Halloween in the Summer? Inkshares Seeks Horror Stories

Photo via VisualHunt

If you write horror stories, now is your chance to scare up a book deal. The Inkshares 2017 Horror Contest will publish three or more manuscripts based on their popularity and judges’ choices. The contest is open until Halloween. (more…)

14 Lessons for Writers from 3 Classic Foreign Films

Photo credit: popturfdotcom via VisualHunt / CC BY

Film is a universal art form. Those of us who write novels can learn a lot from the storytelling techniques of filmmakers, especially masters like Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, and François Truffaut. Their films defied Hollywood norms and yet found a global audience. (more…)

Beware the “Submission Itch” and Other Common Mistakes Writers Make

“You are what you submit,” says a former managing editor of a literary magazine. It behooves you to submit only your best work, and yet, the submission itch—the mad rush to release one’s work to the world—is a common malady.  Before you submit, make sure you’re not making these three common mistakes. (more…)

3 Writing Lessons from “Catch-22” and “Slaughterhouse-Five”

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

I’ve been meaning to read Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” for their popularity and critical acclaim.  I finally read both recently—at the same time. To be honest, they are not my favorite books, but they taught me three important lessons in writing. (more…)

Do We Really Need the Oxford Comma? A Federal Court Says Yes

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If you don’t think the Oxford comma is necessary, a federal court’s recent decision will tell you otherwise. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of delivery drivers who claimed they were eligible for overtime pay under Maine’s regulations. Their argument relied on the absence of a serial comma in the law. (more…)

In Praise of the Perilous Multiple POVs: William Martin’s “Citizen Washington”

CitizenWashington-Cover-CindyFazziPicAuthors who use multiple points of view risk losing their readers’ interest or confusing them with every shift. Only a few pull off such a perilous approach. In “Citizen Washington,” William Martin blows away the competition among “daredevil” authors. He uses not just three points of view (“The Girl on the Train” and “The Help”) or five (“The Poisonwood Bible”) but 16! (more…)

Snowflake, Alternative Fact, Post-Truth, & Other New Words Stemming from Politics

(Photo via Visual Hunt)

(Photo via Visual Hunt)

The new political order in America has added new words to our vocabulary. The media and technology also continue to influence our ever-growing lexicon. (more…)

Who versus Whom: Remember Just One Rule

Photo credit: rosefirerising via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: rosefirerising via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Do you have trouble remembering when to use who or whom? It’s a common problem with a quick fix from a Grammar Girl video. (more…)

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers Seeking Traditional Publication

"A happy New Year." New York Public Library Digital Collections.

“A happy New Year.” New York Public Library Digital Collections.

As a writer, I have the same New Year’s resolution every year in the past 22 years—to get published traditionally. Some years are more successful than others. In 2014, I signed with my literary agent, whom I admire greatly. In 2015, Lyrical Press published my debut romance book. This time I’m breaking down my New Year’s resolution into five smaller tasks. (more…)

Writing Tips: Basic Rules to Remember About Comma

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

One little comma can sometimes mean big trouble when you’re writing. Take this example: “Let’s eat Mom.” Without a comma, you just transformed an innocent invitation to something awful. (more…)