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Author Archives: James Duncan

Writing On the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

After years of crisscrossing the country by car, plane, train, bus, and even on foot for stretches, one of my favorite modes of transportation remains the railroad. Yes, it can be a … Read more

Editing Poetry: “Say It or Don’t Say It”

As poet and Pulitzer nominee Clifford Brooks states below, “…just as it is crucial that a writer creates his or her own voice, the way we edit is also a matter of … Read more

The Passing of Author Jay Lake

jay-lake

Award-winning author and friend of Writer’s Digest Jay Lake passed away after a long battle with cancer. Our very own WD Books Editor James Duncan pays tribute to Lake and his legacy here. Read more

Avoid Rip-Offs and Publishing Sharks: For Writers, Songwriters, Poets, Etc.

Once or twice a month I receive a letter or an email from a songwriter informing me that they have become the victim of a scam, and more often than not the … Read more

The Five W’s (and One H) of Soliciting Feedback

Allen Ginsberg may have written by the mantra of “First thought, best thought,” but when it comes to many of us, intense bouts of revision allows the “best thought” to rise to … Read more

When Authors Become Publishers: Creating a DIY Literary Anthology

There are many reasons to publish a literary anthology. Maybe you’re in touch with a lot of talented writers who deserve more attention. Maybe there’s a very specific and overlooked sub-genre that … Read more

6 Writing Lessons from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

It has gotten to the point where I can’t watch a film or TV show, read a book, listen to a song, or play a video game without thinking…What can this teach … Read more

7 Tips for Revising a Novel

I spent my December revising a noir/crime novel and I also had a productive discussion with two other writers this weekend about the revision process. Both occurrences brought to mind some tips … Read more

An Insider’s Guide: Odd Jobs of the Masters

The history of writing is full of authors striving to succeed in a hyper-competitive publishing world, contending with agents, editors, publishers, critics, and sometimes the greatest challenge of all—overnight success. David Comfort’s … Read more

How to Become a Kick-Ass Writer

If you haven’t yet read, met, or followed the career of Chuck Wendig, you’re in for a treat. I’ve had the great pleasure of following Chuck’s blog at terribleminds.com for a couple … Read more

So, What Exactly Is “Steampunk”?

You may already know all about this exciting subgenre, but maybe you’ve just heard the term in passing and you’re still not 100% sure what the heck it means, or maybe this … Read more

What’s The Scariest Book You’ve Ever Read?

October marks the time of year when I go out of my way to read something scary, and not in a “Why did any publisher support this hot mess of a novel?” … Read more

How to Find the Perfect Names for Your Characters

No matter what genre of fiction you write, be it horror like King or Lovecraft, crime like Patterson or Spillane, or more literary fare like Sontag, Roth, or Updike, there’s one very … Read more

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: An Interview with Philip Athans

With the release of our updated edition of Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, I figured it was the perfect time to catch up with one of our newest contributors to this classic … Read more

8 Things Star Wars Can Teach Us About Writing

We recently featured a guest post by Thomas Smith on the “4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.” Nothing against Star Trek, but as a Star Wars nerd, I felt … Read more

Not in the Writing Mood?

Falling out of a writing mood can happen to the best of us, and getting back in can be tougher than talking your way into a secret, after-hours, invite-only nightclub. But if … Read more

The Cocktail Genre: Writing With a Twist

Blending two differing genres into a new storytelling twist, or what I like to call a “cocktail genre,” has been a popular style for a while now. You have Max Brooks’ documentary/horror … Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Three

If you’ve followed this series, you’ll notice that: a) I think most writers have a project that would make for a fun and possibly profitable self-published book, and b) Creating a successful … Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part Two

In the previous post in this series, I discussed how we each have a great project buried in our computers, notebooks, or desk drawers that would make for a fun self-publishing project … Read more

Should I Self-Publish? – Part One

The big dream since childhood—shared by so many fellow writers of all ages—was to walk into a bookstore (perhaps a bookstore that I owned—bonus dream!) and find a novel with my name … Read more

Zest + Small Things = Great Writing (Guest Blog by Elizabeth Sims)

Recently I was asked to talk to a group of ‘beginning writers’. Mind you, these people were adults; it’s not like they were in the first grade just learning how to spell … Read more

Your Book, Your Rules: Advice from an Agent (Guest Blog)

Who better to ask for advice on how to keep an agent’s attention than an agent? Carlie Webber of CK Webber Associates maintains an excellent blog on all kinds of writing and … Read more

Submission Letters: How Much Is Too Much?

As a writer, I always thought I had the submission cover letter down pat. But managing a literary magazine truly opened my eyes to the staggering breadth of what many writers consider … Read more

Freelance Your Way to a Better Platform

Long before you publish your book—and long after—you should be thinking about your writer platform. How do you build that core audience? How do you enhance your reputation as a great writer, … Read more

Top 5 Books for Halloween, And What They Can Teach You About Writing

Whenever Halloween comes around, I like to pick up a dusty tome of terror, wipe away the cobwebs, and crack the spine in the dim glow of a bedside lamp, safely tucked … Read more