What Defines Our Story? Drive vs. Focus – From Jami Gold’s Blog

Close up on a car's side mirror and out-of-focus background with text: Understanding Our Story: Drive vs. Focus

Ever feel like super-common writing advice doesn’t apply to your story? Or that feedback suggestions would make your story into something completely different? When that happens, we can experience self-doubt, wondering whether we’re doing this writing thing all “wrong.”

There are many reasons why not all advice will work for us or our story. Today we’re going to talk about one aspect of our story that can make the best-intentioned advice in the world a bad fit, and it has to do with plots, characters, drive, and focus.

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Publish Your Book In Multiple Versions – From the Book Marketing Buzz Blog

Can your book appear in 10 other forms? Yes, and then some. Here are some versions to consider:

  1. Limited Edition – only so many are printed and no re-prints are made.
  2. Deluxe Edition – the book is printed on special paper, the cover may have a special binding and feel, and it may come with something extra, like a DVD.
  3. Hardcore Trade Edition – hardcover book, typically 6 x 9.
  4. Trade Paperback – paperback book, typically 5.5 x 8.5.
  5. Mass Market Paperback – smaller paperback book, usually 4 x 6.
  6. Textbook Edition – enhance your book to look more like a textbook, with an index, list of resources, bibliography, study questions, etc.
  7. Comic Book – adapt your book into a comic book, replete with illustrations and minimal text.
  8. Book Digest – shortened version of your book, either with fewer chapters or shorter, condensed chapters.
  9. Premium – book is slightly changed to meet the needs of a specific company or organization that buys the book in bulk quantity.
  10. Series – create other books along the same theme as the first.
  11. Revised or Annual Edition – add a chapter or two, update your info, and boom, you have a new book.
  12. Audiobook.

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Autopsies For Authors With Geoff Symon – From the Creative Penn Blog

How do you write about death when you don’t work in that area? How do you get your details right when it comes to autopsies — human, alien, or perhaps even paranormal or fantasy creatures? I discuss this fascinating subject with Geoff Symon today, as part of his Forensics for Fiction series.

autopsies for authors

In the intro, I discuss what I learned from Ian McKellen’s 80th birthday tour, and why you should “Measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” [Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert].

My thoughts on ambition after listening to the fantastic Michael Anderle interview on SPF Podcast 164, and why you need to decide on your own definition of success. Plus, why the indie community is a ‘scenius’ [Austin Kleon].

Join me for a free webinar on How to Master Amazon Data to Sell More Books with Alex Newton from K-lytics. Thurs 11 April 2pm US Eastern / 7pm UK. Click here to register for your free place or receive the replay.

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Get Ready for Write Up A Storm on April 15! – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

Writers in the Storm is having a “Writing Event” on Monday, April 15.

Write Up A Storm is a one-day sprint-writing bash on Facebook, designed to motivate and sustain your writing throughout the day. Even if that day job impinges on your time, you can participate before work, during lunch and after hours. We’ll be here. Writing. Piling up word count. Supporting each other.

We’ll be writing all day and keeping track of word count totals from our fabulous readers. You can post your word count in a comment that day, and we’ll add it to the tally. You can post every hour if you want to and encourage others–or challenge them. Hmm, is this a WITS Throwdown in the making? We’re hoping that everyone’s combined word count will add up to a novella. Actually, Fae is hoping for a full-length book!

Here’s a short list of simple things you can do to prepare for Write Up A Storm:

  1. If you’re a plotter, work on that outline for your new idea. You don’t have to finish the outline, but have enough to get you through three (or six) chapters.
  2. If you’re a pantser, work your process so you’ve got the beginning of your story solidly ready to put words on the page.

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Unlocking the Secret of Dynamic Characters – From the Art of Narrative Blog

When I first noticed my hairline was receding I was still in college. Needless to say, my life ended that day. But I’ve soldiered on much like a zombie. Not fully dead, yet not really alive…

Do you ever wish you could change some aspect of your life? Anything at all, big or small? For me, the answer is obviously yes. I’d like a few of those follicles back. I bet you wouldn’t mind a little change either.  

As human beings, we’re always striving for something better. Good author’s know this, and they can hack into our desire and use it to enrich their stories. All with the simple power of dynamic characters!

What is a dynamic character?

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The first component of a dynamic character is complexity. They should resemble real people in their personality, lifestyle, and personal history. This is because dynamic characters will normally fill the role of the protagonist. In longer works, requiring many subplots, prominent secondary characters will be dynamic as well.

Readers are going to spend a lot of time with a story’s hero and that hero’s friends. These characters need to be complex and believable for that story to work. That said, let’s look at the next key aspect of a dynamic character.

They need to change and in a fundamental way over time.  

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Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

As I look at my writing notebook (you should consider carrying one), I see the dozens of story, setting and character ideas that I have collected and I’m both inspired and anxious.

There are many ideas that I want to turn into stories. It’s hard to write one at a time. At any given time I have a book and some kind of serial or short story going at the same time. This is tough with a 50 hour per seek day job and 45 weeks of travel per year, but I somehow manage to squeeze in some writing.

As I looked at these ideas, I began thinking about where the ideas that I’ve recorded come from. It though that telling you some of my sources might help you look at some idea generation possibilities you might not have thought of.


During the past eight years, I have flown half a million miles around the US and into Europe for both work and pleasure. Instead of agonizing over delays and long layovers and sleeping during long flights, I’ve used these opportunities to participate in one of my favorite pastimes, people watching.

It started with trying to come up with celebrity look-a-likes for people that I saw on the plane or in line to board the plane. It was a way to pass the time without having my eyes lowered to my cell phone screen.

This pastime evolved into looking at people through the lens of an author that needed to be able to come up with and describe characters. I paid attention to body types, mannerisms, clothing and accents. It’s fun imagining what the lives of some of the interesting people I spot might be like.

I also base some of my main characters on iconic characters or combinations of well-known characters from TV, books and movies. My main character in my Frank Rozzani detective novels pays homage to the great James Garner as Jim Rockford on the Rockford Files.


Every time I tell someone that I travel extensively for work, I am told how lucky I am. If you consider staying in a Marriott in a city away from home for four days a week over a four to six month stretch lucky, than I guess I am.

I have, however, had the opportunity to travel to some interesting locations including New Orleans, Albuquerque, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York among others. When I’m in these locations, I try to be observant of the various areas of town, the geography, the food and, of course, the people. You might recognize some of these areas as settings in some of my recent short stories and books. A great setting can almost become a character in a story on its own.

Other great sources for settings in my books and stories are my original hometown of Syracuse, New York and my current home, Jacksonville, Florida. I continually use both of these destinations as settings because of the contrast between the two places I have lived most of my life and my familiarity with them.


There are infinite sources for story plots out there if you know where to look. This is especially true in the crime fiction genre within which I tend to focus. I’ve also ventured into more near-dystopian science fiction of late and there are great sources for this as well.

Current events, not just national, but state and local, are great sources for stories. I live in Florida, the drunk uncle of the rest of the states. Unusual and bizarre stories from this area are the norm. I often peruse the news services for story ideas, especially for crime fiction plot starters.

I also subscribe to some select magazines. These help me keep up with the latest technology so I can push the envelope and pull story ideas out of some creative evolution of the technology.

So what about you? Where do you get your ideas? Do you use any of these same sources? I look forward to your comments.

5 Ways To Stand Out As An Author On Social Media – From the Creative Penn Blog

5 Ways To Stand Out As An Author On Social Media

It can be overwhelming for authors to manage all that’s involved in marketing our books. In this article, Eevi Jones shares five easy ways to make the most of your social media branding so that those accounts are doing some of the work for you.

Promoting and marketing ourselves is quite a challenge for most of us authors.

And although it’s so very important, we often don’t have the time, or we simply don’t want to seem too pushy.

That’s why it’s all the more important to take advantage of all the opportunities that present themselves in our everyday lives, but are so often overlooked by most.

In this article, I will show you 5 simple changes you can make today, that can have such a huge impact for you and is such a quick and amazing win. Everyone here can do this within minutes. This is how so many of my clients have found me, my books, and my programs!

Read the rest of this post HERE.