Guest Post: Alexandra Christian!

Today we have a special treat.

Alexandra Christian is here to talk to you about questions writers ask.

Welcome, Alexandra!


Thanks for having me! Here we go…

I’m a lurker. You caught me. I confess — I’m a lurker. I lurk in Facebook groups reading questions and comments quite frequently. I may not say anything, but I’m there seeing what other people are up to. Some might call it nosy, but I call it research. I’m particularly interested in questions that new authors are asking in these writer groups, but sadly they often get crummy answers (IMHO). So I thought a short post with my answers to common writer questions might be interesting…

How much time do you devote to writing?

This question comes up a lot with new writers who are either working day jobs (like me) or have lots of kids and other responsibilities in your life. […]

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The Top Ten

Every August for over a decade, I’ve walked into a classroom full of (mostly) eager freshmen and spent the next few months teaching them to write. During that time, I’ve developed a few “tips” that I tell students to help avoid a “look-I’m-new-to-college” faux pas. I was thinking (as I was editing, of course) that many of these apply not only to the relationship between professor and student but also to the relationship between editor and writer.

When you work with someone, no matter what the capacity, you are creating an unspoken contract. It’s not legally binding, I’d imagine, but it’s one of those things sort of like the “bro code” that you really don’t want to mess up. But, often we do because we don’t know any better.

So, here are my top ten things that you might learn as a freshman in college that also apply […]

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It Takes a Village

“In the end, what makes a book valuable is not the paper it’s printed on, but the thousands of hours of work by dozens of people who are dedicated to creating the best possible reading experience for you.”

― John Green

Part of my background is in theater, and I have spent considerable time on both sides of the curtain. There’s a lot of glamour and glitz when you’re playing the lead role — roses and spotlights, applause and curtain calls — but there’s a whole lot of “not much” when you’re working backstage. One of the most underappreciated roles in the theater is the role of stage manager. If you’re not familiar with the role, a good stage manager is the glue that holds the whole thing together, the one who knows everything there is to know and fills in wherever there’s a lack. But, there’s […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Choosing the Right Editor

Happy Friday, friends!

This time last week I was just starting a fabulous weekend at ConGregate, one of my favorite conventions, and thinking about the panel I was to sit on later that night: Finding the Right Editor.

It was a great panel, or at least I thought so. Sharon Stogner, Leona Wisoker, and I were the panelists discussing what a writer needs to consider when hiring a freelance editor. Since I talked a good bit about Magical Words during that panel, I thought I’d share some of what we discussed.

We primarily focused on hiring editors for either self-publishing or when looking for a publisher and/or agent since a lot of this doesn’t apply so much to publisher-assigned editors. Some does, so take what you want.

We compared finding an editor to dating, which actually works out really well.

Decide you want a date:

First, […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Style Sheet

Keeping a style sheet.

To ensure consistency, for each manuscript the editor must keep an alphabetical list of words or terms to be capitalized, italicized, hyphenated, spelled, or otherwise treated in any way unique to the manuscript. Changes that are made simply for consistency with house style need not be noted on the style sheet.

Special punctuation, unusual diacritics, and other items should also be noted on the style sheet. Not only the author but also the publisher may need to refer to the style sheet at various stages of editing and production.

CMoS, 16th ed., p. 72

One of my personal pet peeves as an editor is inconsistency. The tiniest details are the things I will go back over a manuscript (often using CTRL + F) and look for specifically, even after I think I’m done with it.

So, I create a style sheet […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Title Tells It All

5 Things to Consider When Titling Your Work

Today’s post is about titling your story. These are my opinion and suggestions, though I’ve heard from others that they’ve gotten similar advice other places as well. Share in the comments anything else you think is essential to know about titling your work!

Google the title, search Amazon, search Goodreads, etc. Check to see if your title has been used before. If not, all systems go! If your title has been used before, look at when it was used. (If it is not recognizable, it’s probably okay. Of course, you don’t want to title your book Carrie or The Hunger Games. Those are sort of…taken…already.) Look at other titles in the same genre Look to see what kinds of titles successful books in the genre use. Are they single word titles, long titles, etc.? For example, if you look at this list […]

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Friday Fundamentals: Post Con Wrap Up

Hello and happy Friday!

Today I’m going to ramble a bit, I think, talking about some of the things I picked up at ConCarolinas this year.

I was on a bunch of panels this year, covering topics from mental health to marketing. Tamsin already talked about the mental health panel, which was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I’m really glad I did. So I wanted to talk about the other things I learned this past weekend.

Newsletters / Marketing

Many of the panels I sat on had something to do with social media, eCommerce, or marketing. One thing was consistent throughout. Newsletters are vital. You should start compiling a mailing list as soon as you plan to publish something. That doesn’t mean that you should flood their inbox every time you finish a chapter, but having those contacts early help ensure a good launch.


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