SPAWN regularly publishes articles on a variety of topics of interest to our members and the publishing community. To find articles on specific topics, please use the drop down menus. We accept submissions from the community for publication. If you have an article, (limit 2,500 words), please send to kate@spawn.org.

Bobbie’s Bill of Writes #5 in a series: Writing Equipment

by Bobbie Christmas

I devoted an entire chapter to my Bill of Writes for writers in my seven-award-winning book on creative writing titled Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing. Special to SPAWN, I have agreed to list and explain each item in my Bill of Writes through a series of articles. Below is number four in my Bill of Writes. Watch for the remaining items in future newsletters.

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Creating Cozy Worlds: Karen MacInerney and Gray Whale Press

Hi! I’m Karen MacInerney, and I’m the author of several mystery series, including the Agatha-nominated Gray Whale Inn mysteries and the Dewberry Farm mysteries. I’ve been writing for many years. I love creating a cozy, warm world for my readers to escape to when everyday life just seems too glum for words.

My first series, the Gray Whale Inn mysteries, starts with Murder on the Rocks, which also happens to be the first book I ever wrote. It’s set in Cranberry Island, Maine, and is in many ways an homage to Pool’s Island, Newfoundland, where I visited my grandparents every summer (many of the names in the book are surnames from that part of the world). I have fond childhood memories of climbing the island’s granite boulders, picking wild blueberries, making steamed puddings in my grandmother’s kitchen, and going out to fish on the cold, cold water at six in the morning with my grandfather. I was hoping to capture some of that wonderful feeling and experience on the page, but I didn’t know how to do it at first. Newfoundland is hard to get to, and I didn’t feel I had a grasp of the dialect. They have lots of words like “yaffle,” which is an armload of dried fish, in case you were wondering. I knew I wanted to write something capturing those experiences, and after a while, I started thinking mystery would be the way to do it. Continue reading

Chicago Style and Writing Tight

by Bobbie Christmas

Q: I noticed your newsletter used to hyphenate email (as e-mail) and capitalize internet, but the latest edition doesn’t do those things. What gives?

A: What gives is that The Chicago Manual of Style recently released its newest edition, with changes such as those you mention. Because Chicago style is the editorial style preferred by book publishers and I edit books more than anything else, my newsletter follows Chicago style as a way of imparting its style guidelines to readers. In addition to removing the hyphen from email and no longer capitalizing internet, the seventeenth edition of the book also made other changes, and I’m still learning them all. Although writers who use manuscript editors don’t necessarily need to know all the nuances of Chicago style, book editors must keep up with every update, to ensure the manuscripts they edit comply with the latest edition of CMOS. Continue reading

How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps (Part 4)

Part 12: Think reader first

This is so important that that you should write it on a sticky note and affix it to your monitor so you’re reminded of it every time you write. Every decision you make about your manuscript must be run through this filter.

Not you first, not book first, not editor, agent, or publisher first. Certainly not your inner circle or critics first.

Reader first, last, and always Continue reading

How to Write a Book: Everything You Need to Know in 20 Steps (Part 3)

Part 9. Eliminate distractions to stay focused

by Jerry Jenkins

Are you as easily distracted as I am? Have you found yourself writing a sentence and then checking your email? Writing another and checking Facebook? Getting caught up in the come-ons for pictures of the 10 Sea Monsters You Wouldn’t Believe Actually Exist?

Then you just have to check out that precious video from a talk show where the dad surprises the family by returning from the war. That leads to more and more of the same. Once I’m in, my writing is forgotten, and all of a sudden the day has gotten away from me. Continue reading

Bobbie’s Bill of Writes # 4 in a series: A WRITING PLACE

by Bobbie Christmas

I devoted an entire chapter to my Bill of Writes for writers in my seven-award-winning book on creative writing titled Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing. Special to SPAWN, I have agreed to list and explain each item in my Bill of Writes through a series of articles. Below is number four in my Bill of Writes. Watch for the remaining items in future newsletters.

Continue reading

The Writing Life

by Rick Helms

A great writer named Jerry Healy, who sadly left us a couple of years back, once said something that resonated strongly with me. It’s probably a quote from someone else, but I heard him say it, so I associate it with Jerry.

He said, “Everyone has a novel in him or her. Not everyone has a SECOND novel.”

For a working writer, constant production is the key to success. I see many, many writers each year at conferences who are still flogging a book they wrote and published ten years ago. They have a single title out, and they’ve been riding it like a trusty steed for years. Continue reading