Nearly Everything I Need to Write a Book I Learned in Elementary School

by Kelly Klepfer

1) Learn. 

Not even kidding about this. You need to invest your time, energy, heart and soul in learning what to do and what not to do. This involves conferences, books, magazines and blog reading. If you are new, you may have already poised to click out of this because you are tired of hearing this advice. But, there is no way around this step if you want to succeed. In order to be published and/or sell books, you have to give the impression that you are worth investing in. And the advice that hundreds of thousands of people give is that you learn to write according to the rules. When you get those down, you can calculate how to creatively twist those in your story.
2) Be a grownup.
Remember the horror of having to raise your hand to go use the restroom? Or heaven forbid you threw up in class and they had to call Mr. Kenny to bring his bucket of sawdust to clean up your desk? Utter humiliation. This rule is also something many people don’t want to hear. In a fantasy world it would be so fabulous to sit down, crack out a novel and then make enough money to buy a private, fully staffed island. But in reality, writing is painful. If you’ve never suffered through a critique or edit but have only been praised for your gift, brace yourself. Pull on those big boy or girl undergarments and know it’s as tough as a dental visit after skipping twice a year for a decade.

You can’t successfully write alone. You become immune to your quirks and favorite phrasing and enamored with your characters. With immunity comes distorted vision. The goal of writing should be clear communication. And there are so many ways to be unclear. It requires teachability, humility and motivation to accept that someone suggests that your flowery writing is obscuring what you are trying to say. Or even worse, someone recommends you cut a character that really complicates things and muddies the waters. The character you wrote based on your sorority sisters. See the need for adult underwear?

3) Play well with others. 

Publishing, though there are millions of books on Amazon, is a tiny world. If you make a habit of being rude or difficult, others won’t want to work with you. Publishing and its huge big brother, marketing, is challenging if you’ve been hateful to others. Blogs do not have to share your book information. People don’t have to friend, like or follow you. An editor or agent who attended a conference where you acted like a prima donna might remember you for all sorts of reasons, none of them good.

4) I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. 

This is all about social media. If you only FB hang with your inner circle you are missing out on potential readers. If you never thank people, like their stuff or return follow them when they reach out to you, you are going to get lonely when it comes time to find a group of readers who’d love to promote your book. You need a platform and a willingness to invite others on your journey. But that also means you need to be willing to return that favor when it’s their time.

5) Be kind. 

If you stick this out, you will have opportunities to help newbies or even kids on your bus. You don’t have to be dishonest, but always look for a gentle way to say something that might be critical. For example, laughing hysterically and calling someone a hack is not the best way to help them. Instead point out why you got hung up on their particular wording. Or when you review a novel don’t give it two stars and point out that you hate the characters’ names. Instead, communicate positive things in the book, as well as negative.

6) Remember that lunch and recess are part of the day as well. 

Sometimes you just need to sleep on it. Pull yourself out of your cramped office space and take a shower or eat dinner with your family. There might even be some time for a rousing game of tetherball, even if a deadline looms.

7) If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.
Don’t give up. If writing is in your blood you’ll go crazy trying to ignore it. Take a summer or Christmas sized break if needed. But always keep reading and go ahead and do a few reports along the way.

Yay! The bell just rang. I’m outta here. 

If writing is in your blood you’ll go crazy trying to ignore it.~ Kelly Klepfer (Click to Tweet)

Kelly Klepfer
had ambitions to graduate from the school of life quite awhile ago, but alas . . . she still attends and is tested regularly. Her co-authored cozy/quirky mystery, Out of the Frying Pan, is the culmination of several of the failed/passed tests.

Kelly, though she lives with her husband, two Beagles and two hedgehogs in Iowa, can be found at Novel Rocket, Novel Reviews, Scrambled Dregs, Modern Day Mishaps, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter with flashes of brilliance (usually quotes), randomocities, and learned life lessons. Zula and Fern Hopkins and their shenanigans can be found at Zu-fer where you always get more than you bargained for. Please join my author page.

Going Deeper

by Carol J. Post

Before I was published, I used to enter a lot of contests. One of the first contests I entered, a judge said I needed to learn to write in deep point of view. I had never heard of it and had to look it up. I have to say, that is some of the best writing advice I have ever gotten.

Writing in deep point of view is not for the lazy. Not only is the concept difficult to master, scenes written in deep point of view also take longer to write, often requiring more words. But the result is well worth the extra effort. Deep point of view lets the reader experience the story through the eyes of the POV character. It adds sparkle to that character’s voice and gives the writing emotional punch.

The first step in deepening point of view is to fully know your characters. What do they want more than anything? What do they feel strongly about? What are their goals, motivations and conflicts? What about quirks, things that make them unique and memorable? Don’t just write about the character; become the character. (Click to Tweet)

Here are some tips for deepening point of view:

  1. Eliminate “telling” words and phrases. These are words like thought, felt, saw, heard, wondered, decided, realized, and phrases like was sure and was determined. All of these words and phrases distance the reader from the POV character, because the author is intruding on the story, telling what the character is experiencing. Instead of “He heard a gunshot,” try “A shot rang through the air.” Instead of “She felt sick,” try “Nausea churned in her gut.” Instead of “She was determined not to fall for him again,” try “No way was she going to fall for that dark charm again.”

  1. Try to describe emotions rather than naming them. This isn’t to say that you will never name an emotion, but showing the character feeling and acting is much more powerful. Abstract words don’t evoke emotion. When describing an emotion, consider its physical effects on the body, the actions and behaviors of someone experiencing it, and thoughts in keeping with that particular emotion.

In Out for Justice, the heroine, a homicide detective discovers that the latest victim of a serial killer is her cousin. Telling her reaction using a shallow point of view, we would say, “Lexi was shocked and horrified.” In deep point of view, the reader instead experiences those emotions with Lexi:

Lexi shook her head. The ground seemed to tilt beneath her and she took a stumbling step backward to steady herself. A scream of protest clawed its way up her throat, followed by a wave of nausea that almost brought her to her knees.
Alan’s words finally penetrated her befuddled brain, several seconds too late.
“Lexi, it’s Kayla.”

  1. Try to eliminate dialogue tags as much as possible. By their very nature, dialogue tags (he said, she whispered, etc.) are “telling.” Action and emotion beats show the reader not only who is speaking but also what that character is thinking, feeling and doing. Instead of “talking heads,” we have real flesh-and-blood characters. In the following snippet of conversation from Trust My Heart, the action and emotion beats give the reader insight into the characters that simple tags wouldn’t.

She picked up her coffee cup and washed the Danish down with a loud slurp. “So you’re single? No wife? No girlfriend?”
He cocked a brow at the intrusion into his privacy. But something told him this fiery-haired Bernie wasn’t much for convention.
“I’m not married.” He’d made that mistake once. Two years and a quarter of a million dollars later, he was once again single.
“Don’t worry, you’re still young.” She gave his hand a couple of pats. “You’ve got plenty of time.”
He stifled a snort. Thirty wasn’t exactly young. And if single was an ailment, he wasn’t looking for a cure.

  1. Incorporate sensory details. Showing what a character is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling is one of the most effective ways to immerse a reader into a scene. Choose two or three vivid details, but make sure they are things the character would reasonably notice at that time. Here is the beginning of a scene from Hidden Identity that incorporates the senses of sight and hearing.

Time moved at a snail’s pace.
Meagan sighed and dropped her gaze from the clock on the wall to the book of poetry lying open in her lap. Voices buzzed around her, and across the room, a mother tried to quiet a crying baby.

A half page later, the hero appears, and we have the senses of smell, sound and touch.

A familiar scent wafted toward her, the faintest hint of evergreen, tipped with spice. Her thoughts tumbled over one another.
“Mind if I interrupt your reading?” The voice close to her ear was liquid smooth, sending goose bumps cascading over her.

For more information on this topic, Kathrese McKee, author and editor, offers a great resource. She has written an amazing booklet titled Mastering Deep POV, which takes a passage, sentence by sentence, and transforms it from shallow to deep point of view. She offers the booklet free to all her newsletter subscribers. You can find her at

Now go back through your current work in progress and see how deep you can go. Reach into the heart of your character and tap into all that emotion. And step out of the way. Your reader will remember your story and characters long after THE END.


Going Deep: Elicit Greater Emotion Through DEEP POV by Carol J. Post (Click to Tweet)

Don’t just write about the character; become the character.~ Carol J. Post (Click to Tweet)

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

Connect with Carol at her website,, Facebook (, or Twitter ( For regular updates, sign up for Carol’s newsletter (

Book Blurb:
Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.
After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.
The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

Shifty-Shifty ~ How to Shift From 1st to 3rd Person by Varina Denman

How to Shift (Smoothly) From 1st to 3rd Person, and Back Again
Varina Denman
When I drafted my first novel, I didn’t know it was against the rules to switch back and forth from 1st to 3rd person. My main character’s POV was in 1st which felt natural, but after a while, I wanted to let the reader see inside the hero’s head, so I plopped down a chapter in 3rd and continued drafting a crazy mixed-up jumble.
THEN, I discovered craft books. Oh me, oh my, I had broken the rules, but no … maybe not. It depended on which books and blogs I read. So I toyed with the manuscript, tweaking and re-writing, and after a while … those POV shifts almost worked. Over the course of three books, I learned a lot about POV shifts, and now I’d give anything to be able to go back and edit that first manuscript just a teensy bit more.
As a reader, many times I find myself in the middle of a chapter, only to realize I’m in the wrong character’s head. One time, I went back and skimmed several pages, re-living every word through the correct person’s perspective. So very annoying, but it taught me something. In my own writing, I need to make POV shifts easy for the reader, and now I follow a simple rule of thumb.
When switching from 1rd to 3rd (or vice versa), special care should be taken with the VERY FIRST sentence of the scene.
Even the first WORD, if possible. I need to cement the new POV in the reader’s mind, and the closer to the beginning of the scene the better. Here’s an example of the first line of a chapter written in 3rd person in Clyde’s perspective. The preceding chapter was in 1st in Lynda’s perspective.
Clyde wondered if he would always attend worship alone. As he slipped through the double doors of the Trapp church building and stood in the tiny foyer he could hear Dodd Cunningham teaching a Bible lesson behind a hollow door.
This works because I’ve immediately grounded Clyde with an internal thought to put the reader right in the character’s head. In the first two words of the chapter, the reader has no doubt in whose perspective the chapter is written (because Lynda can’t know what Clyde is wondering.)
This technique grows weaker when it is placed deeper into the scene. If I had switched the two sentences in the example, putting the action first, it would have muddied things up, because Lynda is capable of describing Clyde’s actions from her 1st person perspective.
If smooth enough, the untrained reader won’t even notice the switch from 1st to 3rd, and that’s my goal.
The goal is not to make a smooth transition, but an invisible one.
In order to check the invisibility of the shift, it’s good practice to read aloud the last paragraph of the preceding chapter followed by the first paragraph of the new one. I put myself in the reader’s chair, and determine if the transition is smooth enough to avoid confusion.
This all seems simple enough, right? But … oh, dear … there’s bad news:
It’s more difficult shifting from 3rd to 1st
Personally, when I read a book, third person is easier for me to digest. I feel as though the story is laid out in pieces, and I merely come along and pick them up. 1st person takes a little more work, because I’m becoming the character. Even more difficult, is reading from 3rd straight into 1st, because I have to adjust my thinking.
Once again, the trick is to put the reader into the head of the POV character as soon as possible. The problem lies in the fact that if I jump into 1st person narrative immediately after a 3rd person chapter, the reader has no idea who that 1st person character is. Not only is it jarring and confusing, but the reader is likely to throw down the book in frustration. So …
When switching from 3rd to 1st, I must label the POV character before giving the internal thought.
I have two options. In the first, I use another character to identify the POV character through a line of direct address. This points-out who the “I” is going to be, so the reader is prepared for the 1st person internal thought.
“Lynda, that man wants you.”
I pressed my lips together and scowled at Dixie, ending the conversation before it started.
The dialogue tells the reader that Lynda is in the room, and the very next sentence puts the reader in Lynda’s head, showing that this chapter is in 1st person, Lynda’s perspective. The internal thought isn’t in the first words of the chapter, so clearly, the shorter the dialogue the better. I also leave off dialogue tags here, making the distance from the word Lynda to the internal thought as short as possible.
Another way to label the POV character is to tag an inanimate object.
Lynda’s Makeup and Stuff.
The stenciling on my cosmetic case had faded, but I could still make out Velma’s handwriting.
This is the same principle as using a line of dialogue, only it gives you the freedom to have the character in a scene alone. Another option is to show a text message, or voicemail, or—with a subtle twist on the dialogue idea—have the character remember a line of dialogue from a previous scene.
In spite of going to great lengths to soften the transition for readers, POV shifts can still be jarring, but it seems that readers have learned to adjust as we writers stretch the limits and change the rules. And that’s good for us, because it’s fun to be able to give readers a different literary experience.
What tricks do you use to make POV shifts smooth or possibly … invisible?

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. A native Texan who spent her high school years in a small Texas town, Varina now lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Her passion is helping others make peace with their life situations. Varina’s Mended Hearts series is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Connect with Varina through her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Multi-Published Author Terri Blackstock Reveals the Two Best Writing Tools

The Two Best Writing Tools—
Pain and Passion

byTerri Blackstock

I’ve written over seventy books, but the ones that have been the most successful have been the ones born of personal passion. I don’t mean a passion like strawberries or Diet Coke—though I am passionate about those. I mean something that cuts me deeply or makes me livid or comes from some emotional roller coaster I couldn’t control. Sometimes the passion comes from something I’ve seen happen to others, and my ire has flown up like a flock of angry birds, and it keeps me awake at night. Sometimes it comes from my own barely-healed wounds.

Bruce Springsteen once said, “I’ve always believed the greatest rock and roll musicians are desperate men. You’ve got to have something bothering you all the time.” I think that applies to writers of all kinds. Great writers are often desperate. They’re desperate to right some wrong, desperate to illuminate injustice, desperate to understand why hurtful people hurt, desperate to rewrite chapters of their own lives so they can analyze them from some distance. Depression seems to be a common trait among songwriters and novelists, and that may be what leads them into those vocations. I’m convinced we feel things more keenly than most people do, and we have no choice but to write those feelings down, couched in some story that gives them context and makes them palatable for others to read … and easier for us to dissect. Maybe God allows us to have more trouble in our lives, not because we’re less favored, but because we are the troubadours and storytellers who will make people feel validated and less alone. Maybe people need to hear what we’ve learned.

Of course there are exceptions. I sold my first book at the age of twenty-five, when I hadn’t yet accumulated that many scars. I met with some success before I’d ever experienced the devastation of divorce, before I’d dealt with the self-destruction of a beloved family member on drugs, before I’d known much about death or disease, betrayal or heartbreak. It can be done, and it can be done well. I don’t mean to say that all writers are depressed or overly sensitive. Some of them are well adjusted optimists whose talent doesn’t depend on emotional trauma. I don’t want to paint us all as hyper-sensitive and melancholy. But I believe many of us are.

When wounds are inflicted, we often think we have to shut down, be quiet, back away. Maybe that’s when we should do just the opposite. Maybe that’s when our best work will come. Maybe that’s when we’ll write our masterpiece.

I remember the morning of September 11, 2001, when my writer friends and I were emailing each other frantically, shocked at what had just happened. We all wanted to shut off our computers and sit in a dark room watching the TV images of the towers falling over and over. But I had a strong gut feeling that we needed to do just the opposite. People needed us now more than ever. As Christian writers, we needed to feel the depth of that tragedy, then turn it into something that could bring comfort to our readers or express what they wished they could say. We needed to find where God was working and remind people that He was still there. We needed to turn that passion into something that mattered. We were here, gifted with language and story and perspective and hair-trigger sensitivity, for a very specific reason.

Maybe that’s the purpose in all of our wounds. Stephen King said, “A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”


Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over seven million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. Her most recent suspense novel is If I Run, about a young female fugitive whose being accused of a heinous murder.  Other books include Truth Stained Lies (the Moonlighters Series), Intervention (the Intervention Series), and Last Light (the Restoration Series). See the complete list of Terri’s books at Join her at Facebook ( and Twitter (