How to Write a Sentence…

Emily Leverett

Every other Spring, I get to teach Advanced Grammar. It’s one of my favorite courses. While planning my Advanced Grammar course for next semester, I considered changing textbooks. I really love Understanding English Grammar by Kolln and Day (a book I frequently reference in my posts), but I wanted to find something new. I looked through various books, and none really suited what I wanted. So I stuck with this one.

I was still not really happy with the course, though, so I glanced around my shelves thinking about what else I could give my students that could help them with their writing.

There are tons of books on writing, and some excellent ones, to be sure. Several have been mentioned on Magical Words over the years. (One of my favorites is GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon–the head of Bell Bridge books). Other people recommend Stephen […]

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Character Inspiration

Melissa Gilbert

Today’s Question: where does the inspiration come from for the characters that writers create?

Yourself Write what you know. That’s pretty common advice, and something that many writers do, even when it comes to creating characters. (Or at least the readers like to look for evidence of it.) Who do you know better than yourself? Basing a character, at least in part, on yourself gives you plenty of fodder for development.

Someone You Know How many writers do you think base characters, at least in part, on people they know? Probably a lot of them. Just be careful that you don’t copy them too closely, especially if they might read your work and recognize themselves! You sure wouldn’t want Great Aunt Tilly to recongize that sardine jello surprise everyone makes fun of at Thanksgiving dinner, right?

Someone You See Writers are often quiet creatures–observant, thoughtful, and curious–so with those qualities, […]

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Everyone Likes It, So Why Don’t I?

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Have you ever bought a book that everyone said was wonderful? I don’t mean a few of your friends recommended it. I’m talking about the book that is being hailed by all the big review sites and most of the smaller ones, raved about up one side of Facebook and down the other side of Twitter, and has a #5 sales rating on Amazon. Everyone from your local librarian to your favorite author has bought and loved this book, so you fork over your hard-earned cash and buy yourself a copy, only to discover that… you hate it. Suddenly you’re holding a book you can’t even bear to finish, wondering what on earth is wrong with you. So many people shouted their love for this book for all the world to hear, and there you sit, unable to stomach another chapter.

The hardest part is facing everyone who loved the […]

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Oh Editor, My Editor

Melissa Gilbert

Today is the release of An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes! I have a story in there titled “The Chase” along with other amazing stories by superbly talented storytellers. I have read some of them, but I am waiting on the actual book to devour the rest. I’m hungry for them, but I want to savor them as well.

Working on this project through Mocha Memoirs Press was my first adventure with an anthology editor and someone who wanted my story. I couldn’t have asked for a better “first time” for this.

(Side note: The lovely Sharon Stogner has done some proofing for me before, but that’s a bit different.)

My editor for An Improbable Truth is A. C. Thompson, who you all may better know as Alexandra Christian. I have to say that working with an editor helped me not only to write better but also […]

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The Business Side of Bucking Trends

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Folks, we once again welcome Laura Anne Gilman, author of Silver on the Road (Book 1 of The Devil’s West), a thrilling adventure set in an American West that isn’t quite ours, ruled by the Devil and watched over by Isobel, his Left Hand. It’s a wonderful start to what I expect will be an exceptional series, and I hope all of you have been able to score your own copy by now. Today Laura Anne presents a little chat about bucking trends.

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Back when I first came up with the idea that would become SILVER ON THE ROAD, I sent it to my then-agent, asking “what do you think?”

Her response was that she loved it, thought it was great…but that it didn’t seem very commercial, and I probably should stick with what we knew was working, the urban fantasy. And because my then-agent was savvy […]

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The World of The Devil’s West

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Today we’re delighted to welcome back Laura Anne Gilman, who has just released her newest novel, Silver on the Road (Book 1 of The Devil’s West). I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC, and I promise, all of you are going to want to read it. It’s the story of Isobel, raised by the devil in the territory west of the Mississippi river and deputized to be his Left Hand, she who must be “the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word.” Honestly, go buy your copy now. And while you’re waiting for it to arrive (or download), here’s Laura Anne to tell you how it all began.

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The World of The Devil’s West Or, “How being a history major finally became relevant to my actual career.”

The Devil’s West was born in 2010, when, during a class […]

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Round 1…WRITE!

Melissa Gilbert

Hey there, writers.

I have a quest for you, if you choose to take it.

Post 100 (or fewer) words of your WIP (work in progress) in the comments below, and I will offer you editorial advice on it!

The advice I offer will be heavily grammatical and mechanical, but I will also give advice on word choice, pacing, character, clarity, etc. as appropriate.

Also, feel free to comment on your fellow writers’ work.

Now, show me what you’ve got!