Guest Post: Rachel Smith – Four Simple Ways To Get Your Book Noticed

Rachel SmithThe t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. Your book is done and you’re ready to publish. And the hardest part is over…but your work is not done. Now it’s time to begin your marketing plan. First, let’s assume that your manuscript is as polished as it can be – you’ve had it edited and maybe even beta read by family and friends. Let’s assume that you’ve picked out a great title, designed the perfect cover and clicked that final upload button to the publisher of your choice. Now what? How do you get the word out about your book? Here’s a quick list of ways you can get your book noticed:

Get your book reviewed. There are lots of different types of reviews. Editorial review are generally the most expensive ($299+). These reviews are by neutral third parties (yes, we do those) where an editor reads and reviews your book. You are then allowed to use that review in your marketing materials, on the cover, etc. But you can also leverage the blogger network.

What does this mean? I call it the ripple effect. If you have an amazing, compelling book – it will be successful. Remember the last time you read a truly excellent book – didn’t you want to tell everyone about it? There are quite a few bloggers that will read and do reviews for books they are interested in, some of them are even free. But it takes time, perseverance and research. There are several companies that will also manage the process of getting these reviews for you (yes, we do that too). Other options include contacting local media, newspapers and television. You’ll have a better chance of being talked about in your local news if you present your story in an interesting way for the editor of that outlet. Media outlets are always looking for more content that they can provide to their readers.

Use your social networks. This seems obvious but you don’t need to spam your friends and family. However, getting a mention to your book, a link, a like, a post can help a friend of a friend of a friend find your book. And don’t forget for every reader you have, your circle of influence expands. Social networks don’t have to be limited to online contacts. I was recently checking out at a store when the woman in front of me struck up a conversation with the cashier. She said something to the effect of, “I think that you would like my music. I just finished recording this and I’d like to share it with you.” She then left a copy of a CD with the surprised and pleased employee. That made an impact.

Donate when you can. There are libraries and schools near you that are always in need of new books. Find out how you can donate a copy or two of your book to them. They may have an area where they spotlight new books or local authors. Take advantage of this free publicity. Many of these library employees are in the business of recommending books on a daily basis. Also, don’t overlook that many retirement homes or senior citizen centers could benefit from your book as well. All donations are tax deductible either as charity or as a marketing expense. Ask your tax advisor for more information.

Sponsor a book club. There are thousands of book clubs all over the world that meet in person and online to read and discuss a specific book. Contact the leaders of these groups to suggest your book as the book of the month/week, donate it or offer to speak to the group personally for a question and answer session. Everyone loves to get a little “special attention” when they are involved in running or participating in a book group. These experiences give you an opportunity to form relationships with people that can become “super fans” and help grow your reputation while increasing awareness about your book.

These are just a few ways to increase awareness for you and your book. Most are fairly low cost but all involve forming relationships with people. You can download more marketing ideas free at to get you started.

You can do this next step! Just take a few minutes to brainstorm your ideas and write them down, including the ones that you had while reading this article. Your book won’t sell itself. It need a little help from you – but don’t forget…YOU CAN DO it!


Rachel Smith is the lead acquisitions editor and marketing manager at Entrada Publishing. She works with beta readers, editors and authors to get books into selling and award winning shape. She prides herself on having found two authors through beta reading for publication, holding their hand every step of the way and celebrating when they signed their first book deal contract. You can get help with all areas of book marketing, book reviews, beta reading, cover design and more at

Guest Post: Sara Letourneau – Seven Keys to Maintaining Your Writerly Well-Being

Our healGuest Post Template(1)th and wellness are two of the most important “possessions” we have. Yet as writers, sometimes we take them for granted. If we’re too engrossed in our work and lose track of time, or a crucial deadline on a blog post or a round of rewrites is looming, we might feel tempted to ignore sleep, hunger, and other needs.

Here’s what I can tell you from personal experience: It’s not worth it. In fact, it’s essential for us to step away from our craft now and then so we can take care of ourselves. And by remembering to balance creativity with self-care, we can be productive, happy, and healthy.

So, how can you maintain your well-being without sacrificing too much of your writing? Here are seven keys that focus on all-around areas of physical, emotional, and mental wellness.

Key #1: Hydration

Staying hydrated isn’t limited to physical exercise. Drinking enough beneficial liquids during the day can improve energy levels, mood, and concentration – all of which are crucial for writers. So, don’t wait until you’re thirsty. (It’s a sign that you’re already dehydrated.) Have a cup of water, coffee, tea, or other beverage of choice ready when you sit down to write and use your breaks to get refills.

Key #2: Nutrition

Do you find it impossible to write when you’re hungry? (I do!) Not only does hunger lead to a distracting sensation in one’s stomach, but it also throws the brain “off-balance” by forcing the hypothalamus (which regulates a body’s homeostasis) to work overtime. As a result, the body’s focus shifts to finding food. Malnutrition, or the state of not getting enough food or enough of the right foods, can also affect memory, sleep patterns, mood – even motor skills such as writing manually or typing.

Don’t let an empty stomach derail your ability to think or write. Instead, have a snack handy for when those familiar pangs pay a visit. Some healthy choices include fresh vegetables, dried fruit, cheese or peanut butter with crackers, or nuts and seeds. And when it comes to meals, take a break from writing to feed and refresh yourself, or set a deadline so you can wrap up your session at a reasonable time.

Key #3: Exercise

Not only is exercise good for your physical health, but it also has emotional and creative benefits. It can enhance your mood, improve energy levels, and boost self-esteem. It can also put your brain in a relaxed state that opens the spontaneous pathway, which happens during free association and idea-generation. (In other words, those “a-ha” moments that happen when you’re away from writing? Your spontaneous pathway is open then!)

Since every writer’s schedule differs, it’s important to fit in exercise when it works best for you. And whether you prefer cardio (aerobics, swimming), toning (yoga, pilates), or strength conditioning (weights, indoor rock climbing), there’s no shortage of activities to try. Also, have a journal or recording device ready for when your spontaneous pathway opens. If I’m outside walking, I take my cellphone with me for safety reasons – and for saving “text messages” when inspiration strikes.

Key #4: Rest

Some writers have no trouble sacrificing sleep for their craft’s sake. A few even advocate that insomnia boosts creativity. Not me. I’ve learned first-hand that sleep deprivation can hinder concentration, disrupt the ability to fight stress, and make you super-cranky. And when the cycle goes on for too long, it can force your body to shut down.

If this happens to you, listen to your body. Ensure you get enough sleep by going to bed and getting up at times that work for you. You’ll feel refreshed as well as mentally and emotionally prepared for your next writing session.

Key #5: Relaxation

One of the perks of being a writer is using our craft as a form of stress relief. When something troubles you, journaling can often help you find a solution. Not only does journaling allow you to acknowledge your current emotions, fears, or worries, but the act of writing by hand can also put you in a meditative state by slowing your breathing, relaxing your muscles, and clarifying your thoughts. I’ve kept a journal off and on for years, and it’s been a savior for problem-solving and for calming my (sometimes) anxious mind.

However, what about the times when a journal isn’t available? Try listening to new age music or guided meditations that can reduce stress and anxiety. Practice yoga, which promotes relaxation by combining stretching exercises with focused breathing. Other artsy hobbies such as knitting, painting, and adult coloring books can also help.

Key #6: Social Life

As much as we love writing, we shouldn’t let our passion turn us into hermits. ;) Take some time to meet up with friends, attend events that appeal to your interests, or volunteer for meaningful charities and causes. It nurtures your current relationships and helps you build new ones. And on a wellness level, it can buoy your energy and self-confidence.

Key #7: The Occasional Reward

Did you recently finish a draft? Or hit an important word count milestone? You should celebrate! A chocolate bar, a dinner at your favorite restaurant, a shopping trip, or a day at the beach – whatever brings you euphoria or peace, give yourself permission to indulge in it for the moment. Then, when you go back to writing, you’ll feel satisfied with your progress so far and even more motivated to reach for the next goal.

What are some of your tips for maintaining your “writerly well-being”? Is there one particular area you want or are trying to improve on?


Sara Letourneau is a Massachusetts-based writer who practices joy and versatility in her work. In addition to revising a YA fantasy novel tentatively titled THE KEEPER’S CURSE, she reviews tea at A Bibliophile’s Reverie and contributes to the writing resource site DIY MFA. Her poetry has been published in The Curry Arts Journal, Soul-Lit, The Eunoia Review, Underground Voices, and two anthologies. Learn more about Sara at her website / blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Guest Post: 1000 Voices Speak & The Power of Writing

Guest Post TemplateToday, we break our hiatus with a guest post from Yvonne Spence, founder of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion blogging challenge! 1000 Voices Speak invites bloggers to post on topics of compassion on the 20th of every month. These posts can range from fiction to poetry to nonfiction and everything in-between, and aim to raise awareness about the various ways in which people can show compassion. Posts are linked up on the 20th so that participants can read each others’ work and spread the word. 

Yvonne is with us today to discuss the power of writing, which is at the very core of the 1000 Voices Speak initiative. 

Suppose you’re having a tough day and feel as if nobody understands you. Lost in sadness, you search the internet for help and find an article that says what you need to do is get rid of your negative thoughts and choose happiness. As you read, you might see where your thoughts have driven your spiral into misery—or you might feel even more miserable because you think you should be able to drop those negative thoughts, and because your feeling that nobody understands you intensifies.

The written word has power—but only as much as the reader gives it. This is true even of unpublished writing—even if nobody else reads your writing, you do. If by journaling you gain insight into your own mind’s thought patterns, then your writing has the power to transform.

Back in January, I read articles about the Charlie Hebdo murders and massacres in Nigeria. As I read, I felt shock, and yet a sense that of change, of the world saying, “No more.” Two words held up by the people of Paris summed this up: “Not afraid.”

Later, I read a post by fellow blogger, Lizzi Rogers, that was a call for more compassion. I often read similar posts and yet it seemed that many writers felt lonely in their longing to care. It struck me that we needed to get them together.

I invited people to join me in writing about compassion. My hope was to get 1000 people to write on the same day, creating a counter to the frequent reports of atrocities. I hoped that in some small way we would help to spread love and understanding around the globe. We’ve been spreading love ever since.

When writing comes from the heart, it provides a service. In giving ourselves permission to write from our deepest truth, we touch the same truth in our readers and so give them permission to be who they are.

Writing that wants attention for its beauty or cleverness tends to disappoint. It feels empty and leaves writer and reader feeling frustrated though often not knowing why. It’s simple: the writer isn’t writing to spark ideas in the reader, but to impress them, to gain approval and feel of value.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. If we, as writers, feel lacking and gain approval through our writing, the confidence that comes can spread to other aspects of our lives.

And yet, if we want to connect with readers, we need let go of wanting approval and write from beyond habitual patterns. This deeper kind of writing most often happens when we don’t plan it, but simply show up at our desks and allow the process to do the writing for us. The “I” (or ego) steps out of the way. It’s no coincidence that many great writers say the writing writes itself.

Great writing by “ordinary” bloggers or authors comes that way too. We don’t have nearly as much control as we’d sometimes like to think and the more we let go of trying to control, the better our writing usually is. When we let go of trying to control, our writing comes from our deeper, unconscious mind and we connect with other people in this same deep way.

Yes, we also connect in superficial ways—if, for instance, I write an article about politics and present my view as the “right” or “good” one, many people will agree with me. However, this also risks disconnection from others if they happen to hold different political opinions. The same holds true for any topic – I could have strong opinions about parenting, schooling or even cooking that diverge from a percentage of my potential audience.

Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. I’m not suggesting we censor ourselves, because that destroys any power our words have. If we express our view and are open to others disagreeing with us, then we will reach deeper understandings. In this way, writing connects and transforms.

Writing that comes from the unconscious mind, that goes beyond ego and touches that deeper part of the reader, doesn’t need to be serious or “worthy.” Comedy exposes the collective insanity of the mind, the parts we try to hide. In recognising and laughing at our human foibles, we release them, and again open to deeper connection.

Writers, including many of the people who take part in 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, often struggle for words, not because they are trying to impress, but because they don’t feel worthy. In reality, it’s not that we aren’t enough, but that language can only ever point to what connects us; it can never fully be it. When we go beyond our fear of disapproval, what remains is a wordless sense of peace.

However, to point others to that, we need to use words. Take compassion. I’ve felt it; you’ve felt it. But we experience it through the filters of our minds. When I share my definition and read yours, it leads to deeper understanding.

The power of the written word comes when it breaks through a reader’s filters to allow new insights and awareness. For me, this is the biggest source of joy in writing—both as reader and writer. Several people have said that my novel, Drawings in Sand, helped them to gain compassion for someone from their past.

One post for our very first #1000Speak link-up came from a Nigeria woman, aptly named Joy. She now lives in South Africa and to try to protect herself from the pain of what was happening in her home country, she shut it out. After joining 1000 Voices Speak, she found the strength to open her heart to her country’s people, writing: Today and always you are my family.

There can be no stronger testament to the power of the written word than that!

Yvonne Spence writes both fiction and non-fiction.  Her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, and two have won prizes. One of her essays will be published in the anthology “Mom for the Holidays” later this autumn and another will be in an anthology published in spring 2016 by HerStories. She blogs at
Compassion Logo FINISHEDIn January this year, Yvonne instigated 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. If you would to be part of a movement for loving change, you can check out the 1000 Voices Speak blog, join the Facebook Group, like the Facebook Page, follow on Twitter at @1000speak or look for posts with the hashtag #1000Speak.

Guest Post: Rewriting Mary Sue

Amy Good-RMSLast year, the social media campaign #ReadWomen2014 took the issue of women’s fiction into the mainstream. They found that not only were book reviewers missing out on women authors, but the bookshelves of the average reader lacked books written by women – and female characters in general. Lists popped up all over the internet giving readers the names of women authors and must-read books by women. And with this enhanced scrutiny, debates sprang up over whether female characters had the right to be unlikable or if we were losing all of our strong female characters to Trinity Syndrome or if audiences would ever warm to anti-heroines.

Amidst these debates, we realized there was a need for a larger discussion of female characters, beyond unlikable female characters versus strong female characters versus anti-heroines. After all, there are as many different ways to bring female characters to life as there are women in the world, but so many of the nuances of women’s personalities and experiences never make it into popular, mainstream art. We wanted to explore all of the possible aspects of female characters, and really highlight those books and authors that are able to create compelling, whole, interesting, fully-realized – unabridged – female characters with depth, strength of character, and most importantly, agency.

We strongly believe that female characters are not pawns, or tokens, or objects to be acted upon. Women in fiction should be free to make decisions that affect their own storylines, to take ownership of their own desires and motivations, and to exercise their own sense of agency and leadership. We felt  there was a real and legitimate need for a space devoted to these unabridged female characters. And by creating that space to highlight the stories (and authors) that showcase these unabridged female characters, we hoped to play at least a small part in moving this larger discussion around female characters into the mainstream.

Before we knew it, was born. With it, we wanted to create a site that featured more than book reviews and promotional author interviews; we felt there was a real need for articles and essays on crafting fully-realized and compelling female characters or on dismantling the stereotypes and tropes surrounding them. But we didn’t want to stop there. Over the months since Rewriting Mary Sue launched, we have added personal stories from women writers along with the books that speak to those experiences, stories of actual women who defied stereotypes to earn their place in the history books, and short stories, flash fiction, and book excerpts that showcase compelling female characters whose motivations and actions propel their stories forward.

We know in our hearts that stories matter; fiction both mirrors and shapes our realities. Books have the power to change hearts, minds, and lives. Stories can rewrite society. That’s what Rewriting Mary Sue is all about. Our words can change the world.





Amy Good is a U.S. writer in Dublin and the author of Rooted. She is the editor of, a website dedicated to highlighting compelling and unabridged female characters in fiction. She also manages @StoryBandit, a Twitter-based writing prompt generator. You can find out more about her at


Karen Faris lives in Rochester NY with her husband and son. She is currently at work on The Winds of Change, a story of family and endurance. She is the author of the comedic dystopian Grumbles the Novel Trilogy. You can find out more about her at


Charlotte Ashlock is currently at work on Colonizing Atlantis which is not yet published. You can find out more about her at


Guest Post: Grace Black – Poetry & Three Line Thursday Writing Competition

Grace Black talks about poetry and Three Line Thursday | www.sprintshack.wordpress.comWith April being National Poetry Month, I’ve decided this would be a good time to spread the word about poetry and its relevance in our everyday lives. Each of us, all walks of life, everywhere.

While writing, in general, is obviously vital in communicating with our everyday world, poetry is a different beast altogether. Poetry is a unique literary vehicle that has been around as long as we have been communicating with one another. Poetry allows the writer a freedom, that isn’t necessarily available in other writing arenas, to express emotion with a myriad of tools at their disposal. Poetry is a visceral experience. Sure fiction and even some non-fiction accounts of life can achieve a similar reaction in the reader, but poetry is a tool that many overlook or dismiss altogether.

Most can recall a childhood experience with poetry in some form. Probably the heavily schemed rhyming sort to begin, and possibly some other encounters along their educational paths with haiku, sonnets, or the iambic pentameter Shakespeare was quite fond of, but that’s not all there is to poetry. Not even close. Poetry is everywhere. In everything. Small and large, living and dying, the expression, the vision, the creation, the process is the art itself.

Carl Sandburg wrote, “The fog comes/on little cat feet.” With only seven words, Sandburg achieves description that is concise and breathes life. He captures a moment many have witnessed in everyday life and gives movement to it on paper. There is an entire scene unfolding as your mind processes his carefully chosen words, plain words, in fact. “Little cat feet,” and our minds automatically think of the creatures and how agile and intentional they can be when on the prowl. This is how the fog comes, an intentional, methodical movement until the seen is unseen. And then it simply moves on again.


The fog comes

on little cat feet.
It sits looking

over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Poetry has many benefits. It helps teach reading, writing, and language in a different way. Short poems are more easily digestible and dissectible to help aid in the education of grammar usage and literary devices that all good writers employ. It makes textual analysis more manageable. And, after all, don’t all writers want just one thing? To share a story?

As a writer myself, I’m always trying to better my craft and convey a story in such a way to emote a lasting feeling in my readers. I want to write something that reaches into my reader’s soul and stirs things up a bit, so that when they walk away from what I’ve shared they think: “Yeah, that!”

I am quite passionate about poetry and I’m still learning. I learn new things every day. Almost six months ago, I had an idea to create an online challenge combining a few of my favorite things. I started Three Line Thursday to bring artists and writers together in an online venue to encourage and promote creativity and inspiration. I work with many talented artists and photographers of varying levels and encourage writers, poets, and dabblers of ink of all levels to participate each week.

The idea behind TLT is brevity. Say more with less. I give you 3 lines with a max word count of 10 words per line. This is a tool that can help writers of any level hone their craft. Or lovers of poetry to have a place to dabble. Learn to use language in a different way. Play with words until they feel good. Make it weighty without the excess. Use strong verbs and descriptive nouns. Convey something that lingers and stays with people. Reach into your soul and share your emotive verse.

I would like to stress that while TLT was born from my love of poetry, it isn’t strictly a “poetry” challenge. I have many different types of writers that enter the challenge weekly. Many flash-fiction writers dabble at TLT each week as well and have won the weekly challenge. Think of it as a 30-word short story. After all, that is what poetry is—a story.

I welcome you all to pop by Three Line Thursday and check it out and follow us on Twitter too. TLT prompts go live every Wednesday at midnight (EDT) and closes Thursday at Midnight (EDT) you have 24 hours to share your 3 lines in the comment section for the particular prompt week. Results post on Saturdays.

I challenge each of you during the month of April to read a poem you haven’t ever read, write a poem if you’ve never tried your hand at one, or write one in a style you’ve never tried. Poetry is good for the soul. Happy writing!

Love and Ink,

Grace Black



Grace Black is just another writer wearing down lead and running out of ink, one line at a time. Coffee refuels her when sleep has not been kind. You can find more of her words and the chaos she pens on her website. She can also be found on Twitter.

Guest Post: Amy Good – “Story Bandit:” Stealing Your Writer’s Block With Random Prompts & Dares!

Guest Post TemplateNo two writers work the same way. Some painstakingly labor over each word; others simply open a vein and bleed words onto the page. Some construct a catchy beginning and write on the fly from there; others write their endings first and work their way back. Some go through long bouts of writer’s block; others never take a break from writing, even for a day.

But all the writers I’ve met share one thing: we all want writing to be fun. Whether we consider writing a hobby, a part-time job, or a full-time profession, we want to enjoy ourselves.

For me personally, I relish when writing works like puzzle-solving. I delight in working my way towards a particular ending, or in connecting disparate pieces to make a story come together. Like most other writers, I detest it when the words don’t flow. And when taking a shower or a walk just won’t cut it, I turn to other methods to trick the words into flowing.

Writing dares are a favorite (and fun) trick of mine, so much so that I actually co-created a Twitter account and Windows app devoted to them: Story Bandit. Although the app has limitations in the kinds of prompts it can give users, the Twitter account affords me a wide latitude to create a variety of challenges, which my co-creator tweets out at random so that I can amuse myself by trying them out as well. The dares may include a word limit, a list of random words to incorporate into a poem or story, a setting or conversation to integrate into a story, or an opening or ending line. And so far, the dares are really catching on!

Some writers who take on @StoryBandit’s dares find the challenge useful in combatting their writer’s block:

A few writers like that they’re pushed outside of their normal comfort zones:

Some are inspired by the dares to create poems or stories they otherwise wouldn’t have written:

And many of the writers simply have fun and enjoy the challenge:

I use writing dares for all of these reasons and more. Not only do they add inspiration, fun and challenge to my regular writing routine, but they can also be finished in a short writing sprint, usually in anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. So if you’re looking to add a new dimension to your own writing routine, why not give writing dares and @StoryBandit a try!

Amy Good

Amy Good is a U.S. writer in Dublin and the author of Rooted. She is the editor of, a website dedicated to highlighting compelling and unabridged female characters in fiction. She also manages @StoryBandit, a Twitter-based writing prompt generator. You can find out more about her at and follow her on her personal Twitter account.

Guest Post: Mazie Bishop – Being A NaNoWriMo ML

It was a rainy afternoon in August when I received the email from the lovely staff at NaNoWriMo. The email was regarding my application to be a Municipal Liaison for my region of Niagara, an application that I sent the day after NaNoWriMo 2013. I think it was more exciting to me because it had been so long since I applied that I completely forgot of the possibilities. But now that the possibility has become the reality, there are a lot of responsibilities.

Being an ML means my awesome partner Christine Banman and I get to plan the regional events and organize write-ins for our Niagara participants. It also means that we get to organize online word sprints, discussions on the forums and basically just make sure that everyone is having a pleasant November.

What surprised me most, when I first started everything was how much preparation really goes into planning the events, and how much the staff at NaNoWriMo are actually there to help you. We have our own helpful forums, with all kinds of resources and ideas. We have a great guide that covers everything from writing an email to handling stressed-out participants.

Am I nervous? Yes! Who wouldn’t be? This is the first time in a few years that Niagara has had an ML, never mind two of us! There is a lot of pressure on us to make sure that this month goes smoothly for everyone, but my excitement overrules my nerves almost completely. I am so excited that I get to meet all of these writers and that I get to contribute to their success, and give them more opportunities in our region than they have had in any other year.

I would honestly recommend applying to become a Municipal Liaison of your region to anyone who likes to meet new people and to anyone who has passion for writing and community. It gets a little stressful sometimes, but it’s all worth it when you see how many people you are helping out.

As it stands right now, we are hosting 3 large events throughout the month, as well as hosting 5+ write-ins a week! In my region there is a University and a College and my goal is to host write-ins on campus and to spread awareness for this amazing organization and community.

NaNoWriMo warms my cold autumn hands and gives me an excuse to make time to write and honestly it has bettered my life, so I think that’s why I love being an ML so much. It means that I can help more people better their lives through writing too.


Mazie Bishop shares her NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison story at MAZIE

Mazie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. Self-published as well as has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer that hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently she is in the process of writing her second novel and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures and read her work or gander at her photos on

Guest Post: Meredith Foster – How to Write in a Less-Than-Ideal Environment

All of us have our own rituals and specifications to help us tap into our creative selves and maximize our productivity. Type in “how to make a writing space” into Google and you’ll get almost three hundred million results on creating your dream environment, and that’s great. An ideal writing space is a wonderful, precious thing. But, what about writing under less-than-idyllic conditions?

Let me offer an example. I work in a warehouse during the day, and our break room is tiny, cramped, and very noisy. People enter and exit, microwaves go off, phones ring, and conversations transpire in a variety of languages. Seating is limited, so having a table to myself is a rare occurrence, and my co-workers like to ask about what I’m writing. Some occasionally try to sneak a peak.

It’s far from my ideal writing environment, yet I take a notebook to work and write in there every day during my lunch break. It’s a balancing act between chatting with my co-workers, preparing my food, and putting pen to paper, but over the course of this year I’ve gotten better and better at making those precious minutes count.

Sound impossible? Not at all! Here are some tips and tricks for writing in difficult spaces:

  • Be prepared for a transitional period.

Adjusting to a new environment takes time. False starts will happen, and that’s okay. The key is to dust yourself off, trust in your skill, and keep trying.

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Courtesy is important in any workplace, particularly when space is limited. If someone is being too loud, politely ask them to moderate their volume, or to listen to their music with headphones instead of playing it out in the open. Likewise, if anyone gets pushy about trying to see your work, stand your ground. Just because you’re writing in a public space doesn’t make your work public domain. Of course, if you’re comfortable sharing with the person inquiring, go ahead!

  • Create your own space.

If you like listening to music when you write, bring headphones to work. It’s a great way to bring a little bit of your writing environment with you.

  • Don’t think you have to choose between writing and camaraderie.

In most workplaces, lunchtime is social time. It’s a time to recharge your batteries, get the latest gossip, and indulge in a good old-fashioned rant about management’s latest antics. Afraid of missing out or appearing aloof? Fear not! It is possible to be sociable and get some writing done at the same time. Again, this will take some getting used to if you’re used to writing in an isolated environment. Balance and practice will help you make the adjustment.

  • Remember, every word matters.

Some days you might write a sentence, while other days you might whip up a soliloquy. Either way, give yourself a pat on the back! You wrote something, and that’s what counts.

What do you do to make the most out of difficult writing conditions? Share your stories and suggestions in the comments below!


Guest Post: Meredith Foster – How to Write in a Less-Than-Ideal Environment | www.sprintshack.wordpress.comABOUT MEREDITH

Meredith Foster currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her flash fiction and short stories have been published in numerous literary magazines. She shares her home with a vampire-fanged rescue cat and a plush dragon collection, and can be found at @fosterwrites on Twitter.

Guest Post: Brigid Gallagher (YA Buccaneers) – Kill Your Distractions

If you’re anything like me, then your writing time is limited and precious. And yet, you still face distractions that make focusing on writing difficult. The pile of laundry that needs to be folded. Emails from work. Phone calls to return. The list goes on an on.
There’s hope, though! You can fight back by making simple simple shifts in your writing practice to reduce your distractions and improve your focus. Read on for my favorite distraction-killing practices:

1. Make it a date
Start by recognizing the importance and value of your writing time. Whether you have fifteen minutes or four hours, it’s your time to write, and you should give it your full attention. Add your writing time to your calendar or planner, just as you would a doctor’s appointment or social date. Then be sure to show up.

2. Silence distractions
Distractions can take many forms – from people and pets to social media and email. Before you settle in to write, take a moment to make your writing space distraction-free.
  • If you work from home, tell your family when you’re writing. Put up a sign on your door reminding them to think twice before interrupting.
  • Silence your phone. If that’s not an option, limit yourself to checking it on the hour, or in increments that work for you.
  • At the café, use ear buds or headphones even if you’re not playing music. It’s a great way to communicate that you aren’t up for a conversation.
  • Close your web browser. If that’s still too much temptation, try using a program like MacFreedom or Write or Die to block digital distractions.
  • Tidy your desk or workspace and keep it clear of anything that might distract you.
3. Find friends
If you have someone to check in with, it can help you stay motivated to write. Here are a few ideas:
  • Ask a friend to meet you at the library or coffee house for a writing date. Even easier, set a time to “meet” on Twitter!
  • Check The Sprint Shack or the YA Buccaneers Twitter accounts for word sprints! Word sprints are great ways to meet new writer friends, plus they can do wonders for giving you an extra boost of motivation.
  • Search the #amwriting or #amrevising hashtags to see who’s writing, then ask a fellow writer if they’d like company.
4. Music matters
Create a playlist of music to inspire you, and use the music to help you stay focused. Use a service like Spotify or Pandora to create playlists to suite your projects.

5. Track your progress
Keeping track of your progress – whether it’s how often you write, your word count, or the number of scenes you’ve revised – can help you stay motivated and on-task. Over at the YA Buccaneers, we have a few favorite goal-keeping methods, from stickers on a calendar to word count trackers like MyWriteClub. Learn more about how we track goals here.

What’s your distraction-killing advice? I’d love to hear about what works for you in the comments. You never know – it might be just what another writer needs to hear!

Bridgid Gallagher writes kidlit in Utah. She is a co-founder and crew member of the YA Buccaneers, and is often looking for writing company on Twitter. Join the YA Buccaneers from now through November for a Fall Writing Bootcamp!

Guest Post: Mazie Bishop – Finding Inspiration in the Most Unlikely of Places

A huge part of being a writer, no matter what your style is, is finding inspiration, for an uninspired work is uninspiring to read!

I can always tell when a writer is forcefully writing and when there is no actual passion behind their words. There are so many indicators that a work is not inspired and the best example would have to be directed to scientific or professional essay format. If there is anything that I have learned from my time in University, or English Lit for that manner it is that style is by no means a priority in essays (even though I really think it should be). This being said often times, at least when you are in school, essays are not written by choice, and it is often spelled in the style and lack of passion when reading. But you can always tell when an essay is written with interest behind it. Something keeps you reading, whether it be the writer’s blossoming interest and growing thoughts and opinions, or the excitement portrayed in the topic, there is most definitely inspiration displayed.

This concept carries over to any other style of writing as well, and that is why no matter where you are in the world, be it a quiet town or a busy city, you need to find inspiration to write.

I just so happened to have lived in both of the extremes. A tiny little village like hamlet with more cows than humans and a great big city full of working gears that can’t stop running. So here are some great tips that have been able to help me get inspired, wherever I am in the world.

1. People watch: Can’t find a character? Just so happens that humans exist outside of your four walls, and they are out there living. Pick up a pen and notebook and go sit on a bench or a curb and find someone to build off of. No, they don’t have to know, because you don’t actually know them, but for but a moment you can sure pretend to.

2.  Listen to EVERYTHING: Now this is a hobby of mine. I bring a notebook on the city bus, or I use my phone to be more discrete and I write down as much of the mismatched dialogue as I can. I call it bus poetry because everything is jumbled and it flows together surprisingly beautifully. I find it’s a lot easier when the weather is bad (raining or snowing) because people have way more to talk out loud about when there is something going on outside, in which they all have to deal with. This usually helps me get a handle on common communication, which can so easily be forgotten in fictional writing.

3. Descriptive Scene: Go outside, go to a mall, go to a school, go to a park, and just write that scene out as descriptively as you possibly can. And I mean I want you to make a blind man see this place, describe everything from blades of grass to cracks in pavement. This exercise will show you how easy it is to boost your readability and if needed, your word counts. If anything it will help you get the ball rolling, as scene building is huge in novel writing.

And lastly,

4. Read a whole bunch: Read some shorts, read some magazine articles, read about writing. HELL, read about inspiration! Read anything that could inspire you to write and work on what you are working on. If you need to write fantasy, go pick up some fantasy, if you are writing horror, then go get scared. Just read, read, read.

I sincerely hope that this helps you get inspired and I would be so interested in hear about how you get inspired when nothing else works! Leave your tips in the comments below or email me at mazie.bishop(at)


Mazie Bishop reveals the secret to inspiration at MAZIE

Mazie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. Self-published as well as has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer that hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently she is in the process of writing her second novel and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures and read her work or gander at her photos on