Want to be a guest blogger? Your article is welcome!

Learn more about TimAs we get ready for First Chapter Month at ChapterBuzz, which starts January 1st, I’m looking for guest bloggers to share their knowledge, experience, and wisdom!

Got something to teach us about writing a first chapter? Submit your guest post here and I’ll publish it on this blog before First Chapter Month kicks off.

Here are some topics that work well:

What’s in a first chapter? What are the necessary elements of a first chapter? As the introduction to the rest of the story, the reader is encountering settings and characters for the first time, so it’s important to know what should be included.

What’s not in a first chapter? Equally important is what not to include—often, there are details that shouldn’t be revealed to the reader too soon! How can a writer decide what to reveal early on, and which details to keep readers in the dark about?

Tricks for getting started. Writing the first chapter in a novel can open the floodgates for the rest of the story to flow. But there are many possible obstacles (writer’s block, confidence, fear, lack of ideas, to name a few) to sitting down and cranking out those first few paragraphs. Do you have any tricks for “greasing the wheels”?

If this gives you any ideas, you could be our next guest blogger. Original content or already-published articles welcome. Submit yours here!

Writers and editors: guest bloggers wanted!

January is First Chapter Month at ChapterBuzz, where we celebrate the all-important first chapter, appreciate first chapters of all shapes and sizes, and of course, write some of our own.

To prepare for First Chapter Month, I’m looking for guest bloggers to share their knowledge and insights about that one chapter in our books that does so much of the heavy lifting.

Here are some topics that work well:

Importance of first chapters. The first chapter of any novel is crucial because it sets the stage for the rest of the story. It can describe settings, introduce characters, and contain important plot details.

It’s also the very first thing a reader sees when he or she starts flipping through a book to decide whether or not to buy it.

The push it gives. The thought of writing a novel can be intimidating, and authors don’t always know how to pull their ideas together into a story that reads well. But sometimes, writing just one chapter is enough to get the ideas flowing—and gives the writer that push to keep going. What are some easy ways to get started?

Difficulties and challenges. Feeling pressured to write a “perfect” first chapter, procrastination, writer’s block, and a lack of confidence can all keep an aspiring novelist from getting started. What are some good solutions?

These are just a few, but of course there are many other angles to write from. Original content or already-published articles welcome. Submit yours here!

Are you an editor or writing coach? Let’s talk

Learn more about TimCalling all editors and writing coaches…

I’d like to discuss some opportunities to work with the talented writers in our community.

If you have your own business helping clients, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll give you the lowdown!

Writing every day on the Orient Express

The famed European rail line has inspired many a writer over the decades. And Janelle Gould, of Distant Francophile, is no exception, as she explains.


Janelle’s two cents:

Imagine how inspired you might feel if you could spend everyday writing while traveling on the legendary Orient Express. The ever-changing views, the parade of fellow passengers, the history of the carriages. Of course, the train itself has such a rich literary history—authors like Fleming, Greene, and Christie have all fallen under its spell. I’d be happy to join them.

—Janelle Gould
Distant Francophile

How about you? What inspires your writing? Share and be featured on this blog!

My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal

As a writer, what’s the point of keeping a success journal?

Isn’t keeping a success journal extra work? I mean, after hours of writing, who wants to crack open a diary and write even more?

Valid questions, all—and that’s what I thought, too. I first learned about the concept of a success journal at a seminar by T. Harv Eker, a motivational speaker who has helped millions of people attain financial freedom.

The concept is simple, really: every day, write down the 5 biggest successes you had that day.

That’s it. Simple, but powerful.

So I bought myself a notebook, and each evening, I would mentally review my day and write down every positive thing I could think of.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the first week I kept a success journal, I became a success junkie. I actually started going out of my way to do things just so I could write them down. Talking to people I wouldn’t normally talk to. Taking business risks I wouldn’t normally take. I made a little game out of it, and soon I felt like I was in a competition with myself, always striving to outdo yesterday’s accomplishments.

Thought of a great way to describe a setting? Write it down. Opened up a brand-new author Twitter page? Write it down. Made a decision on the name for a character? Write it down! No success is too small.

And believe me, it helps to know you’re not alone when you’re working to achieve your dream.

But it gets better. You see, once you’ve been working on your novel for a while, you’ll be able to go back and look at what you accomplished in earlier days, and marvel at how far you’ve come.

In fact, that would probably be your next journal entry: “Check out how far I’ve come!”

Be a writer, not a waiter

This quote from Dan Poynter comes at exactly the right time. Yesterday we discussed the pitfalls of waiting for inspiration, and how being successful in your writing requires discipline and good time management.

Today, start writing your #365daynovel. It’s a program that will help you get started, stay focused, and get your writing out into the world. Learn more

“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”

Some attribute this quote to William Faulkner, others disagree. But regardless of who said it, it contains several layers of meaning that we writers can learn from.

When it comes to your novel, you’re right on the verge. You’ve been tossing ideas around in your head for quite some time now—letting them percolate, roll around, and soak in, hoping they’ll develop into a story. Only then, you tell yourself, will you start writing.

In other words, you’re waiting for inspiration.

Unfortunately, that’s not how writing works, at least when you take it beyond the hobby level. And that’s exactly what you’ll be doing as you embark on the journey from writing enthusiast to what you’ve always wanted to be: an author. Of a published book.

But it’s a job. Are you prepared for that?

As author John Grisham advises:

Write at least one page every day, without fail. If you’re trying to write a book, and you’re not writing at least one page a day, then the book is not going to get written.

Source: http://kendrakinnison.com/johngrisham

And that’s how he did it. He balanced his day job as an attorney with his writing pursuit by forcing himself to start writing, coffee in hand, by five thirty every morning. A few hours later, before rushing off to fulfill his lawyerly duties, he’d have written at least one page.

The lesson here? Your book ain’t gonna write itself.

That being said, you will want to spend some time planning your novel before starting to write it. But you still have to possess that Grisham-like dedication, even in the planning stage.

#365daynovel, my step-a-day approach to writing a novel, is a self-paced learning program that devotes the first 44 days to planning. What you end up with, by Day 365, is a published novel—and a fan base that can’t wait to buy it.

Learn more about #365daynovel

Is there anything holding you back from taking that first step? I’d love to hear your comments.

Why novelist Piper Punches “felt like giving up so many times”—but didn’t

If you’re not familiar with Piper Punches’ work yet, you should be. She’s a St. Louis-area author with several books under her belt, including The Waiting Room, about family secrets taken to the grave and the wounds they open up when they come to light, and Missing Girl, the tale of a 17-year-old California girl who is forced to “leave everything behind and walk arm in arm with the devil into a world of prostitution and human imprisonment.” You know, light reading.

When you check out her website and her books, you’ll immediately see that Piper, a self-described procrastinator, has done some amazing work with the time she’s spent not procrastinating.

This week I interviewed Piper, and asked her about her inspiration, how she avoided giving up even when she felt like it, and her advice for new writers. Take a look!

T: What gave you the inspiration to write “Missing Girl”?

P: Missing Girl is a companion piece to my soon-to-be-released, full-length novel, 60 Days. I wrote it because I wanted to tell the story of one missing girl; a teenager from San Diego who disappears from the laundromat one night, never to be heard from again by her family. Society has become hardened to those faces that stare back at us on bulletin boards in the post office, the grocery store, or at the bus stop. We see those missing persons’ posters and usually assign blame, stories, and judgments right away without really understanding what may have happened to these children, women, and men. Sophia’s story attempts to bring awareness not only to the plight of the missing, but also to the epidemic of human trafficking.

T: Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up—and how did you start feeling hopeful again?

P: It took me a long time to publish my first novel, The Waiting Room, because of so many false starts and self-doubt. After I wrote The Waiting Room, and quickly followed that novel with the short story Missing Girl, I thought I had conquered those feeling of inadequacy and hopelessness. But, writing 60 Days has been a struggle. I’ve felt like giving up so many times and just scratching the story. What has kept me going? The many readers who have read Missing Girl and are aching to learn more about human trafficking and the two supporting characters in the book that are the main characters in 60 Days. As scared as I am about writing a story that doesn’t live up to my expectations, I am even more fearful of letting my readers down.

T: What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

P: I would say to tell a story that comes from the heart. It doesn’t matter what genre you write, if you write a story that is vulnerable and comes from the deepest parts of you, flavored with your own experiences, fears, joys, and failures, your readers will be captivated.

But no matter how great your story is, you have to make sure that it is professional. Self-published writers don’t always have the biggest budgets. So, where should you spend your money? You need precise editing and a superior cover. Take the time to find a cover artist and editor that will be an asset to your career. Poor editing can interrupt the flow of the story and it will earn you less than stellar reviews. Always present your best work possible and the rest will fall into place.

T: What’s your number one marketing tip? What’s helped you get your name out there?

P: Networking. Whether you connect with other writers, editors, readers, bloggers, etc., online or in person, you have to network. Also, new writers are coming of age in the digital era of publishing. It’s easy to forget that you need to make personal connections. Schedule book signings, reach out to your readers on social media, and introduce yourself to booksellers everywhere you go. You’ll build a strong foundation of loyal fans that will support your writing platform and help you reach new readers.

T: What’s next for you?

P: In the next couple of months, 60 Days will release, which will free me up to begin my next project. I am also a featured writer in the upcoming anthology entitled Legacy, published by Velvet Morning Press. My short story is entitled “Gracie’s Gift,” and I can’t wait for everyone to read it. The anthology will be published sometime in April and all the proceeds benefit Paws for Reading. You can read all about it here.

piper-punches-2Want a free copy of Missing Girl?

If you want to keep in touch and learn more about me, my books, and stay updated with all my shenanigans, visit my website or sign up for my newsletter here and receive a free copy of Missing Girl.

Write! Create away the blues

The Voice Beneath
by Joy Morales

anxiety will live in a whisper between pleasure and pain
it’s a devil that makes you dance
stealing good memory and grace
a ferment of worry and emotion
silent suffering
clouded vision
it’s so hard to imagine life without unending split decisions

from this ghost can come success
as this skeleton becomes a muse
if you listen to its story
create away the blues

spark some pleasure in your soul
inspire others along the way
be someone else’s angel
worry not, all is okay

About Joy (she’s not just a poet)

Joy was this week’s “Magnetic Monday” winner. Excellent work, Joy! Be sure to check out her blog, Tellin’ it like it is…, and her book, Gratitude Journal: 365 Days of Exploring Things That Soothe Your Senses and Your Soul.

To win and be featured, contact me here to send in your entry. Click the image above to enlarge it and see all the magnets available to you. The only rule is that you can use each magnet only once. Prose and poetry are both welcome.

Enter the contest!

Starting to write your novel—what could be sexier?

So you write. Lots of people write.

And you blog. Even more people blog.

And you want to write a novel. Tons of people want to write a novel.

But here’s where you stand out—you’re willing to take the first step.

Ah, now you’re in an elite group. They say that 80% of success is just showing up, and I know this to be true.

Sure, it seems like nowadays with self-publishing being more accessible than ever, everyone and their dog has published a book. But that’s not the case at all. Yes, there are lots of books out there, but none would have been completed without some writer somewhere saying, “No more excuses, I’m going to start writing my book. Today!” And that grab-life-by-the-horns attitude is rarer than you think.

But get this: telling yourself you’re going to start is actually the second step.

The first?

I’ll let Allison Conway, who runs a blog all about the power of new beginnings, explain the very first step:

We’re told “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” And that is very good and sexy and brazen indeed.

But it’s also deceiving in a way that it doesn’t mean to be. It implies that the beginning of a thing—an adventure, a poem, a business, a painting, a recovery, a diet—is the first forward movement. A step: something demonstrated, something the world can watch, that we can all see, evaluate, measure.

But the real beginning is invisible.

The real beginning is a mindset. It’s a change of mind from one that says “Maybe tomorrow.” or “Not right now.” to a mind that says “Yes. I accept.”

It’s the decision to trust in something and follow it without knowing exactly where it will lead.

The beginning is the minute you decide that it’s time.

[Read the rest here]

This is from an article where Allison argues that “beginners make better art because they willingly, openly accept an invitation into the unknown.”

Sound like you? If you’re ready and willing to step forward, to begin the adventure of a lifetime, and make better art, you just need to look past your inhibitions, smash through your fears and tell yourself, “I will begin today.”

And guess what? That powerful mind shift will create an energy flow, allowing you to step out of stagnant waters and move forward with your masterpiece.

Start now with #365daynovel. You’ll start with Day 1, and work your way to Day 365, learning and writing along the way.

Here’s to new beginnings!