novel

Nine Lessons I Learned About Writing as a Trial Lawyer

I was a trial lawyer for thirty-one years before I retired and began a second career as a mystery/crime novelist. My law practice was not glamorous—no flashy criminal trials or high-profile, big-dollar civil cases. I did run-of-the-mill civil litigation: mostly real estate claims, business disputes, contract matters and employment cases. Contrary to the image...

Smart Ways to Get Organized and Be Productive

Take it from me: The moment it dawns on you that you’re failing at something is not a good time to start keeping track of your efforts. And the moment it sinks in that you’re succeeding? Well, that’s not a great time to get your act together either. Bad form though it may be...

Debbie Macomber

Talking Rejection With Debbie Macomber

Occasionally, my favorite moments of an author interview are the ones that don’t entirely make it into print. With Debbie Macomber, the cover star of the January 2017 Writer’s Digest, the moment came when the conversation turned to rejection. Read any interview with Macomber, and you’ll see how relatable her early experiences with those...

Answers to Your Novel Writing Questions

I’ve interviewed enough authors over the years to know this: Even the most successful among them can remember with vivid clarity the tentative tingling of first sitting down to write a novel and feeling as if they had no idea what they were doing. In fact, some of them still experience that odd mingling...

Write a Standout Chapter 1

We all know the importance of starting our stories strong: Without a beginning that draws the readers in (whether those readers are agents, editors or bookstore browsers), they may never make it to the middle. Enter the July/August 2016 Writer’s Digest: An entire issue devoted to helping you make your Chapter 1 shine. When...

10 Lessons Learned Behind the Scenes of a Book Deal (Part 2)

A few short months ago, I wrote about my path to getting an agent and a publisher, and promised to share my experiences leading up to the publication of my debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, due out in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press. You might think that as the editor of Writer’s Digest magazine—and given my earlier years...

10 Lessons Learned Behind the Scenes of a Book Deal

A few short months ago, I wrote about my path to getting an agent and a publisher, and promised to share my experiences leading up to the publication of my debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, due out in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press. You might think that as the editor of Writer’s Digest magazine—and...

In Novel Writing, Practice Makes Perfect

“Every time I start a book, I think, I have no idea how I did this the last time,” bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes told me in our interview for the January 2016 Writer’s Digest. “No idea.” At first, knowing that the struggle “happens to the best of us,” as they say, might seem discouraging—especially...

When It Comes to Your Writing, It’s NEVER Too Late!

Let’s get one thing out of the way: The idea of feeling like it might be “too late” to do something doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with age. I remember vividly the first time I was overcome with the unsettling sensation that certain ships had sailed. I was a new college graduate folding...

What We Can Learn From Multi-Genre Authors

One of my favorite parts of my job as editor of Writer’s Digest is overseeing our WD Interview cover stories in every issue—deciding who to feature, making sure we’re hosting a conversation that covers ground our readers won’t find elsewhere, and quite often even conducting the interviews and crafting the profiles myself. I’ve always firmly...

A Better Approach to “Write Every Day”

Happy New Year! Happy … and yet. Everywhere you look, it’s all about pushing ourselves, isn’t it? First came November’s NaNoWriMo, with all the tips for writing more, more, more, writing faster, faster, faster. Then came the holidays, with 12 days left to shop/plan/wrap/bake/revise that manuscript from last month, 11, 10, 9 … And...

When Your Novel Writing Clicks

Light-bulb moments. Aha moments. Flashes of recognition. Revelations. Call them whatever you like. I like to think of them as clicks. In the writing life, the best kind of click is that moment something makes you realize exactly what’s been missing from the not-quite-right scene you’ve been working on. Or the instant you put...

What Halloween Can Teach Us About Character Development

This is the first year my 3-year-old has really gotten Halloween, so we’ve spent October seeking out any excuse for him to wear his costume and spend the day yelling “Boo!” As a result, at an array of fall festivals, we’ve collected a countertop full of pumpkins of assorted shapes and sizes; a small...

Tips and Inspiration to Write a Book in a Month

One of the things I love about working at Writer’s Digest is the excitement each time a new issue hits newsstands. And it’s especially true with the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest–because this special guide to Writing a Book in a Month arrives just in time for November’s National Novel Writing Month challenge. Regardless of whether...

5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Writing a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s new novel, Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin Teen, 2014), is an excellent example of using multiple perspectives to effectively tell the story of...

The 7 Tools of Dialogue

My neighbor John loves to work on his hot rod. He’s an automotive whiz and tells me he can hear when something is not quite right with the engine. He doesn’t hesitate to pop the hood, grab his bag of tools and start to tinker. He’ll keep at it until the engine sounds just...

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 you may find useful. Mind you these are rather simple pieces of advice, and everyone has their own process that works for...

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 of years now, and the writing advice he offers is some of the best—as well as some of the grittiest, most honest,...

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 as opposed to a traditionally published book. Some things just weren’t meant for Random House. And while the small press world is...

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 on the cover gracing a column of shelves with eager hands reaching upward to pluck a copy and buy it before racing...