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Author Archives: Brian A. Klems

Free Money for Writers (Seriously)

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Make good use of your time this weekend (and I don’t just mean sunburning poolside). Check out ways you can get grants to cover your writing expenses (which can include research trips, child care, writing retreat travel expenses, website development and more). You have to put in a little work, but the payoff can be huge and can allow you time to focus less on bills and more on writing. Check out these two great articles on grant writing. Read more

Where to Find Writing Grants

Start your search small and local by investigating grant opportunities in your own town, region and state. Peruse the websites of your town’s art council and your state’s arts commission. To help … Read more

Winners of Free WD Subscription: 7-Figure Book Deal Edition

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Thanks to everyone who participated in this week’s Q: What Would You Buy With a 7-Figure Book Deal? Some great responses—some sensible, some awesomely ridiculous. One thing seems to be clear: Most would quit their day jobs to focus on writing. Here are the winners of a free 1-year subscription to Writer’s Digest. Read more

Free Money for Writers

Grants, fellowships and residencies offer both support and opportunity—and all they ask in return is that you follow your writing dreams. Here’s what you need to know about some of the best opportunities you could be missing. Read more

It’s #StoryFriday Time on Twitter (Join in!)

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It’s #storyfriday time on Twitter! Here’s how it works: We write the first line, then someone adds a line & so on. Starts @9:30 EST. Use #storyfriday hashtag. For more details on … Read more

The Q: What Would You Buy With a 7-Figure Book Deal? (Plus, Win a WD Subscription)

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When I see books like Harry Potter fly off the bookshelves, I can’t help but think, What if that were me? What if my hard work paid off and I landed a seven-figure book deal? Aside from passing out (multiple times) from excitement and throwing up (multiple times) out of nervousness, I’d want to do something special with my first purchase from that check. Post your thoughts on what you would buy in the comments section for a chance to win a free 1-year subscription to WD. Read more

The 5 Essential Story Ingredients & More

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You wouldn’t expect a taco salad to taste good without all the proper ingredients, would you? The same can be said about a story. Without the right blend of plot, characters, emotional drive and more, your story will fall flatter than a popped birthday balloon (which, according to my eldest daughter, is one of the top 5 worst things that can happen—just after “running out of donuts,” but just before “having to take a nap”). Here are The 5 Essential Story Ingredients according to author Steven James. Read more

Why “Start Your Novel Is With Action” is Bad Advice

The cliché “start your novel with action” has a flaw—and it’s a major one: What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It’s much, much better to start your story with tension, like a character conflict or a character who’s not getting what he wants. This gives the reader a reason to feel connected. Read more

Talking Dog

Your kids have spent years asking you to get them a dog. You finally break down and get one, only to discover that this dog talks—but only to you. More interestingly, the dog loves to gossip about your kids and their lives. Write a scene where … Read more

How to Take Your Short Stories to the Next Level

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Are you writing a short story? The first short story I ever wrote was in the 6th grade. It was about a fictitious solar system of salad toppings. No joke. I remember pacing around the house, dictating ideas, plot and dialogue into my mom’s hand-held tape recorder and, eventually, piecing it all together into a short story that earned me an A. Looking back, it was one of my proudest moments as a young student—and as a young writer. With that memory poking at my brain today, I decided to round up several excellent articles on writing short stories. Read more

How to Broaden Your Short Story’s Scope

Most short stories illumine a single dark corner, narrowly circumscribed. They follow the time-revered rule: Limit your short story to a specific time, place, event, interaction or character’s evolution. But the short … Read more

Flat Fees vs. Hourly Rates

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My daughters like to play bookstore at our house. They hide behind one of our beds, pull up a giant pile of books and ask me to buy them—and I’m happy to oblige because 1) I love books and 2) it costs me pretend money. And I’m willing to buy nearly anything with pretend money. When you’re discussing rates for freelance projects, it can often feel like pretend money. Read more

How to Land Writing Gigs When Meeting Editors

Last fall, author and journalist John Moir redeemed part of his grand prize from WD’s 78th Annual Writing Competition when he traveled to New York City, where his escort from the WD … Read more

It’s Time for #StoryFriday

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Two years ago on a hot Friday morning I was feeling burnout and was desperately looking for a fun boost. Scrabble just wasn’t going to cut it, I was tired of losing The New Yorker Caption contest, and HR apparently frowns upon booze in the office (I know, I know, silly office rules). I glanced at the rest of the WD staff and they seemed to be in a funk too. Or they turned into zombies. Either way, I figured it was bad. So I suggested a story-building exercise we could all participate in. Read more

Picture Book Craft Intensive w/ Critique Today @1 EDT

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If you’re writing a picture book (or have ever considered it) you’ll want to check out today’s webinar from super agent Mary Kole. My daughters love pictures, so even I’m planning to listen in on this one—Mary Kole is one of the best instructors. All registrants who sign up get a critique of your full picture-book manuscript. Get more details and a few free articles on picture-book writing on this blog today. Read more

The Q: Do You Have Writer Envy?

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All I’ve ever wanted to be one of the most clever writers in the world and, thanks to Facebook status updates, I’m not even sure I’m the most clever writer in my house. Not a day goes by where I don’t read an article, short story, book or tweet and think to myself, Oh man, that’s so good. I wish I’d have written that. The disease is called Writer Envy and I have it. BIG TIME. Read more

Is There a Secret Formula to Getting Published?

It stands to reason that the key elements of any publishing formula would include (but would not be limited to) … Read more

Confronting a Childhood Bully

You’re out at restaurant and bump into a childhood bully who used to steal your lunch money. Confront the bully and give him or her a piece of your mind. Post your … Read more

7 Ways to Structure Your Picture Book

Author and editor L. Rust Hills once said, “The sinister thing about writing is that it starts off seeming so easy and ends up being so hard.” If only this quote weren’t true. But it is. However, we picture book writers are lucky. We have seven wonderful techniques to help us organize our plots and hold our stories together. Read more

Read These Successful Query Letters

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Writing a book is fun. Writing a query letter is stressful. In your book, you can add layers of backstory and extra pages to let your full story flow. In a query letter, you basically have four tiny paragraphs to say “PICK ME! PICK ME!” (Holy crap, I’m having grade-school playground flashbacks.) So what’s the best plan of attack to creating a pitch perfect query letter? Read more

7 Grammar Blunders to Avoid

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Nothing is worse than getting in the first edition of our new issue, opening it up and finding a giant grammar mistake plain as day. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it blows my mind. “How did that happen? We read the issue 5 times each, hired an extra copy editor and even used the Microsoft WORD’s spell check (which never misses a mistake, right?).” Read more

Are Serial Commas Necessary?

Q: When writing a sentence that contains a series of something (e.g., a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker), do I need a comma before the “and” connecting the final two … Read more

Plethora Doesn’t Mean “A Lot”

Q: Can you use “plethora” to mean “a lot,” as in, I own a plethora of baseball hats? A: The misuse of “plethora” is a pet peeve of mine. The word “plethora” … Read more

Are Agents Just Looking for an Excuse to Reject Your Work?

Q: Doesn’t it seem like agents are just looking for excuses to reject work? —Anonymous A: Actually, the complete opposite is true. Agents don’t want to reject your work, they want to … Read more

One Simple Question All Writers Should Ask Themselves

In this brief exercise, Douglas Preston, co-author of the bestselling Pendergast novels (Relic) and The Monster of Florence, challenges writers to really write what they know to take their thrillers to the … Read more

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