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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.

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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.
Active Description

Wordpainting for emotional effect!

Last week we took a look at Active Description and 4 Tips on how to wordpaint for emotional effect. 

This week, let’s take a look at incorporating those 4 Tips and Wordsmithing your description.

Once you have all the elements of FOCUS, or your metaphorical word pool, you want to start putting it together.

Obviously, when you are dealing with ACTIVE description, you’ll weave the elements in through the scene as the character moves through it.  It can be a bit more difficult with Static description to keep the story moving. I suggest 2-5 sentences of description if you have to stop the story to snapshot something.  

Now, here’s the trick: You’re creating a feeling with your description – and emotional impact or connection to your reader, so pick wisely every word. Here’s a trick I use: Think of a movie – start wide and then pull in closer, adding texture as you go.

In this scene, I wanted to give a sense of freedom, but also chaos, because Marcos and his brother Dino are late in returning home.

Apparently, the wind cared nothing for cooperation, either, dying to a trickle, leaving the skiff to barely list upon the smooth Ionian Sea. Perhaps it hadn’t helped that the elusive yet delicious barbouni had played the sea nymph, unwilling to be captured in the heat of such a glorious day. The red-mulleted delicacy flopped, angry and zealous, in the live-well of the boat’s stern, the mustard-yellow nets in a tumble at the bow.

Look at the words I use to create the feeling of freedom as well as chaos: Elusive, delicious, glorious, played the sea nymph, flopped, angry, zealous, the nets in a tumble.

In this scene: I wanted to give a sense of recklessness, the party feel of the ‘20s, as well as danger.  Let’s see how I wordpaint to give that feel.

Uncle Jimmy parked his car in a lonely alleyway between two brownstones. They got out and Markos followed him down a stairwell blocked by garbage cans. Uncle Jimmy stopped at a blackened door, knocked.

A panel in the door slid out, and eyes peered through.

“Hornsby,” Jimmy said, quietly.

The panel closed. Silence. Jimmy had removed his driving gloves and now slapped them in his hand.

A lock slid back with a click and the massive door opened.

Music spilled out as Uncle Jimmy hooked Markos’s arm and pulled him inside the basement room. “Welcome to America, boy.”

Green draperies covered the walls, tiny gaslights flickered at each round table inhabited by women with rouged lips, painted eyes, low-cut frameless dresses, some long, others fringed at the knee. They wore the brimless hats and high-heeled shoes he’d seen in storefronts. A blonde by the door, with hair cut to her chin, settled her eyes on him, a cigarette in a long black holder balanced between her fingers. She blew out a smoke ring as he passed by, her eyes trailing him.

Men in crisp suits and wide ties drank glasses of amber liquid.

Uncle Jimmy practically pushed him to the long bar.

“What is this place?


Tony’s—gin room? He’d heard the term, hadn’t really known…

I wanted to give the feeling of danger so I use descriptions like: gaslights flickered, rouged lips, painted eyes, low cut dresses, fringed, brimless, a smoke ring, eyes trailing him….

Now I’m going to stop and “snapshot” someone in the scene with a piece of Static Description.  Notice the words I use to show danger and temptation.

 At a stage at the far end of the room, a blonde sat on a stool, her low-cut red dress a siren in the dark club, crooning out a song with a husky tone that roused to life something inside him. His eyes fixed on her, the feeling growing at the way her gaze latched on him, the smile that crept up her blood-red lips. She turned and began to sing to him.

His entire body glued in place.

Behind her, a musician with man-sized bouzouki plunked out low tones, another played a shiny flute—stepping forward to solo as the woman finished, her final notes hanging in the blue haze of smoke, caressing the crowd.


[Low cut dress, crooning, husky tone, roused to life, latched, crept, blood red lips.]


The key to wordsmithing description for emotional effect is to carefully choose every single word for the nuance, feeling and emotional response, and embed them in your storyworld and description in order to add a mood or attitude to the scene.  And don’t forget perspective – remember, it all starts in the eye of the beholder.


Wordsmithing and Advanced Storyworld is the most powerful way to bring your story to life and build in the emotional connection for your reader.


Have a great writing week!

Go! Write something Brilliant!

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PS:  if you’re interested in taking your writing to a whole new emotional level, consider attending our 2016 Deep Thinker’s Retreat for advanced writers.  Check it out here!   





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Social Media Cleverness and Fun

I was perusing She Reads–a great book blog, by the way–and came across the humorous tweets of general market author, Deanna Raybourn.


I wish I could tweet funny stuff.

I mostly fill my feed with Scripture — which I love — and Buckeye football. Along with writerly tweets. Informational stuff. You know, borrring.

Here’s a Deanna tweet.  Funny right?

Rachel Hauck





So how do I get to write funny tweets? Or pithy author bios?

Like this one, from the author of The Royal We.

Heather Cocks is a die-hard sports fan; a dual citizen of the U.S. and U.K.; a Notre Dame grad; a Diet Coke addict; possibly the reincarnated soul of Elvis Presley, who died the exact day she was born; a sandwich advocate; and a former producer of several seasons of America’s Next Top Model.

I mean, I’m a sports fan. I like Diet Coke. And sandwiches? Totally my thing! Come on, it’s like we were separate at birth minus the Elvis part.

Yet I feel dull and boring when I read tweets and bios like these.

Then there’s the wise and wonderful set who fill the cyber world with life changing wisdom in 140 characters or less. I’ve come up with a few good ones now and then. But usually don’t know it and therefore can’t tweet it. Ha!

On my Facebook Page, my trusty and very amazing media assistant, Renee Smith, has created some great memes. She asked for favorite scripture verses from my Likers.

We posted those for six weeks. Those worked really well.

She does quotes from C.S. Lewis and Cory Ten Boom. One uncredited quote about watching our words reached 14,000,000. Yea, wild.

A quote from Michael Jordan reached 8,000,000.

And it started to build a brand on my Facebook.

In the mix, we post book news and memes with books quotes. My goal is to make the Page a place where people stop to get a word of encouragement. To read truth. Get a laugh.

I’m not pithy. Maybe I’m semi-witty. But I can’t woo with my tweets. Yet I can be a source of help and information. A source of Inspiration.

There’s my sweet spot.

Social media can be a tricky river to navigate. It’s a fast moving rapid in which  you have to paddle fast.

Author Jennifer Weiner made a mark in Twitterland with her quirky and rabid tweets about The Bachelor.

I try to follow along with The Voice, tweeting, building relationships but it’s such a quick tweeting process I feel lost in the shuffle.

The point is, social media is vast. Try to find what you think works best for you. Follow the tips provided by the experts but look to add your personality to your posts.

That’s how the world gets to know you.

I like this Deanna Raybourn just based on her tweets. I think we could hang if we ever met up at an author event.

Don’t get frustrated. Be patient. Stay with it.

Here’s a parting Deanna tweet.

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Cluttering Your Creativity? by Donna K. Rice

As I write this post, I’m in the process of packing the many books and supplies in my writing space. We’re downsizing. Sorting many years of collected family treasures, trinkets, and trash has consumed my summer. And yes, I did say trash. It’s amazing to me how many items we stored away thinking them valuable only to find now that we have collected a lot of trash. We cluttered our lives with too much of the unnecessary.

My writing space, left for the end of my sorting melee, turned out to be no different than the rest of our home. Full of the unnecessary. Full of clutter. Clutter weighing down my spirit, mind, and creativity. Clutter stealing my joy. As I rid my home of excess, I find my joy returning. It’s getting easier to pick up an item, determine it serves no purpose, then pitch it in the trash, recycle bin, or donation box.

If you’ve been considering cutting clutter or downsizing your home, here are some things I’ve learned in the last few weeks:

  • Start with the project you least want to tackle. When it’s done, you’ll feel more confident tackling the next room.
  • Don’t give up when you see the next cluttered space.
  • Develop a critical eye as quickly as possible. When I started, I kept too much. I’ve gone back to a few things and let them go.
  • Oh yes, don’t give up when you see the next cluttered space.
  • While it’s easy to plan on doing one room at a time like the organization books say, I found that if I really wanted to get all similar items together, I had to jump back and forth a bit. Better to suffer things being worse for a time if it all comes together nicely in the end.
  • Finally, did I tell you not to give up when you see the next cluttered space?

My writing space will soon be spiffy and ready for potential buyers to peruse as our house goes up for sale. I’ll enjoy the room in its new bare bones state, but what I’m really getting excited about is the freedom breaking loose in my creative mind and heart. Ideas and plans are forming for that day when I can focus on my writing again. I can’t wait to get back to my keyboard.


Donna writes women’s fiction and is represented by Sue Brower of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency. She’s a licensed minister, conference speaker, and estate planning attorney. She also works with GenderSave, a nonprofit seeking to empower women and girls at risk from gendercide practices in India. Contact Donna at donnakrice.com.

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