Category Archives for Writing Tips

Tea and Takeaways from Bestselling Author Nora Roberts

Prolific. What else would you call an author who publishes four to six novels annually?

I suppose you could also call Nora Roberts wealthy since her books consistently and almost instantly hit the New York Times bestsellers lists.


Tea at Ashford Castle in Cong is as beautiful as it is tasty.

I got to meet Nora (she called me Erin, so I guess we’re on a first-name basis) at Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland, and was oddly star-struck. Odd because, although I’ve met quite a few celebrity-status authors, I felt absolutely giddy to have the opportunity to have afternoon tea with Nora…and a couple hundred other people. I was so excited, in fact, that my friend and I arrived early and snagged a seat at the front table. (Early is a big deal for me; just ask my husband.)

Afterwards, when her UK editor at Little Brown told me that Nora (aka J.D. Robb) publishes at least four books a year (she’s releasing a total of five in 2014), I almost choked. That’s a LOT of writing and a massive amount of discipline. There’s another descriptor to attribute to this impressive and totally approachable author. Continue reading

Writing from the Road

Thanks to Tim Bishop, for sharing his thoughts on writing from the road in this guest post. Tim and his wife, Debbie, will be touring through mid-September, writing as they go. Read on to learn about how and why they write.

When writing creeps into your bloodstream, it becomes an innate expression of your life experiences, whether or not it covers your bills. You write because you love it…and because you must. When those inflicted with this “bug” embark on one of life’s adventures, they have no choice but to write about it. Continue reading

6 Tips to Help You Get Unstuck

Thanks to Joanne Miller, co-author of Be Your Finest Art: Awaken Your Creative Selffor this guest post. 

Be Your Finest Art by Joanne Miller and Dorsey McHughEver sit down in front of your computer, place your fingers on the keyboard and wait for the right words to drop from brain to fingertips, but you can’t get the juices flowing? Any writer, if truly honest, will admit to having moments—sometimes days (or more)—of blocked creativity. It happens to the best of us. This happens for a number of reasons, but there are ways to push through to renewed creativity that really aren’t that complicated or illusive. Perhaps these six tips will help you the next time you are staring at a blank screen and your fingers refuse to move. Continue reading

5 Quick Self-Editing Tips

Have you ever read something you wrote and wondered, “What was I thinking?? Did I really think that sounded good?”

For me, late-night sessions, tight deadlines and too much caffeine create a bad combination that leads to sloppy, meandering writing.

The truth is, bad copy happens to even the best writers at some point. The goal is to catch that less-than-stellar writing before it’s published. Continue reading

What to Know BEFORE You Write A Book

I need to write a book.

 I want to write a book.

 Someone told me I should write a book about my experiences or expertise.

 A book would be a good way to market my services or leverage my knowledge. 

 If any of these statements sound familiar, it’s time to take the next step and decide if you’re really going to write that book. Answering the following questions may help you work through the deliberation stage. (No dice required.)

  1. Why do you think you need a book?
  2. What do you hope your book will do for you? What are your goals for your book? Do you hope to write a best-seller? Do you want a deliverable for speaking engagements–something to sell at the back of the room? Do you want a book to boost your credibility with prospects?
  3. List any other books that are already available on your topic.
  4. What information or points of view can you offer that would make your book different from those already available?
  5. Who is your book for? Note: It is not for “everyone.” Every book has a specific audience. Who comprises yours? Be specific.
  6. Are you already connected with an audience? Do you know people who will buy your book? How can you increase your audience and their loyalty to you?
  7. Are you willing to spend considerable amounts of time promoting your book? Unless you’re using your book as a business card, you’ll need to develop and carry out a smart marketing plan.

Before you commit to the process of writing a book, you’ll want to know your reason, your points of differentiation and your audience. Getting clear about these three things will bring focus and help reduce frustration as you write. Also, realize that writing is only part of the process. Marketing is essential if you want to sell more than a handful of books.  

Are you ready to write a book? The 8 Weeks to Authorship program will help you develop and stick to a doable writing plan.

What Makes Readers Stay?

I found an abandoned blog last night.Don't abandon your audience!

There were no signs of wear or peeling paint. All the pieces were still intact. Nonetheless, it was obvious by the posting dates that no one had lived there in quite a while.

What a shame! The ideas presented were well thought out and interesting. I even learned quite a few things. In fact, I wanted more! Continue reading

How to Tell Your Story AND Teach a Lesson

Don’t make readers dig for the lesson in your writing.

A writer recently asked me for advice on how to make her writing more effective.  She’s working on a book about her personal story, and a smart reviewer suggested that she continue to share her story (descriptive details), but also add in how-to’s (prescriptive details) that others could use to overcome the same issues she dealt with in her life’s journey.

She wanted to know how to best combine descriptive and prescriptive details. That’s a great question! Continue reading

A Video Trailer is Your Book’s Virtual Cover

A somewhat frustrated author told me recently, “It feels like I have to sell every book.” She’s right. Getting noticed is tough business, even for the best of authors published with the “big” houses.

To have a hope of getting your potential readers to pay attention,  you need a strong marketing plan. As guest blogger and owner and executive producer of Trailer to the Stars Misty Taggart puts it, you have to be creative and you must meet people where they are. One way to do both is by adding a video book trailer to your promotion tools.  Read on as Misty explains how a book trailer can help boost your book sales. Continue reading

Deadlines and Delusions

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt


A few years ago, I read a comment from a retiring magazine editor who said she had been on a deadline for four decades. In the midst of my own personal deadline crisis, my heart raced at the thought. My mind screamed:  I don’t want to be on a deadline for the rest of my life!

For months, I wracked my brain trying to think of ways to write without deadlines. After all, I reasoned, I’m much too free spirited. Life is busy. Surely, writing will be effortless if I just work at my own pace.

I was delusional. Continue reading