Author Archives: Guest Column

Writer Jessica Allen

When Can You Call Yourself a “Real” Writer?

BY JESSICA ALLEN When can you call yourself a “real” writer?  A fellow scribe shares how a series of ordinary encounters transformed her point of view. When you grow up revering books, as I did, you grow up revering writers. I remember the first author I ever met: Patricia MacLachlan, who spoke at my junior...

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Author Nick Petrie Discusses Building a Strong Protagonist

People don’t read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the science, and no one watches Forrest Gump for seafood recipes. Character is what truly makes an audience turn a page or turn up the volume. Thus, I am so pleased to sit down with bestselling author Nick Petrie to discuss the much anticipated second...

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When Truth Is Stranger Than (Children’s) Fiction

BY JOY LANZENDORFER Some children’s books are so original they seem to have sprung from the author’s imagination alone. But no matter the genre, writers use personal experiences in their work. It may surprise you to learn these beloved children’s stories are actually inspired by real life. All are vital reminders that you never...

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Getting the Details Right: Depression

BY NAOMI ELSTER Misunderstandings about mental illness can lead to inaccurate writing and contribute to widespread misconceptions about those with a real affliction. While characters who suffer from depression are plentiful in fiction, a faulty portrayal of the disorder can weaken a writer’s work. Let’s debunk a few of the most common myths to...

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Develop a Fascinating Premise for Your Mystery Novel

I used to think that I couldn’t write a mystery novel because I’m not very good at making things up. Where would I find ideas? Then I stumbled across a terrific idea at a yard sale. It was at a Victorian house with gingerbread-trimmed gables and leaded glass windows. I was peppering the homeowner (a...

The Secrets of Story

7 Misconceptions About Revision

Rewriting is 90 percent of the writing process. If you don’t believe me, download The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken from the Journal of the Whills. That’s what a first draft looks like. That’s what your first draft looks like to any reader who’s willing to be honest with you. That script improved...

Sound It Out

How Writers Can Find Inspiration in Music

BY SCOTT PRESTON We writers are all seeking the same thing, really: a spot next to the campfire. And we know that to get that spot, we need to develop a knack for recounting stories that have been told for thousands of years—stories of adventures and triumphs, of tragedies and lost loves, of found...

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An Audience of One: A Story for Thanksgiving

By Kris Radish The lone woman looked terrified. She sat with her shoulders hunched and her face down as if she were trying to turn her body into a tent where she could hide. I remember standing off to one side and looking at her—really looking at her. She was clearly uncomfortable being in...

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The Lie I Told Myself About Self-Publishing

Three years ago I officially began writing a book. That’s when the lie began. As my first draft grew to 50,000 words, the book changed from being a memoir based on my experiences as a fire eater to a novel. I kiddingly say that this was because no one would care about a fire...