My Role


by Jennifer Paros

The other day I was at my desk trying to get myself to start working.  I didnít feel like doing anything, it seemed, and yet I also wanted to work. Frustrated and unable to neither crack the proverbial whip nor walk away, I closed my eyes for a moment in the hope of releasing myself from this tug-of-war. 

In my mindís eye, I was back in eighth grade, musing over how good I felt rehearsing our graduation play (it was a musical) and helping out on the production. I thought about Sam (name changed for this tell-all account) Ė my ďco-star,Ē a fellow eighth grader.  Sam was not comfortable acting and had trouble singing on key. At the time, I didnít bother much about Samís challenges, though I was rooting for him and any possible improvement. I wanted it all to work but more importantly, I just wanted to work. I wanted the experience of working together on the production and I already had that experience, regardless of Samís performance. 

In eighth grade I didnít feel great about who I thought I was.  I felt compelled to hide, striving to conceal what I had determined to be some ill-defined deficient aspect of me. I wasnít thrilled about showing up for life because life seemed to be about feeling bad about myself. But while in this play, I was engaged in the pleasure of my new role and work, and the usual story that so colored my days rarely caught my attention.   more...



Pebble by Pebble

by Pamela Moore Dionne

So one day as you sit in front of your computer staring at a blank screen you find that the words donít come easy. Maybe they donít come at all Ė not even when you hog-tie them and try to drag them onto the screen. What do you do? Are there tricks to getting something down in print that will give you a place to start Ė a bare beginning from which to take a leap of faith? Over the years, Iíve hit many boulders in the path to a completed manuscript. Iím here to tell you that thereís usually a way over, under, or around every obstacle on the road to publication.

Sometimes a block is only a bump, like a nudge that gets you to dig deeper into your subject. Other times itís a mountainous directive telling you that the bridge youíre trying to cross is no longer functional Ė turn back. Sometimes you have to let go by getting up and walking away from the computer. Iím not telling you to abandon your work altogether. more...

A Capital Idea

by Cherie Tucker

A student at the University of Washington just asked me when to capitalize words that follow colons. She wondered if there were rules or if it was just a matter of taste.  Well, yes, Virginia, there are rules.  In fact, there are two pages of them in The Gregg Reference Manual, but letís boil them down.
First letís look at when you donít have to capitalize.
Do NOT use a capital if:

  • The material following the colon is not a complete sentence.

 There are two ways to get here:  the long way and the longer way.  more...


Self-Publishing in the Age of E

by Erin Brown

Last month, I was honored to be one of three panelists on the Publishers Weekly SXSW (South by Southwest) panel, ďSelf-Publishing in the Age of E.Ē  The other two invited panelists were Hugh Howey, self-publishing phenomenon and author of Woolówhich was recently featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal and earned Howey over $1 million before it was bought by Simon & Schusteróand New York agent Kirby Kim, of William Morris Endeavor. Obviously, I was the most famous and esteemed person on the panel, but I decided to humble myself and participate.

Publishers Weekly wanted to bring this topic to the hippies of my hometown of Austin and those who had traveled to SXSW from all over the country and world because self-publishing has changed drastically in the past five years. One of my first articles for Author four years ago was all about how self-publishing was a last resort option. There had always been a stigma with self-publishing. Well, times they are aíchanginí. In 2012, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy sold like gangbusters, making the author millions, becoming the bestselling adult series of all time, and introducing everyoneís mothers and grandmothers to the world of S&M and erotica (yeah, thanks for that, E L James!). According to the publishing services company Bowker, the number of self-published books produced annually has nearly tripled since 2006, growing by 286%. So what does this mean for you? more...


What does it take to create a great character?

by Jason Black

First you need a fresh concept for the character, right? Sure. You donít want to be giving us the same clichť, central-casting characters weíve seen a million times. Then they have to be admirable in some way that helps readers root for them. That is, they donít have to be likeable or nice, but there has to be something about them we can respect. And we canít forget to give the character some flaws, too, so the character can experience personal growth through the story. Naturally not. Besides, readers canít relate to characters who are too perfect. Oh, and a good, solid name helps too, doesnít it? Goodness knows we writers spend a lot of time agonizing over finding the perfect name.

Those are all helpful things, but theyíre not what it takes to create a great character.

Creating a great character takes you.  more...













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