Giveaway of two books for writers

giveawayWe are more than a week into the new year…

I hope it’s been a good one for you so far. To help you make 2016 a more productive year for your writing, I’m giving away a free e-book copy of my two books for writers:

Goal Setting for Writers

This book is meant for everyone who finally wants to achieve his or her writing dreams, may it be publishing the first book, becoming a full-time writer, or write a certain number of books this year.

Time Management for Writers

This book is meant for everyone who wants to find more time to write or who wants to become a more prolific writer.

All you have to do to be entered into the drawing is to either leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

I’ll draw the two winners on Wednesday, January 13, so make sure you check back or—better yet—subscribe to this blog in the right-hand menu so you won’t miss the announcement.

Best of luck!

The best blogs for writers

blogIf you’re a writer constantly trying to improve your writing skills, you probably subscribe to a few blogs about writing, publishing, and marketing your book. But time is limited, so you can’t read them all, and there are so many blogs on writing out there that it’s hard to know which ones are worth reading.

I put together a list of my personal favorites. Here they are in alphabetical order:


Janice Hardy’s great blog about writing is updated every day.


When it comes to craft advice for writers, Jami Gold’s blog is probably my favorite.


Jane Friedman, the former publisher of Writer’s Digest, blogs about the publishing industry in the digital age.


Author and speaker Jody Hedlund blogs about writing every Tuesday.


Karen Woodward blogs about writing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.


Kaye Dacus, author of contemporary and historical romances, gives in-depth advice on the writing craft.


Eleven thriller and mystery writers blog about writing, with a new post every day.


K.M. Weiland, author of Outlining Your Novel, gives great advice on every aspect of writing a novel.


Author, editor, and writing coach C.S. Lakin runs a great blog for fiction writers.


Marcy Kennedy, the author of the A Busy Writer’s Guide series, blogs about writing twice a week.


Bryan Hutchinson provides tips on how to overcome fear and doubt as a writer.


Literary agent Rachelle Gardner doesn’t update her blog often, but when she does, the blog

posts are always very helpful.


Author and agent Sarah Negovetich blogs about writing, publishing, and marketing your books.


Authorpreneur Joanna Penn blogs about writing, publishing, and marketing in the digital era.


New advice on the craft and business of fiction by founders Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton and several other contributors.


What do you think? Are you reading any of these blogs? Which are your favorite blogs for writers?


15 great gifts for writers

Just two more weeks until Christmas!

If you haven’t yet done all your Christmas shopping for the writers in your life—or you want to get something cool for yourself—here’s my list of neat gift ideas for writers.

#1 Fingerless gloves

My hands get cold when I’m typing away at the keyboard, and I imagine other writers experience the same. Last year, I got a pair of fingerless gloves for Christmas. There are even writing gloves with literary motives.

writing gloves

#2 Books on writing

I know I have a couple of writing books on my wish list this year. If you have no idea where to start, take a look at my favorite books about writing—or buy a gift card for books.

#3 Writer’s Remedy

Who knew there’s a magic potion that can cure writer’s block? You can shake out magnetic words that will inspire you.

writer's remedy

#4 Notebooks

Most writers have a slight addiction to office supplies, including notebooks. There are some notebooks that are almost too beautiful to write in, including the ones from Paperblanks.


#5 Writing chocolate

Yes, you read that write—there is such a thing as writing chocolate. The Literary Gift Company offers a bar of chocolate that warns anyone who might interrupt you “Go away, I’m writing.” If you are in the UK, you can get the writer chocolate bar from the Quirky Gift Library.


#6 Writing software

A growing number of writers uses Scrivener, a software that is great for planning and writing your novel. I use it on both my computer and my MacBook.


#7 Dress Pant Sweatpants

Comfortable clothes are important for writers, but at the same time, you don’t want to greet the mailperson looking as if you just crawled out of bed. The Dress Pant Sweatpants might be the perfect solution.


#8 Writing magazine

Subscriptions for literary magazines such as Writer’s Digest or Scratch Magazine make good presents for writers too.

#9 Doodle & Stitch Pillowcase

This lined pillowcase is the perfect gift for scribbling down all the ideas that pop into your head while you’re trying to fall asleep. It comes with wash-out color markers.


#10 Writing conference or online seminar

If the writer in your life is trying to improve her craft, you could pay the registration fee for a writing conference or an online seminar for writers. I recommend Holly Lisle’s classes and Gwen Hernandez’ Scrivener classes.

#11 Distraction-free writing devices

Hemingwrite is a modern typewriter with an e-ink screen and cloud backup. You can also probably still get an AlphaSmarth, a battery-powered keyboard, even though they were discontinued in 2013.

There’s no Internet, Facebook, e-mail, or games on there, so there’s nothing to do but write.


#12 Bookends

Most writers are also avid readers, so bookends are always a nice gift too. There are some really unique bookends, for example these Katana Bookends or these Fairytale Bookends.


#13 Waterproof notebooks

You never know when a story idea might come to you while you’re in the shower or outside in the rain, so waterproof paper comes in handy.


#14 Flash Drive

Backing up manuscripts and research is important, so USB drives always come in handy—and some of them are fun too, for example this gun USB drive for crime writers.


#15 LED pen

Instead of turning on the light to scribble down an idea in the middle of the night, the writer in your life could just use an LED pen. I hear it’s a marriage saver!


Do you have any other gift ideas for writers?

If you are a writer, what’s on your wish list for Christmas?

Happy holidays, everyone!

How to improve your writing skills by listening to podcasts on writing

Listening to writing podcasts

Do you want to improve your writing skills but don’t have enough time to read blogs or books on writing? I certainly know how you feel. Sometimes, it’s hard to find enough time to write, much less stay up to date on the ever-changing publishing industry, marketing techniques, and writing tips.

Here’s the solution: Listen to some of the increasing number of writing podcasts. You can listen to writing advice or industry news on your way to work, while you exercise, do laundry, or clean your house. Podcasts are an excellent way to turn wasted time into a learning experience, so I put together a list of 35 writing podcasts that you might want to check out.

The Author Biz Podcast

A weekly podcast hosted by Stephen Campbell, intended for writers of all types, covering the craft and the business of writing.



Hosts Alan Baxter and David Wood interview authors and discuss happenings in the publishing industry, books they enjoyed, and writing genre fiction.


The Author Hangout

Weekly interviews with marketing experts. Each interview is recorded live, and the audience gets to ask questions. You can watch the video or listen to the podcast version.



Matt Gartland interviews authors of nonfiction and talks about business and marketing strategies that could be helpful not just for nonfiction writers but also for novelists.


Buddy’s Writing Show

Buddy Gott is interviewing writers, asking them about their writing process. There’s also a YouTube channel if you prefer the video format.


The Business of Writing Today

Host Peggy Dekay offers interviews and advice about self-publishing, marketing, and the business of writing.


The Creative Penn Podcast

Author and entrepreneur Joanna Penn offers bi-weekly interviews and information on writing, publishing and self-publishing, marketing, and creative entrepreneurship. You might want to also check out her helpful website and blog.


The Dead Robots’ Society Podcast

Justin Macumber and his co-hosts cover topics ranging from writing tips and industry news to book reviews and author interviews.


Fiction School Podcast

Three award-winning authors and writing professors—Jody Gehrman, Baker Lawley, Tommy Zurhellen—cover all aspects on writing and promotion your work.


Firsts in Fiction Podcast

Aaron D. Gansky and his guests discuss all aspects of writing, e.g., trends in fiction, internal conflict, character archetypes, etc. There’s also a YouTube channel if you prefer to watch the video.


Grammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty a.k.a. Grammar Girl presents short episodes on grammar issues, for example lay vs. lie.


Helping Writers Become Authors Podcast

K.M. Weiland offers advice on characterization, plotting, and the most common writing mistakes among many other things. She offers also a written version of each podcast. Make sure you also check out her helpful blog.


Hide and Create

Hosts Jordan Ellinger, Joshua Essoe, Debbie Viguié, and Michael J. Sullivan discuss all aspects of the writing craft and also give advice on marketing.


Inside Creative Writing

In this weekly podcast, host Brad Reed discusses craft and techniques for writers of fiction and creative nonfiction.


I Should Be Writing

Writer Mur Lafferty shares some craft information but mostly focuses on the ups and downs of an aspiring writer, how to deal with self-doubts, become more productive, etc.


Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Interviews and discussions about writing with well-known fiction and nonfiction authors such as Kathy Reichs and Hugh Howey.


The Narrrative Breakdown

Editor Cheryl B. Klein and James Monohan and other guest co-hosts discuss storytelling tips and techniques of interest to any writer.


Newbie Writer’s Podcast
There are 155 weekly episodes so far, hosted by Damien & Catharine Bramkamp, covering all aspects of writing, from platform building to writing a book in a weekend.


Novel Marketing

Bestselling writer James L. Rubart and Author Media CEO Thomas Umstattd talk about how to build an author platform and market your book. Each episode is usually 15-20 minutes long.


Odyssey Podcasts

These podcasts are excerpts from lectures given at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, mostly geared toward writers of science fiction and fantasy, but helpful to all other fiction writers as well.


The Portfolio Life

In this weekly podcast, Jeff Goins and his guests discuss the writing life. You might also want to subscribe to his excellent blog.


Rocking Self-Publishing

Simon Whistler interviews top self-published authors, talking about their success stories. A new interview is posted every Thursday.


Roundtable Podcast

Hosts Dave Robison and Brion Humphrey invite writers to share their story ideas and then everyone chines in, asking questions, pointing out problems, dissecting plot and characters, and finding solutions.


Savvy Self-Publishing Podcast

Full-time indie author Lindsay Buroker gives advice about writing, self-publishing, and promotion. There hasn’t been a new episode since 2012, but most of the information is still interesting today.


The Secrets

Bestselling author Micheal A. Stackpole talked about the secrets of succeeding as a fiction writer, from getting ideas to plotting to marketing and the future of publishing. Hasn’t been updated since 2008, but the advice still holds true.


The Self-Publishing Podcast

Indie authors Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David W. Wright and their guests talk about every aspect of self-publishing. A lot of what they talk about is also helpful for traditionally published authors. Their podcast comes with a language warning, though.


Self-Publishing Roundtable

The hosts vary, but they’re always indie authors interviewing fellow indie authors, talking about marketing techniques and writing in specific genres. If you prefer the video version, check out the YouTube channel.



This podcast, hosted by authors Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu, features podcasts that consist of three episodes each. The hosts review a book in episode 1, interview the author in episode 2, and discuss writing techniques using that book as an example in episode 3.


The Story Board

Host Patrick Rothfuss, an award-winning fantasy author, and his guests discuss writing in a Google+ Hangout, so there’s video too. A new episode goes live every first Thursday of the month.


This is Your Life

Michael Hyatt’s weekly podcast on platform-building and productivity. He doesn’t discuss writing, but topics such as overcoming resistance, developing more discipline, how to build your e-mail list, etc., could still be helpful to writers.


Write For Your Life
A weekly podcast about writing, copywriting, reading, and the publishing industry, hosted by Iain Broome and Donna Sørensen. Write for Your Life is part of the 5by5 network, currently airing its third season.


The Writing Coach

Kevin T. Johns talks to publishers, editors, authors, and publishing experts. So far, there are just three episodes, but it might still be worth checking out.


Writing Excuses

Authors Brandon Sanderson, Daniel Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal talk about fiction-writing techniques. Each episode is about 15 minutes long because, as they say, “you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”


The Writing Show

Host Paula Berinstein offers craft advice, interviews, and inspiration for all kinds of writers, including a “slush pile workshop.” No longer updated, but you can still find the episodes online.


The Writing University Podcast

The Virtual Writing University offers advice for fiction and nonfiction writers, for example on writing dialogue and description or on researching nonfiction.


Did I miss a podcast that could be of interest to writers?

Which are your favorite writing podcasts?

Please leave a comment!

Happy listening, everyone.


Recommended books on writing

books on writing

books on writing

In my office, an entire bookcase is dedicated to books on writing. While you can’t learn writing just by reading a book about it, there are books that can help you plot your novel, create believable characters, revise your manuscript, and improve your writing skills.

Since there are so many books on how to write a novel out there, it’s hard to know which ones to read. Maybe my list of personal favorites will help.

Books about writing in general:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King

Despite the title, this book doesn’t cover just self-editing; it covers all aspects of writing. I really recommend it for a basic understanding of concepts such as show and tell, point of view, and dialogue mechanics.

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

Sol Stein’s books is a classic—and for a good reason. Stein was a well-respected editor and novelist. His book addresses both writing fiction and writing nonfiction and includes a great chapter on writing dialogue.

On Writing by Stephen King

This is both a memoir and a book on writing. Read it even if you are not a fan of Stephen King.

Books on creating believable characters and point of view:

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

This is a part of the Writers’ Digest Elements of Fiction series that also includes other excellent books. It covers developing three-dimensional characters and also point of view.

The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley

One of few books that deals with point of view in fiction. The author, Alicia Rasley, is an editor who also has a blog that I recommend.

Books on plot and plotting:

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell explains story structure and how to develop strong openings, middles, and ends.

Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel by Cathy Yardley

Ms. Yardly’s book will help you plot the turning points of your novel, create a scene-by-scene outline, and get to know your characters better.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

This to-the-point book explains the benefits of outlining and gives you pointers on how to brainstorm and outline your novel.

Books on grammar, spelling, and style:

Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner

Well written and fun. Who knew there was such a thing as grammar book that makes you laugh!

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition)

This is the dictionary I use. There’s also an online version.

The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale

This very expansive volume will help you out whenever you’re in need of a synonym.

The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

The style guide that most companies publishing fiction use. Make sure you (and your editor) are familiar with it.


There are many more helpful books on writing, but these are the ones I use most often.

If you can recommend other helpful books on writing, please leave a comment.

Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis