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The Stake Reading Club: On the first line of The Girl in the Road


An interesting way to think about reading a book — and a great writer’s prompt for your own experiment! Read and write on….

Originally posted on The Stake:


As first lines go, The Girl in the Road’s is a good one: “The world begins anew, starting now.”

A few random thoughts on these six words:

1. The statement is Meena’s—but my first thought is that this could be the first line of any number of books. Perhaps all books. What is a novel, after all, but the creation of a world? It’s said that fiction must reflect reality, but most writers, I think, know better: language creates its own reality. “Call me Ishmael,” “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” “A screaming comes across the sky,” “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself”—these words call worlds into being, worlds that don’t exist until writers and readers conspire to create them.

2. The notion of world is especially fraught in science fiction, however. Fans frequently speak of “worldbuilding” as a thing distinct from character and plot: “Great story but the worldbuilding could have…

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Reference Books for Writers

At yesterday’s meeting Valerie brought her battered Houghton-Mifflin style guide, much-loved since college. While we were doing an editing exercise, several people asked for it. There is nothing like a familiar resource when you’re trying to solve a problem.

So build your reference shelf with the tools that help you write. Technical help, like dictionaries, thesaurii and style guides, inspiration from beloved writers, sources of publishers, challenges, exercises that will keep you motivated.

Kay had a great idea: she asked for a good dictionary for a gift – so much more useful than another gadget.

Here are some of my recommendations. Please leave more suggestions in the comments!


On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing  by Gary Provost

Self Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne & Dave King

The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction


On Writing: A  Memoir of the Craft  by Stephen King

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg


The Elements of Style 



How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas For You


I loved these suggestions! Quite a few of them hadn’t occurred to me. We have some published authors among us. Get to work, girls, and support your colleagues!

Originally posted on Writers In The Storm Blog:

By Chuck Sambuchino

large_5595133805My Writer’s Digest coworker, Brian A. Klems, recently geared up for the release of his first book — a humorous guide for fathers called OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS (Adams Media). On top of that, my coworker Robert Brewer (editor of Writer’s Market) recently got a publishing deal for a book of his poetry.

So I find myself as a cheerleader for my writing buddies — trying to do what I can to help as their 2013 release dates approach. I help in two ways: 1) I use my own experience of writing & publishing books to share advice on what they can expect and plan for; and 2) I simply do whatever little things I can that help in any way.

This last part brings up an important point: Anyone can support an author’s…

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Fiction Challenge Wrap Up

Results from the 2014 Fiction Challenge:

BEST STORYThird Prize:       Melinda Reyes   Ground Hogs’s Day
Second Prize:    Ashley Egan    Bitter  
First Prize:         Mili Jenks    Obsession
Best Story:        Ferne Horner    Cosy Simmons

Honorable Mentions:

Sharlie Swan: Gabe’s Little Sister
Beverly Woods: Creole’s Cove 
Gwen Peters: Unforseen Confusion
Carol Burbank wrote The Indian Blanket and Patrise Henkel wrote Twin Falls, which were not eligible for the competition.
Most of the stories are linked for your reading pleasure. Either click the title to read online, or ‘right-click’ to download and print.

Author T.J. Ritter

The results compiled from the review by our judge, Tamela J. Ritter, author of From These Ashes (available from Amazon.com) and group leaders.

PLEASE DO NOT reproduce these stories without specific written permission.  That includes making copies or reposting. All stories are copyright the author and belong exclusively to them.
Feel free, however, to promote the good work you do, and our amazing group, and our blog! Brag away, writers, you’ve earned it.

The Stories of Tomorrow Campaign

young author with book

Do you remember the first time someone told you your writing mattered? There’s nothing like that rush of confidence that comes when someone tells you your writing is worth something. That one encouraging voice can make or break our desire to tell our stories. It can determine whether tomorrow’s stories get written at all…

The Young Writer’s Program is running a fundraiser through June 23 (this coming Monday) in order to expand and improve their program to reach even more young writers in the years ahead.

What is the Young Writers Program?

The Young Writers Program works in over 2,000 classrooms around the world, and with over 100,000 students and educators. The YWP supports writing fluency, self-efficacy, and self-expression in the classroom by providing free-of-charge:

  • classroom resources, including progress-tracking posters and writing workbooks
  • Common Core-aligned curricula
  • virtual classroom management tools
  • mentorship and pep talks from established authors
  • a vibrant online community of support for young writers and educators

Won’t you please go contribute a little bit, or a little bit more if you can.

And please, tell people about the fundraiser. I apologize for not posting this sooner, so please get the word out on your Facebook and Twitter, and help this worthy cause encourage more young writers to keep going. For they are writing the stories of tomorrow.