Learn How To Write A Novel - Writing Classes and Workbooks

Starting to Write?

40 video/audio lessons that take you step-by-step from idea to finished novel, taught by an award-winning, best-selling novelist and nationally acclaimed writing teacher. Easy, understandable, foundation elements essential for every genre. Learn Skills, Secrets and most of all... Story.

Rewriting and Editing?

A great book isn't written. . .it's rewritten. Learn how to analyze and fix your novel’s problems with this unique “self-editing” system. . .then arm yourself with over 40 Advanced Fiction Classes and rewrite your story into publication.

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You’ve worked too hard to quit now. Your story is nearly ready, but now it’s time to sell your novel. Learn the steps to creating a powerful proposal, secrets to pitching, the key elements to your marketing plan, a social media primer and how to create rabid reader fans. It’s time to ignite your career.
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Best Places to find Free & Copyright Free Images to use Online

As bloggers, we all need images to illustrate our posts. There are many ways to get these images. There are also a lot of pitfalls if you accidently download an image that has copyright constraints. Doing a search for free images won’t necessarily net you the results you need.

It’s our responsibility to know the Creative Commons License of any image we use. Today, I’m going to break it down for you.

The first—and safest—method of obtaining images for your posts is to take them yourselves. I never go anywhere without my smart phone and frequently have my camera in tow. I’ve learned to look for common illustrated things I need. Like a path, an obstacle, or even a gate.

If you don’t have an image of your own to use, you’ll need to look online for an image. Buying images can be expensive and, if you have a pop up Pinterest button on your blog, these images can get others into trouble. When you purchase an image, it’s only for your own use, and if someone else pins it, they are in violation of copyright.

Know Your Creative Commons Licenses 

My preference is to search for sites that offer Creative Commons Zero (CCO).

This means that you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial products without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer and/or designer.

To read the definitions of all the different Creative Commons Licenses, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.

These are the sites I use regularly that offer Creative Commons Zero (CCO)

  1. http://pixabay.com- This is one of my two favorite sites. It does require that you register or fill out a Captcha to download. I love the quality and the variety of images on this site.
  1. http://www.pexels.com – This is the second of my favorite sites. It doesn’t require registration and is equally as easy to use.
  1. The four sites below also have CCO licensed photos but are a little clunkier to use.

Other Options

There are numerous other sites with free images that vary in their Creative Common Licenses. The problem with many is that the license is different for every image you choose. For me, that’s just too confusing. I also prefer to caption my images with something from the blog post, instead of an attribution. I don’t mind attributions at the end of the blog, but on the image will interfere with search engine rankings.

Once I have an image, then what?

Once I download an image to use, I frequently like to modify it. I’ll either add text, or a filter, or even crop it to fit with what I need for that specific post. I have two sites that I like to use for that.

My favorite is www.Picmonkey.com. Another good site for manipulating images is www.Canva.com. Canva offers more options, but there’s a steeper learning curve. Canva also offers images, but you need to be careful to only create designs with the license that is applicable to your needs.

Using images for blogging and social media is a great way to increase shares, likes and overall interaction. But we must be careful to know what is legal to use online.

Now it’s your turn. What sites do you use for images and what questions do you have about finding and using images? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Extreme Book Makeover: Building Storyworld

Because it was Independence Day weekend, the Warrens smoked some ribs and the watched…Avatar?  I’m not sure why that was the weekend pick, but we dove into the extended version and I noticed something. . .

James Cameron didn’t skimp on Storyworld. I’m not sure if these extra scenes fell to the cutting room floor, of if I simply didn’t notice them the first time, but in this version, Jake (the human/avatar) wanders the world of Pandora discovering the secrets in numerous scenes that accentuate the wonder of this world—from mushrooms that become flying bugs, to a fluorescent jungle floor, to the brightly decorated reptiles.  The extended scenes gave me a glimpse into just how Jake fell in love with this world, and seeing it helped my own journey to love Pandora.

When we think about wordsmithing, we need to consider how we bring our reader into the world of the story, aka, the storyworld.  Especially when we’re writing a historical or a fantastical setting, we need to stop and take the time to develop it. So many of my clients have developed strong characters with compelling plots, but when they appear on the page, it feels as if they’re walking around a set, back-dropped by a green screen.

But storyworld isn’t just description. Description steps outside the character to take a snapshot.  Storyworld, however, brings us into the world through the eyes of the POV character, showing us how he/she experiences it.

Here are some tricks to building great storyworld:

News:  Start with the 5Ws as you look at the world.  Where are we, physically in the world?  When are we? (time of day, season). Who is in it?  What is happening?  And Why are we there?  (this requires your character to do something, which adds action to the description.)

Observations:  Use the 5 senses to bring the story to life.  Taste, Touch, Sound, Sight, Smell.

Here’s a beautiful passage from the book I’m currently reading (Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross—if you haven’t read this series, she’s a master at storyworld!)

They rounded the last turn of the trail and saw it, then, the high fieldstone chimney rising above the trees on the ridge, its fat plume of smoke curling over the roof.

The house stood.

He breathed deep in relief, noticing now the other smells of home; the faint rich scent of manure from the stable, of meat smoked and hanging in the shed, and the breath of the forest nearby— damp wood and leaf-rot, rock and rushing water, the touch of it cold and loving on his cheek. They came out of the chestnut grove and into the large clearing where the house stood, solid and neat, its windows glazed gold with the last of the sun.

It was a modest frame house, whitewashed and shingle-roofed, clean in its lines and soundly built, but impressive only by comparison with the crude cabins of most settlers. His own first cabin still stood, dark and sturdy, a little way down the hill.

Smoke was curling from that chimney, too.

She uses the 5 senses to help us experience the season, the smells, the sights—even the taste of coming home and the experience of relief.

Here’s a hint about using the 5 senses:  If you don’t know what senses to write about, try making a list of all the possible senses you might experience in a scene like this. Then, when you’re writing you’ll have a word pool to draw from.

Voices: Who else in the scene that could be talking?  Or, are their signs, books and other “visual voices” you can add that lends a sense of voice?  Hearing a local in the description give is authenticity. Think about the voices you hear at a baseball game—the crowd, the hotdog venders, the cheerleaders, the fan in back of you yelling at you to sit down—they all conspire to bring the scene to life.

Emotion:  Every storyworld contains a piece of emotion because it is fed through the lens of a POV character who wants something, who feels something.  Embedding emotion into storyworld using symbolism, active verbs and specific nouns aids in creating the emotional layering of the character.  It’s almost like cheating because an author simply has to be in the character’s head, and describe the scene in his voice, and we’ll get a glimpse at what the character feels.

Specific Language: Use specific details to bring the world to life.  Storyworld that tells us exactly what we’re seeing—rhododendron instead of plants, roses instead of flowers helps us see the world in focus.


Adding storyworld to your novel is not only essential to your scene building but creative, emotional, descriptive storyworld will also turn you into a powerful wordsmither.

Have a great writing week!

Go! Write something Brilliant!

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3 Tips to Help You Describe Your Character’s Eye or Hair Color

Being writers makes us describers.

We introduce a main character, knowing we are required to describe how our hero or heroine or villain looks, sounds, yes, even how they smell.

Sometimes we go so far as to “cast” our books, assembling photos of actors and actresses on Pinterest boards – our dream ensemble, should our novel ever become a movie.

Recently, I found myself talking writing with a variety of published authors. The question: How to describe a character’s hair color.

Easy to do, right?


How many times have you heard brown hair – or blond or black or red – described in “heard it all before” terms?
Brown hair – brown sugar
• Blond hair – honey blond
• Black hair – jet black
• Red hair – copper

And what about eye color?
Cornflower blue eyes
• Chocolate brown eyes
• Emerald green eyes

The challenge is to come up with fresh words to illustrate things other authors are also describing. To take everyday things and make them ours. No, not ours – make them our characters. But how do we do that?

Tie the color back to your character’s favorite memory – something related to their Happiest Moment. If your heroine’s favorite memory takes place during the spring, maybe the hero’s eyes are the green of new spring grass. If the memory centers around a family campout, maybe the hero’s eyes are the smoky grey that lingers around a campfire.
Keep colors in context and connect colors back to your character’s profession or hobbies. If your character is an outdoorsy person, then maybe the heroine’s eyes are as blue as the Colorado sky – a very distinct blue, by the way. If your character is dog groomer, maybe the hero’s hair is the same burnished red color as an Irish setter’s.
Google a specific color – blue, green, brown – and then click on the link for images. By browsing through photographs, you come across fresh images to spark new ways to describe colors. When I googled the color “brown,” a photo prompted me to describe my hero’s eyes as a “faded brown leather.” DISCLAIMER: Sometimes you run across some “dicey” images when you google a color. Just be forewarned.

What helps you be creative when describing a character’s eye or hair color?

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