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1. NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Use Strong Metaphors

Writers are often advised to “show, not tell.” That’s why metaphors can be so very helpful.

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “The Art of The Metaphor.” When it comes to crafting a strong metaphor, keep in mind that “a metaphor isn’t true or untrue in any ordinary sense; metaphors are art, not science.”

This is our eighteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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2. NaNoWriMo Tip #17: 3 Skills to Help With Writing Dialogue

What helps to bring characters to life? Dialogue!

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “Three Anti-Social Skills to Improve Your Writing.” Educator Nadia Kalman prescribes the following skills:

(1) Eavesdropping.

(2) Treat fake people (a.k.a. your characters) as though they were real human beings.

(3) Mutter to yourself.

This is our seventeenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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3. NaNoWriMo Tip #16: Write What You Don’t Know

Do you want to take your NaNoWriMo story in an unfamiliar direction? Back in 2013, Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz headlined a “Live From the NYPL” event.

The video embedded above features the entire conversation. During the discussion, Morrison shared this thought:

“I tell my students; I tell everybody this. When I begin a creative writing class I say, I know you’ve heard all your life, ‘Write what you know.’ Well I am here to tell you, You don’t know nothing. So do not write what you know. Think up something else. Write about a young Mexican woman working in a restaurant and can’t speak English. Or write about a famous mistress in Paris who’s down on her luck.”

This is our sixteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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4. Hey indie ebook authors, here’s how to succeed

Smashwords

Smashwords

Attention, indie ebook authors. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to be you. He writes, “Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.”

Then, the wake-up call. Coker goes on to report that “the gravy train of exponential sales growth is over,” with indie (self-published) authors seeing “significant” sales decline at Amazon, especially since the July launch of Kindle Unlimited. He had predicted the slowdown and attributes it to the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks, the increasing rate of ebook supply outpacing demand, and the slowing, much-discussed transition from print to ebooks.

However, all is not lost. He offers tips on how to succeed in this new ebook environment. You’ll want to see his entire piece at Smashwords, as space constraints require editing them down. Here is a short take on Mark Coker’s 20:

1. Take the long view; focus on aggressive platform building.
2. Good isn’t good enough. Are you bringing your best game?
3. Write more, publish more, get better.
4. Diversify your distribution.
5. Network with other indie authors.
6. Publish and promote multi-author box set collaborations; you can build your base.
7. Leverage professional publishing tools, like preorder, to your advantage.
8. Best practices; there are seven, and Mark gives a good summary in his blog. Your fellow indie authors pioneered these practices, so listen up.
9. You’re running a business: be nice, ethical, honest, and humble. It pays.
10. Pinch your pennies; practice expense control.
11. Manage your time.
12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.
13. Dream big dreams; aim high. Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
14. Be delusional.
15. Embrace your doubters.
16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success. Their success is your success.
17. Remember that past success is no guarantee of your future success.
18. Never quit.
19. Own your future.
20. Know that your writing is important.

I’ll just repeat that last one: Know that your writing is important.

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5. Oxford Dictionaries Team Creates a ‘Word of the Year’ Infographic

Oxford DictionariesEarlier this week, the executives behind the Oxford Dictionaries announced that “vape” was chosen as the 2014 Word of the Year. With the popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on the rise, usage of this word has increased.

Over at the OxfordWords blog, the team posted an infographic to share “the history of vape and why we’ve chosen it for Word of the Year – as well as looking at previous winners of Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year over the past decade.” We’ve embedded the entire graphic after the jump for you to explore further.
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6. NaNoWriMo Tip #15: Consult Cheat Sheets

blue color

NaNoWriMo participants can use all the help they can get! That’s why we encourage consulting with cheat sheets—check out these three links:

(1) Author’s Craft cheat sheet from the Hello Literacy blog (via Shannon Ford’s pinterest board)

(2) The Hero’s Journey map from Storyboard That

(3) Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus

This is our fifteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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7. NaNoWriMo Tip #4: 3 Methods to Trigger Story Ideas

Oliver Jeffers 200Before one word is written down, every National Novel Writing Month project starts with a single idea. The question now becomes, what methods can writers use to trigger story ideas? We’ve collected a list of three helpful methods.

1. The Huffington Post suggests giving “freewriting” a try. This exercise entails that people write without adhering to any sort of structure or restrictions which can induce creativity.

2. SHOUTmkt’s infographic, “Simple Ideas to Stimulate Creativity,” recommends that writers “do something different.” The intention behind this act is to break up monotony and allow for new notions to surface.

3. Don’t be a stickler to a schedule and always carry something to write with! When we sat down for an interview with children’s book creator Oliver Jeffers (pictured, via), he pointed out that “you can’t plan creativity.”

This is our fourth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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8. NaNoWriMo Tip #5: Start With a Memorable Introduction

How should you start your NaNoWriMo project? Locking down a memorable introduction may be the best course of action.

The animated video above features a TED-Ed lesson called “The Power of a Great Introduction.” Towards the end, educator Carolyn Mohr shares this warning: “If you’re bored while writing, your reader will be bored while reading.”

This is our fifth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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9. NaNoWriMo Tip #6: Get Comfortable With Telling Lies

When author Mac Barnett gave a talk at TEDx SonomaCounty, he described his occupation as writing “honest lies” for children. Barnett is not the first (nor will he be the last) to point out that being an artist sometimes requires spinning a few tall tales.

To help NaNoWriMo participants get in the right mind frame, we’ve embedded an animated video above that focuses on “The Language of Lying.” We’ve also collected three tips from this TED-Ed lesson:

(1) “Liars reference themselves less when making deceptive statements.”

(2) “Liars tend to be more negative.”

(3) “Liars typically explain events in simple terms.”

This is our sixth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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10. NaNoWriMo Tip #7: Always Carry a Notepad

evernoteIdeas can come at any time. All writers, that certainly includes NaNoWriMo participants, should get in the habit of carrying around a notepad to jot down their thoughts at a moment’s notice.

These days, there are other ways to doodle and scribble besides using pen and paper. The Evernote team recently released the Penultimate app for iOS mobile device users; the developers made it a mission to give users the “most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad.”

This is our seventh NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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11. NaNoWriMo Tip #8: Follow The Hero’s Journey

How does one craft a hero? Scholar Joseph Campbell studied thousands of myths and found that a number of them follow a pattern that he calls the “hero’s journey.”

In the animated video above, educator Matthew Winkler explains this concept in detail. This TED-Ed lesson provides examples of famous characters whose stories follow the “hero’s journey” including Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, and Frodo Baggins.

This is our eighth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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12. NaNoWriMo Tip #9: Banish Away Self-Doubt

tiny buddhaThe Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, a London-based company, asked 25 authors to describe their writing habits. Journalist Adrian Addison confesses that he has to constantly battle “that voice in my head, that bastard who tells me…Who the f’k you think you are, Shakespeare?”

Many human beings claim to share Addison’s plight with their own internal “Debbie Downer.” For the writers who are working away at their NaNoWriMo projects, this judgmental voice can be a great hindrance. We’ve rounded up three recommendations from Tiny Buddha on how to cast away self-doubt:

(1) Identify and ease your doubts.

(2) Trust and love yourself.

(3) Give yourself permission to try…and try again.

This is our ninth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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13. NaNoWriMo Tip #10: 3 Ways to Tackle Writer’s Block

Murakami QuoteEven the most seasoned authors tangle with writer’s block. We’ve collected five methods to help with this affliction so that NaNoWriMo participants can continue to progress with the projects.

(1) iPad users can try out the “Unstuck” app to access digital tools and encouragement from an empathetic community.

(2) Grammy Award winner Sting was able to beat his writer’s block by drawing inspiration from other people’s stories. The memory of the the shipyard workers he knew from his youth lead him to write the songs for The Last Ship musical.

(3) American Born Chinese graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang forces himself to write “horrible, amateurish, grammatically incorrect, barely comprehensible sentences.” At some point, “ the decent sentences start coming out.”

This is our tenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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14. NaNoWriMo Tip #11: 3 Ways to Use Dramatic Irony

Is your National Novel Writing Month plot stuck? Maybe you need to add in a little irony.

The TED-Ed team partnered with educator Christopher Warner to create videos about both verbal irony and dramatic irony (embedded above). Below, we’ve rounded up three tips on how to incorporate dramatic irony into a story.

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15. NaNoWriMo Tip #13: Practice Positive Psychology

How well one maintains a positive outlook could make or break a NaNoWriMo project. Shawn Achor, a positive psychology expert, gave a TED talk called “The Happy Secret to Better Work.”

In the video embedded above, Achor recommends setting aside at least 20 minutes every day for the following five activities: identifying three reasons for gratitude, exercise, meditation, writing in a journal, and performing acts of kindness. What methods do you use to cultivate happiness?

This is our thirteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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16. Scribner Launches a New Online Magazine

ScribnerScribner, an imprint at Simon & Schuster, has launched a new digital publication called Scribner Magazine.

Here’s more from the press release: “Inspired by the publisher’s celebrated sister publication Scribner’s Magazine (1887-1939), but reimagined for the 21st century reader, Scribner Magazine will feature original writing and interactive media, along with written and audio book excerpts, photo galleries, author-curated music playlists, bookseller reviews, and articles that offer a glimpse inside the world of publishing. Scribner Magazine also integrates Scribner’s popular Twitter feed, and the site highlights current Scribner book news and author events, so consumers can stay informed about their favorite writers.”

The first issue features a diverse range of content such as rare photographs from the publication of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: The Hemingway Library Editionan audio recording of the “Something That Needs Nothing” short story written and read by Miranda July, and pieces from several high profile contributors. Novelist Anthony Doerr wrote an essay about the writing process for All The Light We Cannot See, actor James Franco reveals how he became a writer in an essay, and Betsy Burton, a bookseller from The King’s English Bookshop, penned a review of Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín.

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17. NaNoWriMo Tip #14: Pare Down the Districtions

lifehackNaNoWriMo participants have 10 more days to complete their projects. To give writers that extra edge, we suggest paring down distractions.

According to lifehack.org, some methods that can help with reducing distractions include: cleaning up one’s workspace, arranging some alone time, and setting a timer for both writing and breaks. Do you have any further suggestions to add?

This is our fourteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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18. Oxford Dictionaries Names ‘Vape’ Word of the Year

Oxford DictionariesThe Oxford Dictionaries have chosen “vape” as the Word of the Year for the United States.

According to the OxfordWords blog, this word “originated as an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize. The OxfordDictionaries.com definition was added in August 2014: the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device,’ while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.”

As electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) rise in popularity, linguists predict that usage of word will only continue to increase. Some of the words that made it to the short list include “budtender,” “normcore,” and “slacktivism.” In past years, the organization picked “selfie,” “gif,” and “refudiate” to receive this honor.

 

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19. Delilah S. Dawson: ‘Let it get gross, let it get weird, and figure out later how far to take it depending on the final genre.’

Delilah S. DawsonHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

Recently, we spoke with Delilah S. Dawson, an author and associate editor at the Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech websites. We discussed her new novel, Servants of the Storm. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: The old-fashioned way: after a psychotic break.

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20. Andi Watson: ‘Working hard and having fun hopefully go hand in hand…’

Andi WatsonHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

Throughout his career, cartoonist Andi Watson has written and illustrated dozens of comics and graphic novels. Right now, Watson is working on a spooky children’s story called Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: Because I’m a cartoonist, my first opportunity of being published came through physically mailing my mini-comics to publishers. Six months after sending them out a company called Slave Labor Graphics agreed to publish me. This was a good two decades ago when publishers would look at unsolicited submissions without needing to sign legal disclaimers. Having said that, after experiencing something of the book publishing world, it’s still an awful lot easier to make contact with graphic novel publishers than it is in the traditional prose world. Putting work online and attending cons is a good way to make contacts. As in all areas of work, it helps to know people.

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21. Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz: ‘As my mother always taught me, perfect is the enemy of good.’

CristinHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

We sat down with writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (pictured, via) to discuss her new biography, Dr Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. This book explores the life of Thomas Dent Mütter who is arguably one of the most eccentric medical innovators in history; his namesake museum in Philadelphia has long been considered a hot spot for horror fans. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: I had put together a proposal for my book, Dr Mütter’s Marvels, and friend of mine — who had very successfully sold his debut novel to Random House — asked if he could show it to his agent. I thanked him but explained how it likely wasn’t a good idea. That my weird and fairly grotesque book was very different than his pop culture-infused sci-fi novel, and therefore his agent likely wouldn’t be interested in my proposal. My friend said, “Cristin, if your friend who just sold his novel to Random House asks if he can show your proposal to his agent, that answer is Yes! Thank You! and that’s it.”

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22. I.N.J. Culbard: ‘I do take the story apart and reconstruct it again…’

I.N.J CulbardHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

We sat down with comics creator I.N.J. Culbard to discuss his new graphic novel, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Culbard adapted the story from H.P. Lovecraft’s novel. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: Back in 2004 I was enrolled in The New Recruits programme set up by Dark Horse comics. I had two stories appear in an anthology there and a short while after that, 2000AD publisher Rebellion published a short strip of mine called “Monsters in The Megazine.” Following the work I did there I got in contact with artist D’Israeli, who put me in contact with a long time collaborator of his, Ian Edginton.

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23. Gene Luen Yang Acts as an Editor For His Brother-in-Law’s First Comic

Gene YangWhat does it take to create comics? Award winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang has been collaborating with his brother-in-law Luke to help him create his first comic book.

Gene has been offering guidance, suggesting exercises, and essentially acting as an editor for Luke. The collaborators decided to chronicle the process on Gene’s blog “so other folks could see what the development of a comics creator looks like.”

Thus far, three episodes have been posted. Gene’s own editor Mark Siegel, the editorial director of First Second Books, chimed in with a tip in the comments section of the first post. We’ve collected three pieces of advice below so that other writers can glean from Gene’s wisdom.

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24. NaNoWriMo Tip #2: Get Some Pep

Kami GarciaNeed some pep in your step? Every year, the organizers behind National Novel Writing Month reach out to authors to write “pep talks” so that participants can turn to a source of encouragement as they work on this daunting task.

Some of the writers who have contributed essays this year include Divergent trilogy author Veronica Roth250 Things You Should Know About Writing author Chuck Wendig, and Beautiful Creatures series co-author Kami Garcia (pictured, via). Here’s an excerpt from Garcia’s piece:

“Give your friend Doubt a name, and then block his calls. I’m not a fast writer. I type with three fingers, and there’s a video on YouTube to prove it. The way I finish my novels is one word at a time. Don’t focus on 50,000 words or 30 days. Just write one word at a time, and focus on hitting your word-count goal one day at a time.”

This is our second NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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25. NaNoWriMo Tip #3: Plant Some Greenery On Your Desk

desk plantWhen tackling a difficult project, looking after one’s well-being can mean the difference between success and failure. If you are trying to write a NaNoWriMo book, perhaps it’s time to put down a plant on your desk.

Scientific research suggests that adding a little greenery to your work environment could help with improving and maintaining wellness. Some of the healthy benefits include clean air, stress reduction, and better focus.

Here’s more from The Huffington Post: “Research shows that keeping plants at our desks can boost our well-being at work – something that’s desperately needed when we hit that 3 p.m. slump each day. Plus, there’s a plethora of research showing that spending time in nature or amidst the color green can lift our moods and boost creativity. With so many perks, why not bring those benefits indoors?”

This is our third NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month. (Photo Credit: thechosenrebel)

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