Author: DeAnna Knippling (Page 1 of 66)

New Release: Evil Twin

New short story release, a horror/suspense tale in the vein of Twilight Zone

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads

A haunting tale of a monster who lived inside mirrors, and the ghost he left behind when he died…

What would you do to get rid of an abusive ghost?

When Michael’s father died, he left behind a grown-up family shattered by years of his broken, abusive, alcoholic behavior—and a legion of adoring fans who hung on every word of his stories.

They called him creative. But the truth was that Michael’s father had the ability to violate the boundary between one side of the mirror and the other, traveling between reflections and watching, and interfering, with other people’s private lives until there was little of the man left—only a monster.

Now the man is dead. But part of the monster has been left behind…

Evil Twin

One last time of cleaning up after you, Dad.

I’d slept downstairs on the couch, expecting him to get up and stumble downstairs, looking for beer or bourbon or something to piss in, but his body was still in the shower stall. His hip, covered with old blue jeans, lay against the glass door, pressed flat against the soap scum. His head lay against the fiberglass wall, curly white-gold hair surrounding his head like a halo. His pants bulged, filled but fortunately not overrunning with shit. I was tempted to turn the shower on and hose him down, one last time. You’re a drunk, you’ve always been a drunk, you died a drunk, you even haunted me drunk. He still wore his professorial corduroy jacket with leather patches at the elbows, real as the number on the scale after Thanksgiving. At least he hadn’t haunted me in the leisure suit Mom had him buried in.

I shoved the double-paned shower doors open so I could get at his legs. His right boot caught against the glass, then suddenly unstuck itself and lumped onto the rug. I grabbed him by the ankle and pulled until his head thumped onto the shower floor, then lifted his other leg and turned his hips around until he was an L-shape with his legs out on the tiles.

If he’d been alive, I would have worried about tearing the skin under his shirt, or on his face. A fact learned from my long history of cleaning up after my father: cheekbones get caught on the damnedest things. Ridges between rooms, uneven tiles, rubber floor mats. I used to always put a pillow under his head when I had to drag him out of places by myself, one of those u-shaped corduroy travel pillows. Kept it in a Ziploc bag under the passenger seat in the car, so the car wouldn’t smell like puke.

I pulled him out of the shower stall onto the rug, being careful not to look toward the medicine cabinet, and checked that he wasn’t leaving a trail. He was; the cup had runneth over. I rolled both Dad and the rug onto a fitted sheet from the closet that I couldn’t remember seeing lately on our bed. I closed my eyes as I passed the hall mirror, then covered it with a sheet on the way back.

Then I called Joanna and got serious about dragging him out of the house…

Read more here!

Wonderland Press Policy Statement re: 2020 Politics

Anyone who’s met me or interacted with me online knows that I am a very political person. I try not to be annoying about it. Instead of ranting, I try to infuse my opinions into my fiction. In my personal online spaces, I am much more openly political, but try to keep it positive, either bringing news articles to the forefront or reposting positive messages of support, rather than wallowing in sarcasm and negativity (although yes, sometimes I give in to the temptation).

I have tried to keep my politics off the blog, because it’s a publishing blog–not a political one. However, it has become clear that, as a matter of business, it is important to establish certain policies:

  • Wonderland Press does not support Trump and/or other actual or aspirant dictators, or their policies.
  • Wonderland Press does not support people or institutions that try to preserve or establish White supremacy, cisgender and heteronormative privilege, suppression of human rights, or other forms of bullying.
  • Wonderland Press will not be responding to, but will be preserving and/or reporting harassment, threats, manipulative, and other negative emails, and will develop additional asshole mitigation policies as necessary.

In the past, I’ve been less than perfect in carrying out the actions implied by those policies. Thank you for your patience, and feel free to let me know if I’ve face-planted in not carrying them out well. The policies themselves are not up for discussion. –DeAnna

Online Boundaries

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about boundaries; one of the things I realized was that I’m much better at online boundaries than I am in person. In person, I’ve only been enforcing (some) boundaries for the last few years. Online, I’ve been enforcing boundaries since 1992, and doubling down on them since 2016.

It turns out that I know many, many people online who are good at in-person boundaries but are struggling to enforce online boundaries right now. Here are some of my rules of thumb:

  • You are not required to tolerate bad behavior on a social media post that you control, even from old friends, business connections, and close relatives. If you can delete it, it is your “house,” and people must abide by your rules if they wish to remain.
  • You are allowed to compartmentalize your relationships. It may not be appropriate for you to connect with coworkers on social media, particularly if they try to take advantage of that connection.
  • “Keeping the peace” means telling others that it is okay to hurt or take advantage of you, and of anyone else in your presence.
  • You are not required to make contact with someone else in a way that makes you uncomfortable. For example, if you hate using Facebook and someone insists that you must be on Facebook in order to talk to them, then what they’re doing is making sure they only speak to you when you’re in a mood to compromise.
  • You don’t owe anyone an explanation for not responding, not responding soon enough, or not responding in a way they want to hear. “I saw your message but didn’t feel able to answer at the time” should suffice, if you’d like to respond.
  • You are not required to tolerate the presence of anyone who sexualizes a nonsexual interaction without your consent. They are trying to determine the extent to which they can control you.
  • There are no awards for being the person who never blocks, unfriends, or mutes people who make you uncomfortable. The people who want to make sure “you don’t live in an echo chamber” are mostly concerned that you don’t live in their echo chamber.
  • You lose nothing by distancing or cutting off a relationship that makes you uncomfortable. The person in question was never going to support you, either personally or professionally, except as it benefitted themselves. Make room for people who truly support you.
  • The bare minimum for an online connection is that the person is pleased and supportive of your successes, and disappointed for your sake for your setbacks.
  • Even the most heated discussion can be held politely, with respect for each other’s autonomy. If one party insists on a level of polite behavior that they do not hold themselves to, they are attempting to control you.
  • If someone is attempting to control you, you are allowed to withdraw your politeness. You don’t need to be positively rude, although you certainly may. The worst thing you can do to an asshole online is to refuse to play—but please do take screenshots, and if you must respond in order to defend your reputation, do it in a place that you can control, and can delete responses from assholes.
  • Politeness without the ability to snub another person for their bad behavior is not politeness, but submission and compliance.
  • Decide what your boundaries for interaction in your spaces are ahead of time, such as “no politics, sex, or religion” or “no personal insults or manipulative or harassing behavior” or “doubling down on bad behavior automatically gets the perpetrator a block.” Decide what you will do to enforce those boundaries—and stick to it. In my opinion, multiple warnings should turn into a block. (Be careful about unfriending people; they will often return to continue harassing you, if your posts are at all public.)
  • Decide how you will respond to rude behavior ahead of time, so you’re less likely to be pressured into making a fool of yourself in a heated moment.
  • Decode how you will be wrong ahead of time. I suggest first acknowledging the situation, then stating what action you will take, which may or may not include an apology. “I didn’t know that. I’ll think about it” is a good phrase to use in order to give yourself some breathing room.
  • Apologies are a way to influence a bad situation. You don’t need to grovel or explain. “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand how important this was to you” is a good apology. Combining it with your plan for what you will do about the situation—whether or not that plan makes other people happy—makes it a great apology.
  • A bad faith apology is worse than no apology, especially on social media, where it can be recorded, shared, and brought forth for decades. “I’m sorry that you’re angry about this” is a manipulation tool, not an apology.
  • Assholes don’t have relationships; they have degrees of control. If they cannot control you, they will often take a sour grapes tactic: your lack of cooperation means that you’re worthless and/or incompetent. This is often called “the devaluation phase” in psychological literature.
  • Assholes want to win. They do not care about fairness, duty, sanity, good health, safety, legality, or nuanced points of view. They do not believe in your autonomy or personhood on a very basic level, and often can hardly imagine their own existence beyond the present moment. Their actions toward you are not truly personal. You need not take to heart anything they say.
  • Fallacies exist to train you to recognize bad faith arguments, including your own. Everyone has some point upon which they become an asshole: the thing is not to make a habit of it.
  • If you’re not sure whether someone is being an asshole or not, ask them to clarify their statement. “I’m not sure what you mean here; it sounds like you’re saying ____” will often do the trick. Be open to people with poor communication skills who are supportive and mean well.

To sum up:

  • People who support you are happy for the good things in your life, and disappointed for your sake for the things that didn’t turn out well.
  • If you want to be surrounded by people who support you, you have to make room for them by cutting out the people who do not.
  • You can’t “win” against an asshole, but you can plan ahead how best to allow them to defeat themselves.

Good luck!

Like what you read here? More of the same at the Wonderland Press newsletter!

(Fallacies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies)

 

Writing Craft: Vol 1 Conclusion

(This is a sample from my writing craft series; you can read more on Patreon. Please note that these first posts are about things that aren’t strictly about the craft of writing, but the craft of surviving as a writer, if you will, because I want to get them out of the way first.)

EEEEEEE!!!! Conclusion on Volume 1!!!!!!

I still have appendices to write and/or update. I’m gonna put together a list of exercises/short tasks, for one thing. So the volume isn’t ready to go live anytime soon, but still! I am manifoldly exclamatory!!!!!!

This first part of Writing Craft wasn’t much about the actual craft of turning your dreams into words: it will not teach you about character point-of-view strategies, pacing, or action scenes.

However, there are a number of issues and attitudes that, if you don’t address them, can cause you to fail to turn those dreams into words just as surely as writer’s block ever could.

Not all of those issues can be addressed in this book. For example, there are a lot of hang-ups involved in starting a business that have to be addressed before you can turn your dreams into words that other people buy on a regular basis, and there is an entire wealth of knowledge about taxes, business structure, advertising and marketing strategies, copyright, and so on, that I can’t cover here. But I believe this volume touches on the basics:

  • Always be legal.
  • Always be improving and stretching.
  • Please at least try to take care of yourself.

If you’re struggling with the issues around writing, please remember:

You don’t have to write.

(Click here for previous volume 1 Patreon posts…)

 

 

 

Styles: Stripped Down vs. Babble

Let us say that there are two types of books: ones that are stripped down to the bare minimum, and ones that are full of babble.

At each level, a book might tend toward stripped-down or babble.

Does the author use a lot of uncommon vocabulary words? Or do they keep it simple?

Are the sentences wordy or terse? Are the characters wordy or terse?

Do we spend a lot of time with lush description? Are we deep inside the character’s thoughts? Or does the story get shit done without wasting your time?

Does the plot meander or stick to the point? Are there a bunch of subplots? Or, even if the story has intricate plotting, does it all wrap up neatly at the end and make perfect sense? Is no loose end left untied?

If you’ve read anything that I’ve ever written, you will know that I am strongly in the babble camp. I am one of nature’s born babblers, although I tend not to talk a lot around people I don’t know. My vocabulary, while not stupendous, includes words like “stupendous.” My sentences tend toward the complex and indirect. I have yet to let good backstory pass me by.

Is that good or bad? It’s a preference.

I found myself researching different mystery subgenres in order to try to get a grip on where I wanted the mystery/crime side of my career to go. I definitely want to write some cozies, but they’re going to be a little off the beaten trail, and cozies aren’t all I want to write. What kind of covers should I use?

I was getting ready to commission some cozy covers that were a hundred percent on target for the cozy genre, when I discovered the that the cozies that were most likely to have that type of cover were for books that I didn’t want to read. I started reading a couple and had to put them down. I couldn’t figure out why. They seemed well enough written. I just couldn’t get past the first few pages.

Then I ran into a cozy that I liked. I bought it on the spot and read a chapter before I could put it down.

It had a similar number of reviews as other books I’d read and didn’t like, and a similarly high review score. What was the deal? Why did I like the one book so much, and just feel like something was missing from the other one?

I described the book to my daughter. She said, “Mom, it’s a babble book. You babble a lot. You like babble books.”

Ding.

We talked about it for a while, and I’ve found myself in love with the idea: babble books versus stripped-down books. It’s not that I don’t like a really good stripped-down book. A lot of the pulp and early golden-age SF fiction is very stripped down, like an episode of Twilight Zone. Nothing extra.

But stripped-down fiction has to be really well done, and be really relevant to me personally, and be really short before I’ll get on board with it. With babble fiction, I almost don’t care how good it is. It’s like lowering myself into a bubble bath. I’m practically guaranteed to feel comfortable. Four automatic stars.

I mentioned this to a writer friend who’s a bit cynical; he said that people who read babble fiction are dying out and that’s why he can’t make a solid living off his fiction (he is pretty babble-ish). I disagreed with him in that it was a complete wash; my daughter, for example, is all about the babble. If you know anything about the web-comic thingy Homestuck, then you know that Gen Z loves their babble fiction.

But also he’s not wrong: a lot of the indie fiction that’s on Amazon and other sites is very stripped down, written for readers who don’t want to immerse themselves in a bubble bath, but who want to ingest some nice, chewy plot. The mystery sub-genres I’m sorting through definitely lean strongly toward stripped-down styles, particularly on the indie publishing side. But not exclusively.

I’m indentifying babble-style books in those genres and making a note of their covers, both indie and traditional or small-press publishers. There do seem to be subtle differences, although I can’t quite put a finger on what they are, yet.

I’m pretty sure it would be an uphill climb to try selling babble-filled cozies with the kinds of covers that go on stripped-down cozies, though, so I’ll have to rethink my plan. But It is nice to be able to put a finger on why I like some books more than others.

Like what you read here? More of the same at the Wonderland Press newsletter!

 

 

 

Enrichment Activities for Writers: Wrap-up, Notes, Ebook!

Enrichment Activities:
30 Days of Stay-at-Home Learning, Business,
and Self-Care Activities for Writers

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads

We have come to the end of the project! Don’t worry about not keeping up: I didn’t! Writing and posting this did help me keep my spirits up during a difficult time, but I had more to do than I could handle, to both write and follow my own advice. I’ll be working on these things during the coming month, however, because a lot of them I wrote with myself in mind: things I wanted to accomplish for my business, what I wanted to study, sore spots I wanted to journal about, and more.

I’m one of those people that find it easier to do things for other people than for myself. I’m working on taking care of myself on a more regular basis, but it’s rough. So thank you for helping me on this project. I hoped it helped.

What I hope you get out of this:

Business Tip

Sometimes, the business tasks related to writing seem overwhelming. There are so many possibilities to follow, but following all of them kills your creativity and stalls your career. If you spend ten minutes a day doing one small business task, you will never get done with your business tasks. But you will be much further ahead than you were before, used to breaking down bigger tasks into smaller chunks, used to saying “no” to tasks that don’t fit your #1 priority, and much more able to cope with the big tasks when they suddenly strike.

Remember, if you’ve never run a business before, it’s a huge attitude shift to becoming your own employer. Treat yourself with all the care and respect that you would want from any boss!

Short Study Project

Ideally, you should be typing in work that was created by people having the type of long-term careers that you want for yourself. Type in their work and let your own curiosity suggest things to highlight. I wouldn’t worry too much about highlighting the “wrong” things.

Later, you can expand to typing in other things that openings. Don’t type in much more than a thousand words at a time, though, and if you can’t find anything to highlight, it may just be that the writer’s techniques are beyond you at the moment. Experiment gently, and circle back around to that author later!

Journal Topic

Journaling in a vomit-words-onto-the-page way is generally a good idea. But the main thing I’d like you to take away from journaling as a writer is that the thoughts, emotions, and attitudes that you carry can be mined for all kinds of writerly inspiration. Your insights don’t have to be nice, fair, uplifting, or wholesome. They just need to be interesting, and if you change a few details in your fiction, nobody will ever know.

Write what you know…but lie a little about it.

Short Writing Topic

Writing doesn’t have to be disciplined or dedicated or challenging or well-planned or even well-written. It just has to seem amusing at the time.

I highly recommend giving yourself permission to be a terrible writer, and to make someone else judge whether or not your writing is worth reading.

Are you any good as a writer? Not your problem!

You should work to get better as a writer, of course, but you should work to get better as a writer, not to tear yourself down in an abusive fashion that would get the ASPCA called on you if you were doing it to a house pet.

The next time you start beating yourself up, write 3 sentences where your inner editor is happens to be the person you hate most on the planet, tied up by their ankles over a pit of boiling lava that is swimming with crocodiles and demon-possessed habanero peppers (or some other suitably torturous situation), and they’re still screaming their “very important criticism” at you just as you’re about to pull the level to let them drop to their deaths.

It might take more than 3 sentences.

Be prepared not to get it right the first time…

Staying Human

Staying human, especially in times of stress, is harder than it looks. If you’re in a bad way, start with physical things first before you try to delve deeper or start examining your emotions (and accusing yourself of being a terrible, worthless person).

Start with drinking more fluids.

I highly recommend giving (bad) meditation a shot. Resetting your nervous system is a body thing, not a spiritual thing, although sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Fun with Research

A couple of years ago, I promised myself that I could track down anything that caught my curiosity. It has been quite rewarding, although at first I had to stop to remind myself that no one was going to mock me for being such a nerd. High school has been left far behind! Plus, writers tend to accumulate trivia the way coral accumulates reefs. So why not pursue whatever catches your eye?

A fair number of people have asked me about my writing process. It always seems from the inside that it’s easy and straightforward: do the thing, observe how the thing went, figure out what worked and what didn’t, keep the “worked” and ditch the “didn’t.”

But I find that there’s an unspoken step there that I take for granted: “What is this thing anyway? How do you know what thing to try? And how do you even know if it worked or if it didn’t?”

Here’s the deal: I don’t consciously, analytically know what the thing is ahead of time. I show up and do the work, knowing that something interesting will eventually catch my eye.

Toward the end of the “fun with research” section in this book, I directed readers to look up Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset.” I had been meaning to read her book myself, and checked it out from the library. When I started reading her book, I went, “Aha! That’s how I see things.”

Except I don’t think of it as a growth mindset. If I asked myself, “How will this make me grow?” every time I clicked some goofy personality quiz, I’d go nuts.

Instead, I think of myself as having a curiosity mindset.

“What happens if I…”

I weed out the things I’m pretty sure are going to go badly. I’m not curious about, for example, what happens if I drive off a cliff. I can figure it out.

But I also accept that things might go badly if I try something new, and that I’ll be able to look back and laugh about it later if they do.

It has made life much more pleasant.

“What if we get lost? That’s what the GPS is for.”

“What if this stinky cheese tastes bad? Then we call it Baron von Limburger, toss it out as being a Nazi spy, and air out the house.”

“What if I try the wrong thing with writing? Then we send the story out anyway and let someone else decide whether it was the right kind of wrong, or the wrong kind of wrong.”

Often, the risk of doing something badly is less than the risk of not doing it at all.

Drink water, try new things, chip away at the banal stuff, and good luck!

If you enjoy these posts, please consider signing up for my newsletter or for my writing-craft project on Patreon. Thanks!

Enrichment Activities for Writers: Day 30

Enrichment Activities:
30 Days of Stay-at-Home Learning, Business,
and Self-Care Activities for Writers

Fiction writer?

Home?

Bored?

Thinking that you should be getting some writing done but somehow not getting anywhere with that?

First, let me recommend that you take it easy on yourself.

Second, have I got some ideas for you!

If you’re spinning your wheels and want someone to give you the equivalent of a small arts and crafts kit for fiction writing, have I got some suggestions for you.

As a ten-year ghostwriting freelancer, I have been disciplining myself to stay on track and focused for quite some time. I’ve learned some tricks on the business side, and I’m a positive fiend for studying new techniques.

Want to steal some of that? Follow this blog for the next month, and you’ll have 30 different story starts, 30 different journal entries to mine for content, 30 different fiction techiques to add to your toolbox, and lots, lot more.

And best of all? While it’s on the blog, it’ll be free.

Da Rules 

  • The business tip should take you no longer than 10 minutes; if it takes you longer, put it on your to-do list for later (unless you actually feel like doing it).
  • Study projects: literally type in the first 250-500 words (as you like) of the opening of the book, not counting any introductions, prefaces, or quotes, unless it’s part of the book. However you normally type your fiction, do that. If you hand-write fiction, you can hand-write the study projects, but stay on the low end.
  • Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has excellent advice on how to journal. She recommends 3 pages in a spiral-bound notebook. I advise to go for a minimum of 1 page spiral bound or 250-500 words typed.
  • Short writing topics: You can do more than 3 sentences. Stop when you feel like stopping. This is just to try something new.
  • Staying human: If you’re going to pick one thing to do every day, hydrate!
  • Fun with research: it’s best to do your own Internet searches, but I’ve provided a fun link to get started with.

My choices across the board reflect my own personal preferences, not any kind of absolute wisdom. This is a rapid prototype, not a well-thought-out plan of development for fiction writers!

The idea for this project came from a voice chat with some members of the Colorado Tesla Writers Group, who expressed that they were having trouble staying motivated to write.

DAY 30

Business Tip

Check to make sure your automated process for backing up your files is working. Are your lastest files backed up? Are you able to access older files?

Short Study Project

Type in the first page of Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm. Highlight all elements that point to a character, setting, or plot element that isn’t the first thing you’d expect. (Use the Free Amazon sample!)

Journal Topic

Write one page or less about a project you’ve struggled with and haven’t finished yet. Briefly sum up the plot the point where you got stuck. Brainstorm four or more ways that you could move forward through the plot. They don’t have to make sense. Pick the one that makes you smile. (Hint: it shouldn’t be one of the first three ideas you come up with.)

Short Writing Topic

Add 3 sentences to your current (stuck) project, whether or not they fit perfectly with what came before, and whether or not they stick to your outline. (Hint: repeat the journal exercise with the four ideas every time you get stuck.)

Staying Human

Think of one person who gets under your skin. Think hard about your feelings for them—not what they did or didn’t do—and imagine releasing your emotions about that person until the image of that person fades away. This is an exercise in letting go—not forgiveness, but close.

Fun with Research

Research Wilhelm’s Law.

If you enjoy these posts, please consider signing up for my newsletter or for my writing-craft project on Patreon. Thanks!

Enrichment Activities for Writers: Day 29

Enrichment Activities:
30 Days of Stay-at-Home Learning, Business,
and Self-Care Activities for Writers

Fiction writer?

Home?

Bored?

Thinking that you should be getting some writing done but somehow not getting anywhere with that?

First, let me recommend that you take it easy on yourself.

Second, have I got some ideas for you!

If you’re spinning your wheels and want someone to give you the equivalent of a small arts and crafts kit for fiction writing, have I got some suggestions for you.

As a ten-year ghostwriting freelancer, I have been disciplining myself to stay on track and focused for quite some time. I’ve learned some tricks on the business side, and I’m a positive fiend for studying new techniques.

Want to steal some of that? Follow this blog for the next month, and you’ll have 30 different story starts, 30 different journal entries to mine for content, 30 different fiction techiques to add to your toolbox, and lots, lot more.

And best of all? While it’s on the blog, it’ll be free.

Da Rules 

  • The business tip should take you no longer than 10 minutes; if it takes you longer, put it on your to-do list for later (unless you actually feel like doing it).
  • Study projects: literally type in the first 250-500 words (as you like) of the opening of the book, not counting any introductions, prefaces, or quotes, unless it’s part of the book. However you normally type your fiction, do that. If you hand-write fiction, you can hand-write the study projects, but stay on the low end.
  • Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has excellent advice on how to journal. She recommends 3 pages in a spiral-bound notebook. I advise to go for a minimum of 1 page spiral bound or 250-500 words typed.
  • Short writing topics: You can do more than 3 sentences. Stop when you feel like stopping. This is just to try something new.
  • Staying human: If you’re going to pick one thing to do every day, hydrate!
  • Fun with research: it’s best to do your own Internet searches, but I’ve provided a fun link to get started with.

My choices across the board reflect my own personal preferences, not any kind of absolute wisdom. This is a rapid prototype, not a well-thought-out plan of development for fiction writers!

The idea for this project came from a voice chat with some members of the Colorado Tesla Writers Group, who expressed that they were having trouble staying motivated to write.

DAY 29

Business Tip

If the big picture is your business plan, then the small picture is your daily task list. Try creating a list with only three items. I suggest: #1. Growth as a writer or business person. (Studying fiction, learning how to write ad text, researching your subgenre.) #2. Writing and/or producing work for publication. (Writing, editing, publishing an ebook, submitting work to markets). #3. Business task. (Writing ads, doing taxes, purchasing business cards.) Too many tasks? Time to start getting rid of writing tasks that don’t serve your #1 writing priority.

Short Study Project

Think of a bestselling author whose work you don’t like. Type in the first page of their most recent novel. Hightlight all elements that hint at what the author thinks their audience wants to hear. (This is called wish fulfillment.)

Journal Topic

Write one page or less about what your readers might want to hear. Include what you would want to hear, too, and also what expectations you’d like to subvert.

Short Writing Topic

Write 3 sentences about a ghostwriter who has writer’s block and has decided to subvert the expectations in their latest project. (Hint: start with the expectations.)

Staying Human

Dream up a Halloween (or other) costume.

Fun with Research

Research how to make one element of your dream costume.

If you enjoy these posts, please consider signing up for my newsletter or for my writing-craft project on Patreon. Thanks!

Enrichment Activities for Writers: Day 28

Enrichment Activities:
30 Days of Stay-at-Home Learning, Business,
and Self-Care Activities for Writers

Fiction writer?

Home?

Bored?

Thinking that you should be getting some writing done but somehow not getting anywhere with that?

First, let me recommend that you take it easy on yourself.

Second, have I got some ideas for you!

If you’re spinning your wheels and want someone to give you the equivalent of a small arts and crafts kit for fiction writing, have I got some suggestions for you.

As a ten-year ghostwriting freelancer, I have been disciplining myself to stay on track and focused for quite some time. I’ve learned some tricks on the business side, and I’m a positive fiend for studying new techniques.

Want to steal some of that? Follow this blog for the next month, and you’ll have 30 different story starts, 30 different journal entries to mine for content, 30 different fiction techiques to add to your toolbox, and lots, lot more.

And best of all? While it’s on the blog, it’ll be free.

Da Rules 

  • The business tip should take you no longer than 10 minutes; if it takes you longer, put it on your to-do list for later (unless you actually feel like doing it).
  • Study projects: literally type in the first 250-500 words (as you like) of the opening of the book, not counting any introductions, prefaces, or quotes, unless it’s part of the book. However you normally type your fiction, do that. If you hand-write fiction, you can hand-write the study projects, but stay on the low end.
  • Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has excellent advice on how to journal. She recommends 3 pages in a spiral-bound notebook. I advise to go for a minimum of 1 page spiral bound or 250-500 words typed.
  • Short writing topics: You can do more than 3 sentences. Stop when you feel like stopping. This is just to try something new.
  • Staying human: If you’re going to pick one thing to do every day, hydrate!
  • Fun with research: it’s best to do your own Internet searches, but I’ve provided a fun link to get started with.

My choices across the board reflect my own personal preferences, not any kind of absolute wisdom. This is a rapid prototype, not a well-thought-out plan of development for fiction writers!

The idea for this project came from a voice chat with some members of the Colorado Tesla Writers Group, who expressed that they were having trouble staying motivated to write.

DAY 28

Business Tip

Find the websites of five living authors you admire in your top subgenre, and note how the authors are selling their fiction. Where do they sell their fiction? What types of links do they use? What is their website layout for directing readers toward their work? Do they have some free work? Do they have a newsletter? Consider adding items to the “to do someday” section of your business plan.

Short Study Project

Type in the first page of Beloved by Toni Morrison. Highlight each element that points toward setting, or not setting, boundaries. (Use the Free Amazon sample!)

Journal Topic

Write one page or less about a necessary boundary that you didn’t set for far too long, but did eventually set. Describe what finally made you set that boundary, and what you think might have happened if you didn’t.

Short Writing Topic

Write 3 sentences about a character who has just set an uncomfortable boundary, and who anticipates a negative reaction. (Hint: don’t describe the boundary yet. Just describe the setting.)

Staying Human

Imagine the best of all possible mentors. They cannot be a real person. The next time you feel down, imagine them telling you, “You did a good job.”

Fun with Research

Research Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

If you enjoy these posts, please consider signing up for my newsletter or for my writing-craft project on Patreon. Thanks!

Enrichment Activities for Writers: Day 27

Enrichment Activities:
30 Days of Stay-at-Home Learning, Business,
and Self-Care Activities for Writers

Fiction writer?

Home?

Bored?

Thinking that you should be getting some writing done but somehow not getting anywhere with that?

First, let me recommend that you take it easy on yourself.

Second, have I got some ideas for you!

If you’re spinning your wheels and want someone to give you the equivalent of a small arts and crafts kit for fiction writing, have I got some suggestions for you.

As a ten-year ghostwriting freelancer, I have been disciplining myself to stay on track and focused for quite some time. I’ve learned some tricks on the business side, and I’m a positive fiend for studying new techniques.

Want to steal some of that? Follow this blog for the next month, and you’ll have 30 different story starts, 30 different journal entries to mine for content, 30 different fiction techiques to add to your toolbox, and lots, lot more.

And best of all? While it’s on the blog, it’ll be free.

Da Rules 

  • The business tip should take you no longer than 10 minutes; if it takes you longer, put it on your to-do list for later (unless you actually feel like doing it).
  • Study projects: literally type in the first 250-500 words (as you like) of the opening of the book, not counting any introductions, prefaces, or quotes, unless it’s part of the book. However you normally type your fiction, do that. If you hand-write fiction, you can hand-write the study projects, but stay on the low end.
  • Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has excellent advice on how to journal. She recommends 3 pages in a spiral-bound notebook. I advise to go for a minimum of 1 page spiral bound or 250-500 words typed.
  • Short writing topics: You can do more than 3 sentences. Stop when you feel like stopping. This is just to try something new.
  • Staying human: If you’re going to pick one thing to do every day, hydrate!
  • Fun with research: it’s best to do your own Internet searches, but I’ve provided a fun link to get started with.

My choices across the board reflect my own personal preferences, not any kind of absolute wisdom. This is a rapid prototype, not a well-thought-out plan of development for fiction writers!

The idea for this project came from a voice chat with some members of the Colorado Tesla Writers Group, who expressed that they were having trouble staying motivated to write.

DAY 27

Business Tip

Look through your “done” list and make a list of tasks which you will need to check up on later, but not “soon.” Add your #1 priority to the top of the list. Add your writing schedule. Congratulations! You now have a minimal business writing plan. If you like, start adding your long-term goals, wishes, dreams, and “if I get extra money in my tax return” information.

Short Study Project

Type in the first page of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, not Chapter 1, but the part beginning with “Far out in the uncharted backwaters…” Highligh all elements that hint at hopelessness and despair. (Use the Free Amazon sample!)

Journal Topic

Write one page or less about something that made you feel hopeless, and how you might insult, mock, heap sarcasm upon, minimize, belittle, satirize, or otherwise verbally wreck that situation. (Hint: don’t write about specific people. Anyone can write nasty things about their ex. Mock the situation itself.)

Short Writing Topic

Write 3 evil little sentences about a situation greatly in need of being mocked.

Staying Human

Go to your local library’s website and figure out how to check out ebooks, music, and/or movies from your local library. Hint: libraries are often funded based on how much they’re used!

Fun with Research

Watch an episode of a British satire that you haven’t seen before: Blackadder, Red Dwarf, and Fawlty Towers are classics.

If you enjoy these posts, please consider signing up for my newsletter or for my writing-craft project on Patreon. Thanks!

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