Guest Columns

How to get published — read hundreds of helpful Writer’s Digest guest columns from published writers teaching the craft and business of writing.

The-Big-Fear-Book-cover

Don’t Write What You Know Until You Know Something.

Not long after college, I had the good fortune to have lunch with Howard Fast (Spartacus, Citizen Tom Paine). A mutual friend had arranged the lunch, knowing that I wanted to be a writer.  The great master listened politely as I told him I was writing a play about the Stasi infiltration of a group of...

Twisted-River-book-cover

The Lure of Domestic Noir

Domestic noir is a growing genre. Given successes such as Paula Hawkin’s GIRL ON A TRAIN and Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL, it appears that regular domestic situations are a fertile breeding ground for suspense thrillers. Everyday dramas play out around the kitchen tables and the bedrooms of family homes. In fact, generally speaking, the more...

Charlotte-and-the-quiet-place-book-cover

5 Ways to Be a More Mindful Writer

Great writing flows most easily from a place of inner clarity and calm. But with all the stimulation and stress in our overscheduled lives, it’s hard to slow down long enough to think clearly, much less creatively. Mindfulness can help. Column by Deborah Sosin, MSW, MFA, author of CHARLOTTE AND THE QUIET PLACE (Sept....

Assassins-Heart-book-cover

3 Questions to Ask When Revising

When I reached the end of my first draft of ASSASSIN’S HEART, the story was in place, but I knew I had to bring out and uncover other elements, like themes, setting, and especially character arcs. Column by Sarah Ahiers, author of ASSASSIN’S HEART (Feb. 2, 2016, HarperTeen). Sarah has an MFA in Writing for Children...

The-Rosemary-Spell-book-cover

3 Lessons I Learned about Realism from Mentor Texts

I never took a creative writing class; I don’t have an MFA. But, as an English professor, I read for a living, and I have learned almost everything I know about writing from mentor texts (texts that teach us how to write). When I was young, I read all the time. I read everything....

sorcerer_front mech.indd

5 Things for Writers to Look for in a Day Job

It might seem strange to have a post about what to look for in a day job on a publishing advice blog. After all, often the dream is to write full time. Day jobs are just a distraction, right? Realistically, though, it’s hard to earn a living from writing fiction full time, and many...

Death-at-the-Day-Lily-Café-book-cover

5 Writers Discuss the Writing Life

As DEATH AT THE DAY LILY CAFE, the second in the Rosalie Hart mystery series, reaches publication, I have been reflecting on the path I followed to getting published. Yes, I found a terrific agent and fell into the hands of a talented editor at Minotaur, but the first step was joining a critique...

frosted-cowboy-book-cover

The Biggest Mistake New Writers Make

I wrote the first draft of my novel by hand, which I realize is slightly insane. Every morning I would wake up at five o’clock (or as I like to call it, o’dark o’clock), write three pages, and then go on with my day. Well, that’s a very simplified version, but for the sake...

A-Wicked-Way-to-Win-an-Earl-book-cover

Writing Contest Conundrum: To Enter or Not to Enter?

This is how it goes in your head: You enter a writing contest, win it, and ride that wave of success to glorious bestsellerdom. Or maybe it’s more like this: You don’t win the contest, but you get a priceless, insightful critique from a seasoned judge. You revise your novel, enter another writing contest,...

MORE-IGAMI. Text copyright © 2016 by Dori Kleber. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by G. Brian Karas. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Should You Follow the Siren Song of a New Idea?

Writing, rewriting, revising, re-rewriting. It’s painstaking, and after months—or possibly years—of working on a novel, you can feel bogged down, exhausted, even defeated. And then it happens: You get a new book idea. And not just any idea. A great idea. In fact, you’re sure this idea is a hundred times better than your current...

Sarah_Manning_United_Talent_Agency

New Literary Agent Alert: Sarah Manning of United Talent Agency

Currently Seeking: She is looking to actively build her list and represents both fiction and non-fiction. Sarah’s taste is varied and she enjoys crime, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, accessible literary fiction, fantasy and YA. She likes big ideas that look at events or characters from new perspectives.

The-Far-Empty-book-cover

3 Things I Stopped Doing That Got Me Writing Again

Every writer has a “go to” set of techniques, strategies, and schemes they use to motivate themselves to get their stories written; all the things they do every day to write their way to “THE END.” However, after 20 years of barely completing a sentence, much less a story, here are three things I...

Within-the-veil-book-cover

Writing Through Fear

We’re all scared. Let’s just start there. No matter what stage of writing you find yourself in, fear is the constant adversary that will track your every move and hunt you down. Just when you think you’re bulletproof, you’ll plunge headlong into a sea of depression and be overwhelmed with waves of doubt. As...

Gates-of-evangeline-book-cover

Becoming a Novelist: Five Principles to Success

The story of how I broke into publishing is not one most aspiring writers immediately find helpful. One bitter individual informed me that my experience only proves the insularity of the industry, that you are nobody without an “in.” On the surface, he’s right; my “in” opened that final elusive door to publication. Less...

golden-state-misadventures-book-cover

What I Learned from Attending Writers’ Conferences

Before teaming up with a new publisher to release both my poetry compilation ATL Fire and California travel memoir Golden State Misadventures over one quarter of a year in 2015, I frequented writers’ conferences and grew from those experiences. Column by Han Vance, author of memoir GOLDEN STATE MISADVENTURES (August 2015, Silver Stone Press). His...

Becoming-darkness-book-cover

How Writing Taught Me the Need for Patience

Patience. Some regard it a virtue, and if there’s any one thing I’ve learned since embarking upon my journey into the publishing world, it’s that you need it in spades. Many are of the impression the most difficult part of being a writer is the actual writing. And yes, crafting a good novel can...

Beijing-Red-book-cover

Fact vs Fiction: Keeping a Military Thriller Thrilling

As Navy veterans turned thriller writers, one thing we are often asked is how much of our military experience finds its way into our work. The answer is plenty, but how and what to include can be the difference between a high-octane thriller that’s packed with realism and a tedious study of military life....

the-alliance-book-cover

How Missing My Deadline Brought life to My Novel

I had a conference call with my publisher about a week before my husband’s emergency brain surgery. I remember pacing outside, in the December cold, with the phone pressed against my ear and trying to carry on a normal conversation while also sneaking glances through the living room windows to make sure my husband...

With-Malice-book-cover

6 Things Teaching Taught Me About My Own Writing

If you do something long enough people around you assume you must know what you’re doing. Next thing you know you end up as the instructor. I’m fairly sure this is how I started teaching. I’ve found that teaching writing to others has taught me a lot about my own writing.  Regardless if you...

Tell-Me-No-Lies-Book-Cover

4 Tips For Creating Bad Boys & Villains Readers Will Love to Hate

As a romantic suspense author, I enjoy creating characters (both heroes and villains) that readers love to hate. Creating characters that verge on being anti-heroes is especially satisfying. Why? It makes for interesting reading and the experience become emotional for the reader when they can’t decide whether to root for a character or wish...