Sunday, October 19, 2014

SHORT IS THE NEW LONG - article by Anne R. Allen

Do you read or write short stories?

Author and highly respected blogger, Anne R. Allen, has published an excellent article on the re-emergence and growing popularity of short stories in the latest issue of Writer's Digest Magazine. Anne has given me permission to present the bare bones of her detailed article here. Be sure to check out the rest of this well-written, informative article in the November/December 2014 issue of Writer's Digest.

As Anne says, "Bite-sized fiction has moved mainstream, and today's readers are more eager than ever to 'read short.' Here's why writing little stories is paying off in a big way."

Anne goes on to mention "nine factors working in favor of a short story renaissance:"

1. Small, portable screens are changing the way we read.

"The single-serving quality of a short narrative is the perfect art form for the digital age... Stories are models of concision, can be read in one sitting and are infinitely downloadable and easily consumed on screens," Amber Dermot told The New York Times.

2. Anthologies are hot.

"Multi-author anthologies are a great sales tool, and they've been reborn in the e-book space, where they're inexpensive to put together and provide wide visibility."

3. Publication identifies you as a professional.

Publishing your short stories in anthologies and journals will show agents, publishers, and reviewers that you're serious about your craft and publishing. And they can also help get your name out there and start building a fan base.

4. Networking with short fiction editors can further your career.

"Editors at small magazines often have connections in the publishing world."

5. Filmmakers buy rights to short stories.

"Just as indies are re-invigorating publishing, they are also the lifeblood of the film industry."

6. Online retailers favor authors with more titles.

"The more titles you have in an online bookstore, the more visible you are." And it's easy to turn out several short stories per year.

7. Short fiction contests can build your bio.

"Contests are easy to find and enter in the Internet era. [...] A win or even honorable mention looks great in a query or bio."

8. Shorts keep fans engaged and draw new ones.

"Shorts keep fans interested while they're waiting for the next book, and a free story in between is a great marketing tool. Consider writing a couple of shorts about your main characters while you're working on a novel."

9. Today's short stories make money and hold their value.

"Per word, a story can make more money than a novel. Not only does it take less time to write, a Kindle Single often sells for the same price as a novel-length e-book, and can be repurposed many times."

And finally, writing short stories is a great way to learn to write tight and make every word count, which is a great carry-over for any other kinds of writing you may do.

Check out these excellent related articles by Anne R. Allen on her award-winning blog:

Here's Why You Should be Writing Short Stories

 10 Reasons Why Short Stories are Hot. 

 The New Golden Age of Short Fiction.

 And this one by Jodie Renner, over at The Kill Zone blog:  "25 Tips for Writing a Winning Short Story"

Besides publishing her popular craft-of-writing books under the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction and Writing a Killer Thriller (and the upcoming Captivate Your Readers), as well as her handy, clickable e-resources, Spelling on the Go and Grammar on the Go, Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and author of numerous blog posts on writing captivating fiction. Find Jodie on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her posts alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone blog. Subscribe to Jodie's sporadic (3-6 times a year) newsletter HERE.

Friday, October 3, 2014

SPELLING ON THE GO - Commonly Misspelled Words at Your Fingertips

 by Jodie Renner, editor and author

I've recently published a really handy, time-saving, clickable resource for writers, editors, students, and anyone who has any kind of writing project. called SPELLING ON THE GO - Commonly Misspelled Words at Your Fingertips. CLICK HERE to go check out the Kindle book on Amazon, where it already has 10 reviews, all 5-stars. It's also available as a PDF document to leave up on your screen, behind or beside your W.I.P. To purchase the PDF version for $2.99, please email info (at) JodieRenner (dot) com.

How will this e-resource make your life easier?

Whether you’re a journalist, fiction or nonfiction writer, student, blogger, editor, or anyone else on a busy schedule (aren’t we all these days?), this clickable spelling list will save you tons of time, no matter what you’re writing. Just keep this doc up on your screen or beside you on your Kindle, tablet, or smartphone, and if you’re unsure of a word, go to this, click on the first two letters, find the word quickly, check the spelling, and you’re back to your writing project within seconds. 

Words are listed here for various reasons. They might be challenging to spell, like “acquiescence” or “hemorrhage” or “abhorrent” or “zucchini” or “Caesar.” Or what about those everyday words we think we know how to spell, but just want to quickly verify, like “occurrence” or “embarrassed” or “occasion” or “recommend” or “separate” or “weird” or “vacuum”?

In many other cases, the words or terms are easy to spell but are just included because there is confusion as to whether they should be hyphenated, one word, or two words. For example, is it back seat, back-seat, or backseat? checkout, check-out, or check out? Is it under-achiever or underachiever? counter-clockwise or counterclockwise?

I’ve also included troublesome homonyms such as its and it’s; rein and reign; stationary and stationery; principal and principle; peek, peak, and pique; insure and ensure; complement and compliment; lightning and lightening, and many more.

For the sake of brevity and ease of use, definitions are rarely given in this resource, except in cases where the incorrect word is often mistakenly used.

So why wouldn’t you just rely on your word processor’s spell-checker? Because Word’s spell-checker is made up of words that users submit and in many cases is blatantly incorrect. 

All of the words in this list have all been verified as correct spelling or normal current usage. My main references are the two copyeditors’ and proofreaders’ “bibles,” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (M-W) and The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS); and for words that don’t appear in Merriam-Webster, I’ve chosen the spelling used in the majority of online dictionaries.

Click on the letters to go to words starting with those letters. To come back to the list, just click on “Home,” found on every page of this convenient resource.

Endorsements and Reviews for Spelling on the Go:

“One word or Two? Hyphen or no hyphen? I never can keep all that straight. This books clears the air. A must for every writer.”~ DP Lyle, award-winning author of the Samantha Cody and Dub Walker thriller series

“This is a great resource for word usage, with clickable links that make it easy. I see it becoming indispensable.”~ L.J. Sellers, author of the bestselling Detective Jackson and Agent Dallas series

“Must-have useful reference for editors and writers! The organization is brilliant.

“This time-saving reference is incredibly useful for writers and editors. It's a very well-organized book and the clickable links are absolutely one of the best features. I'm going to use this again and again!”
~ Eve Paludan, author & editor

“Indispensable tool for all writers, novice or seasoned. Once you start using this quick spelling resource, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.”
~ Los Angeles Writer

“A useful time-saver! “Very easy to use. Convenient and slick.”
~ Mandrake 

“Lots of live links make it quick and easy to use!

“This guide to commonly misspelled words and phrases is a time-saver for any writer. Spelling on the Go is a quick reference guide you can keep in the background of your work in progress. If you are not sure how to spell a word, whether it's hyphenated or not, or which of several homonyms is the right one, like peak or peek, weather or whether, etc., you can find the answer with a few clicks and get back to work quickly. This is a must-have resource. I give Spelling on the Go a 5-star ranking as an indispensable writer's tool for spelling.”
~ John W. Kurtze

“To hyphenate or not to hyphenate . . . Is there an ‘e’ in there? this quick and easy to use guide helps with some of the most common spelling demons without me having to go to Google and sort through the results to get the best answer. Jodie is a great editor and this is the latest in her series of practical writing guides. You can keep it open on your Kindle or your computer-based Kindle app for easy reference during writing sessions. Grab it, you won't regret it.”
~ Patient Reader

A Superb Tool
“I haven’t owned Spelling on the Go for 24 hours yet and I’ve already used it four times. The layout is simple to use and can be navigated with ease. This is going to be one of those resources that people say ‘I can’t believe nobody thought of that before’ about.”
~ Brian Switzer

And look for the companion e-resource, Grammar on the Go, out soon!

Besides publishing her popular craft-of-writing books under the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction and Writing a Killer Thriller  (and the upcoming Captivate Your Readers), Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and author of numerous blog posts (alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone) on writing captivating fiction. Find Jodie on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Websites: www.JodieRennerEditing.com ;  www.JodieRenner.com. Subscribe to Jodie’s sporadic (3-5 times a year) newsletter HERE.

Monday, September 1, 2014

FIRE UP YOUR FICTION Wins Another Award!

by Jodie Renner, editor & author

I'm pleased to announce that my editor's guide to writing compelling stories, FIRE UP YOUR FICTION, has won a third book award.

It just received another Silver Medal, this one in the Readers' Favorite Awards, in the category of Writing and Publishing.


Congratulations Jodie Renner!
Fire up Your Fiction
is a 2014 Readers' Favorite Silver Medal Winner in the Non-Fiction - Writing/Publishing category!

Here's the certificate I received from Readers' Favorite Book Awards:

 
And the 5-star review this book received on the Readers' Favorite website:

Reviewed By Bil Howard for Readers’ Favorite

"Jodie Renner has done fiction writers a huge favor by compiling her blogs into Fire Up Your Fiction: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories. She covers subjects that can get a story moving and not only draw the reader in, but hold their attention and keep them turning pages.

"She covers the issues involved with creating and keeping conflict, tension, and action burning throughout your story and showing rather than telling. [...]

"Renner also discusses wordiness and the use of clich├ęs, as well as cutting down your word count in order to get to the action and keep it moving. She also gives excellent advice on how to make your dialogue sizzle; a problem for nearly every author. All in all, this volume is packed with plenty of digestible literary protein that will feed writers and make them eager for action. [...]

"Packed with information, accurate and inspiring, Fire Up Your Fiction: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories will help you transform your fiction into a more marketable product." 

Fire up Your Fiction - An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Stories was also awarded a Silver Medal from the Florida Authors & Publishers President's Book Awards and an Honorable Mention from the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards in 2013, and was a Finalist in Foreword Reviews' IndieFab Book Awards and National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

Comments on this book by bestselling "writing gurus": 

"This book is packed with good advice on how to spot and fix weaknesses in your fiction writing. It summarizes the combined wisdom of the last century or so of fiction teachers into one handy volume."
- Randy Ingermanson, bestselling author of Writing Fiction for Dummies

"A handy checklist and self-editing guide that will get any fiction writer to a stronger, well-told tale."
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Revision & Self-Editing, Plot & Structure, and Conflict & Suspense

Brief excerpts from other comments by judges:

"What a wonderful resource for writers at any stage of their career! I wish I had this book when I first started writing. ... I can't think of anything important that you haven't addressed succinctly and clearly. ... This should be on the booklist for Master's Programs in Writing for Publication. ... You must be a wonderful editor to be able to write such a readable, but comprehensive book."

- Judge, Writer's Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards, January 2014

“the Strunk & White for writers who want to be not just mere storytellers but master story-compellers.”

- Lucy Wang, reviewer for IndieReader

Amazon Reviews:

Fire up Your Fiction has received 85 reviews on Amazon.com to date, with an overall average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Many writers and aspiring authors have emailed me to tell me how much this book and my other book, Writing a Killer Thriller, have helped them tighten up their writing and make it more compelling. If you have read either of my books and found them helpful for your writing, I'd love it if you could write a review on Amazon.

Click on the book title to go to Jodie Renner's eBooks on Amazon:

Fire up Your Fiction - An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Stories

Writing a Killer Thriller - An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction

And look for Captivate Your Readers, out in late 2014, as well as two shorter resources, Grammar on the Go and Spelling on the Go.


Jodie Renner, editor & author       
www.JodieRenner.com
www.JodieRennerEditing.com

Join me on Facebook and Twitter


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writers' Conferences & Book Festivals, Sept. 2014 to Aug. 2015

by Jodie Renner, editor, author, speaker

As I do a few times a year, I've compiled a list of writers' conferences and book festivals in North America. This one runs from September 2014 to August 2015. For June 2015 and on, a lot of websites haven't posted their dates for 2015, so I'll add them when I find out the dates.

Please tell us about any conferences or book festivals I’ve missed by posting the info in the comments below, or email me at Info (at) JodieRenner (dot) com, and I’ll add them to the list. Be sure to give me the name of the conference, the date(s), location, and website URL. Thanks a lot!

SEPTEMBER 2014:      

Sept. 5-7, 2014 Colorado Gold Writers Conference, hosted by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. http://www.rmfw.org/conference/

Sept. 4-7, 2014 – Writers’ Police Academy, Jamestown, North Carolina. http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/

Sept 13-14, 2014 – Alaska Writer’s Guild Conference, Anchorage Alaska. http://www.alaskawritersguild.com/

September 19-21, 2014, Imaginarinum Writing & Film Festival, Louisville, KY http://www.entertheimaginarium.com/

Sept. 20, 2014 - ORAcon2014 - Fiction Writers Conference in Springfield, Missouri.
https://www.facebook.com/events/604825859555575/

Sept. 19-21, 2014: Southern California Writers' Conference Newport Beach, Calif. http://www.writersconference.com/la

Sept. 24-28, 2014 - WORD Vancouver: Inspiring Words, Vancouver, BC, Canada. www.wordvancouver.ca

Sept. 25-27, 2014 – Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers’ Conference, St. Augustine, Florida. www.fhbookfest.com

Sept. 25-27, 2014 - The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference, St. Louis. http://www.acfw.com/conference

Sept. 26-28, 2014 – The Midwestern Book Lovers Unite Convention for Readers and Authors, Minneapolis, MN. http://midwesternbookloversunite.wordpress.com/

OCTOBER 2014:

Oct. 3-5, 2014 – Write on the Sound Writers’ Conference, Edmonds, Washington. www.writeonthesound.com.

Oct. 9-12, 2014 - Moonlight and Magnolias romance writers' conference in Norcross, Georgia; http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/mm-conference/ 

October 10-12, 2014 - The Southern Festival of Books, Nashville TN.
http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southern-festival-books-celebration-written-word

Oct.16-19, 2014 – Women Writing the West Conference, Golden, Colorado. http://www.womenwritingthewest.org/currentWWWConference.html 

Oct. 17-19, 2014 – Digital Authors 2.0 and Self-Publishing Conference, sponsored by West Coast Writers Conferences. Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, California. www.wcwriters.com/da 

Oct. 17-19, 2014 – Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference, Los Angeles Valley College, L.A., CA. http://www.wcwriters.com/glawc/

Oct. 17-18, 2014 – Put Your Heart in a Book, New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Iselin, N.J. http://www.njromancewriters.org/conference.html

Oct. 17-19, 2014 – Emerald City Writers’ Conference (Romance Writers of America), Bellevue, Washington. http://www.gsrwa.org/conference.php

Oct. 17-19, 2014 – Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, Whistler, BC. http://www.whistler.com/whistler_readers_writers_festival/

Oct. 17-19, 2014 - Genre-la writers’ conference, Los Angeles Valley College, Van Nuys, CA. http://www.wcwriters.com/genrela/index.html

Oct. 19-24, 2014 – Salt Cay Writers’ Retreat, Salt Cay, Bahamas. www.saltcaywritersretreat.com

Oct. 25, 2014 – Boston Book Festival – free and excellent! http://www.bostonbookfest.org/

Oct. 21-26, 2014 - The Vancouver Writers Fest, Vancouver, BC, Canada. http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/

October 22-26, 2014 – The Author’s World, the Novelist, Inc. (NINC) writers conference, St. Petersburg, Florida. http://ninc.com/conference_center

October 24 - 26, 2014 - 13th Annual Florida Writers Conference, Lake Mary, FL. http://floridawriters.net/2014_FWA_Conferences.html 

October 24-26, 2014, Magna cum Murder in association with Crimefest, Indianapolis IN
http://cms.bsu.edu/Academics/CentersandInstitutes/EBBall/MagnaCumMurder.aspx

Oct. 24-26, 2014 – Surrey International Writers Conference, Surrey, BC, Canada. http://www.siwc.ca/

Oct. 24-26, 2014 - Chicago Writers Conference, University Center, Chicago, Ill. www.chicagowritersconference.org

Oct. 24-26, 2014 - Stars of Florida Writers, 13th Annual Florida Writers Conference, Orlando Marriott Lake Mary. www.floridawriters.net

Oct. 24-26, 2014 – The La Jolla Writers Conference, Paradise Point Resort and Spa, San Diego, CA http://www.lajollawritersconference.com/

Oct. 24-26, 2014 - South Carolina Writers Workshop annual conference, Myrtle Beach, SC http://myscww.org/conference/

NOVEMBER 2014:

November 1, 2014 - Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge, LA
http://www.louisianabookfestival.org/ 

Nov. 6-8, 2014 - Tony Hillerman Writers Conference, Santa Fe, NM. www.wordharvest.com/registration.php

Nov. 6-9, 2014 – Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Sanibel Island, Florida. http://www.fgcu.edu/siwc/

Nov. 7-8, 2014 - Charleston YA Book Festival – YallFest: http://yallfest.org/

Nov. 7-9 - Kamloops Writers Festival, Kamloops, BC, Canada. www.kamloopsarts.ca

Nov. 7-9, 2014 – The New England Crime Bake Conference, Dedham, Mass. http://www.crimebake.org/ 

Nov. 8, 2014 - Murder and Mayhem in Muskego, http://murdermayhemmuskego.com/ 

Nov. 13-16, 2014 – Bouchercon Crime Fiction Convention, Long Beach, California. http://www.bouchercon2014.com/

Nov. 13-16, 2014 - Writing Across Boundaries, Windsor International Writers Conference, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. www.WI-WC.org

Nov. 15, 2014 - Seattle PubCamp, hosted by Writer.ly. (Jodie will be presenting a workshop on Deep Point of View. Contact Jodie for a "friends" discount on conference registration.)

Nov. 15, 2014 - Baltimore Writers' Conference, Towson, Md. www.baltimorewritersconference.org.

Nov. 16-23, 2014 - Miami Book Fair International, Miami, Florida. http://www.miamibookfair.com/

a handy, clickable e-resource
DECEMBER 2014:

(Not usually any conferences in December)

To sign up to receive Jodie Renner's sporadic (3-6 times per year) newsletter with links to top craft-of-writing articles and other resources for writers, please click HERE.



2015:

JANUARY 2015:

Jan. 16-19, 2015 - 22nd Annual Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway, Seaview Resort, New Jersey Shore. www.wintergetaway.com

Jan. 23-25, 2015 – San Diego State University Writers’ Conference, San Diego Marriott, Mission Valley. http://www.ces.sdsu.edu/wc

Jan. 17, 2015 - Troubleshooting Your Novel, Nashville, TN. Faculty: Steven James, Jodie Renner, & Eric Wilson. http://www.troubleshootingyournovel.com/

Jan. 17-25, 2015: Writers in Paradise conference, St. Petersburg, Florida. http://writersinparadise.eckerd.edu/

January 26-31, 2015 - 2015 Todos Santos Writers Workshop, Todos Santos, Baja Mexico. www.todossantoswritersworkshop.com

FEBRUARY 2015:

Feb. 5-9, 2015 – Florida Romance Writers Cruise with Your Muse Fun in the Sun conference. http://www.frwriters.org/fun-in-the-sun-conference/ 

Feb. 6-8, 2015 - Love Is Murder Mystery Conference, Chicago, IL. http://www.loveismurder.net/

Feb. 11-15, 2015 - San Miguel Writers' Conference & Literary Festival. www.sanmiguelwritersconference.org.

Feb. 12-15, 2015 - San Francisco Writers Conference, San Francisco. www.SFWriters.org

Feb. 12-15, 2015 – Savannah Book Festival, Savannah, GA. Free and open to the public. http://www.savannahbookfestival.org/

Feb. 26 - Mar. 1, 2015 - Sleuthfest - an annual conference for mystery, suspense, and thriller writers, Deerfield Beach, Florida. http://sleuthfest.com/

See Jodie Renner's craft-of-writing blog posts on The Kill Zone blog alternate Mondays.

MARCH 2015:

March 12-15, 2015 - Left Coast Crime annual mystery convention. This year it’s in Portland, Oregon. http://www.leftcoastcrime.org

March 14, 2015 - Unicorn Writer's Conference, Purchase, NY. www.unicornwritersconference.com 

March 14-15, 2015 – The Tucson Festival of Books, University of Arizona campus, Tucson, AZ. Free and excellent! http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

March 18-22, 2015 – Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville, Virginia, http://www.vabook.org/index.html/

March 20-22, 2015 – Wordcrafters in Eugene Writers’ Conference, Eugene, Oregon. “The focus is on fiction.” http://wordcraftersineugene.org/conference/

March 22-24, 2015 - The 2015 PubSense Summit, in Charleston, South Carolina. www.PubSenseSummit.com
Mar. 27-28, 2015 - Northern Colorado Writers Conference, Fort Collins, CO. http://www.northerncoloradowriters.com/ 

March 28-29, 2015 - The Dahlonega Book Festival, Dahlonega, Georgia
http://dahlonegaliteraryfestival.wordpress.com/

March 27-31, 2015 - The Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, http://www.mounthermon.org/event/212

APRIL 2015:

April 8-11, 2015: AWP Writers’ Conference & Bookfair, Minneapolis, Minn., Assoc. of Writers and Writing Programs. http://awpwriter.org/conference/

April 10-11, 2015 – IBPA Publishing University, Austin, Texas. http://ibpapublishinguniversity.com/index.html 

April 11, 2015 – Alabama Book Festival, Montgomery. Free. http://www.alabamabookfestival.org/

April 17 & 18, 2015 – Southern Kentucky Writers’ Conference and Bookfest http://www.sokybookfest.org/ 

April 23-25, 2015 - Las Vegas Writers Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada. www.lasvegaswritersconference.com

April 24-26, 2015, Tallahassee Writers Conference, Tallahassee, Florida. http://twaonline.org/

April 24-26, 2015 – Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado. http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/

April 24-25, 2015 - Ontario Writers Conference, Ajax, Ontario, Canada.
http://thewritersconference.com/

April 24-26, 2014 - Arkansas Literary Festival. Little Rock, AR http://www.arkansasliteraryfestival.org/
(check back for 2015 dates)

MAY 2015:

May 1-3, 2015 - Malice Domestic, annual traditional mystery fan convention, in Bethesda, MD. www.malicedomestic.org

 May 3-4, 2014 - Dallas - Fort WorthWriters Conference, Hurst Conference Center, DFW Metroplex, Texas. http://www.dfwcon.org. Twitter: @dfwcon. (2015 dates not up yet)

May 6-8, 2015 - Nonfiction Writers Conference, virtual. http://nonfictionwritersconference.com/2015-nonfiction-writers-conference/

May 13-17, 2015 – Romantic Times Book Lovers’ Convention, Dallas, Texas http://www.rtconvention.com

May 15-17, 2015 – Pennwriters, Pittsburgh, PA. http://www.pennwriters.org

May 15-17, 2015 - SC Book Festival, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina. http://www.scbookfestival.org/

JUNE 2015:

June 6-7, 2015 – California Crime Writers Conference, Pasadena, Cal. http://www.ccwconference.org/ 

June 12-16, 2015 – Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, Lands End Resort, Homer, Alaska. http://writersconference.homer.alaska.edu/

June 19-23, 2015 - Southeastern Writers Workshop, St. Simons Island, Georgia.
http://southeasternwriters.org/Writers_Workshop.html

June 23-27, 2015 - Western Writers of America convention, Sacramento, Calif. http://www.westernwriters.org/

JULY 2015:

July 7-11, 2015 – Master Craftfest, Craftfest, and THRILLERFEST – International Thriller Writers annual conference, New York, NY. http://www.thrillerfest.com/

July 22-25, 2015 – Romance Writers of America Annual Conference, New York City. http://www.rwa.org/conference

July 23-26, 2015 – Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference, Corte Madera, CA. http://bookpassage.com/mystery-writers-conference
 
AUGUST 2015:
 
Aug. 14-16, 2015 - When Words Collide, A Festival for Readers and Writers, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. http://www.whenwordscollide.org/
 
SEPT. - DEC. 2015:
 
Oct. 29- Nov. 1, 2015 - Killer Nashville, Nashville, TN. http://www.killernashville.com/conference/ 


Besides publishing her popular craft-of-writing books under the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction and Writing a Killer Thriller (and the upcoming Captivate Your Readers), as well as her handy, clickable e-resources, Spelling on the Go and Grammar on the Go, Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and author of numerous blog posts on writing captivating fiction. Find Jodie on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her posts alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone blog. Subscribe to Jodie's sporadic (3-6 times a year) newsletter HERE.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Spark up Your Story - Adding Suspense, Tension & Intrigue – Handout

by Jodie Renner, editor & author, @JodieRennerEd  

This is the HANDOUT for my recent 50-minute workshop, "Spark up Your Story - Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue" at When Words Collide conference in Calgary, Aug. 8-10, 2014.

All genres of fiction, not just thrillers, suspense novels, and action-adventures, need tension, suspense, and intrigue to keep readers eagerly turning the pages. And of course, you’ll need to ratchet up the tension and suspense a lot more if you’re writing a fast-paced, nail-biting page-turner. 

A. Some “big-picture” techniques for adding suspense, tension, and intrigue:

~ First, make your readers care about your protagonist by creating a likeable, appealing, strong, smart and resourceful but vulnerable character, with some inner conflict, regrets, and secrets. If readers haven’t bonded with your character, they won’t care what happens to him. 

~ Put your character in motion right away. Start right out in the head and body of your main character, in an active scene with others, with some discord and tension.

~ Get up close and personal. Use deep point of view (first-person or close third person) to get us into the head and body of your main character. This makes readers care about the character and worry about him. A worried reader is an engaged reader.

~ Challenge your protagonist. Now that your readers care about your main character, insert a major threat, challenge, or dilemma within the first chapter or two that won’t be resolved until the end. Create an over-riding sentence about this to keep in mind as you’re writing your story: 

“Will (name) survive/stop/find/overcome (ordeal/person/difficulty/threat) on time?” 

~ Create a cunning antagonist. Your villain needs to be as clever, determined and resourceful as your protagonist – or even more so. Make him or her a serious force to be reckoned with!

~ Create a mood of unease by showing the main character feeling apprehensive about something or someone or by showing some of the bad guy’s thoughts and intentions. For a thriller, establish a sense of urgency, a tense mood, and generally fast pacing.

~ Show, don’t tell. Show all your critical scenes in real time as they’re happening, with action, reaction, and dialogue. Show your main character’s inner feelings and physical and emotional reactions. Don’t have one character tell another about an important event or scene.

~ Use multiple viewpoints, especially that of the villain. For increased anxiety and suspense, get us into the head of your antagonist from time to time. This way the readers find out critical information the heroine doesn’t know, things we want to warn her about!

~ Keep the story momentum moving forward. Don’t get bogged down in backstory or exposition. Keep the action moving ahead, especially in the first chapter. Then work in background details and other info little by little, on an “as-needed” basis only, through dialogue or flashbacks – not as the author telling the readers. 

~ Every scene needs conflict and a change. There should be something unresolved in every scene. Your character enters the scene with an objective or goal (agenda), but she encounters obstacles in the scene, so she is thwarted in her efforts to reach her goal. But circumstances or the character have changed by the end of the scene.

~ Put tension on every page. Every page needs some tension, even if it's just disagreement, resentment, doubt, or questioning simmering below the surface.

~ Vary the tension. But of course, you can’t keep up tension nonstop, as it’s tiring for readers and will eventually numb them. It’s best to intersperse tense, nail-biting scenes with a few less tense ones.

~ Add in tough choices and moral dilemmas. Devise ongoing difficult decisions and inner conflict for your lead character. Besides making your plot more suspenseful, this will also make your protagonist more complex, vulnerable, and intriguing.

~ Withhold information. Don’t tell your readers too much too soon. Dole out critical information little by little, through dialogue, thoughts, and brief flashbacks, to tantalize readers and keep them wondering. 

~ Delay answers to critical plot questions. Look for places in your story where you’ve answered readers’ questions too soon, so have missed a prime spot to increase tension and suspense. Draw out the time before answering that question. In the meantime, hint at it from time to time to remind readers of its importance.

~ Use foreshadowing to incite curiosity. Tease the readers with innuendos. Drop subtle hints of troubles to come. Hint at the main character’s past secrets. What is the character worried about or afraid might happen? Capitalize on this.

~ Add in some revelations and epiphanies to put a twist on things and reward readers for their interest and involvement.

~ Use the setting to establish the mood and create suspense. This is the equivalent of ominous music, harsh lighting, strange camera angles, or nasty weather in a scary movie. 

~ Make use of compelling, vivid sensory imagery to take us right there, with the protagonist, vividly experiencing and reacting to whoever/whatever is challenging or threatening him. 

~ Use brief flashbacks at key moments to reveal your main character’s childhood traumas, unpleasant events, secrets, emotional baggage, hangups, dysfunctional family, etc. 

~ Keep hampering your hero or heroine throughout the novel to increase worry, tension, and suspense. Stir in some of these ingredients: a ticking clock, obstacles, chases, traps, restrictions, handicaps, injuries, bad luck, etc.

~ Keep raising the stakes. Keep asking yourself, “How can I make things worse for the protagonist?” As the challenges get more difficult and the obstacles more insurmountable, readers worry more and suspense grows.

~ Plan a few plot twists. Readers are surprised and delighted when the events take a turn they never expected. Don’t let your readers become complacent, thinking it’s easy to figure out the ending, or they may stop reading.

See Jodie’s book Writing a Killer Thriller for a lot more detail on each of the points mentioned above.

B. Revision stage:
 
Amp up, condense, or delete any scenes that lag, and tighten up your writing. Now go back and make sure every scene and paragraph drives the story forward. Make every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, sentence, and word count! 


 See Jodie's Fire up Your Fiction for lots of concrete tips with examples for tightening your writing
and revising your novel or short story to make it more compelling.

Do you have any good ideas to add for adding tension and intrigue to your stories? Please share in the comments below! Thanks.

Besides publishing her popular craft-of-writing books under the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction and Writing a Killer Thriller (and the upcoming Captivate Your Readers), as well as her handy, clickable e-resources, Spelling on the Go and Grammar on the Go, Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and author of numerous blog posts on writing captivating fiction. Find Jodie on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her posts alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone blog. Subscribe to Jodie's sporadic (3-6 times a year) newsletter HERE.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View

by Jodie Renner, editor & author, @JodieRennerEd  

This is the HANDOUT from Jodie's recent workshop on deep point of view at When Words Collide literary festival, Calgary, Aug. 8-10, 2014.

(POV = point of view = viewpoint – Who’s telling the story? or Whose head are we in for that scene?)

Some quick tips for avoiding POV gaffes in your fiction:

(The actual presentation of course had/has an introduction to point of view and deep POV or close third-person viewpoint, with lots of details and examples.)

~ First, decide whose scene it is. Who has the most at stake? (If in doubt, show it from the POV of your protagonist.)

~ Now, get into that character’s head and body and stay there for the whole scene or chapter. Don’t flit around to the thoughts of other characters or show anything that’s going on outside of your POV character’s range or perceptions.

~ Don’t show or describe things going on behind the character’s back, in another room, or anywhere out of their sight or hearing range. Only show us what the character can logically perceive at that time.

~ To describe the setting, use the perceptions, words, goal, attitude, and mood of the POV character for that scene. Don’t describe a scene as a neutral observer or as the author talking to the readers.

~ Color your descriptions of other characters with the attitudes of your POV character toward them. Avoid neutral descriptions.

~ Don’t describe other characters in a way that the POV character wouldn’t. For example, don’t give a detailed description from head to toe of a character the POV character is looking at and already knows very well, like a family member.

~ Don’t get into the inner thoughts or feelings of any other characters in that scene. Show their thoughts, emotions, attitudes and intentions by their facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, words, and actions – anything the POV character can perceive.

~ When starting a new scene or chapter, use the name of the viewpoint character right away, in the first sentence, to establish immediately for the reader whose head we’re in now. 

~ After introducing the POV character, refer to him or her in an informal way, as they would think of themselves.

~ Use the POV character’s name at the beginning of scenes (full name for first mention), then use mainly “he” or “she” except when their name is needed for clarity. (The “he” or “she” is like “I”.)

~ Refer to other characters by the name the POV character normally uses for them. 

~ Avoid lengthy "info dumps." Don’t butt in as the author to explain things to the readers, outside of the character’s viewpoint. Instead, reveal the info from the character’s POV or as a question-and-answer dialogue, with some attitude and tension to spice things up. 

~ Don’t show the POV character’s facial expression or body language (unless they’re looking in a mirror). They don’t know what’s going on with their face. Or indicate it somehow through their thoughts or fears. For example, you could say “She felt her face flush” to indicate that she’s blushing.

~ Show the POV character’s inner thoughts, emotions, and reactions constantly to increase reader engagement.

~ Sprinkle in direct thought-reactions in italics, to reveal the character’s true feelings and increase intimacy with the readers.
What a great audience!

~ Show the POV character’s sensory reactions to their environment, other characters, and what’s happening. Use as many of the five senses as is appropriate to get us into the skin of the character. 

~ Keep the narration in the POV character’s voice. Not only should the dialogue be in the character’s voice and style, but the narration should too, as that’s really the character’s thoughts and observations.

~ Avoid lengthy backstory dumps, the author telling the readers about the character and their background. Introduce only the essential info, through the characters. Or use brief flashbacks, in scenes in real time, with action and dialogue.

~ Don’t have characters magically knowing the names of other characters they’ve never met or heard of, just because we, as the readers, have met those other characters. This is an easy gaffe to make inadvertently.

Copyright © Jodie Renner, 2014   

For more tips on using deep point of view to engage your readers and bring your characters and story
to life, see Jodie’s writers’ guides in the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction – the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction (88 reviews, overall average of 4.8 out of 5 stars) and Writing a Killer Thriller (66 reviews, 4.7 av.), and especially her upcoming book, Captivate Your Readers.

For more info on Jodie’s editing or writing, or to read her popular writing craft blog posts, please visit Jodie’s websites, www.JodieRenner.com and www.JodieRennerEditing.com, and her group blog, The Kill Zone. Also, please join Jodie on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Google+. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Some Quick, Basic Tips for Writing a Riveting Short Story

by Jodie Renner, editor & author  
@Jodie RennerEd

These basic tips for aspiring writers apply whether you’re an adult, a teenager, or younger, and whether your story is aimed at adults, teens, or preteens. If you know of a young person who’s interested in creative writing, share this post with him or her to help them spark up their stories.

Planning your story:

1. Decide on your target readership (audience). Are they adults, teens, middle-grade kids, younger kids? Mainly males or females, or both? What are the main interests of your target readers? Why would they like your story?

2. What’s the genre of your story? What kind of story will it be? A fantasy that takes place in an alternate universe? A romance? A cozy mystery? A suspense-thriller? A western? An action-adventure? Speculative fiction (sci-fi)? Sports fiction? Or a mainstream-type story, with people like you, in a setting you’re familiar with?

3. Where does your story take place? Is the locale real or imagined? Is it in the present, the past, or the future? What season? To spark reader interest, make the setting remarkable in some way, out of the ordinary.

4. Whose story is it? Create a multi-dimensional, complex main character readers will want to identify with and bond with. 

5. Give your character a burning desire - what do they want more than anything?

6. Give your character some secrets, fears and regrets.

7. Give your character a rival, competitor, or enemy.

Writing your story:

1. To avoid reader confusion and frustration, set the scene for the readers in the first few paragraphs with the 4 W’s—who, what, where, and when. Who is this, where are they, what are they doing, and when does it take place?

2. Get into your main character’s head in the first sentence and stay there for the whole short story. Forget about telling the readers the story as the author. BE the character instead! You can use “he” or “she” and their name (third person), or “I” (first person). Show the character’s thoughts, goals, worries, plans, physical sensations, and feelings about what’s going on. That will help your readers identify with your main character and really care about him or her.

But don’t show the thoughts or inner feelings of other characters. That's head-hopping. We only know how they’re feeling through what your protagonist (POV character) notices and perceives—their words, actions, facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc.

3. Make your character run into a problem of some sort right away or very soon. It doesn’t need to be the main problem of the story, but put something on the first or second page that challenges him and makes the readers start worrying about him. The difficulty or dilemma can be internal, external, or interpersonal.

4. Introduce some opposition, a rival, an enemy, or a nasty villain fairly early, too, to get things moving fast and make your readers start biting their nails.

5. Turn up the heat. Now, give your main character an even bigger challenge or problem—the main conflict of your story. Who or what is threatening them? What do they do to try to solve the problem? Then what happens?

6. Write in lots of action, dialogue, and character feelings and reactions. Don’t spend too much time describing things or places, or explaining things to the readers. Do that directly through the characters’ words, thoughts, and actions.

7. Climax: Have a major battle, showdown, fight, or argument—not necessarily a physical one. Can be psychological or interpersonal. Challenge your hero or heroine to the max. This is their lowest point, their darkest moment, when they have to draw on all their resources, summon up all their courage and determination to overcome the obstacle or make the difficult decision, and resolve the issue.

8. Resolution: My advice is to create a satisfying ending for the readers—let your hero or heroine succeed, defeat evil, get what they desire, etc., but just barely. It’s a really close call! They almost didn’t make it!

9. Character arc: How has your protagonist changed as a result of their recent struggles?

10. Story arc: How has their life changed as a result of what they've just been through?

Readers and writers, do you have any advice to add to this list, or other suggestions? Please write them in the comments below. Thanks, and keep on writing!

Also, check out my article on writing stellar short stories for contests and publication.

Also, see the post below for links to my articles on The Kill Zone blog and elsewhere, from January to the end of June, 2014.

Besides publishing her popular craft-of-writing books under the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction and Writing a Killer Thriller (and the upcoming Captivate Your Readers), as well as her handy, clickable e-resources, Spelling on the Go and Grammar on the Go, Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and author of numerous blog posts on writing captivating fiction. Find Jodie on Facebook and Twitter, and check out her posts alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone blog. Subscribe to Jodie's sporadic (3-6 times a year) newsletter HERE.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jodie Renner's Craft of Writing Articles, January to June 2014

by Jodie Renner, editor & author; @JodieRennerEd

A lot of people have been asking for a list of my craft-of-writing posts and other resources for writers, so here's a list, with links (just click on the title) of my blog posts from January through the end of June of this year, 2014. I've listed them from most recent at the top, down to January 2 at the bottom.

I haven't been producing as many blog posts as usual during this period as I downsized a house and moved across the country to an apartment, plus I've been busy editing book manuscripts and also working on my third book, Captivate Your Readers, to be released by September 2014.

June 30, 2014, The Kill Zone Blog:

12 Essential Steps from Story Idea to Publish-Ready Novel 


June 19, 2014, The Kill Zone blog: Dialogue Nuts & Bolts


June 16, 2014, The Kill Zone:

15 Questions for Your Beta Readers – And to Focus Your Own Revisions

June 2, 2014, The Kill Zone: Pick up the Pace for a Real Page-Turner


May 19, 2014, The Kill Zone:

How to save a bundle on editing costs – without sacrificing quality


May 5, 2014, The Kill Zone: Tips for Loosening up Your Writing


April 7, 2014, The Kill Zone:

 Looking for an editor? Check them out very carefully!


March 31, Crime Fiction Collective:

Are YOU Being Plagiarized, Too, Without Your Knowledge?


March 24, The Kill Zone: Nail it with Just the Right Word


March 8, 2014, Resources for Writers:

Don’t Give Readers a Reason to Reject Your Novel


Feb. 24, The Kill Zone:

Dangling Participles, Misplaced Modifiers, and Other Awkward Constructions


Feb. 21 – John Yeoman’s blog, The Wicked Writers Blog:

Seven Quick Ways to Write Sentences That Sizzle 


Feb. 3, Crime Fiction Collective:

Indie Publishing – Lessons Learned and Still Learning


Jan. 27, The Kill Zone: Fire up Your Fiction with Foreshadowing


Jan. 13, The Kill Zone: Book Contests for Indie Authors


Jan 2, 2014, Resources for Writers (my post with the most pageviews of all):

Writers’ Conferences & Book Festivals in North America in 2014


Besides publishing her popular craft-of-writing books under the series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction, the award-winning Fire up Your Fiction and Writing a Killer Thriller (and the upcoming Captivate Your Readers), Jodie Renner is a sought-after freelance fiction editor and author of numerous blog posts on writing captivating fiction.

www.JodieRenner.com; @JodieRennerEd; Facebook: Jodie Renner Editor-Author

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Southern Writers Magazine, ALA 2014 in Vegas, BC Youth Writers' Camp, Fire up Your Fiction for $1.75

Catch-up time! I've been so busy everywhere else - packing up an entire house, moving across the country, downsizing into an apartment, editing, writing, blogging elsewhere (like every second Monday on The Kill Zone blog), and traveling - that I've neglected my own blog. So today I thought I'd better do a bit of updating on recent and upcoming events.

Article by Jodie in Southern Writers Magazine

Great to see an article by me in Southern Writers Magazine, in the July 2014 issue, just out!

Here's a teaser on my article, and you can purchase an online or print subscription or individual issues here: http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/
American Library Association Annual Convention in Las Vegas

I made a whirlwind trip in and out of Vegas June 27 and 28 to attend an awards ceremony and sign books at ALA. What a zoo! Over 13,000 attendees, down from the more than 20,000 in Chicago in 2013 - still crazy busy to me! It took me an hour and a half of lining up just to check into my hotel - and attendees stayed at several other hotels, too! Then lineups for absolutely everything - registration, coffee, lunch, washrooms, book signings, you name it.

One perk was that my book, Fire up Your Fiction, was a Finalist in the Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book Awards, presented there. Unfortunately, it didn't win a medal at their awards ceremony on Friday night, but it's still an honor to be shortlisted as a Finalist. Congrats to all the award winners in each category! And a big thank-you to all the great people at Foreword Reviews who help indie (independent) authors get their books out there. Also, I love how they still labeled my book an Award Winner on the display shelf!


 
Then on Saturday, I gave away a lot of signed books to librarians at the IBPA booth. I sure hope some of them end up in libraries!
 

"Spark up Your Stories" Workshop at BC Youth Writers Camp

Came home, got a nasty flu bug that wiped me out for 3 days, then headed off to the BC Youth Writers Camp in Penticton, BC, today (July 2) to present a 2-hour writing workshop called "Spark up Your Stories" to 63 eager young writers, aged 8 to 18. Their energy, talent and creativity was impressive, and most of them didn't even mind sharing their stories!

 
 

Fire up Your Fiction on at Half-Price

I almost forgot -- FIRE UP YOUR FICTION is on half-price (so $1.75) for the ebook for the whole month of July 2014 on Smashwords! Here's the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/420725. Use the code provided to get 50% off at the check-out. Thanks, Mark Coker!

Upcoming:

I've finally found (a bit of) time to get back to finishing my third book, Captivate Your Readers, which has been 3/4 written for about 6 months, and which I plan to publish in September!

And I'll be heading to the When Words Collide writers' conference in Calgary, Alberta Aug. 8-10 to present two workshops, one on Deep POV and the other on Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue to your story.

Jodie Renner, a sought-after freelance editor, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Fire up Your Fiction, which has won two awards to date, and is a finalist for two more. Her third book in the series, Captivate Your Readers, will be out in fall 2014. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her group blog, The Kill Zone, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. To be the first to hear when Jodie's next book is out and to receive links to valuable, timely blog posts, sign up for her newsletter here.

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