parts of a story. The opening should sweep the reader into the story like a tidal wave. It doesn’t need to be wild action. It just needs […]

How To End Your Story

Have you ever seen the movie The Party with Peter Sellers? The first scene is priceless. Sellers plays an actor who is shot in a war scene; he subverts the script by refusing to die. His endless death struggles get so annoying that even the men on his side turn and shoot him.   The […]

Demystifying the Synopsis

A synopsis is a larger version of the book jacket blurb you see on the back of most paperbacks in the bookstore. You write a synopsis for the same reason: to sell a story idea to a publisher and ultimately to a reader. It is an in-depth summary of the entire book that weaves in […]

How We Will Tell Stories in the Future

In the early 1400s, when Lady Vivianne, the Baroness Von Grunwald (hero of my latest book, The Last Summoner) lived, one of the largest libraries in Europe was at the University of Cambridge; it held an impressive list of 122 books (that library currently houses over 7 million books). Books were a work of art […]

Why You Want to Go To A Writer’s Convention

A short while ago I attended (and participated as panelist and guest author) at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto. And I was all jazzed about it! Why?… Well, let me tell you why… If you haven’t yet attended a writer’s conference or convention, it’s high time you did. Because, not only are you missing […]

Finding the Write Time and Place

  Look and you will find it—what is unsought will go undetected —Sophocles   Finding the Right Time and Place to Write During a time when I had a demanding job as an scientist with an environmental consulting job, was a devoted wife and mother and community volunteer, I wrote and successfully marketed five books, […]

Should You Judge a Book by its Cover?

Most readers—me included—will pick a book off the bookstore shelf because its cover interests us: the title intrigues; the cover illustration attracts; the author’s name is one we trust. If you don’t know the author of the book, the nature—and implied promise—of the cover becomes even more important. If the book does not deliver on […]

Using the Subtext of Body Language in Storytelling

Kinesics is the study of “body language”, which explores how movements and gestures project a person’s hidden thoughts. Blushing is an obvious reaction. But more subtle ones can be used. When body language contradicts verbal expression, tension, conflict and interesting scenarios increase. This is a great opportunity for writers. According to Janet Lee Carey, author […]

The Martian Chronicles and Other Metaphors

They came because they were afraid or unafraid, happy or unhappy. There was a reason for each man. They were coming to find something or get something, or to dig up something or bury something. They were coming with small dreams or big dreams or none at all —Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles When I […]

What Genre Are You Writing … And Marketing?

Our multiplex world of discerning consumers is getting used to having what they consume laid out clearly and categorized. Literature is no different. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, when Aristotle proclaimed in his Poetics that poetry could be categorized into many “species”, critics have endeavored to label art to help the “commoner” interpret […]

The Careful Writer: Some Notes on Composition

During my recent reread of Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”, this little book yielded more good advice that I wish to share with you. “The shape of our language is not rigid,” they tell us. “We have no lawgiver whose word is final.” This is because language is fluid and ever-evolving as the […]