July 25

Birthdays: Midge Decter (1927), David Madden (1933), Robert Barrett (1937), Denys James Watkins-Pitchford(BB) (1905), Elias Canetti (1905), Eric Hoffer (1902), Josephine Tey (1896), Melissa Marr (1972)

Tip: Don’t overuse your character names. Once you’ve established the last name of a character, you don’t need to reuse it unless there’s a reason. Plus, in dialogue, it’s not necessary to keep using names. As long as you’ve got tags or action delineating who is speaking, that’s enough.

Thought for the day: “Letters to agents or editors should read like professional business letters. Don’t let your creative self get in the way of professional interactions. Sometimes that means writing replies but SAVING them as drafts for 48 hours so your mood can level. Being a professional writer (or pro artist, singer, etc.) involves switching modes between creative and practical.” – Melissa Marr

Jumpstart: Your character has created a virus that will cure all ills of mankind and extend their lives by at least double—but it means they’d be sterile. Would s/he put it out there? Why or why not? Would s/he use it?

July 24

Birthdays: Alexandre Dumas (1802), Zelda Fitzgerald (1900), John D. MacDonald (1916), Banana Yoshimoto (1964), Lord Dunsany (1878), Madeline Miller (1978), Percy FitzPatrick (1862)

Tip: Establish POV (point of view – the person who is telling that part of the story) often. Readers put books down or are reading other things while reading yours. They tend to stop at chapter breaks so be sure to establish POV at the next scene or chapter break.

Thought for the day: “As an author, one of the most important things I think you can do once you’ve written a novel is step back. When the book is out, it belongs to the readers and you can’t stand there breathing over their shoulders.” – Madeline Miller

Jumpstart: Write a scene where you’re a much older—and wiser—version of yourself. What advice would you give your younger self?

July 22, 23

Birthdays: Emma Lazarus (1849), David Shields (1956), Margery Williams Bianco (1881), Akhil Sharma (1971), Bryan Forbes (1926), Jeremy Lloyd (1930), S.E. Hinton (1948), Tom Robbins (1936)

Tip: As a writer, you need to develop a writing process that is flexible yet provides structure. How can you arrange your schedule to provide both?

Thought for the day: “Writing is one of the loneliest of the arts; unlike the actor we have no immediate audience and must wait many long months, even years on occasion, for the splatter of applause to reach our ears, if indeed we are not damned by total neglect.” – Bryan Forbes

Jumpstart: If your character was awakened out of a sound sleep and asked to describe himself in generalities (Midwesterner, engineer) what words would he blurt out?

July 23:

Birthdays: Raymond Chandler (1888), John Nichols (1940), Elspeth Huxley (1907), Lauren Groff (1978), Lisa Alther (1944), Mohsin Hamid (1971), Vikram Chandra (1961)

Tip: Edit your short story as if every word costs you ten dollars. How much fluff do you have?

Thought for the day: “I wrote for fourteen years and couldn’t get published. So I got used to the idea of not having an audience. I knew that if I were going to continue writing, I had to find other reasons than fame and riches and reactions from readers. I decided that I love to write, that it’s the most fun I have, so that makes it worth doing; and I use writing to figure out things about my life and the world, so that makes it worth doing; and it’s a craft and I can feel that I’m getting better at it and thus may hope eventually to get published, and that makes it worth doing.” – Lisa Alther

Jumpstart: How would your main character tell a good friend about his/her current circumstances? What about after a few drinks? Describe the conversation and where it takes place.

Author Spotlight: Andrew Grey

Title: Rescue Me

Author: Andrew Grey

Series: Standalone

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Publisher: DreamSpinner Press

Release Date: July 20, 2021

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook


Everybody needs to be rescued sometime.

Veterinarian Mitchell Brannigan gets off to a rocky start with his new neighbor when someone calls the town to complain about the noise. Mitchell runs a shelter for rescue dogs, and dogs bark. But when he goes to make peace, he meets Beau Pfister and his fussy baby daughter, Jessica… and starts to fall in love.

Beau moved out to the country to get away from his abusive ex-husband, but raising an infant alone, with no support network, is lonely and exhausting. The last thing he expects is a helping hand from the neighbor whose dogs he complained about.

Mitchell understands what it’s like to live in fear of your ex, and he’s determined to help Beau move on. But when an unseen menace threatens the shelter and Beau, it becomes apparent that he hasn’t dealt with his own demons.

With each other and a protective Chihuahua for support, Mitchell, Beau, and Jessica could make a perfect family. Mitchell won’t let anything happen to them.

But who’s going to rescue him?
Continue reading “Author Spotlight: Andrew Grey”

July 21

Birthdays: Ernest Hemingway (1899), Marshall McLuhan (1911), John Gardner (1933), Tess Gallagher (1943), Hart Crane (1899), Michael Connelly (1956), Sarah Waters (1966), Wendy Cope (1945)

Tip: When setting up your author website, don’t include personal photos of your family unless you’re comfortable with everyone seeing them. Pets and scenery are okay. Just remember: this is your professional site, not a “friends” one.

Thought for the day: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Ernest Hemingway

Jumpstart: More than half the population has been turned into were-animals, but you are immune to the virus. What do you do during a full moon?

July 20

Birthdays: Cormac McCarthy (1933), Henry L. Dumas (1934), Kenneth Grahame (1859), Martin Provensen (1916), Alistair MacLeod (1936), Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864), Jess Walter (1965)

Tip: A query letter has to sell your book to an editor or agent in just a couple short paragraphs. Be succinct but include all pertinent information including any publishing experience you have, a short blurb of the book giving the main characters, the conflict, the ending, and any marketing ideas you have.

Thought for the day: “The indulgent 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you’re going to write something like The Brothers Karamazov or Moby Dick, go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don’t care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.” – Cormac McCarthy

Jumpstart: On July 20, 1985, Mel Fisher’s crew found the sunken Atocha off the Florida coast. The wreck was loaded with silver, gold, and emeralds. Pretend you’re with them as they bring up the bounty. How do you feel? What do you do with your share of the loot? Or… for a twist, pretend you’re back in time, on the ship. What happened?

July 19

Birthdays: Alice Dunbar Nelson (1875), A.J. Cronin (1896), Stephen Coonts (1946), Jayne Anne Phillips (1952), Garth Nix (1963), Lisa Jewell (1968), Thulani Davis (1949)

Tip: When an agent or editor asks for a three-chapter sample, send the first three chapters. Do not pick and choose non-sequential ones.

Thought for the day: “Just write one chapter at a time and one day you’ll be surprised by your own finished novel.” – Garth Nix

Jumpstart: You buy an antique desk. While cleaning it, you find a hidden cache containing an old letter and a map. The name on the letter is a family you recognize, but you are definitely not friends with them. What do you do?

July 18

Birthdays: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811), Nathalie Sarraute (1900), Jessamyn West (1902), Hunter S. Thompson (1937), Felicia Bond (1954), Elizabeth Gilbert (1969), Elizabeth Jennings (1926), Margaret Laurence (1926)

Tip: Enjoy the ride. You should enjoy what you do. Yes, writing is hard. But there should also be joy somewhere in there. If you worry about deadlines, plot points, sales, reviews, etc., you’ll never get to enjoy what you accomplished. You wrote a book! Congratulations. Celebrate.

Thought for the day: “Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” – Jessamyn West Jumpstart: Finish this: I rushed to fudge the numbers before he returned… (use: monk, magazine, imagination

July 17

Birthdays: Chris Crutcher (1946), Cory Doctorow (1971), Erle Stanley Gardner (1889), Christiane Rochefort (1917), Shmuel Agnon (1888)

Tip: A synopsis is not supposed to explain the entire book. It is a short piece designed to hook an editor or agent and to show that you know what goes into making a full story. It should contain main characters, conflicts, plot points, and the ending (Yes, the ending!).

Thought for the day: “We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children… If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have.” – Cory Doctorow

Jumpstart: In A Picture of Dorian Gray, the picture ages while the man does not. If offered the chance for immortality, would you take it? Why or why not? What if it meant you would continue to age, but not die?

July 16

Birthdays: Anita Brookner (1928), Reinaldo Arenas (1943), Richard Egielski (1952), Eve Titus (1922), Andrew Smith (1959), Frances Spalding (1950), James Still (1906), Robert Sheckley (1928), Tony Kushner (1956)

Tip: Use a camera or your phone to take pictures of everything—places, people, things—use these pictures for ideas in your writing.

Thought for the day: “I actually do start my stories with a particular quirky idea (like a dead horse falling out of the sky, or how two teens might trigger the end of the world in a recession-wracked Midwestern town) and then build a small universe around that idea.” – Andrew Smith

Jumpstart: Finish this: I ran into the emergency room… (use: bling, fan, teddy bear). Are you the doctor/nurse? Or the patient? Or a visitor?