From June 21, 2022 thru September 21, 2022, ebook readers will be able to pick up new ebooks on our site for $1.99 each. Look at our selection of mysteries, memoirs, true crime, poetry, and other titles on our website. Ebooks can be downloaded directly to your ebook reader after purchase.
I’ve been an editor for over twenty-five years, and writers ask me all the time how they can become a better writer. It’s simple, and any pro writer or editor will probably say the same thing: read and write.
Like you’re told as a teen when learning a new skill such as playing a musical instrument, you need to practice your skill of creating stories by actually writing. Practice, practice, practice. Write, write, write. Practice every day, and if you need a day off from writing because it does take a lot of energy to create from scratch, then write 6 days a week and take 1 day off to recharge.
When not writing, read other authors’ books in the genre you write in but also in genres you don’t write. Let those authors inspire you with their creativity, stories, and unique ideas. Read how they stretch their limits and discover how they immerse their readers.
So many things happen while you’re reading: 1) You are internalizing how the characters come alive on the screen in front of you. They become flesh and blood to you, and you begin to hear their voices, see their actions, and how they interact with other characters. 2) As you read stories, you empathize with those characters and learn the tropes of that genre. 3) You are entertained, and maybe you might just smile while reading verses stressing about the next page you need to write. 4) If the story has really engrossed you, you might think about these characters and their stories while you’re doing mundane household tasks. This will get kickstart your brain, get it engaged, and help you brainstorm ideas for your own stories.
Please do not mistake these tips for stealing or plagiarizing another author’s work. That is not what is meant here at all. Never ever use another author’s words in your own work. It is not an ethical practice. Instead, use reading as a way to decompress and get inspired by the pros. Using my music analogy, as kids we might listen to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra but it takes years to be able to play like those musicians.
Which books should you read? Anything and everything that interests you. If you’re like most writers, you also have a love for reading. If you’re still discovering reading, check out the following authors and their books.
For action scenes, you might enjoy: R.A. Salvatore’s novels (Drizzt’s stories), Terry Odell’s Blackthorne series, Charles DuPuy’s E.Z. Kelly series, or D.M. Herrmann’s John Henry Chronicles series.
For series family characters in a romance: Johanna Lindsey’s Malory novels or Barbara Raffin’s St. John Sibling series.
For a unique voice in a memoir: Dallas H.’s Shaking the Family Tree, Carolyn Redman’s News From Lake Boobbegone, How Steve Became Ralph by Steve Buechler, or Bruce Kirkpatrick’s Lumberjack Jesus.
For poetry that tells a story: Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree by Simi K. Rao, Poetry and Ponderings by Diamante Lavendar, or Kaleidoscope by Dallas Hembra.
For characters that stretch their limits: Katharine Nohr’s Tri-Angles series, Paul Lisnek’s Assume series, or Gini Athey’s Wolf Creek series.
For historical fiction: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, Sara’s Sacrifice by Flo Parfitt, or Callie Trautmiller’s Becoming American.
For law enforcement/prison topics: Try Scorpion Wind by Joseph Mosca or Prison Clown by Richard Keith.
For tips on writing like a pro: On Writing by Stephen King, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block, or Spider, Spider Spin Me a Web, also by Lawrence Block. (Find authors who speak to you and your own personal needs in their nonfiction voice.)
I’ll keep adding to this list periodically, so keep checking back. You can also ask your local librarian for suggestions in the genre that you want to learn more about reading. Enjoy, and remember practice, practice, practice writing!
The author of this week’s featured book, INNISFREE, is D.M. Herrmann. D.M. Herrmann is a retired soldier, having spent twenty years in the US Army. He has authored three fiction novels under the pseudonym Evan Michael Martin. He lives in Wisconsin.
We had a chance to ask him a few questions about INNISFREE this week–check it out, and remember that INNISFREE is now available for purchase at writtendreams.com! 🙂
Q: What motivated you to write INNISFREE?
A: I’ve always enjoyed post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories, and so I thought it would be fun to write one.
Q: Did you base John Henry off of anyone particular that you know?
A: No one in particular. Like many of my characters, he is a composite.
Q: How similar are John Henry’s military experiences to your own life experiences?
A: Pretty close. We both retired from the Army and moved back to WI. The location is near where I served as an Army recruiter, so the area and culture were a reflection of that.
Q: Have you ever visited a cabin in the woods, and if so, where did you go and what did you do?
A: My uncle owned one for many years in Northern Wisconsin, not far from where this story takes place. We went fishing and just enjoyed the fresh air. It was a rustic cabin in that it had no plumbing, and the cookstove was an old fashioned wood cook stove.
Thanks for sharing! We hope you enjoyed this mini-interview, and that you will also enjoy INNISFREE as well!
We asked Nathan Hopp to give us some feedback on writing book reviews. He started the Reader’s Boulevard Review Blog a few years ago, and has a few thoughts on how to write a fair review. Enjoy!
Everyone likes to be a critic.
It’s a truth as real as the beliefs we carry. As a critic you feel entitled to judge everything in either an analytical or enjoyable outlook. You’re giving your opinion on someone’s work, which has changed and evolved over time. In this digital age of social media, blockbuster films, and the Internet, more people prefer visual entertainment over the written word. Therefore, it can often be a challenge to review a random book in an honest, constructive manner. Personally, I like to judge a novel on its most basic objective that anyone can agree on: if it can entertain while leaving an impact.
Now this single objective isn’t black and white. There are dozens of books that can inspire without having good plot, characters, etc. or even vice-versa. When reviewing a book, I dislike judging it with the mindset that it is a masterpiece. No novel is perfect, and no novel will appeal to every single person on the planet, so I keep an open mind on the targeted demographics it’s likely aimed for. If you’re usually a contemporary reader but not a fan of historical fiction, don’t negatively judge it solely because you aren’t fond of the genre. Everyone has different tastes, so a reviewer shouldn’t hate something solely because it isn’t a genre or type of story catered for them.
For me, I can read almost anything, whether it be contemporary, young adult, fantasy, historical, or hardcore sci-fi. However, my favorite kind of novel is the one that has a plot where you don’t know where it’s going. It has memorable characters with personalities that keep you engaged (especially if the story’s tied to their struggles), a setting fascinating enough to explore if they existed, writing crisp and fluent enough to make you feel like you’re experiencing what’s happening on the pages, and a villain you love to hate or even sympathize with.
Like I said though, this can go either way in books. One could have a fantastic plot and bland characters while another might have an incredibly complex villain and a weak setting, maybe even vice-versa with any of these varieties. It’s all subjective in the eyes of the reviewer, and it’s not a bad thing to hold in regard. Listen to others’ opinions, whether they be the reader, the critic, or even the author themselves. In the same way anyone can be a critic, so can anyone have the privilege to decide what makes a book entertaining.
About the Author:
Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1996, Nathan Hopp grew up the oldest of three rambunctious brothers. As a child, he inherited his love for literature from his mother and his love for science fiction/fantasy from his father. He has been a dedicated bookworm since grade school, reading through corny romance novels one hour to an entire Young Adult series in less than a week. In high school, Nathan’s interest grew into writing, eventually leading him to haikus, short stories, vignettes, and novels. Currently attending UW-Eau Claire as an English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing, Nathan spends most of his free time as an avid participant in the furry fandom, surviving one semester at a time, and running a review blog. Learn more about Nathan and his book on social media: Facebook.com/NathanWHopp or at Twitter.com/HoppNate.
Thank you to D.A. Kori Prier, author of Colorado Drift for writing this blog. In a conversation between two writers who are discussing Writer’s Block, one writer realizes how they have to change. One writer is a “plotter” (someone who outlines and organizes their manuscript before/during the writing process) and the other writer is a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). Both paths work, but sometimes, you need to change your process for a certain manuscript in order to get past a block.
Wow, so you’re a writer huh?
I’m writing too, but I’m in a funk.
Yeah, why’s that?
I’m stuck. I’ve got Writer’s Block. So, you ever get blocked?
Really, how do you keep from losing your train of thought?
What do you mean? How do you prepare?
Well, first I do a shovel full of research on my topic.
So, you research everything?
Not quite everything, but most of the story’s plot.
Then what do you do?
Well, I organize the research into an order that formulates into my plot.
Yep. Then I write an outline of the story with all the parts (research and ideas) flowing through my diagram. This way, I know where my story is going and what I have to write next. I can always adjust the outline if something doesn’t fit or if I come up with a brilliant idea.
And this works for you?
Would it work for me, too?
Yep, but you have to be disciplined and do the research, organize your thoughts, and outline your plot.
It sounds like a lot of work.
It is, but it keeps my creative processes juiced and always flowing. Besides, how long have you had your Writer’s Block?
A couple of weeks now.
Well, in two weeks you could have done most or all of your research and developed an outline.
I see your point. I think I need to start doing a better job than just writing from the top of my head.
Good for you.
We all get stuck once in a while. Here are a few things you can try to help yourself get out of Writer’s Block.
- Get away from your story. Find a hobby and relax. Avoid thinking about your manuscript. As your body relaxes, your brain will, too, and it will naturally figure out the problem you are having with the plot—if that’s the reason you’re stuck and getting Writer’s Block.
- Set up a writing routine and do it every day, 6 days a week. Structure will help form positive habits that lead to positive creativity.
- Work on your research. A new idea could strike. Changing your process techniques could help the flow of ideas.
- Talk your problem out with a writing buddy or an editor. They may be helpful in getting you to the root of the problem.
- Go on vacation. Take a few days and do something you’ve never done before or go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Get away from the stresses of everyday life for a few days. This could help your creative process because you’ll be experiencing different emotions through your new experiences.
- Laugh. Spend some time with someone who makes you laugh. Laughter will help release tension.
- Pamper yourself: see a massage therapist, get a manicure or hair cut, or go to a spa. While you’re focused on yourself, your body will naturally relax and you’ll be able to figure out the problem.
D.A. Kori Prier was born and grew up in the two-mile high town of Leadville, Colorado. Now retired, he lives in Northern California with his wife, Snuz. Colorado Drift is the first book of a new series. Mr. Prier’s extensive knowledge of the mountainous geography lends credibility to the story and makes the adventure feel real and possible. Kori and Snuz enjoy traveling with their three four-legged girls: Becca, Tessa, and Bella.
Colorado Drift takes the reader on a snowy, modernistic science fiction adventure inside a Rocky Mountain avalanche.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends who may find it useful. Thank you!
Sometimes we need to look back at where we’ve been to move forward in life and in our hearts. Here’s an excerpt from Carolyn Redman’s News from Lake Boobbegone: A Breast Cancer Memoir from the Heart which became a #1 New Release in April 2017.
November 27, 2014,
So, these are the top ten things I’ve had to let go of this year: (1) my left breast, (2) 15 lymph nodes, (3) all of my hair, (4) my immune system, (5) my idea of beauty, (6) the illusion of control, (7) cocktails, (8) a plethora of tears, (9) a few extra pounds, and (10) wondering why me.
My last radiation treatment, or as I liked to euphemistically call it, “light therapy,” took place on November 10th. But even weeks after the treatment ended, radiation had left me looking and feeling like I’d been microwaved on high for far too long. Next to the mother of all sunburns, the emotional fatigue of daily treatments was probably the worst of it. I had been living “cancerously” for nearly a year now, and it had taken all of my resolve. Unlike chemo, I had to face radiation therapy on my own. No one could go with me, hold my hand, or sit by my side and distract me from these treatments. I had to dig deep and find even more strength I wasn’t sure I could muster.
The “mean wells,” my term for people who say dumb stuff unintentionally, keep reminding me how great things will be once I get back to normal. I don’t see how that is even remotely possible. I am missing a body part, have been infused with drugs potent enough to damage my heart and make my hair fall out, have been microwaved on high for 30 consecutive days, and as an added bonus have been chemically catapulted into menopause. And those are just the physical ramifications. Mix in equal parts anxiety, fear, and sadness, and the cancer train I’ve been on misses all the normal stops. What a disappointment and missed opportunity it would be if, after all of this, I turned out to be the exact same person I was before I was diagnosed.
I can’t quite go as far as to say that I am grateful I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but I can say that I am grateful for all of the realizations that have resulted because of it. I was given the opportunity to tap into a reservoir of courage I didn’t even know existed. I witnessed people at their best as they surrounded me with their clinical, surgical, and scientific expertise, genuine concern, humor, compassion, energy, and love. The word friendship took on a whole new meaning with each chemo sitter who took time out of her busy life to sit with me for hours on end. And I found out that my marriage was indeed for better or worse.
This Thanksgiving would be like no other because I finally understood the importance and power of gratitude. I had gained far more than I had lost this year and for that I was extremely grateful.
News from Lake Boobbegone by Carolyn Redman, copyright (C) 2017 by Carolyn Redman.
A few tips from Bruce Kirkpatrick on being a member of a writer’s group.
I’m a member of four groups and each works differently. Here’s what I’ve learned about writer’s groups and if you are a writer, why you may want be a part of one.
Both new and seasoned writers are often members of writer’s groups. No hard and fast rules exist about how they work, but a few tips to get the most out of them might help.
Groups can meet in person or online. They can require that members trade “chapters” or work beforehand—or not. They can read aloud or simply offer critique in the written form. They can be full of published authors or those just getting started.
- If you attend a meeting, it forces you to write. No better way to get to work than to have somebody ready to read it. One of the groups I’m involved with has over 270 members, but only 10 to 15 come to meetings regularly and read. Those are the more serious writers.
- It forces you to edit. Nobody wants to read work that is weak. By the time I read something in front of the group, I’ve edited it at least several times. That makes for better writing.
- It forces you, in many cases, to read your work out loud. That’s a key to better structure, phrasing, and dialogue. If your group doesn’t read aloud, you can always incorporate that into your editing practice.
- Groups force you to toughen up. Most groups offer sound criticism, delivered in a positive manner. One of my groups start the critique with what we liked, then move to how the writing could be better. It can always be better. You need to hear that, continually.
- They force you to meet and work with other writers. Writing can be a lonely passion but there is enlightenment in numbers. You’ll pick up great tips, habits, and skills working with like individuals. You may even use the group to connect you to others in the profession that can push your career forward. It’s a great place to network.
- Writing groups will force you to be a better writer. If you stay connected, and keep writing, your work will improve. You may not be the next Hemingway, but it’s a start.
That said, in my experience, writing groups have little knowledge about getting published. They are all about the writing. My groups don’t include many published authors, so the how-to-write-for-publication is a glaring hole. Most writers will do better reading the books about writing—Stein, Gorkin, Browne & King, George—than trusting inexperienced writers.
But you have to start someplace and a writing group will force you to write, edit, and receive feedback. If you’re a beginning writer or want to write for your own pleasure, it’s a good place to start.
Bruce Kirkpatrick is the author of Hard Left and Lumberjack Jesus. He is currently working on several different writing projects. To learn more about Bruce and his books, you can visit: http://www.bkirkpatrick.com/about/
At Written Dreams, we believe writers who take part of writer’s groups can be very successful. We will often suggest joining the local chapters to new writers because we believe in the benefits. Here in Green Bay, WI, we’re lucky to have a few groups that meet locally. If you’re looking for a writer’s group in your area, here’s a few associations you can start your search with, depending on the genre you write in: RWA-Romance Writers of America, HWA-Horror Writers of America, SFWA-Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, CWG-The Children’s Writer’s Guild, NAMW-National Association of Memoir Writers, and many more!
At Written Dreams Publishing, we’ve had the pleasure to work with multiplatinum artist, Rick Roberts, and put two of his books into large print hardcover format for his fans.
During the 1970s, Rick Roberts’ songs topped the music charts when he was the lead singer of the band, Firefall. Now, Rick Roberts has put together a beautiful collection of his memorable stories and the lyrics he’s written over the years in Song Stories and Other Left-Handed Recollections. Included are some of Rick Roberts’ best-loved songs: “You Are the Woman”, “Colorado”, “Strange Way”, and “Just Remember I Love You”. Read along as Rick Roberts takes you back to the days with these nostalgic songs when he performed them with his band Firefall and other artists, and learn about what is yet to come for him.
A multiplatinum rock star’s life meets an unexpected detour when a bump on the head reveals itself to be a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Told with honesty and humor, Lame Brain: My Journey Back to Real Life is Rick Roberts’ story of his entangled afflictions of TBI and Alcoholism.
Approximately 1.7 million people experience a TBI in the United States every year, with accidental falls being the leading cause. TBI can strike anyone at any time, swiftly changing the course of life. For Rick, this meant losing his ability to walk (with doctors giving only a 50/50 chance that he would ever walk again), losing many of his innate guitar skills, and facing difficult decisions that he wasn’t quite ready to make.
Rick openly shares the story of how he confronted these challenges while simultaneously fighting alcoholism. True to his talent for writing award winning lyrics and melodies, Rick now gives the world a story of healing told in his own compelling voice. He details the routines he created to reclaim his mobility, coordination, and sobriety. Refusing to accept his circumstances as a game ender, he instead considers them to be merely setbacks. Within the pages of Lame Brain, readers will find inspiration to achieve their own miracles and increased awareness of TBI and alcoholism.
About the Author:
Rick Roberts is a 40-year veteran of the rock’n’roll wars. He began his recording career in 1970 with the Flying Burrito Brothers and was a major contributor to their last two albums. He went on to do two solo albums and then form the well-known band Firefall in 1974, with whom he played for seven years during their heyday. He has also been a member of Stephen Stills’ band and Linda Ronstadt’s band during his career, and has been awarded two platinum and four gold albums for his efforts.
He has had over 60 of his compositions recorded and performed by such artists as The Burritos, Firefall, Stephen Stills, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow, The Dirt Band, and numerous others. He is the composer of the hit songs “Just Remember I Love You”, “You Are the Woman”, “Strange Way”, “Colorado”, and several more that graced the Top 40 at one time or another.
After suffering a debilitating brain injury in 2006 which left him in jeopardy of never walking again, it took him nearly four years of intense physical therapy to walk again without crutches or other aids. Rick currently lives and works in Longmont, Colorado with his wife, Mary, and their two dogs and two cats.
A Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery
Can Viva Winter find the truth before it’s too late?
The Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club is gearing up for a ukulele competition when their flamboyant star player, Kiki Jacquenette, is found strangled to death with a G-string. Not only is a first place win in jeopardy, the entire folk music festival is put on the verge of collapse. A murderer on the loose is sure to keep tourists away.
Chronicle editor Viva Winter had hoped to make Coyote Canyon the folk music capitol of the Colorado mountains, and was also trying to raise money to help repay the townspeople bilked by her father’s phony investment scheme. With much to gain by Kiki’s death, Viva soon comes under suspicion, so she must uncover the truth before her whole life turns into one sour note, and a tourist trade boom falls flat.
Thanks to Heidi Swedberg for the mention of this book on her blog! https://sukeyjumpmusic.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/ukulele-holiday-2017/
About the Author:
C.C. Harrison lives in Anthem, Arizona. She is the author of hundreds of articles and short stories. When she’s not writing, reading, or working out at the gym, she can be found in the mountains of Colorado or in some far-flung corner of the Southwest. She has won national recognition with her suspense novels.
A Sci-Fi Dystopian Novel
Before a large asteroid hit Earth and wiped out most of all humanity, survivors gathered in The Burrow, an underground community, with the hope of survival being the one thing on their minds. Realizing their fate, the Burrow dwellers developed a new society.
Over one hundred years later, a grave decision is made by the United Assembly, a group of representatives who make up the new government. They’ve decided to send every prisoner incarcerated to a land not touched in over a century.
Max is a teenage girl who has survived the end of humanity. She’s also a prisoner.
Sentenced to a life above ground, prisoners are put on a hovercraft with one destination. On her journey, the hovercraft Max is on crashes, leaving eighty-two young souls to fend for themselves in a new world. Their new world. It’s a new start for them, a liberation from a past they left back in the Burrow.
But there’s something bizarre about the way the hovercraft crashed, or how the radio stopped working when there were no signs of damage. Suspicions grow about the United Assembly’s real intentions of sending them away. Was it really an accident?
The crash is the least of Max’s problems when the group makes a shocking discovery. It contradicts everything the Burrow leaders told them about the surface. After all, the unknown kills.
About the Author:
Lexi Jordan is a sixteen year old high school student attending Ashwaubenon High School in Green Bay, WI. She is currently working on her third book. Resurfaced is her first novel. Learn more about Lexi’s series at www.writtendreams.com or follow her on social media.