YouTube Channels Writers Should Check Out

YouTube Channels for Writers header

I love the custom content that has emerged on YouTube, especially those that are aimed at helping writers improve their craft or aimed at connecting readers. Today, I’m sharing five of my favorite YouTube Channels. I hope you will check them out because they have a lot to offer, plus they are entertaining!

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Why Writers Should Care About Infrastructure

Infrastructure header that shows electrical lines superimposed above a disaster scene

Infrastructure makes everyday life — as we know it — possible. Much of it is buried and can go unthought of when it’s working; however, throw in a major storm that overwhelms our wastewater systems, and bam! we’re wading through poop water.

The average person really pays no mind to infrastructure — minus during times of failure or when news headlines note the U.S.’s crumbling infrastructure. Writers need to step outside that blissful complacency though.  The benefits are too good to pass up. Continue reading

Protecting Yourself

Free can come with a huge price. Are you willing to pay in the five figures?

Copyright is a challenging topic if you don’t have a law degree and haven’t studied up on it. Lord knows I am no expert myself, so I try to use as many of my own photos/graphics and public domain photos as possible on this blog — with a few exceptions that I feel fall under fair use (I could be wrong). I have also used “free” stock photos from MorgueFile.com. But how free are these  stock photos?

Well, you might notice that several photos have disappeared from this blog. It is a precautionary measure after reading Allison Puryear’s post, “I Got Sued (For Something You’ve Done!)” … It chilled me to the core. While MorgueFile is a legit website, a photographer could upload a photo after its been copyright and then collect huge bucks from an unsuspecting blogger, etc. — and it is completely legal.

Read Puryear’s article and stay safe on the internet! If you are in doubt when it comes to something being copyrighted, it might be best to pass that image/graphic by in favor of your own creation. One other protection to take when downloading free stock photos, or even purchasing them, is to screenshot the screen as you are doing so and keep all receipts.

Gen Con Recap #1: Structuring Life for Creativity

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One of the best seminars I had attended during Gen Con 2016 was Structuring Life for Creativity, which was presented by Sandra Tayler. It is a subject that I think a lot of writers struggle with; after all, we are all busy. Sometimes, our creative selves and our writing take second fiddle to life’s craziness. I have struggled between work (where I write and edit all daylong), freelance editing, my own personal writing and editing, social life, and leisure. I had good practices in place throughout high school, college, and even working in retail. But recently in my adult life, I’ve been struggling to create, so Tayler’s presentation really struck a chord.

Since attending her session, I have been writing regularly again, except recently … but it is a secret project that taps into another creative side of myself. I walked away completely refreshed and want to share some of my key takeaways from Tayler’s seminar:

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The logistics of war

Americans

American soldiers during WWI.

This post is in honor of Memorial Day. Thank you to all who have served, including
those who paid the ultimate price.

Writing a novel containing a war is perhaps one of the most challenging things to do, particularly if you, due to your characters, are in the thick of the conflict, which is very different than writing about the home front. Most don’t really think about all that goes into moving an army from Point A to Point B … At least, you don’t think about it until you actually have to write about it.

Of all the conflicts that I have worked into a novel, wars have perhaps ran me the most ragged, and despite that, they continually appear in my pieces. I don’t really know why, they just grip me — perhaps it is just the history buff in me who read all-things pertaining to the Civil War and WWI. And each time I delve into the waters, I have characters who are in the thick of the action, forcing me to take the effort to make the conflict believable. And trust me, that is no simple task.

This post is intended to get you to think of the logistics needed to successfully write about a war. And really, this post is just the tip of the iceberg! Continue reading

Rethink rewrites

Rewrites are just taking the imperfect and making them into beautiful birds.

Rewrites are just taking the imperfect and making them into beautiful birds.

Rewrites have a negative connotation in the writing world, and when listening to some writers talk about them, you’d suspect they were on par with a root canal! I’m well up to my head in revisions for my SciFi novel right now, but you won’t catch me griping about them. Revisions and rewrites are just a natural part of the writing process. They are only as bad as you make them.

That is why I encourage fellow writers to rethink rewrites: They are your friends! Part of my equanimity toward rewrites comes from the fact that I had to literally rewrite most of my fantasy novel. I had made all my revisions, polished it up, and then BAM! My flashdrive died taking all my hard work with it. After that, rewriting small sections or even chapters is nothing. One of the things that got me through that crisis was this thought: It will be better than it was.

“It will be better than it was” should be every writer’s mantra when facing revisions and rewrites. No first draft is ever perfect. Mine are laden with spelling errors, incomplete thoughts where my fingers jumped ahead along with my brain, redundancies, repeated sentence structures, and other general errors. I type fast, and when doing that, there are going to be errors. That is OK! That is what the writing process is all about: getting words on page. And conversely the editing process is about polishing your story, catching errors, expanding on themes that you started to explore but didn’t fully give them their due, and so much more.

However, writers need to be honest with themselves when approaching revisions and rewrites. They have to accept their baby is imperfect, that sometimes they have to kill their darlings. This can be tough for some writers, particularly those new to craft. So instead of imagining yourself as a murderer, picture yourself as a momma bird; sometimes, you just have to push your babies out of the nest in order to ensure their survival and ability to thrive in a cruel world. You don’t want your book wallowing in its own filth: You want it to soar.

Perhaps, the best way to achieve that goal is to bring in an editor and beta readers. They can root out issues with a manuscript, which in turn can spark rewrites. For instance, I will be performing a partial rewrite on my first chapter. When three beta readers (one of which is a professional editor) say it’s slow, it is slow and needs addressed. Heck, when I went through my printout, I knew they were right. There are other areas that I will be addressing, too, many of which I knew were problem even before I sent out the manuscript to my beta readers; however, I knew they would offer suggestions that would get my brain fluids going and provide me with a new viewpoint: the viewpoint of a reader.

Beta readers and editors have a tendency of opening our eyes to aspects of a work that don’t work while also providing valuable insight into possible fixes or alternative directions. Without a doubt, they are valuable tools in the revision process; however, some writers take things too far and do everything beta readers say to an extreme.

To those writers, I provided these sagely words: Take all advice with a pinch of salt. Not all advice or critique will be something you want to implement into your final draft. With that said, take all critique, the good and the bad, courteously. Then, when it comes to final revisions, consider whether certain advice works with the story you are trying to tell.

The main key to rethinking revisions remains the need to switch your mindset. Editing and rewrites can be fun! They allow you to tweak or play with sections of your novel — to try something new. I will be playing with one of my later fight scenes in my SciFi novel. While rereading it via printout, it struck me as being flat, especially compared to another fight/flight scene earlier in the novel. I hope to try out several different changes in the scene to hopefully make it more exciting and suspenseful. It truly will be fun, not painful — and that is all about mindset. I know when I’m done it — not just the scene, but the novel — will be better.

So rather than focusing on the present and all the effort, which can be daunting, involved in revisions, focus on the outcome: a piece that tells a good story, is actually enjoyable for the reader, showcases your talent, and possibly gets you noticed by a publisher.

So godspeed on your edits.

Openings for clients

Are you looking to have your short story or novel professionally edited? I am opening up limited slots at prices that can’t be beat for both content editing (get input on characters/plot/other story mechanics, plus feedback on any specific questions you might have) and copyediting (grammar and style). I am open to different genres, though I am most fond of speculative fiction and historical fiction. I am, however, not overly keen on novels that focus solely on romance and sacrifice plot.

Prices for my introductory month, ending April 30, will be $16 per hour for copyediting and $19 per hour for content editing. This is well below the average for these services as listed in both the “2015 Writer’s Market” and on the Editorial Freelancers Association’s website.

Services will be paid through PayPal, and I will require a partial upfront payment, which will be determined by the project (whether it is a short story or novel, or if it will be copyedited or content edited); the remainder will then be invoiced and due after services have been rendered. To learn more about these services, utilize the form below to start the conversation; we will then work out the fine details via email. Initially, I ask that you include information about your project — summary, genre, word count, and target audience — and what you are looking for.

If you have ever wanted to have your work professionally edited, don’t miss out on this opportunity; you will not find lower prices, so take advantage of them!

About Me

I am a 2009 graduate of Purdue University, where I majored in professional writing. Currently, I am employed by The Papers Inc. Through this company, I serve as a staff writer, copy editor and editor. I started as the copy editor of “The Municipal” magazine approximately three years ago before moving on to also copyediting “Home Indoor Outdoor Living,” prior to it moving out of office, and several of the company’s other publications. A year ago I was named as the editor of “Michiana House and Home.” I’m very familiar with both AP Style and the Chicago Manual of Style. In the past, I have also edited others’ short stories and novels/excerpts.