How Outlining Can Save You Time in Your Writing

Do you run on a tight schedule? Between taking classes, working a day-job, keeping up with errands, and struggling to make time for your writing, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Well guess what? You’re not alone.

Being a writer in a fast-paced, distraction-fraught world is tough. It takes discipline, focus, and grit. You know your time is precious, and you do your best to snag every little bit of extra you can horde away. Time is to the busy writer what gold is to a dragon; the problem is, we’re all-too-easily robbed.

Why I Decided to Write a Novel in a Month

If you’re a writer, you may have heard of NaNoWriMo (also known as National Novel Writing Month), where authors sprint to fifty-thousand words in just thirty days. If you’re not a writer, you’re probably wondering what possessed me to do something so stupid.


NaNoWriMo usually takes place in November, but halfway through April, I decided that I needed to write a novel now. I was tired of waiting for inspiration to strike from somewhere in the great beyond, so at the beginning of May, I did something I haven’t done in years: I just sat down and started writing.

7 Books to Put on Your Reading List in 2017

“Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction.” That’s how author David L. Ulin put it, and I quite agree. In our culture, distractions hold a tyrannical reign, and unless we learn to resist them, they will devour our time.


There’s something special about reading—something you can’t achieve by watching a movie or listening to an audiobook. Reading a magic all its own. It draws your mind to focus; challenges your imagination to spin into gear. If you aren’t making time to read, you’re missing a lot of extraordinary benefits.

How Guidelines Can Actually Help You Write a Better Novel

Have you ever just tried to sit down and write? Sometimes it works. You’re inspired, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Other times? Not so much. Even in the cases when you are inspired, it’s usually difficult to write for long (at least for me). Usually, and almost inevitably, inspiration runs out. You get stuck.

guidelines graphic

Some people are great at writing without a plan. I, however, am not one of those people. I don’t even write my blog posts without a plan. Even people who prefer to write and just let the story take the lead will eventually find themselves stuck or confused. There are just so many rabbit trails to go down; so today I want to talk a little about how having guidelines for your story can actually make it better.

Book Review: The Rithmatist


Joel has always wanted to be a Rithmatist, but the chance has passed him by; however, when Rithmatists begin to disappear, he may be the only one who can save them.

 Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Gearpunk/Mystery

Rating: 5/5

Ages: Best for ages 13 and up

Summary: [from Goodreads] More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

This review is spoiler free.

High Concept Ideas (And Why You Need One)

As writers, we are often asked where our ideas come from. How do we come up with our plots, characters, and worlds? The answer is that we all do it differently. And it’s not always easy. Sometimes ideas pop out of hats and multiply like crazy (hence the term “plot bunny”), while other seasons see nary a fluffy tail. Regardless of where the ideas come from, there’s one important standard that all the best ideas live up to: The High Concept.

Lately, I’ve been struggling to come up with good ideas for a novel. I’ve tried several, and none have worked out for me. It’s been depressing. It’s discouraged me and made me question my calling. It took several months before I finally realized something. Most of my ideas were failing because I hadn’t come up with a high concept.

Book Review: The Song of the Wren-Falcon


All Orienne wants is to be free from war, no matter the cost—but what if the price is the one thing she can’t give?

 Author: Mary Ruth Pursselley

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5

Ages: Best for ages 13 and up

Summary: [from Goodreads] Orienne Seritan is a loyal Adelfian who wants nothing more than peace for her country and a life free from the darkness and violence of war. But when the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy entangles her life and the fates of those she loves with the destiny of an embittered traitor, she finds herself being dragged even deeper into the darkness.

Enemies are pouring over her nation’s borders. People she loves are dying. The cryptic prophecy offers no clues as to who will be left standing at its end…nor does it disclose the magnitude of the role that Orienne is destined to play.