The Best Writing Advice Ever

image by ShonEjai

 

 

My guest today is Lillian Duncan, a bestselling author and finalist in the Carol Awards. Please see more about her latest release, Trapped, after her post. And don’t miss her two giveaways. See details below.

 

Lillian: I love being able to say, “I’m a writer!” I used to say it but wasn’t sure if I believed it myself. After more than twenty books and being on the Amazon bestseller list, I believe it!

Best Advice

The first and best advice I got on becoming a writer was …. drumroll, please … write every day! I know some writers live by that advice and others don’t. As for me, I don’t believe my latest book, TRAPPED, would exist if I hadn’t lived by that advice.

That may sound melodramatic, but I think it’s true.        

For many years, I wrote every day—no matter what happened. OK—I didn’t write when I took vacations but that was about it. The result of that is that it became a habit. A very good habit!

The Habit

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Writing every day keeps my creative juices flowing.

Writing every day keeps me sane—even when insane things are happening.

Writing every day deepens my commitment to writing.

Writing every day keeps the story moving forward.

Habits During Struggles

In 2011, I finally got my first traditional book contract. In 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. I won’t go into all the gory details, but life got rocky for me. Very rocky. 

But a habit is a habit and so I kept on writing, not every day but certainly every other day.  It wasn’t easy. Some days I could only write for ten minutes, other days maybe thirty. But each of those ten-minute sessions added to the story … until the story was finished.

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I submitted to my publisher. While I waited to hear if it was accepted, I kept writing. Because after all, a habit is a habit. By the time I knew that story had been accepted, I was well into writing another story.

Success

And because a habit is a habit, I kept writing story after story after story. And they kept getting accepted and published. 

I really believe that if writing every day hadn’t become a habit, I really would have given up when I was struggling so much because of the brain tumors. During that time, I invented what I call The Twenty-Five Word Club.

I made a commitment to write twenty-five words every day toward a new story. Anybody has time to write twenty-five words, no matter how busy you are. Even when you don’t feel good, you can muster up enough energy to write twenty-five words.

Some days, twenty-five words were about all I could do. But then, there were the other days when I might write a hundred or even a thousand.

Anybody want to join The Twenty-Five Word Club?

Lillian’s Giveaways

To celebrate the release of TRAPPED, I’m having a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card as well as a choice of one of my books (e-book only). To enter CLICK HERE.

One more lucky winners will win A $25 Amazon Gift Card on my website. To enter, go to www.lillian-duncan.com and leave a comment under the TRAPPED Giveaway Post. 

Angelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God. 

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped. 

As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still.

But are they delusions?

Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. Her goals is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com as well as her devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

Avoid a Tasteless Scene: Introducing Tastes into Stories

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Dear Faithful Readers,
 
After 331 weekly blog posts, I am changing to monthly posts
to spend more time writing. I will post the third
Thursday of each month, starting with this post. Thank you.
 
Zoe

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Last week, I spoke about scents. Today we’ll focus on tastes.

What Characters Might Taste Besides Food

Spice up your scenes with tastes other than foods. Here are some examples.

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  • Blood
  • Dirt
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Medicines
  • Metal: coins, jewelry, weapon
  • Sweat
  • Sprays: hair, chemical, paint
  • Toiletries: mouthwash, toothpaste, soap
  • Water: lake, river, pool

Taste or Flavor Categories

image by moritz320

Here are some flavor categories and specific taste descriptors. You may want to look up the descriptors in a dictionary before using them.

  • Bitter/Tart – sour, acrid, acidic, vinegary, acerbic, tangy, acetous
  • Fruity – any fruit flavor, citric, lemony, nectarous
  • Herbal/bulbs – garlicy, oniony, thyme, cilantro 
  • Rancid – gamy, malodorous, stale, rotten, fishy
  • Spicy – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger 
  • Spicy-hot – peppery, zesty, fiery
  • Salty – saline, brackish, briny
  • Sharp – piquant, pungent
  • Smoky – burnt, charcoal, charred
  • Sweet – dulcet, honeyed, sugary, syrupy, saccharine

General Descriptors for Tastes

image by ulleo

Here are examples of general taste describers.

  • Balsamic
  • Bland
  • Delectable
  • Flavorful
  • Full-bodied
  • Harsh
  • Heavenly
  • Juicy
  • Luscious
  • Mellow
  • Palatable
  • Rich
  • Savory
  • Scrumptious
  • Strong
  • Succulent
  • Tasteless
  • Tasty
  • Unsweetened
  • Weak

Can you add to any tastes or flavors to the above lists? 

Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/



Scents and Scents’ Abilities: Introducing Smells into Stories

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is designed to shape a not-yet submitted, rejected, or self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The method can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript. See details below.

Writers know how important it is that their characters use their five senses in stories. Today we’ll focus on scents and ways to use them.

Associate Certain Scents with Certain Abilities

Here are common associations between scents and a person’s well-being. In your stories, perhaps you could show your character reacting to scents in these ways.

image by Couleur
  • Fruit scents assist in calming anxiety. Lemon to increase clarity and apple for migraines. As Emily made lemonade from freshly squeezed lemons, Arthur drew in the citrus scent. His headache eased and a new idea struck him for the machine he’d invented.
  • Lavender’s fragrance is associated with easing emotional stress and insomnia. A lavender scent drifted through Brad’s open window. He ceased his tossing and his eyelids drooped. Oh, for blessed sleep …
  • Cinnamon is known for stimulating the brain, fighting mental fatigue, and increasing memory and attention span. Carly sifted cinnamon spice over each of ten pots containing simmering apples. Her nose filled with the cinnamon scent. As she stirred the cinnamon into the apple mixture, she recalled the complicated directions for Mother’s quilt pattern.
  • Peppermint is thought to stimulate the mind and increase concentration. Professor Eichmann passed peppermint candies to the students at the table. As the students sucked the candies, peppermint scent permeated the air, and the brainstorming session succeeded in solving the professor’s challenge. 
  • Jasmine is associated with boosting confidence and easing depression. Courtney persuaded Mother to sit in the garden near the Jasmine shrubs. “Mother, let’s breath in the lovely scents of the garden.” Mother obeyed. “Dearest, I love the scent of Jasmine. This is the most hopeful I’ve felt in days.”.

Fragrance Families

Spice up your stories with scents from different fragrance families:

  • Floral – flowers and bouquets
  • Chemical – ammonia and glass cleaners
  • Woody – pine and sandalwood
  • Fruity – citrus and apples
  • Exotic – ambergris and vanilla
  • Sweet – chocolate and caramel
  • Clean – soap and shampoo
  • Nutty – peanut butter and almond
  • Spices – nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Minty – peppermint and wintergreen
  • Strong – burning rubber and garlic breath
  • Decayed – roadkill and sour milk

Synonyms for Smells

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  • Odor
  • Scent
  • Fragrance
  • Smell
  • Aroma
  • Perfume
  • Bouquet
  • Stink
  • Stench
  • Whiff

How Scents Arrive

  • Cooking, baking, searing, frying, roasting
  • Burning, lighting up, bug zapping, heat radiation
  • Rotting, fermenting, souring
  • Digging, fertilizing, spraying
  • Sweating, breathing, festering
  • Bathing, grooming, powdering
image by Free-Photos

Verbs to Use with Smells

  • Wafted
  • Intruded
  • Floated
  • Hinted
  • Gave off
  • Blew
  • Hovered
  • Hung
  • Lifted
  • Drifted

Can you add to any of the above lists?


Buy Link

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TYFMI30D-Print-5.75x8.89.jpeg

Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/