Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Tackling Writer's Block

by Deniz Bevan 

I’ve written a few blog posts before about overcoming writer’s block.

Sometimes it’s the result of a dearth of ideas, other times due to factors beyond our control.

One of the oft-suggested methods of overcoming a block is to repeat the same action every day.

I find it easier to write every day than to exercise every day!

The Maiden’s Tower, Istanbul
Still other times, it’s insecurity that gets to us. When every word sounds stupid and clich├ęd and nothing the characters say seems plausible or remotely exciting. A good cure for this is to go out and live life for a while. Step away from the page and interact with others. Do something fun and unexpected!

For those times when we can’t do that – faced with a deadline or the need to by-gum-get-things-done – I’ve got a few tips and tricks that have helped me:

Read poetry, especially something that’s written in a style completely unlike what you’re used to reading or writing. Penning a dark urban mystery? Read some Gerard Manley Hopkins. Creating a lyrical literary masterpiece? Browse some Bukowski. The contrast, and the turned-on-its-head way of looking at the world, tends to jump start creativity.

The ancient town of Ephesus
Research. Not in a long-term, leading-to-procrastination way, but in fits and starts. What’s the view from the castle at Naples? A two second Google image search. Can you use coltsfoot in stew? Another split-second search. Don‎’t get distracted by photos of the Italian countryside or delicious recipes. Search, find the answer, return to the manuscript. Done! Hopefully, that’ll satisfy any urge you might have had to click over to social media…

Lake Geneva shoreline
Plan for writing time. “Today I will write from 1 to 3 p.m.” Watch your writing time get eaten up by family, freelancing, chores, what have you. Get mad. Write anyway, even if you lose an hour’s sleep. Go away from your usual haunts and write somewhere new.

Browse images!

I love my Story Inspirations board

It’s useful for so many things:

--seeing the exact expression on a character’s face

--visualizing a location you haven’t had a chance to visit yet

--remembering to include details of colours and textures into descriptions!

--capturing the feel of a kiss (if you’re writing a romantic scene)

The Aegean Sea

It’s also useful for story prompts! Not sure how to wade into a scene? Pick a location or a pose or an object (yes, my latest pin is of a clawfoot bathtub!), slide a character into position, and begin to write!

What are your go-to methods for finding inspiration at the start of a writing session? 

Deniz Bevan - DARK MATTER: "One to Another"

Deniz Bevan has lived and worked in Turkey, and her non-fiction work, including travel articles, book reviews and personal essays, has most recently appeared in the trilingual (English, French, and Turkish) newspaper Bizim Anadolu. Her short story 'Where There's Life' was shortlisted for the Surrey (Canada) International Writers' Conference Storyteller's Award in 2013. Her contemporary romance, Summer Fire is out now with Carina Press. And there’s a playlist for that story, and many others, on her YouTube channel! And her Story Inspirations board on Pinterest features images of all her characters.

A firm believer in burning the candle at both ends, she is generally writing a new novel while editing another, and blogging about her reading and research adventures -- and sharing travel photos – weekly on her blog, The Girdle of Melian. Other days, she tries to stay off the web altogether, as she delves into the history, mystery, and romance of her characters’ lives.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Rapid Release of a Series

How to Rapid Release a Series


Authors used to come out with a new book every three years or so. Fans were forced to wait for a full-length novel from their favorite author. However, eBooks and the ability to self-publish changed that long wait. Now authors could put out books faster, including short stories and novelettes.


Let me outline some of the benefits of rapid releasing a series:


Maintains reader interest:

Fans no longer have to wait years and years.

Reader interest in a series doesn’t fade with releases coming out so close together.

Those who like to read an entire series at once can safely jump in knowing they can get to the last book very soon.


It keeps the author’s name out there longer:

Authors with books in rapid release are constantly on social media and more visible to readers.

Reviews keep appearing for the books, spreading awareness.


It gives every book time to build:

Readers who discover the second or third book will go back for the previous ones.

When one book starts to fade, another is released, renewing interest.


Consistent marketing:

Book marketing is ever-changing, but books released close together can benefit from the same promotional ploys.

A template from the first book’s marketing can be duplicated, making it easy to set up promotions for the remaining books.


Now, let’s look at how to set up a rapid release:


One must be good at multi-tasking:

Author needs to be planning and working on several books at once.

Many tasks will overlap—writing, editing, marketing. Authors need to juggle multiple tasks and for several books.

Authors need to decide up front if they can keep up the pace.


Plan the entire series first:

Determine genre, length, and theme.

Outline (as best as possible) each book in the series.

Be aware of overlaps and continuing characters.


Write at least three stories before releasing:

Write the first book, polish it, send to editor, then do final edits. Prepare book cover and promotions.

Write the second book and repeat.

Write the third book. At this point, once the third is polished and sent to the editor, the first book can be released. If there are more than three books, the next ones need to be outlined and ready to begin.


Determine the length in between books:

How long will it take the author to write each one?

What is the length of each story? Shorter ones, closer together. Longer ones can enjoy more breathing room.

When will release dates fall? Always aim for the best book-selling months.


Readers today are impatient. They don’t want to wait years and years. But now authors are in a great position to give readers what they want. A series they enjoy without a lot of waiting!


A professional speaker and author, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars, offers book formatting, and author consultation. She’s the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Find Diane at

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Character Creation

and the Proust Character Profile Questionnaire 
by Sylvia Ney

There are many important elements of fiction. However, I feel like the most significant is character. Characters allow the reader to connect with the story in a more personal way through mental, emotional, and even social qualities relevant to the time and theme. I’m fascinated by motivation and social reflections. Even setting can be seen as a character on its own. Multi-dimensional characters (even when they are inanimate objects) aid the author in creating more credible, complex, and truly great tales. A “great” story is anything that consumes your attention so fully that it becomes depressing to put it down. I hope my own writing is able to do the same to others.  

Since completing my initial story outlines for “Paper Faces” in the First Love anthology and “WIN” in the Parallels anthology, I noticed a few holes as I worked to complete a final draft. I found my pacing was a bit awkward. I rushed some parts and left out details I needed to flesh out before the tales were complete. I want my own readers to become fully immersed in believable and enjoyable stories. Yet, I struggled in those early stages to find a balance in showing not only physical description and background information, but offering psychological and interpersonal glimpses to form a more compelling tale. 

Between the initial story outline and the finished draft, I realized I needed to focus more on the individual lives of my characters. I have always had an appreciation for history, social constructs, and character motivated adventures. However, my early drafts only skimmed the surface of who these people might be, and why anyone might care.

Then, I found the Marcel Proust Character Questionnaire. This tool became invaluable. I have seen character sketch activities before, but they were mostly about physical appearance. Many of them seemed arbitrarily useful for character creation. This one (the Proust Character Questionnaire) really made me think about who each individual was, and how I might continue plotting my tale. I encourage you to take a look and try to fill it out for at least three of the characters in your current WIP. For instance, in my latest romance I filled it out for my hero, heroine, and the villain. After all, those are the three most significant characters in my story. Upon completing all three, I realized I had a detailed outline for the story when I had not previously been certain how I wanted to proceed with the tale. I hope you’ll give it a try. Let me know in the comments how it goes. 

Works Cited 

Proust, Marcel. “Character Questionnaire”. Gotham Writers, Accessed April 5, 2022. 

Sylvia Ney is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. She is currently serving as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Texas at Austin and as a high school English teacher. Sylvia has served as a Board Member of both the Texas Gulf Coast Writers and Bayou Writers Group of Louisiana. She has published newspaper and magazine articles, photography, poetry, and short stories. To learn more, visit