5 Ways to Discover & Develop Our Voice

by Jami Gold on December 8, 2016

in Writing Stuff

Microphone against a blank wall with text: Strengthening Your Voice

Before I get into today’s post, I’m making a short detour first…

For those who have followed my medical issues this year, I want to thank you for all your support and health suggestions, as well as give you a quick update. I just had the first follow-up surgery after my emergency surgery back in July, so prayers, good thoughts, and crossed fingers are all appreciated!

There’s currently no sign of the infection. It’s hidden out for years before, but hopefully, all the techniques I’ve been trying from your suggestions to beat this antibiotic-resistant, bone-disintegrating infection mean it won’t come back this time.

Because of that surgery this week, I’m updating and expanding a previous post for today, as my brain is mush. *smile*

What Is Voice?

There’s not an easy answer to that question, as everyone has their own definition. Voice is personal—not just for writers, but also for readers.

There’s a reason why we love some authors’ voices and dislike others…and why those judgments aren’t universal. What one reader can love, another reader can hate, etc.

We’ll talk about the elements that create our voice in just a minute, but first, I want to start with what I think is the essence of voice.

Laura Backes of the Children’s Book Insider gives this lovely definition of voice:

“The voice is what beckons the reader to curl up with a book and whispers, ‘Pay attention. I’m going to tell you a story.'”

“I’m going to tell you a story.” That concept goes along with my other favorite voice concept by Janice Hardy:

“[V]oice is that sense there’s a person behind the words.”

Those two quotes have something in common. Listen to the ideas they express:

  • I’m going to tell you a story.
  • There’s a person behind the words.

Voice is intimacy. Voice is what invites readers to join the characters in their journey.

5 Elements that Go into Our Voice

How do we invite readers to come closer? Many people have tried to identify what goes into creating our voice, but it’s a hard thing to define. We often just know it when we see it.

Several years ago, Julie Leto shared what she sees as the five most important elements of voice. Let’s explore each of those elements so we can gain a better understanding of what our voice is or might be…

#1: Descriptions

We’ve talked before about how we need to find the “right” balance for our descriptions. The “right” amount will be different for every writer because how we use description comes down to the types of stories we innately want to tell.

Some want to write stories with lush descriptions that give a strong sense of time and place. Others sketch out enough of the basics to anchor readers but prefer to keep the story moving. There’s no right or wrong answer, but understanding our preferences helps us know what our voice is.

Strengthening Tip: Our descriptions can create that sense of intimacy for our voice in a couple of different ways. For example, they can…:

  • make a reader feel immersed in a story (lush, detailed, insightful, etc.) or…
  • make a reader feel connected to the character (deep point of view, etc.).

Either way, embracing our choice will help readers feel invited on a journey.

#2: Characters

  • What types of characters do we gravitate toward while we’re writing?

Some of us write stronger alpha males than others, some write snarkier women. The common threads between our characters—from one heroine to another or one hero to another—give insight into our voice.

This doesn’t mean we can’t create characters who aren’t a good match for our voice, but they might be harder to write. This also doesn’t mean that our main characters from one book to another are interchangeable.

We probably have some personality traits in common with our friends, but we’re also (obviously) unique in other ways. Each of our characters has different background and experiences, so even if all our heroines are snarky, they’re going to be snarky in different ways. *smile*

Strengthening Tip: If we know what kind of characters we gravitate toward, we might be able to develop them faster during drafting, or we might have a better handle on how to strengthen their personalities during editing.

We also might have a better sense of what’s causing issues when something feels off with them. For example, if a character doesn’t feel right, maybe we can see if they’re going against our voice in any way. Are they too passive in some lines or scenes? Too aggressive?

The more we know our voice, the more we can protect it. And the stronger we’re connected to our characters as authors, the better the chance that readers will feel connected to them as well.

#3: Plot

  • Do we write beat-driven plots where readers sense when big events occur, or do we write plots where one event blends into the next?
  • Do we use lots of twists or fake-outs?
  • Do we include lots of subplots, or do we stick to one main external plot and use internal character arcs to flesh out the story?
  • What kind of villains or secondary characters do we write, and what kind of conflict do they create?

Some authors tend toward bigger external plots with villains involved at each step. Others tend toward bigger internal character arcs, where the external antagonist or villain comes out of the shadows only for the final act.

Strengthening Tip: Knowing our tendencies helps us understand our voice. And like we mentioned above with characters, the better we know our voice, the more quickly we might understand the issue when something feels off. If a story feels too thin or too complicated, we can take a look at how the plot compares to our usual tendency.

We can always push ourselves to try something different of course, but knowing our usual might help us fight off self-doubt when a story feels more difficult. It’s not us. It’s not the story. It’s just about growth and experimentation.

Again, the more we understand our voice, the more we can protect it and make sure deviations are a conscious decision to try something different. Also, the more the plot flows and feels natural to us, the better the chance that readers will feel connected to the journey of the story as well.

#4: Premise and Theme

  • What’s the big picture and/or theme of our stories?

Writers typically revisit similar themes over and over because on some level, all stories are explorations of our worldview. Of course our worldview influences our voice.

Similarly, we might also write stories with similar premises. Heroines who discover how special they are. Heroes who must fight to get what they want. Those are the journeys we’re inviting readers to be a part of, so our premises are often the foundation of our voice.

Strengthening Tip: As I mention in that post linked above, knowing our core beliefs can help protect us during revisions. We’ll recognize when an editing suggestion will help get our story closer to the one we want to tell or when it’s simply different from what we have and not necessarily better.

Also, the closer a story connects to our beliefs and passions, the more likely that energy and drive will come out in our writing. Showing our worldview in our story creates a sense of intimacy for readers because we’re inviting them to learn about our innermost self.

#5: Style

Finally here at #5 we get to what many think of for our voice, but even this element goes far beyond simple word choice and sentence syntax. We can look at the bigger picture of our writing habits as well:

The words we use and how we break up sentences, paragraphs, and chapters all act as one ingredient of our voice.

Strengthening Tips: The best advice I’ve heard for how to strengthen our writing style was to think out loud. How would our characters express their thoughts or emotions to their best friend that they trusted with their deepest fears? (Or in the case of non-character narration, how would we express ourselves?)

Also, as Julie Glover mentions in her guest posts in that last bullet item, we need to have the basics of writing craft down before we can effectively “play” with our voice. Bad grammar because of lack of knowledge is different from bad grammar because of voice choices. Learn the basic craft to help ensure our voice is strong and confident.

In addition, like the other elements, the better we know our tendencies, the more we can consciously emphasize the aspects we want. If we decide we like the humor, we can look for ways to add more, etc.

Now…Practice, Practice, Practice

Notice how all of those elements need us to become familiar with our voice a bit before we can strengthen what we already have? In other words, we have to practice writing a lot before we become good at recognizing what makes our writing ours alone and what makes our voice unique.

Also, we can’t explore any of those elements with our voice until we have the craft down. If we’re still struggling with plot structure, our unique approach to plotting won’t be as clear. If we’re still head-hopping, the point-of-view of our characters won’t be deep enough to show who they really are. Same with the other elements.

We’ve all heard how we should write multiple stories rather than editing the same one over and over. That advice isn’t just about making sure we’re moving forward. Writing new stories with new characters and new plots and new premises all works together to help us find the commonalities in our writing.

Those commonalities inform our voice, the stories we like to write, and the stories that might be easier to write. And the more we know our voice, the more we’ll be able to resist misguided suggestions from others. Confidence in our voice strengthens our voice.

Interestingly enough, being aware of those commonalities can also help us create our author brand. Readers would know that we’ll give them a story with X kind of characters, Y kind of style, or Z kind of plot.  (“Ooo, she writes the best tortured heroes.”) And readers who know what to expect from our writing—even if we switch genres—might become fans of us rather than just readers of our books. *smile*

How well do you know your voice? Can you describe it in regards to those five elements? What elements of your voice are strong and which ones are you still working on? What elements are your favorite to play with? If you’ve written multiple stories, how many did it take for you to have a clear idea of your voice?

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Snowman holding a gift with text: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers

How’s everyone doing on their shopping so far this year? Are you ahead because Black Friday and Cyber Monday came early? Or have you not started yet because this year’s calendar—with Christmas falling on a Sunday—is tricking you into thinking there’s more time than there really is?

Uh… *raises hand to that second one* I haven’t quite gotten serious yet. Get on that, self. *grin*

Obviously, I’m not a shopaholic, so I usually need help knowing what gifts to buy for people. That means it’s time to start thinking about what we might want for writerly gifts this year. With that in mind, I updated my Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers, and I included lots of links because I’m a lazy bum who prefers online shopping. *smile*

If you’re a writer, this might help you give suggestions to family or friends. Or you can direct your family to this post for ideas. Something on this list is bound to please every writer out there.

Stocking Stuffers

For Writers Who Outline

  • Note (index) cards
  • Notebooks (many writers prefer plain spiral or steno pads over fancy, leather-bound books—those are too pretty to use *smile*)
  • Ugly writing journal (so we’re not tempted to “save” it) (suggested by Daniel Swensen)
  • Corkboard
  • Pushpins
  • Whiteboard
  • Dry erase markers and eraser

Technology Helpers

  • Programs like Scrivener (Windows and Mac) for organizing and word processing
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking (options at Amazon) for voice recognition-driven writing (suggested by Kyla Rucci)
  • Latest version of favorite word processing program
  • Software for self-publishing (image editing, ebook formatting, etc.)
  • Flash drive or external hard drive for backups
  • Typing program (learn to type faster!)
  • More memory for computer
  • Bigger hard drive for computer
  • Wireless/ergonomic keyboard or mouse
  • Virtual keyboard for mobile use
  • Software for self-publishing (Adobe Photoshop for graphics, Jutoh for formatting, etc.)

Big Ticket Items

  • New computer/laptop
  • Bigger/second computer monitor
  • Printer (or printer ink)
  • eReader or eTablet (Kindle/Kindle Fire, iPad, Android tablet, etc.)
  • Ergonomic desk chair
  • Website/blog hosting, upgrades, or design (Note: I use and recommend TechSurgeons for great service, and no, they don’t have an affiliate program, just lots of happy customers. *smile*)
  • Registration fee for writing conference or workshop
  • Membership fee for a writing group (like RWA—which is open worldwide)
  • Cover design, editing, or formatting costs for self-published authors

Writing Craft and Publishing-Related Books & Tools

Writing and Publishing-Related Workshops

Miscellaneous Suggestions

  • New! Decorative bookends (How awesome would it be to display our own books between cool bookends that go with our stories? I’m eyeing these dragons *grin*)
  • New! Shoulder/neck heating pad for desk-bound aches and pains
  • Gift basket full of writing-related ideas (pens, notebooks, special beverage and glass, inspirational items or quotes, etc.) (suggested by Theresa Miller)
  • Gift cards for books (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)
  • Gift cards for office supply stores
  • Fun reader/writer-type gifts (“Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel” mug, “gifts for writers,” The Literary Gift CompanyWriters Helping Writers gift guide on Pinterest, new! “Out of Print” literary clothing, new! literary gifts on Etsy, etc.)
  • Canisters of favorite coffee or hot chocolate (suggested by Angela Quarles)
  • Tea or other writing beverage (suggested by Daniel Swensen)
  • Totem for a muse (figurine, stuffed animal, etc.) (suggested by Lisa Hall-Wilson)
  • Magnetic poetry kit (available in tons of specialized themes—from Shakespeare or passion to cat or bacon lover)
  • Literary action figures
  • High-quality printer paper for queries/submissions (suggested by Christy Farmer)
  • Printer ink (suggested by Shain Brown)
  • Subscription to music source (Pandora, Spotify, etc.)
  • Premium level of online service (Dropbox for automatic backups, Amazon Prime for free shipping/lending library, etc.)
  • Entry fee for a writing contest
  • Massage gift certificates (suggested by Julie Glover)
  • Back or foot massager (suggested by Gene Lempp)
  • Comfort clothes (robe and fuzzy slippers) (suggested by Brooklyn Ann)
  • Writing time (anything from babysitting to a writers’ retreat)
  • Housecleaning services (especially during deadlines) (suggested by April Bradley)
  • And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own books for those who want entertainment. *grin* (I don’t have a shop set up for it yet, but if anyone wants autographed print copies, let me know.)

What did I miss? What other writing craft or publishing-related books do you recommend? Do you have suggestions for other items to add to the list? Which things would you most like to receive? Is there anything on the list you wouldn’t want? Will you brave the store crowds this year?

(Note: Some links on my blog are referral or affiliate links.)

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Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: What's Your Newsletter Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been exploring the choices for what path we want to follow in our indie publishing career, and today, we’re continuing to dig deeper into how to implement our chosen path.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make and given us a few guidelines.

We first discussed how we need to know our goals because that will help us make the best decisions for us and adapt as the industry changes. Depending on our priorities, we might make different choices for distribution, release schedules, or pricing, which I focused on in the first segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.

The second segment of my series focused on how to keep our readers after they finish our book:

We’re currently exploring the specifics of one of the options mentioned in Part One of the Reader Retention Plan above, which is to communicate with our readers via a newsletter. So far, we’ve covered:

Janice Hardy's Fiction University banner

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the number of subscribers we have for our newsletter doesn’t matter if they’re not opening, reading, and ideally, taking action with our messages. If our subscribers delete our emails unread, let them sit in a “junk” email inbox, or never click links to buy, share, review, promote, etc. our work, they’re “dead weight” to our subscriber numbers.

We’ve talked before about the statistics of open rate and click rate as far as having engaged subscribers, but there’s a bigger reason why those dead-weight subscribers are a problem: They can cost us money.

Most newsletters services (such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, VerticalResponse, MailPoet, MadMimi, GetResponse, etc.) start off free—up to a certain number of subscribers. Once we reach that threshold of subscribers, we usually have to pay monthly for the service to continue sending out our messages.

So if we have a lot of dead-weight subscribers, we’re going to hit that threshold—and have to start paying—sooner than we would if our list was “clean.” In other words, it’s in our best interest to clean up our newsletter subscriber list before we hit that threshold (or cleaning it up after might reduce our monthly charges).

Most advice I’ve seen about how to clean up those dead-weight subscribers, however, is a bit…drastic, as it involves lots of deletions based on unconfirmed information of our open rates.

We’re never going to approach 100% open or click rates—unless we have an extremely small list made up of family and best friends (and maybe not even then *smile*)—and most consider open rates above 25% or so to be good. Yet no matter what our numbers are, those statistics aren’t completely accurate, which is why I recommend against following the usual clean-up advice.

In this month’s post at Fiction University, I’m exploring our options for less-drastic measures we can take to remove uninterested subscribers from our newsletter list. *smile*

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

If you have a newsletter, are you still on a freebie plan? Have you thought about how to extend that free period by cleaning up your subscriber list? Are you worried about dead-weight subscribers? If not, why not? Do you have ideas for how to clean your list?

Also, if you have questions I haven’t covered yet about our options as an indie author, let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it to the list!

 

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Arrow carved into picnic table with text: Moving Forward after NaNoWriMo

There’s only one more day until my pending NaNoWriMo loss becomes official. This year was my worst NaNo ever, and my last minute crunch-time attempt to add words was canceled by a Thanksgiving injury.

(As if I haven’t had enough health issues this year, in trying to open a package of food for the big family get-together, I sliced open my finger. No stitches, but it took over an hour to stop bleeding, and my typing is now very s-l-o-w because I can’t use my index finger. *sigh*)

Just because we don’t have a brag-worthy NaNo doesn’t mean that we failed. No matter my final word count, those are still words I didn’t have before. (I don’t consider it possible to “lose” NaNo. *grin*)

Or if we do come up with 50K words, that doesn’t mean we’re happy with our work. We might not like where our story went, or the mess of a plot, or any other of dozens of issues.

Either way, we have to find a way to move forward after NaNo. Whether we’re happy with our results or not, we have A.E. (Anita) Siraki here with us today to share her insights on what comes next.

Please welcome Anita Siraki! *smile*

*****

How to Pick Yourself Up After NaNoWriMo
—or—
I Won NaNoWriMo! Now What?

52,467. That was my magic number. It represents the number of words I wrote as of November 30, 2015 when I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Most of you reading this know that the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. This figure determines if you “won” or if you “lost.”

Writing 5,000 words per month is a challenge for many of the writers I know, and yet the thousands upon thousands who participate each year get their 50,000 words done despite Thanksgiving, family, work (or school), and other obligations.

After years of being vehemently opposed to ever participating in NaNoWriMo, things changed for me in fall 2015. I was unemployed, in constant physical pain due to a chronic disease, drowning in depression, and feeling like “What’s the point?”

NanoWriMo could potentially give me a sense of purpose. Part of what made me participate was the chance to remind myself that I still had the ability to write. I had failed at everything else, so I had to “win” and prove I was worth something when it came to writing.

I hit some nasty twists and turns and had to surmount huge walls at least twice during that month, but I slogged through and I made it. I had climbed all the mountains, squeezed all the blood from the stones in my mind, and got the 50,000 words done with 2,000 and change to spare.

Does Winning Equal a Sense of Accomplishment?

I’m sad to say no. I put all my energy into NaNoWriMo. Slaying my demons, including self-doubt, every single day, was grueling.

This writing felt like work. There was no joy in the process of me pulling those words from myself. I felt like I was completing a homework assignment rather than writing for the joy.

Many writing articles will tell you to push yourself to write even if you don’t feel like it. While it’s true that waiting around for the muse to show up is usually not good practice, everyone has a different process and forcing myself to do this each day was jarring.

What Comes Next after NaNoWriMo?

So let’s say you’re close to finishing your 50,000 words or you’re already done. What next?

  • Decide Whether to Finish the Book
    You don’t have to choose right away, but sometimes we need time away from a project before we re-visit it. You can always file this project away and come back to it later.
  • Watch Out for Burnout
    Even if you loved the experience of working on your manuscript and it thrills you, take a week to digest what you’ve written after NaNo ends.
    (Note from Jami: Here are my burnout recovery tips.)
  • Check for Holes
    Jot down plot points you think a book might need, such as a scene here or a description there.

    • Is there any research or some other gaps you need to fill in? Try to address some of those points that came up while you were writing.
  • Analyze Your Habits
    If you don’t already, keep a journal of your weekly progress during NaNoWriMo. Use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to mine data on your writing habits and find out how you work best.

    • Is there a time of day that you’re most productive?
    • Have you been skipping meals? Do you need to get better about snacking?
    • Do you write better with music or silence?
  • Let the Story Sit
    You may feel tempted to rush off your 50,000 words to beta readers, a critique group, or an editor. Let the words percolate for a week or two or however long it takes for you to feel more settled.

    • See if you can spot plot holes or things you think beta readers might pick up on.
    • Make a list of issues to flag for your critique partners and ask them about specific sections that you’re not sure about.
  • If You’re Not Sure the Story Is Salvageable…
    Before you completely abandon ship, sleep on it for a week or two and then show your NaNo manuscript to a critique partner. Ask them if they think there’s enough potential to continue the project. While you are ultimately the one who makes that call, it can be useful to get feedback to help you make a decision.

Before Diving into Revisions and Editing…

Editing a huge swath of words is a daunting task for any writer, whether beginning or advanced. It can be overwhelming if you set yourself the task of editing the entire 50,000 words in December (and remember that with the holidays and all that jazz, you’ll probably only have about two weeks to get any serious work done before everything starts to get out of hand, so do keep that in mind).

Instead of telling yourself that you’re going to finish editing or revising the 50,000 words as soon as possible or getting it in your head to rush that process, formulate a revision and editing plan.

List the major gaps you’ll have to address in the manuscript, e.g. expanding setting or character descriptions in specific parts of the book, or filling in research holes that you know need more work.

A good trick is to keep a notebook (or electronic document) of items as you’re writing in November of things you know you’ll need to address in the future.

This can help to make sure you move forward with your manuscript and don’t get caught up fixing minor things that don’t really matter during this stage and that can be addressed later when you’ve done the heavy lifting of the writing itself.

*****

anita-sirakiA.E. Siraki hails from the Great White North and writes dark and twisted tales. Her work has appeared in Murky DepthsDark Heroes (Pill Hill Press), Ghostlight Magazine, and others. She has written non-fiction for Geeks of DoomHellnotes, and Horror World.

When she doesn’t have her nose in a book or journal, she’s brushing up on her French, extolling the virtues of the Oxford comma, and catching up on her favourite shows from across the pond.

Find A.E. at:
Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

siraki-header-2

*****

Thank you Anita! I’ve definitely had more success with NaNo some years than others, and you’ve done a great job at capturing the variety of complicated emotions we might encounter as we reach the end of the month.

Some years, I’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment…but then promptly fell into burnout territory. Other years, I’ve struggled to feel happy with my words and wondered why I bothered.

There’s no one reaction we might feel, and too many blog posts on the topic take a definitive stance on the “right” way to NaNo which can lead to creating even more complicated emotions on the subject.

No matter our situation, we’re not alone in experiencing our struggle (good or bad) with NaNo. Sometimes knowing that others have experienced similar struggles can help us feel better about what we manage to accomplish despite those obstacles. *smile*

For those of you who have participated in NaNoWriMo before and “won,” did it spur you to keep going or were you exhausted by the end of November? Do you have any tips or suggestions to deal with the post-NaNoWriMo blues? Why did you decide to participate (or not) in 2016? Do you have any questions for Anita?

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The Best Reason to Blog — 2016 Edition

by Jami Gold on November 24, 2016

in Random Musings

Table set for Thanksgiving with text: Sharing Connections

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. The day we eat too much food, roll our eyes at the antics of our extended family, and think about all the things we’re grateful for. Or in my case, try not to let my pending NaNoWriMo loss dampen my enjoyment of the day. *sob*

(Eh, since I didn’t even decide which story I was going to write until just before NaNo—meaning I didn’t complete the necessary research in advance—I’m not surprised I’m doing as poorly as I am. Especially as the election chaos has been a huge distraction this year too. *shrug*)

This Thanksgiving post is now an annual tradition on my blog. Six years ago, I revealed that the best reason for me to blog is all of you.

The post five years ago reiterated that point with my gratitude for all the friends I’ve made via blogging and social media. Four years ago, I confessed my love of the blogging format because of the connections possible. Three years ago, I revealed that blogging for you pushes me—in a good way. Two years ago, I expressed my gratitude for the connections we make despite meeting only online. And last year, I noted how much sharing those connections added meaning to my life.

And gee, what a surprise! All of you are still the best reason to blog! *smile*

The Different Types of Connections

One sad thing about this year is how much the U.S. election season has divided families. I know the Thanksgiving holiday will be difficult for many this year.

This wasn’t a “politics as usual” election. And while some are hopeful the changes will be good, others are terrified about what the results say about—or mean for—our country, our friends, and our family.

At a time when too many are experiencing hatred and attacks, we want a chance to come together and feel safe. Yet in some families, the division feels like betrayal or accusations. Many aren’t sure that divide will ever be healed—or if they even want to reach out for that healing.

If this is your situation this Thanksgiving, I’m sorry. I offer hugs and understanding.

For me, this experience has reiterated how important online connections are:

  • If we face a lack of understanding from our family, maybe we can find kindred spirits in our online community.
    Need to vent or share worries? Find those who won’t start conflicts.
  • If we want to heal the divide but don’t know where to start, we can curate who we follow to ensure we’re listening to the concerns of others.
    Follow those with different experiences—then listen and learn.
  • If we want to work toward a better future, our online connections probably have ideas and resources for what we can do.
    Even if we can’t heal our family, maybe we can fix other issues.

When we’re desperate to feel that sense of connection to others—and yet we have serious conflicts with family and friends—we might be able to expand our social bubble through the online community. On either side of most issues (but not all, see literal Nazis), there are reasonable voices we can learn from, which might give us ideas for how to approach other relationships we want to heal.

Personally, I purposely follow those I don’t agree with on social media because I want to learn. Depending on the issue, I might learn what we have in common, what I’m misinformed about, or—on the other side of the coin—what misleading arguments to watch out for.

Learning from Others

It’s that same thirst for knowledge that makes me so happy to share my blog with guest posters during NaNoWriMo month. I don’t know everything, and I’m only one perspective. But through the power of guest posts, we’ve been blessed to learn from others here.

I want to send out mega-thanks to all of my recent guest posters for sharing their knowledge and expertise:

…and next Tuesday, we’ll have:

Even though I’m not going to win NaNo, I’m still getting more words done on my story than I would have without their help. And even better, we all learned something beyond our experience because they chose to share what they know. Win-win!

So as you finish up NaNo or enjoy this weekend, just know that I’m most grateful to all of you and I hope you find peace with others. Thank you! *hugs internet*

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers
and Happy Thursday to everyone else. *smile*

During difficult times, have you ever turned to online connections for understanding? Have online connections helped you move forward after emotional setbacks? Do you purposely seek out other views and experiences to aid your learning? What connections are you most grateful for? Is there anything special you’re grateful for this year?

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When & How Should Series End? — Guest: Kassandra Lamb

November 22, 2016 Writing Stuff
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We’ve probably all heard the advice to create book series for better sales. We don’t hear nearly as much about the other end of equation: ending a series. Kassandra Lamb is here today to share tips on when and how we should end a series.

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Too Many Demands? Find Balance — Guest: Christina Delay

November 17, 2016 Writing Stuff
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The vast majority of people feel overly busy, which can make us lose sight of our big-picture goals and purpose in life. But Christina Delay is here to help us identify what we really want and visualize how we might need to re-prioritize our time to match our goals.

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7 Resources for History Research — Guest: K.B. Owen

November 15, 2016 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for 7 Resources for History Research — Guest: K.B. Owen

Many stories require research on settings, characters, careers, or a story premise. The difficulties increase if we need to reference non-contemporary details. Today, historical fiction author Kathy Owen shares her top resources for researching historical details.

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3 Acting Tips to Strengthen Our Voice — Guest: Libby Heily

November 10, 2016 Writing Stuff
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When writing, do you ever make the facial expressions of your characters? In that way, most writers are like actors, but other acting skills can help our writing too. Today, Libby Heily shares how we can deepen our characters, strengthen our voice, and sharpen our dialogue with acting skills.

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7 Steps to Making Envy Work for You — Guest: Red L. Jameson

November 8, 2016 Random Musings
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At some point in our writing journey, we’re likely to get discouraged, but we don’t have to stay that way. Yet overcoming discouragement can be a lot of work, so Red L. Jameson is here with us today to share how to turn envy into something that will give us strength and help us on our journey.

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