How to Write a Great Short Story by Hayley Zelda

August 14, 2020

Short stories can be as impactful and moving as novels, sometimes even more because they are able to deliver a central message and achieve a lot through fewer words. 

Writing short stories is a great idea if you want to take risks and craft stories that may not work for longer works of fiction. It could also serve an excellent outlet to prepare yourself before writing your novel. However, writing short stories that would stand out and make an impact can be tricky if you are not used to it. You should consider following these writing tips and tricks to make your work better: 

Be sadist 

As the writer, you know your characters extremely well. You know what would challenge them and break them. Put them in those situations and highlight how their personalities and beliefs change as they overcome each one of those, to show your readers that your characters are multidimensional. 

Figure out what the conflict is and build around it 

One of the keys to crafting a good story is creating a compelling conflict. The plot and structure of your story is built around the conflict, so it should be established right after the main characters are introduced. It should also have a definite purpose, such as challenging the main characters and forcing them to change their values in order for them to grow and develop. 

Write as much as you can 

If you really want to be a better writer, you need to write as often as you can. Establish writing habits by blocking time off your calendar and try writing a flash fiction or poem everyday to gain a lot of experience quickly. You can even post your works on online platforms, as suggested by Sarah Baylor on her article evaluating poetry sites. 

Practice writing with a story structure 

A structure acts as the framework of your story. Creating one before writing, gives you an order in which you should tell your story and controls how you should write its major elements, including the plot, characters, settings, and theme. It makes writing a lot easier and helps you spot plot holes. It also allows you to see if your main characters have solid arcs that properly showcases their development. 

There are many kinds of story structure you could follow. One of them is the hero’s journey. It is a 17 stage structure that is loosely broken into 3 arcs—departure, initiation, and return—that is ideal for fantasy or science fiction stories. It starts off with the main character leaving his or her ordinary world to go off on an adventure to an unknown one and ends with him or her going back to the place where his or her journey began. 

Another ideal story structure is the Story Circle. It is a story structure devised by Dan Harmon, the creator of the animated series Rick and Morty. It is loosely based on the hero’s journey, but it is more focused on the character’s development rather than his or her adventure, making it easier to apply to a wider range of short stories. 

Practice writing from different points of views 

A short story needs to have a strong point of view to capture the attention of readers quickly. Right from the start, you should know what it is you want to say with your story and what you want people to feel or think as they read it. In order to develop a strong point of view, you can practice writing in first person, second person and third person. This would change your writing style and help you figure out the best way to write your story. 

Read often 

According to Stephen King, if you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. This is because a well-read writer tends to have better vocabulary and eye for detail than others. He or she could easily spot awkward phrasing and grammatical and spelling errors, because he or she is used to analyzing words. If you do not have time to read longer fiction, you can read short stories on different websites. 

Post stories online and get feedback 

With the increase of technology and online writing platforms, getting critiques and feedback is easy nowadays. You can post your short stories to various websites, such as Commaful and Wattpad, so that readers and other writers from all over the world could read your work and give you helpful comments.

Wrapping Up 

Having the ability to write great short stories is a powerful skill to have because it allows you to share your message to others through just a limited number of words. As Neil Gaiman says, “Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They’re journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.”

Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She's written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.
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You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas: My Review

August 7, 2020

I love it when books take me to a totally new place. Recently I was approached by author Damyanti Biswas to review her book "You Beneath Your Skin." The crazy thing is I also follow her blog so I was so honored she even reached out to me! I was swept away by her book and so excited to share my reading experience with you.

First, a bit about her "You Beneath Your Skin" book, courtesy of the author:

It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all …

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.

My Review:

This story caught me immediately. I felt so invested in the lives of the characters. Thanks to Damyanti's incredible eye for detail in her writing, you get a close eye into the underbelly of New Delhi. It was shocking to read the horrible violence done against women.

In addition to the strong characters and vivid setting, I loved the language and words she used throughout. It gave me a glimpse into a world I know so little about. At the heart of the story is a mystery but it's also a raw, dark story that left me troubled at times. Yet I couldn't put it down.

I definitely recommend this book. All author proceeds from this book go to two New Delhi nonprofits that work for the empowerment of women and children: Stop Acid Attacks and Project WHY.

You can purchase it on or be sure to add this to your GoodRead's list too!

Also, I highly recommend you follow Damyanti's blog. She's an incredible writer. Follow her here.

About the Author

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi's underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organisations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog.

She also sends out monthly newsletters with book recommendations and writing resources, which you can grab here.

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Finding My Form in Writing #IWSG

August 5, 2020

These past few years have been a transforming process in my writing. Several years ago, I would have said that I despised the revising process. That the first draft was all that I enjoyed. Now, I can see the joy in shaping a piece into something new. I've let go of the idea that a story must stay in its existing shape to have meaning. Stories need to change sometimes and I like that.

Today's question with the Insecure Writer's Group caught me and I wanted to take the time to reflect. 

I really enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction pieces. That's the form my writing has taken these days. Ten years ago, I may have thought I'd be here with writing. I thought for sure I would embrace the life of a novelist.

The reason I love writing short stories and have been drawn to them time and time again is that they are immediate. I can play out a scene quickly. I also love trying out new types of settings and stories. 

I don't tend to write a genre in advance, but I do tend to embrace genres that have their toe dipped in the weird. I don't tend to do this intentionally. Sometimes it happens in the first draft and other times it happens in later drafts that I find the weird in my piece.

Choosing a form in writing isn't always easy. I never thought I'd be a short story writer. Yet here I am. I also thought I'd be far more into horror story writing but that isn't the direction I go with my writing. In fact, themes emerge in my writing of people doing good for others. I think that's a sign that my faith in God has really shaped my writing. I like seeing that a lot.

How have your stories taken form? What genres are you pulled towards?

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What's in a Name? by Author Pamela Taylor

July 15, 2020
I am so excited that author Pamela Taylor is here today at my blog. She'll be talking about naming her characters! Her book Pestilence is currently on a blog tour with WOW! Women on Writing. First, here's a little bit about her book: 

At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred - the eponymous second son - must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?

Be sure to add this to your GoodReads reading list! And now for Pamela's guest post on naming characters:
One of the great delights of being a writer is choosing names for our characters. But when those characters lived over six hundred years ago, we also have to pay attention to what people were actually called in those times.

I really had great fun finding period-appropriate names for the Second Son Chronicles. The kingdoms in which the events of the Chronicles play out bear some resemblance to northern Europe, so that’s how I framed my search for suitable names. Some names seem to have been with us in more or less the same form for more than a millennium. Names like John, Phillip, Mary, Samuel, Margaret, and Peter have been in use since at least the Middle Ages. This most likely stems from the Judeo-Christian heritage of the geographic area in question. But other names come and go. In the ninth and tenth centuries, Saxon names like Ethelflæd or Ealswith might have been common, but they’d largely vanished by the early fourteenth century as the English language evolved under the influence of Norman French following the victory of William the Conqueror in 1066. Names of Saxon origin persisted longer among the lower classes, so I’ve reflected that in characters like the protagonist Alfred’s squire, Osbert, and the blacksmith, Fulk.

Another thing I found fascinating about discovering period-appropriate names for the Chronicles was to see how slight changes in spelling over the centuries led to names we would recognize today. Take, for example, Avelina, the wife of one of Alfred’s close friends. A slightly earlier spelling was Auelin, which led to Avelina, which eventually led to the modern Evelyn. Or Emaurri, which became Amory or Emory, and eventually today’s Emery. I have no idea when Ralf became Ralph – or why.

Other names that would likely have been common in Alfred’s day – Estrilda or Berengaria, Wymer or Goscelin – have faded away over time.

 Very early in the series, Alfred comes into contact with the still-feudal societies to the west of his grandfather’s kingdom. To reflect that difference in culture, I turned to more ancient languages for suitable names: Gaelic, Breton, and Cornish. One of my favorite names in the series is Kensa which means “first” in Cornish, and she is, in fact, her parents’ firstborn. But readers will discover after they meet her in Volume 4 and follow her through the rest of the series why I like her name so much.

Once, while working on Pestilence, I needed a name for Lord Rupert’s squire. I’d picked out three good candidates and just couldn’t settle on one – and the squire wasn’t being particularly helpful – he seemed to have no preference at all for what he was called. So I turned to my readers with polls on Facebook and Twitter. When the votes were tallied, Rolly was the clear winner. I hope you enjoy reading the Chronicles as much as I’m enjoying bringing them to life. And who knows – if you sign up for my mailing list or follow me on social media, you might get a chance to help choose a character name.

About the Author

Pamela Taylor brings her love of history to the art of storytelling in the Second Son Chronicles. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. She shares her home with two Corgis who frequently reminder her that a dog walk is the best way to find inspiration for that next chapter.

You can follow her online at:

Author Website:
Series Website:
Twitter: @PJTAuthor
Instagram: PJTAuthor

Pestilence is available to purchase as a print copy and as an e-book at and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to add this to your GoodReads reading list too!
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Rewriting, Revising, and Submitting Feels Like an Endless Cycle

July 12, 2020

Over at the WOW! blog, I talked about doing inventory for your writing. So, off and on this week I have been looking at old pieces of work, ones that I have submitted continuously this past year or so, and seeing what needs to be done with them.

It's undeniable that revising and rewriting is part of the writing process. Somehow though it wasn't until recently that I realized - more like accepted - that it is kind of an endless process. After about 10 - 12 rejections, I usually decide to look at a few short stories and rewrite them since they haven't been accepted yet. 

Sometimes I look at a piece and notice what needs to be changed. Sometimes it eludes me. Recently I received a rejection for the short story and I actually received feedback. The feedback wasn't great. It ended up being something along the lines of "this has been told before" and "I didn't get it." I requested feedback from a critique forum I used and discovered that the latest draft of my story was very well received. So, it could have been just a matter of opinion.

Lately, things have been stressful in our world and in my own life, so thinking of submitting often feels exhausting all on its own. But it's a cycle. 

I've come to realize that writing and the pursuit of publishing are about endurance more than anything else. Endurance with writing teaches you to keep pursuing, keep trying, keep editing, keep rewriting, keep seeking feedback, and so on and so on. It's also knowing you have a story to be told and you want it read. You want this story to find an audience. 

Have you been doing any revising and rewriting lately? How do you feel about this process?
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Fishing! by Sarah Stonich: A Book Review

July 3, 2020

Today I am so excited to feature Fishing! by author Sarah Stonich. Her book is on tour with WOW! Women on Writing and people really love this book! And for the first time, I am excited to feature a guest reviewer! Fishing! will be reviewed by Romalyn Tilghman, author of To the Stars Through Difficulties. 

So, before we get to Romalyn's review, here is a little bit about the book, Fishing!:

Having fled the testosterone-soaked world of professional sport fishing, thirty-something RayAnne Dahl is navigating a new job as a consultant for the first all-women talk show about fishing on public television (or, as one viewer’s husband puts it, “Oprah in a boat”). After the host bails, RayAnne lands in front of the camera and out of her depth at the helm of the show. Is she up for the challenge? Meanwhile, her family proves as high-maintenance as her fixer-upper house and her clingy rescue dog. Her dad, star of the one-season Big Rick’s Bass Bonanza, is on his sixth wife and falling off the wagon and into RayAnne’s career path; her mother, a new-age aging coach for the menopausal rich, provides endless unwanted advice; and her beloved grandmother Dot—whose advice RayAnne needs—is far away and far from well.

But as RayAnne says, “I’m a woman, I fish. Deal with it.” And just when things seem to be coming together—the show is an unlikely hit; she receives the admiration of a handsome sponsor (out of bounds as he is, but definitely in the wings); ungainly house and dog are finally in hand—RayAnne’s world suddenly threatens to capsize, and she’s faced with a gut-wrenching situation and a heartbreaking decision.

First published in 2015 under a pseudonym, this first installment in a trilogy filled with hilarity and heartbreak unspools with the gentle wit and irresistible charm that readers of Sarah Stonich have come to expect. Fishing! eases us into unsuspected depths as it approaches the essential question . . . when should life be steered by the heart, not the rules?

Romalyn Tilghman's review of Fishing!

Perhaps you CAN judge a book by its cover. I was drawn to the book by the freshness and quirkiness of the cover, and the writing lived up to it. Our protagonist, RayAnne Dahl, is the host of a public television show on women who fish, providing plenty to explore in the lives of her guests. It is the exploration of her own life and family that soon take center stage. RayAnne is quick and clever and observant. She is also presented with challenges of both love and heartache as she deals with her eccentric parents, the death of her grandmother to whom she's devoted, and the attention of an off-limits guy. The settings of Minnesota and Florida are so deftly drawn that the reader cannot help but enjoy the ride, rooting for her every page of the way.

Fishing! is available to purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble , and You can also add this book to your reading list over at GoodReads.

About the Author, Sarah Stonich


Sarah’s first novel, These Granite Islands was awarded a Loft McKnight Award and was a Barnes & Noble Great New Writers pick. That novel was translated into eleven languages. Her second, The Ice Chorus, was also widely translated and won several honors. Her memoir Shelter: Off The Grid In The Mostly Magnetic North won a Northeast Minnesota Book Award.


Sarah is best known for her Northern Trilogy, beginning with Vacationland, followed by Laurentian Divide, winner of the 2019 Minnesota Book Award and the NEMBA award, as well as being a 2019 National Reading Group Month selection by National Women’s Book Association. In March/April 2020, WPRI, Wisconsin Public Radio International’s longest running program, Chapter A Day chose Laurentian Divide to be read on air by Jim Flemming. That novel won the Minnesota Book Award, and along with Vacationland, has been chosen as a community read in two dozen midwestern and Canadian cities including most recently in Willmar, Inver Grove Heights, Grand Forks, and Thunder Bay. She’s currently researching and writing Watershed, the final volume of the Northern Trilogy.


Fishing!,the first installment of her feminist chick-lit Fishing With RayAnne trilogy published by the University of Minnesota Press in March of 2020, is to be followed by Reeling in 2021. Sarah is currently working on Leaping and hopes to see it published in 2022. Sarah is adapting the trilogy to a television series, as well as writing original screenplays.


You can follow her online at:

Twitter: @sarahstonich

Instagram: sarahstonichwriter

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The New Husband by DJ Palmer: A Book Review

June 25, 2020

Have you ever read one of those books that drive you crazy, yet captivate you the entire time? The New Husband by D.J. Palmer is one of those books.

Nina Garrity is moving in with Simon Fitch. He seems so perfect. He knows all about her favorite foods, music, and movies. Her son is over the moon about him. He is always there when she needs him. 

He's a little too perfect.

The thing is Nina's last husband was anything but perfect. She found out he was living a double life and having an affair with another woman. Now that her husband is gone - presumed dead from a boating accident - she wants to focus on her new life and her new husband.

But things aren't as perfect as they seem. Simon can be controlling at times. The very idea of Nina working creates conflict. And not to mention her daughter Maggie is having a lot of problems with him.
Her son, Connor, loves him, though. 

In the book The New Husband we read this story from a variety of points of view. We read the book mostly through the eyes of Nina and Maggie. It's both outraging and thrilling to read the relationship between Nina and Simon. Through the eyes of Maggie, we see a glimpse behind the true nature of Simon's character. Once Nina tries to work and begins to question the things Simon tells her, things begin to fray at the edges. What's outraging at the same time though is that she questions herself more than she questions Simon. So often throughout the book, I wanted to yell at Nina about her self-doubt! But in a loving friend kind of way.

The New Husband is a thriller, but it's also a lesson in abusive relationships. Simon may act like the perfect husband, but he's not. There are signs along the way that he is controlling and abusive. At times, to an obvious point. You notice that the second he doesn't get his way or someone gets in his way, he'll make sure they don't stick around long. 

More than that, there is also a persistent question - what really happened to Nina's ex-husband? That becomes more important than you realize later down the road for this book.

All is not what they seem in this book. If you are looking for an exciting thriller that will also outrage you all at the same time, you will want to read this book. This roped me in immediately and I couldn't put it down.

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Also, be sure to add this to your reading list on GoodReads.

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It's Okay to Try Other Creative Things

June 20, 2020
Do you ever feel guilty for not writing? Do you ever feel like you should be working on [insert work-in-progress here] but instead you feel pulled to other projects?

I've been feeling like that lately and battling a sense of guilt that I'm neglecting my stories. However, I have come to accept that I am not just a short story writer. I do love doing other creative things. Sometimes those other creative things draw my attention and that's okay. 

My latest project has been to work on a blog of mine called, I started it over 8 years ago after losing my first job out of college. I wanted to talk about being unemployed and my job search experiences. Then I got another job several months later and my blog took on the form of talking about my new job and hopeful career path.

Over this past week, I've deleted over 100 posts from that blog. I had various reasons to delete them. Some ended up being far too personal than I'm comfortable with and others were far too embarrassing to leave up there. I didn't regret deleting so many posts (partly because of the fact that WordPress is nice enough to save them in the trash area in case you change your mind). However, I did wonder if this blog was worth it anymore. I even thought about deleting the blog altogether at some point.

I got motivated again when I looked at an old post I wrote talking about being a freelancer. I had written some tips for a newbie just getting started and I ended up updating it extensively.

Now, I'm back in the saddle and jotting down notes for what I want to write next.

And so all of this brings me back to what I first started talking about - it's okay to be pulled in a different creative direction.

It's not like I'm not working on my stories, but I'm allowing my creative energy to go towards something else. I think I'll always enjoy blogging and be pulled towards that platform. And that's okay.

I find that to stay inspired, it's essential to not be rigid with yourself. Explore. Try out. Express yourself in new ways. You'll be surprised by what you find.

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Writing a Stealthy Pandemic Novel by Sarah Relyea

June 18, 2020

I am so excited to have Sarah Relyea here today! Make sure you check out her book and show her some love. She has an excellent post about writing a pandemic novel. Perfect timing!

Enough has happened in the last three months to keep a good writer busy for years. It’s as though we’ve been frozen in the moment, as calamitous events pass before our eyes. Since mid-March, when the pandemic really hit, I’ve been following the ghastly parade from a third-floor apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Like everyone else these days, I’m feeling overwhelmed and struggling to get things done. It’s not what you’d imagine, though. I’m not retreating into my mind and surrendering the world—rather, I’m embracing it. The city’s still in quarantine, but tomorrow is pounding on the door, and the lock is breaking as I type. I can’t ignore it. 

Smell the lilacs from a safe distance.
Smell the lilacs from a safe distance.

Writing fiction during the pandemic is a challenge. Events have outrun imagination, and our former hopes—even our former fears—have been swept away. One day COVID-19 simply appeared, as though a sci-fi movie had burst from the screen and gone rogue. No one could follow the tangled genius of the plot. For days or weeks, we wondered who and where the bad guys were. We struggled to understand subplots featuring bats, asymptomatic carriers, and virology labs; we blamed each other. Hungry for good news, we cheered Superman in a lab coat.

Alone in the Crowd

I’ve long been interested in—and wary of—crowd behavior. And strangely enough, even while sheltering at home, I’ve been thinking about crowd responses. When unseen forces suddenly permeate our world, compelling us to cancel our normal activities, everything feels newly significant. A walk in the park becomes a foray through another country, where I’m surrounded by strangers—yesterday’s friends and neighbors!—with baffling habits. I struggle to understand new body language. How close can I stand to that person? What do her angry hand signals convey? Meanwhile, cross-cultural facial expressions—a smile or a scowl—communicate nothing, because we’re wearing masks.

We’ve all been strangers somewhere, feeling the wary glance of people uncomfortable with who we are, how we dress, and how we present ourselves. With luck, we’ve also found unlooked-for camaraderie. Now the pandemic has made us strangers everywhere—even in our own neighborhoods.

A Pandemic Novel

I may never write a pandemic novel. But I’m sure that I will use aspects of the pandemic world—the warping of human relations; the forging of unlooked-for connection—in whatever I do write. How could I forget zoom yoga and Kate Lynch’s ambulance meditation, as EMS sirens wail through the streets? Or zoom Bible study and church neighbors making music on the stoop? Or the Yemeni-American deli owner who risked COVID-19 to sell me newspapers and coffee?

Maybe I’ll drop my characters into a war-torn country, or maybe I’ll send them on a Mardi Gras parade that goes insanely wrong. After all, I’ve seen plenty of fear and masks. Remember—a novel creates an imaginary world, and a pandemic novel need not include an actual pandemic. As DJ Taylor suggests, fiction works by stealth; it deals in possibility—things that could happen in a world that could exist. As a novelist, you must not only document what’s happening; you must also feel it, absorb it, and be changed by it.

Only then will you develop an inner judge—not a censor but a judge, the part of you that administers truth serum as you write. The part that tells you what could happen—and what could never be. 

Sarah Relyea is author of the historical novel, Playground Zero (She Writes Press, 2020), a coming-of-age story set in Berkeley in the late 1960s. Her first book was the nonfiction Outsider Citizens: The Remaking of Postwar Identity in Wright, Beauvoir, and Baldwin. Follow Sarah on Facebook and Goodreads.

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#IWSG What Kind of Stories Do I Want to Tell?

June 3, 2020

I receive monthly prompts through the Insecure Writer's Support Group newsletter (sign up here!) l With everything going on in the world and in my own life, I haven't felt led to respond to the prompt proposed every month. But the one for June definitely spoke to me and I wanted to reflect on that.

The #IWSG says, "Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?"

This made me think, not because I have secrets that I'm hiding, but what I worry about often when I write is that readers wouldn't know that I am Christian from my writing. I'm not what I would consider a Christian writer, in terms of writing only stories from the lens of my faith. However, my Christian faith does often guide the message I realize I'm trying to put across in my stories. Does that make sense?

This has evolved over time, though. Two of the stories I am trying to get published right now are guided by my faith than some of my other work.

I still let my creativity do its own work as I write the first draft and sometimes I uncover the hidden meaning of the story - usually, a message that goes right back to my faith - well after I've finished the story.

All of this makes me wonder, what type of writer do I want to be? What kind of stories do I want to tell? I think that can only be answered with one thing - more writing.
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Save the Cat! Writes the Novel: A Book Review

May 18, 2020
I'm a writing advice fan and I'm always open to exploring the latest and greatest way a writer can improve upon their process. I first heard about "Save the Cat!" through a few ladies from WOW! Women on Writing. When I put the blog tour together, I knew I wanted to review this book too.

In Save the Cat! Writes the Novel, you are introduced to a few things. First, you are introduced to their story structure via 15 story beats. These are those 15 beats:

Opening Image.
Theme Stated.
Break into 2
B Story
Fun and Games
Bad Guys Close In
All is Lost
Dark Night of the Soul
Break into 3
Final Image

Don't let these 15 beats intimidate you! These 15 story beats are visited in depth in this book. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it utilizes popular fiction in order to portray what each beat represents.

Another really interesting aspect to the book is that it introduces new genres. And they provide insight into how readers usually expect novels in these genres to wrap up. I think this is incredibly helpful if you feel stuck in your storytelling or you feel like something isn't "right" with the story you are trying to tell.

The thing is I am a "pantser" or another term I've heard recently is, I'm a "discovery" writer. I don't outline in advance but what I like is the idea of using these beats to track the direction I want to go in my story. Without outlining, I run the risk of being aimless and Save the Cat! Writes the Novel provides me with a map that I can use along the way.

If you are trying to find your own writing method or your own writing storytelling process, I absolutely recommend that you purchase this book. It will help you as it helped me. Whatever kind of writing you do, you will be helped by this book.

Visit for more information about their book and software. 

About Save the Cat! Writes a Novel

An Amazon #1 best seller with over 500 reviews, it’s the first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

In this revolutionary novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! series, novelist Jessica Brody demystifies each beat, making it simple to learn the complexities of storytelling. The best-seller also reveals the ten universal story genres to help you drill down into what makes your type of story work. Featuring sample “beat sheets” for hits from the likes of J. K. Rowling, Khaled Hosseini, and Stephen King, this practical guide also includes real-world advice on pitching your novel, plus the quirky, original insights (like the eponymous tip to “Save the Cat”) that make this series unique. By the end of this book, your own imaginative beats will combine to create a story that thrills readers from start to finish.

Print Length: 320 Pages
Genre: Writing References
Publisher: Ten Speed Press/Random House Publishing LLC
ISBN-10: 0399579745

Save the Cat! Writes the Novel is available as a print and e-book at and Barnes and Noble.

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The Impact of Making Lists (And a Book Review)

May 13, 2020

I am a checklist person. At the end of my day, I bring out my notebook and write down the things that I need to do for the next day. If I'm feeling particularly inspired, I write down lists of things accomplished that day (which always makes me feel good). So, I couldn't wait to read Alexandra Franzen's book The Checklist Book. It was right in line with what I love doing (making lists) and I wanted to see what else lists can do for me.

About The Checklist Book by Alexandra Franzen

Simplicity at its best: The checklist is one of the world’s oldest―and most effective―productivity systems. If anything, author and entrepreneur Alexandra Franzen shares, it is just as valuable now as it was during the days of the Roman Empire. Writing out a simple checklist allows us to tangibly plan our day and set in stone what we want to accomplish.

Cut out unnecessary noise: There are countless apps and organizational systems out there to help us straighten out our lives, but often they only add to the madness. Trying to keep up leaves us feeling drained and overwhelmed. Learn how to choose your highest priorities, set realistic goals, celebrate tiny wins, and feel calmer every day with the magic of checklists.

Be realistic about the time in a day: By physically writing down our tasks on a single piece of paper, we force ourselves to limit how much we can do in a day. Too often, we cram our day with tasks and chores and leave almost no space for self-care or time with loved ones. We end up disappointed in our inability to complete our never-ending to-do list. Checklists help you plan your day in a more gentle, realistic way. You accomplish what needs to be done―and enjoy things you want to be doing, too.

In the life-changing Checklist Book, learn:

The history of the checklist and why it remains to be relevant and effective today

The science behind the success of checklists, such as the instant satisfaction we feel when we put a check next to a finished task

How to create a basic daily checklist―and checklists for specific situations, like moving to a new city or navigating a divorce

How to checklists can help your writing?

After reading Alexandra's book, I felt inspired. Lately, I have been reviewing old notebooks and everyone and then I will come across an old idea. Usually, it's a snippet, like a brief story scene, or dialogue, or the very beginning of an idea. After reading The Checklist Book, I wondered could I be using more lists in my writing? You see, when I get an idea, I tend to be sporadic as to where to put the idea. Sometimes it's my phone. Sometimes it's an app. Sometimes it's a notebook. As I've explored my writing from the past, I am led to do collect the ideas I've found and put them in a central place. Like a checklist. 

What I really loved Alexandra's book is that she provides templates and walks you through ways you can build your own checklists. She also helps you with troubleshooting what may be holding you back from using a checklist. Not only that, but Alexandra Franzen is also an incredibly inspirational writer. I felt inspired after reading this book. This will be especially inspiring for me as I build my latest blog,

While I can't imagine having a checklist for each day, but I can imagine using it in my writing. This book inspires me to use more lists in keeping my ideas, characters, and everything else for my writing organized. I may just get more writing done that way. 

If you are trying to transform your thinking, I recommend you take a look at Alexandra's book. You will be really glad you did.

The Checklist Book is available to purchase online at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Target.

Alexandra Franzen is the author of several books, including So This Is the End: A Love Story (2018), You're Going to Survive (2017), and 50 Ways to Say "You're Awesome" (2013).
She has written articles for dozens of sites, including Time, Forbes, Newsweek, HuffPost, The Muse, and Lifehacker. She's been mentioned/quoted in The New York Times Small Business Blog, The Atlantic, USA Today, BuzzFeed, Brit+Co, and Inc. 

Alexandra is best-known for writing about creativity, productivity, the power of setting tiny goals, how to develop more confidence in your writing skills, and how to stay motivated, keep working towards your personal and professional dreams, and never give up.

She also works as a copywriter, ghostwriter, writing teacher, and consultant. She helps her clients to develop podcasts, videos, websites, speeches, books, and other creative projects.

Find Alexandra's latest projects, classes, and hundreds of free articles and resources at:

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The Power of Art as Medicine by Carrie T. Ishee

April 13, 2020
“The psyche speaks more fully in images than in words and helps trauma survivors access deep inner truth, release painful emotions, and connect with inner wisdom.”

“Angel Blessing the World” – Daily Doodle 
This guest post is written by author Carrie T. Ishee, as part of her WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour.

I proposed this blog topic this past winter when I was preparing the launch of my memoir “Seduced into Darkness: Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse,” that documents my healing journey from a life-threatening betrayal. Little did I know that soon the entire world would undergo the collective trauma of a viral pandemic, resulting in our isolation from loved ones, our jobs, our daily lives.

On this Easter Day, during the season of Passover, while we seek comfort in the message of the risen Christ and God’s blessing on the Israelites, may we also look to our creativity to minister to our souls and restore our vitality. With so much fear and death around us, it’s been amazing to witness the intimate expressions of music, photography, dance, and comedy freely shared from the hearts of people around the world.

Art has been used as medicine for the soul since ancient times. During such crises, we find that our rational minds can’t comprehend what will cure us. Art, when embraced as a personal spiritual practice, can become deeply healing and transformative. Indigenous people have always incorporated art as an intrinsic part of life and still share in the collective experience of art making. The coronavirus pandemic prompts the western world to do so as well. In the 18th century, the dualistic philosophy of Descartes touted the separation between body and mind, resulting in the separation of art from daily life. Artistic expressions got elevated to the realm of professional artists rather than the birthright of all people. This division between artist and the common man feeds the egotistical side of humanity and is the antithesis of what art is intended to do for the collective.

In times past, there was no need for art therapists since all were connected to spirit and creativity. In modern life, however, we often don’t honor our creative voice until our soul demands it.

As an art therapist, I’ve witnessed the contraction of the soul when trauma goes unexpressed. As a result, these painful experiences cause us to lose our joy, our ability to speak up, to be bold, to tell the truth.

Creating art—especially spontaneously, free of technique or the intent of being sold— is a form of pure expression that helps the soul to heal, to gather its colors, and reclaim its vitality.

One practice that has helped me clear out my psyche and access my inner wisdom is the practice of doodling. Doodling implies spontaneity, exploration, fun, and play. It is the visual equivalent to daily journaling, and if done consistently can help you engage the language of your soul.

To Jump-Start Your Own Doodle Process while staying at home:

1) Start with black or white drawing or construction paper and chalk or oil pastels.

2) Go where you can be alone, without distraction for at least 20 minutes. (Turn off your cell phone, etc.). You may want to light a candle to invoke the sacred.

3) Clear your mind of anything you think you are supposed to be doing and take three deep breaths while counting to five on the inhale and the exhale.

4) Ask yourself the question: What color aligns itself with the way I feel right now? Select it from the box.

5) Now ask yourself: What shape best expresses what I feel right now? Draw it.

6) Let yourself explore how you feel through colors and shapes, letting each addition signal what wants to be expressed. Let it flow, don’t judge it, and follow what your intuition tells you to do next. Allow yourself to play without a focus on the product.

7) Continue to work until you have a strong sense that you are done.

8) Put the image on the wall, away from you at least 5-10 feet and let yourself gaze upon it.

9) In your journal, write down what the image seems to be saying. Journal whatever thoughts and feelings arise for you.

If you relate to this process allow yourself to do a “doodle-a-day.” You may notice that you feel less constricted, more open, more alive. Let yourself engage in this daily medicine to release fears and worries and embrace the wonder of creativity and messages from your deepest self.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover. May we all invoke our souls during this call to personal and planetary transformation!


Carrie Ishee

About the Book

Seduced Into Darkness: Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse is a vivid and captivating story of hope for survivors of abuse as well as a case study in a skilled manipulator’s tragic exploitation of his professional power.

This poignant memoir chronicles the traumatic psychological abduction and sexual exploitation of depressed college student Carrie Tansey at the hands of her psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Romano―thirty-one years her senior. For three years, their secret “affair” was carefully calculated and controlled by Romano, as Carrie’s mental and emotional health continued to deteriorate, bringing her closer and closer to the edge.

Their dual-relationship―clinical and clandestine―finally came to light when Carrie’s suicide attempts landed her in a world-renowned psychiatric hospital. Gradually, she began to reclaim her power, reported Romano to the state licensing board, successfully sued him for malpractice, and testified before the state legislature to help pass a law aimed at curbing such abuses.

As Carrie tells her tale, it is a journey paralleling that of the mythical archetype Persephone, the naive innocent who was abducted into darkness, reemerged and regenerated herself, then fearlessly returned to the prison she had fled, this time to help free others. Today, Carrie Ishee is a widely respected art therapist and life coach as well as a teacher specializing in the issues of ethics and boundaries for mental health professionals.

Print Length: 286 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books
ISBN-10: 1948749483
ISBN-13: 9781948749480

Seduced Into Darkness is now available to purchase at, Barnes and Noble, and Thrift Books.

About the Author, Carrie T. Ishee 

Carrie Ishee has been a student of healing, human potential, and consciousness for more than 35 years. Her quest to know herself began in college when a severe health crisis compounded by her psychiatrist’s seduction and sexual abuse shattered her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After doctoral studies in clinical psychology, she worked as a behavioral therapist, pursued a master’s degree in art therapy, and later completed a two-year training program in life coaching. Her work today is focused on helping victims such as she once was break free from the suffocating shroud of trauma.

Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and GoodReads.
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