Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

FREE Writing Consultations For a Limited Time

Interested in starting a novel, short story, blog, essay, thesis? But you’re just not quite sure how? Or do you have a few questions about a piece of writing you’re working on? Want to go over title ideas? Writing help of any kind?

Thanks to the coronavirus and the current “shelter in place” order, I am currently giving away free 15 minute writing consultations for those subscribed to my mailing list! You’ll get advice, critiques, or just a listening ear, whatever you need as you write. Join my mailing list below if you haven’t yet (you’ll get exclusive content and opportunities like this)! Otherwise, check your emails soon to sign up for a time slot!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

5 Tips for Writing About Covid-19

It seems like everywhere I turn this past week, someone is writing about Covid-19. And I get it, there’s a lot to figure out and understand in this unprecedented time. People’s lives are being changed, whether they now have children at home for the next few weeks or they are working remote or their college classes are suddenly online or they are in quarantine or worse, they’re sick. It is a lot of change and everyone is trying to figure out and write about what comes next.

As bloggers and writers, we have a few things we should keep in mind. Below are my five steps to writing about Covid-19.

1. Fact Check

One of the most important things to do right now is fact-check your posts. If you are writing about statistics, accounts, cases, reactions, or ways to prevent, make sure you are using reliable sources. Right now is not the time to be using questionable resources to try and drive followers. (There is never a good time, let’s be real) Your followers will be implementing the ideas you write about, or telling these stories to friends, relatives, and acquaintances. You want them to be spreading true and helpful information, not something that could get someone sick or worse. Bonus points for linking all of your sources!

2. Keep your audience in mind

This is not the time to be dumping loads of information on your readers that is not relevant to their lives. Trust me, they are being overloaded right now. Make sure your articles are targeted specifically to your niche and audience. If you write about parenting, talk about things parents can do with their kids during this three week break. If you write about food, talk about meals that can be made with your regular staple ingredients. If you write about travel, talk about what travel looks like right now. Stay in your niche, as tempting as it is to post about anything and everything.

3. Share your story

Don’t be afraid to tell people that this is affecting you as well. People want authenticity and ideas. In blogging, it tends to be helpful if your audience relates to you, but especially now. Covid-19 is affecting you somehow. Don’t whine, but be factual. It can be a single post or it can be small tidbits to sprinkle in a bunch of posts, whatever feels natural.

4. Don’t try to break news

A blog or website is not the place for breaking news updates. People are receiving this through news sources and the posts will time out. There is little re-read value for these type of posts so you will see little traffic on them after the first few hours. Instead, write articles for your readers about what they can do in regards to the news being brought. If you’ve just been informed that K-12 schools are closing, talk about what parents can do. Don’t try to be the one to inform people that schools are closing.

5. Don’t make every article about Covid-19

Yes, Covid-19 is impacting many areas of life, but if the only thing your blog is talking about is Covid-19, people may stop listening. We are being inundated with information right now and that can be overwhelming. Try instead to have it be a single piece or something mentioned within your articles, rather than a focal point of your stories.

 

I hope these tips help as you write and continue to think about writing about Covid-19. If you have any other tips or thoughts, please share below in the comments!

Original Work, WordSmith Musings, writing

Twisted Tales: Writing a Fairy Tale

The classic fairy tales we grew up with have a place inside my heart. I love them and I’ve really come to love the new renditions of them in twisted tales. Some of my favorites include The Lunar Chronicles, Beastly, Spinning Silver, and Ella Enchanted.

They each tell tales we have heard before, but they continue to surprise and delight despite us knowing a vague outline of the plot. That feels even more masterful to me sometimes than normal writing.

In light of this, I’ve recently begun to create my own twisted tale based off from the classic tale of Rapunzel and the less classic version, Tangled. I have a propensity for strong female leads in my stories and Flora, a sweet young girl with hair that grows as she wills, has a strong heart and will have to learn to be more than she ever dreamed possible if she wants to escape the palace holding her prisoner. Caught in an epic battle between two countries, a prophecy, and two cocky princes, Flora and that magical hair of hers will turn the tides of war.

I haven’t gotten too far into the story, just an outline and a few chapters, but already I’m loving Flora. She loves feeling beautiful and yet hates being stared at by the thuggish men of court. She is strong enough to stand up for herself but needs help to learn that she’s strong enough to believe in herself too.

I’m currently still working out who our handsome prince will be. Besides a few quick lines, he’s mostly a vague imprint right now as Flora has yet to meet him. I want him to be fitting for a young, overly-confident prince who rides into danger and wants to rescue the damsel. But he has no idea what rescuing actually entails and that the damsel is a strong woman who isn’t swooning at the thought of his help. I’m sure that will have many great character building moments for me to choose from.

So begins my very own twisted tale. I’ll post excerpts once I have a bit more and I’ll let you know my progress.

Are there any twisted fairy-tales you really love? Or are you writing one of your own? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review, Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

Five Great YA Book Series To Get Lost In

I love a great written series of books where I get to follow the characters, fall in love with them, and see a much larger journey than any stand alone book can give.

BUT, I hesitate to start series I don’t know much about because they can be some big time commitments and, by the end, it might just not be that good. Well dear reader, I am here to help you with that! Here are five of my favorite series that you can’t go wrong with!

 

1. Heroes of Olympus

Now, Rick Riordan has a large amount of series that I would recommend. His original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is great, but the tone is for a slightly younger audience. His second series, still featuring Percy, but bringing in a slew of other characters and perspectives, is The Heroes of Olympus. This follows the Greek god Poseidon’s son and the Roman god Jupiter’s son in intertwining tales as they fall into each other’s world and must reconcile the two. With a phenomenal cast of characters that are diverse, fun, and courageous, this series weaves stories together to create a plot that is magical, fun, engaging, and will keep you on your toes!

 

2. The Inheritance Cycle

For fans of Lord of the Rings and DnD, I give you the Inheritance Cycle. Set in a medieval world filled with elves, shades, dragons, and men, we embark on one young farm boys adventure. Eragon discovers a dragon egg, which hatches to become the beautiful and fearsome Sapphira. As the evil king hunts for him, he learns he is one of the only dragon riders left. The four books build a fantastical world that is full of intricate politics and breathtaking magic. We get perspectives from other characters as well, two of my favorite. A young farmer fighting to save his love from evil beasts, who becomes a fearsome leader and warrior. We also get to see a young woman who becomes one of the rebel leaders and is forced to be tough but the perspective allows us to see the soft side as well. It’s masterfully done.  (Please feel free to ignore the movie Eragon, which doesn’t do the first book justice)

 

3. The Pendragon Series

Bobby is a normal high school kid until one day his adventurous uncle comes into town and whisks him away down a flume. Discovering that the world is much bigger than his one planet, Bobby travels to worlds all around Halla, attempting to stop the evil member of their order who is attempting to destroy each world. We read much of the story as letters/journals he is writing to his two friends back on Earth. This series is really interesting because each book sends us to a new and different world. We get to learn what makes this place interesting and different at the same time Bobby is. This has a few interesting and well developed relationships and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is ten books so if you’re just interested in checking it out, you can find the first book here.

 

4. The Lunar Chronicles

For anyone who loves sci-fi and classic fairy-tales, this is the series for you. Each book tells the twisted fairy tale, beginning with the classic Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg with the evil step-mother figure, the dreadful daughters, and a charming prince to boot. But, this is a technologically advanced world, with a colony on the moon full of people able to influence the mind. Each book follows a different heroine, but weaves together their stories. We will meet Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White). There’s also two short stories diving into our villians’ past. While each story has many of the key components from the classic fairy tale, the Lunar Chronicles will keep you guessing at the twists and turns. With four classic love stories to root for, this is a fun series to read.

 

5. Graceling Series

This series features strong woman learning to become more of who they are. Katsa is a fierce warrior, blessed as a Garceling, a person with an extreme talent. Katsa has been Graced with killing, which has led her to become the thug of her uncle, the King. But when strange things begin happening in her kingdom and those around, she meets people she never expected and uncovers a deadly secret. The second book travels over to a kingdom across the mountains, hidden from the Graceling Realm. There we follow Fire, an unbelievably beautiful woman with the ability to control the minds of people. We see her struggle with her power and the fiercely negative view everyone has of her in the kingdom. We’ll meet a familiar face from Graceling and root for Fire time and again. The third and final book brings us back to Graceling, following the young Queen from the first book. She’s smart and strong, but young and the pressures of the crown and her advisers is unrelenting in her kingdom being rebuilt. Disguising herself, she meets the rougher side of her city and learns that all is not what she thought. Each of these three women are strong in their own different ways and you’ll heart will relate to the struggles they go through.

 

There are probably dozens of other phenomenal series. What are some of your favorites? Add them in the comments below!

 

The above includes affiliate links. If you purchase something from them, I may receive a small part of the profit. My affiliation does not affect my recommendations tho. If you have any questions on this, please let me know. 

Book Review, WordSmith Musings, writing

Whatcha Reading? The Fellowship of the Ring: LOTR

I love a good adventure as much as the next gal but The Lord of the Rings series has to be one of the most well-known ones of all-time. Somehow, despite having watched the movies a dozen times, I’ve never actually read the books. My husband and some close friends have and finally I decided to pick up the large red book sitting on my bookshelf.

It has been a great decision.

The Fellowship of the Ring is an intriguing tale and the extended depth (or existence) of characters has been my favorite part. I am only halfway through (we’re about to head to Moria) so I can only speak to that part.

In the movies, two of my favorites were, of course, the silly, quirky, but ultimately brave Merry and Pippin. Tolkien has fleshed them out and given them much more in-depth personalities than I ever realized.

Merry, while still a fun hobbit, is actually quite the responsible fellow. Frodo doesn’t flee quite as quickly as I thought and instead “moves” to Buckland to throw off suspicion before he leaves for good. And who does he have help him buy and set up his home? That would be Merry. And when Frodo begins acting strange months before, who helps form the group of four hobbits who will keep him safe and look out for him? Again, Merry was integral in that. When he goes to the Prancing Pony, he doesn’t join in the revelry and it was actually Frodo who ends up dancing on the table tops. Merry stays in because it sounds like quite the ruckus and he actually discovers the Black Riders in Bree while on a quiet walk.

I wouldn’t have guessed that I would enjoy such a responsible version of Merry, but it has given him a depth I love. He is courageous and still light-hearted, but he isn’t foolish.

Pippin, on the other hand, is still the silly hobbit that we know and love. But, we get to see his big heart, his courage, and his loyalty to his friends so often that I couldn’t help but become even fonder of the fool of a Took.

As is often common (almost always), these books are proving to be even better than the phenomenal movies. I’ll let you know when I finish, but I hope you get a chance to read it yourself!

I’m reading the whole collection, which you can find here. If you just want to check out the Fellowship of the Ring, you can find that here.

WordSmith Musings, writing

Looking for an affordable and experienced editor for your novel?

Writing is a long and difficult process. So when you make it to the end and finally have a finished draft of your novel, there will be a huge sense of relief…and confusion. What does the next step look like? Now that you’ve got this done, how do you keep going?

Most likely, you want to get that novel published, whether through a traditional publishing company or using the various self-publication methods available. Either way, the next step needs to be finding an editor.

Before your work of art can go on to publishing, you will need someone to go through your manuscript to spot any inconsistencies in plot, character, and themes. You need someone willing to work with you to polish your novel and help it become a finished product ready to head on towards the world of publishing!

As an editor, I have a simple but effective process. I always believe you should begin with an initial read-through. Get a sense of the entire novel before you start in with a red pen. Once that’s been completed, I open the manuscript in GoogleDocs or some other similar platform to be able to leave clear comments in the margins that the author can actually read. I also create a document outside of the manuscript that categorizes my comments for the ease of the author. After that, I like to sit down one-on-one (in person or over video chat) to discuss my recommendations. I never want to tell you what you must do and any point should be a conversation. By the end, I want you to feel that you understand my critiques and feel confident moving forward.

If you are interested in having your book edited, please reach out below. I want to make sure everyone is able to create their masterpiece so I am able to work with each author individually on pricing.

I look forward to reading some fabulous manuscripts!

WordSmith Musings, writing

10 Classic Novels to Read in 2020

1.Pride and Prejudice

For anyone who has ever felt awkward in love, there is character you will relate to. This witty, charming, and flirty book will have you laughing from the first chapter! This is maybe my favorite classic of all time!

 

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee weaves a harrowing tale of racial discrimination and the law set from the eyes of a spunky child. Scout’s adventures are as entertaining as they are poignant. 

 

3. 1984

This novel is not for the faint of heart. This book was written in 1949 predicting what a terrifying 1984 could look like if we weren’t careful. Big Brother is always watching and they decide everything, even down to what you think. This book will make you think about censorship, control, and liberty in a whole new light. 

 

  1. White Fang

Follow the tale of a lonely wolfdog, we see the harsh life of the North, cruel people who only know how to mistreat, and kindness that can win the darkest heart. I highly recommend. 

 

5. Jane Eyre

Looking for a mystery wrapped up in a romance? Or maybe a heroine every girl can relate to? Jane is a very plain woman and, despite the harshness of those around her, grows into a kind woman. She begins to work for Mr. Rochester and the mystery of his past and their future will keep you on your toes!

 

  1. Frankenstein

Dr. Frankenstein heads down a dark path as he begins to explore the darker sides of science. His monster thread of the story will have you questioning what the term ‘monster’ really means. Intriguing and gothic, this novel will have you up for hours to finish. 

 

7. Great Expectations

Pip’s struggle from poverty to riches and the complications from pretty girls, criminals, and old, creepy women make for a rich tale. Dickens certainly know how to create vibrant characters and this novel is littered with them.

 

 

  1. The Horse and His Boy

A powerful tale of a young impoverished boy and a Talking Horse escaping dreary lives of slavery to reach Narnia and freedom. This epic within the Chronicles of Narnia is a great read whether you’ve read the rest or not!

 

9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Join Huck on his adventures doing the Mississippi River with Jim, a slave seeking freedom. From ridiculous boyhood adventures to moving moments, this book is a great American classic. 

 

 

  1. Midsummer’s Night Dream

Shakespeare of course makes the list. Midsummer’s Night Dream is a fanciful and entertaining tale of two worlds colliding; the human and the fey. With love stories all amiss and shenanigans ensuing, no one will be the same after this night!

 

 

 

All links associated with the images and list are affiliate links. I may make a small portion of the proceeds. If you have any questions regarding this, please reach out to me via my contacts page. 

Book Review, WordSmith Musings, writing

Whatcha reading? Narnia edition

This month I’ve dove back into the classic Narnia series. I read them when I was about 12 or so and really enjoyed them. At the start of the New Year, I was trying to figure out what to read next (a daunting question as I stare at the numerous books on my shelves that I’ve bought over the years).

Image result for narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia caught my attention. I had watched the movies recently and so I knew a few of them well. And I had read the Magician’s Nephew for a class. But The Silver Chair, The Last Battle? It had been years and I honestly couldn’t really remember what happened!

So I began in the original order they were published. I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Then came Prince Caspian. Next was Voyage of the Dawn Treader. After that was The Silver Chair. And I’m just now finishing up the Horse and His Boy.

The Horse and His Boy is one of my all time favorites. It details the adventure of a young boy and a Talking Horse escaping a life of hardships to find freedom in Narnia. There’s adventures and excitement and some of my favorite characters pop back up from the other books. But what I think strikes me so much is how much we can see Aslan working in this boy’s life and, until the end, he has no clue. This idea resonated with me.

I also find the story of an orphan nobody who discovers that he is loved and has a great family is heartwarming and feel-good. Plus, the villians are harrowing, the heroes relatable, and the story just plain fun.

I highly recommend all of the Chronicles of Narnia, but definitely the Horse and His Boy!

What are you reading right now? Any recommendations for my next book? Put it in the comments below!

Affiliate links have been included in this post. This means if you purchase a book with the link provided, I may receive a small payment. If you have any questions regarding this policy, please reach out to me on my contact page.

Tips and Tricks, WordSmith Musings, writing

World Building Made Easy: Notebook AI Review

Today I’m reviewing Notebook AI, a world building site for writers, RPG players, and anyone else interested in creating a world.

Maybe some of you have heard of Notebook AI. If you haven’t, let me tell you more. (If you have, skip to the next paragraph for my review). Notebook AI is a website that allows you to create a world and detail it out there to keep everything organized. You are able to create individual universes, in which can live a myriad of different things. In the free version, you can add unlimited characters, including their look, nature, socialness, history, family, inventory, pictures, and notes. You can add unlimited locations and unlimited Items, all with a large list of descriptors to help you visualize and categorize these parts of your story. The premium version adds in other categories such as creatures, jobs, governments, magics, and other helpful world building tools. On top of that, you can write within the program or add documents. In the premium version, they are also working on an AI that analyzes your writing for readability, clarity, and themes.

Now, you may wonder if Notebook AI is worth it. In my opinion, YES!

PSA: The links I have included have a referral code (aka if you sign-up, I might get a small profit), but honestly, whether or not you click that or type it into google, I highly recommend this program. Seriously, if you have qualms about referrals, check it out yourself and sign up for the free version. I recommend this on its merits alone.  Read below for the pros AND the cons of it. (I like to try to see both sides).

I began with the free version months ago and I felt like I got a chance to learn about my characters more in depth. They have numerous promptings under each category and I feel like I gained the ability to create a much more rounded character. And one that I can remember later while I’m writing. For a long time, I had a word document with each character listed out and a long blob of text to describe them. Every time I needed a small detail, I’d stop and read for five minutes, completely interrupting my flow. This fleshes it out and makes the information easy to access.

The ease of access is the second reason I would recommend it. It is organized well. You can get to each of your characters, locations, etc easily, it’s user friendly, and it encourages you to keep adding things from the home page. It has been phenomenal having everything in one place where I can quickly jump to. “What color was his hair?” “Was that scar on the right cheek or the left?” “Did that pommel have rubies or sapphires?” I have those answers and I didn’t spend twenty minutes searching my story  to get them.

Another great feature, which I mentioned above in my description, is the writing portion. You can upload documents and write on them right in the program. And for premium users, you’re able to have an AI analyze it for you. I learned how many times each character’s name appeared, who the story seemed to focus on, the themes it could see. And this is still being tested so it isn’t perfect but it gave me a good outside perspective of my story that I sometimes have a hard time getting elsewhere. Who else is going to tell me that the current emotion felt most often by my characters is sadness? It also let me know the readability of my story by age range which was helpful to gauge my audience when I begin to look towards publishing.

Finally, in the same writing section is a feature called ‘prompts’. You can go to that and it’ll just prompt you to answer more questions about the world you’ve already built. “Who was Amel’s father?” “What year was Callaway City founded?” These things that you may not have had an answer to right when you created it but you can now think about and create. It’s a really fun way to spend an hour, just beefing up your story. (For me, it tends to be a killer way to get past writer’s block while staying in the story).

As with every program, this one isn’t perfect though. There are a few flaws that I’ve noticed and I don’t want you to go in blind. First, creating multiple universes is easy (five in free version and unlimited in premium) but it can sometimes get confusing. Each character, location, item, etc is tagged with a certain universe. But when you go look at the ‘Character’ sheet, it doesn’t automatically sort that out for you.  Each section helpfully allows you to search by universe and other tags. But you have to choose to sort or otherwise you just get one long list of every character in every universe. A few of my characters have accidentally made jumps from one to another because I wasn’t paying enough attention.

Second, some of the really cool features are premium features. The extra world building pages (creatures was the one I really wanted) are all premium. Free does give you unlimited characters, locations, and items, which sustained me for many months and through a lot of short stories. But I finally did have to bite the bullet and go to premium for the extra content. The AI function is also a premium feature which wasn’t really in my original consideration, but I have loved since discovering.

The plus side of premium is that it is only between $7-$9 a month (depending on if you’re billed monthly or yearly). Seriously, you can skip two lattes a month and be able to enhance your worlds. Completely worth it to me (and I really love lattes).

So, to sum everything up, I recommend Notebook AI. It is a helpful tool for writers to assist as you build, maintain, and add vibrancy to your stories. It has been revolutionary in my writing!

Sign up here if you’re ready to try out Notebook AI for yourself.

If I missed any pros or cons, please let me know. Again, the links are referrals for me (so if you like this review, I would ask you use them) but if they throw you off at all, check it out for yourself and enjoy the more vibrant world you’ll get because of it!

Thanks!