My 10 Favorite Reads of Fall 2016 (+ Win Your Choice in a Giveaway!)

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When I announced in September that I was reducing my blogging schedule, I knew that change would mean ending the monthly Recent Reads series. But I didn’t want to walk away from the idea of discussing books we’ve recently read. Then I read Leanne Sowul’s summer reading round-up here, and inspiration sparked. Why not do a seasonal reading recap – and also make it fun for my readers?

So, today I’ll share my 10 favorite reads from Fall 2016 (September through November). What you’ll find after the jump aren’t reviews, but rather blurbs that mention why I enjoyed each book with links to my full reviews at Goodreads and Amazon. As for the fun part: The title says it all, so stay tuned for the Rafflecopter link and instructions at the end of this post!😉
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Chronicling The Craft: Six Writing Lessons I Learned While Working On My WIP

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Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today we finish our celebration of the end of Draft #3 with a tips-oriented post.

Working on a novel is a learning experience in and of itself. You’ll make right and wrong decisions, figure things out, and find ways of improving the story. You’ll also absorb tips away from the WIP via blog articles, workshops, and literary conferences. That “self-teaching” can double – or even triple – your knowledge about writing between Day 1 of Draft #1 and The End of Draft #3. And after wrapping up my WIP’s third draft, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned about the craft of writing and about myself as a writer.

So, the last Chronicle for Draft #3 isn’t exactly a tips-oriented post. Instead, it’s a retrospect of discoveries I’ve made since I started working on The Keeper’s Curse (or TKC). Perhaps these lessons might help you on your own writing journey (or maybe you’ve already embraced them). Then, at the end, I’d love to know what you have learned about yourself or your process from any of your writing projects.🙂
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Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 Is DONE!!

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Plus, the Final Five-Song Reveal from the WIP’s Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post marks the end of Draft #3 with a final progress report and more songs from TKC’s novel playlist.

Well, the title gives it away… but this happened 2 weeks ago!!

So, yes, TKC is done for the third time, and 2 weeks before my “soft” deadline of November 20th. Since then, I’ve been feeling… well, a weird mix of emotions. Relief. Accomplishment. Excitement-anxiety-nausea over the upcoming beta-reader phase.  Also, a sense of “What do I do with myself now?”. You get used to weeks and months to doing something on most weeknights and weekends, and when it’s done you’re almost at a loss. But I won’t let myself flounder for long, and I’ll explain why shortly.

You know what else this means? It’s DANCING PIKACHU TIME!!

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Now, here’s the final progress for Draft #3, as well as the final five-song reveal from TKC’s novel playlist.🙂
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First WHW Resident Writing Coach Post Is Live!

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My first post as a Resident Writing Coach at Writer Helping Writers is live! I decided to offer tips on an aspect of the writing process that all writers struggle with: our “inner editor.” You know, that voice inside your head that can make you question your every writing-related decision and discourage you to the point of distraction. But our inner editor doesn’t always criticize or doubt us. In fact, its advice can sometimes be helpful. It’s all a matter of recognizing when and why we should listen to it.

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The Power and Importance of Compassion in Literature

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I’ve been thinking about compassion lately. It’s impossible not to, with everything that’s going on in our world. Terrorist attacks, increased racial tensions, insensitivity toward other minority groups, and the most vitriolic U.S. presidential election I can remember (notice the timing of this post, fellow Americans?)… From a social perspective, 2016 has been a bleak year, and I’m deeply worried about where we as a society are heading.

But let’s not discuss politics. Instead, let’s focus on a topic that I think many of us will agree on: the power of compassion in literature. By compassion, I mean moments when characters show kindness, mercy, and similar qualities. These actions can draw us closer to those characters, move us to tears, and make those stories all the more memorable. And during these turbulent times in our world, finding – and writing – stories that demonstrate compassion may be more important than ever.

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Using Archetypes to Learn More About You and Your Characters

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One of my favorite blog series is Ariel Hudnall’s Archetypes in Literature, a collection of essays on the archetypes conceived by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and examples of each in literature, film, and television. I can’t remember if what followed next happened in a comment one of her Archetype posts, or in a side conversation on my blog… But she introduced me to Archetypes.com, which features a quiz that helps visitors discover their unique blend of archetypes.

So, I took the quiz. And as soon as I got my answers, the “writerly” wheels started turning in my head.😉

You see, archetypes can help us understand our own behavior patterns as well as those of our characters. It’s sort of like taking an MBTI test as your protagonist to see where she might fall on that spectrum. So, how can you use archetypes to learn more (or confirm what you already know) about yourself and your characters? Plus, how accurate are the quiz’s results? You might be pleasantly surprised.

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New DIY MFA Article on Friendship as a Literary Theme, Plus #WesleyWednesday on Twitter

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, November 3rd.)

I’ve been meaning to write a case study on friendship for my DIY MFA column for a while. And why not? Friendship has the power to change people’s lives in amazing ways – in real life, and in the stories we read. In fact, literature has shown us not only the ups and downs of these relationships, but also how they often defy boundaries such as age, race, and gender. And I couldn’t think of two better books to use as examples than Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because both explore this theme masterfully.

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Who Were the First Five Authors You Read in Your Favorite Genre?

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Looking back on the books and authors that introduced us to our favorite literary genres can be a fun trip down memory lane. That nostalgia can bear even more meaning for writers. Sure, those authors built the foundation for our reading tastes. But if we consider our “relationship” with their work closely, we can also discover how their stories or writing have influenced ours.

Today, let’s discuss the first five authors we read in our favorite literary genre, or the genre we prefer to write in. I’ll go first with my first five fantasy authors (since fantasy is more than just my great literary love), as well as one takeaway from each that has impacted my writing. Then, you can respond by either commenting on this post or writing about it at your own blogs. This isn’t just for fantasy writers, by the way. Book bloggers and avid readers of all genres are welcome to jump in – so, please do!

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.

Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.

So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading

What Do You Think?: E-Newsletters by Writers (Plus, A Quick Survey for You)

One of the most talked-about outreach tools for writers today is the email newsletter (or, e-newsletter). In fact, “start a newsletter” has been among the most suggested advice I’ve heard at Writer’s Digest Conference for the past two years – from authors, publicists, and publishing professionals alike. It seems valuable, especially since other writers have found success with them. Yet despite all the positive buzz, I’ve hesitated to create one.

Why? Well, up until now, it hasn’t been a priority. I’ve had enough going on that starting an e-newsletter would have taken time away from blogging and (more importantly) novel-writing. But now, with a slower blogging schedule and edits on the WIP’s third draft coming to a close, I have time to give it serious thought.

So, what are the benefits of an e-newsletter? What cautions should we keep in mind? Plus, I’m offering readers – yes, YOU – a chance to help me decide whether I should start my own e-newsletter and what content I may want to include. More details on that shortly.

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