• Guest Post by Lucy Adams: 10 Books That Will Change Your Mind

    Hey, it’s Briana! I’ve been running around like a madwoman lately, so today’s post is from a lovely lady I’ve been in contact with recently. Enjoy the post, and I’ll be back with a new one on Wednesday!

    Looking for the next book to put on your to-read list? Well, here are ten! What makes these books special is that they all have a great takeaway that will change the way you think, act, or perceive things.

    This list is perfect for both avid readers and those looking for something inspiring and useful. Let’s dive in along with Lucy Adams, a diligent buzz essay writer.

    The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

    Not a morning person? Think again. This book will change it all. Author Hal Elrod has his own amazing story of how he got started in finding a way to not just take every day for granted.

    It has been proven multiple times that waking up earlier and spending your first hour awake doing specific actions is extremely beneficial. The Miracle Morning provides an exact outline on how to do it.

    Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

    Although this book was written in 1937, it is one that will never fall behind in the times. It’s applicable to today and has inspired and influences many wealthy people and entrepreneurs. Follow what Hill says and you will experience success.

    1984 by George Orwell

    After reading this one, you’ll always have it in the back of your head. It’s a classic and an interesting story with a warning to citizens of what can happen if a government becomes too controlling. It’s something that should be kept in mind especially with all the potential surveillance technology nowadays.

    Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

    On a lighter note, we’ve included this incredibly popular fantasy series. Get through all the books (they’re big), and you’ll have experienced a journey like you’ve never experienced before. These books tell such a good story with amazing creativity that you will get lost in them and come back out in awe with a new perspective on imagination.

    The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

    Don’t scoff at this title. I know what you’re thinking: this is a book for children. It is, but we all need a reminder at times, especially as adults. You probably already know the message it teaches. The power of positive thinking is unbeatable. We all need to reread this one every once in awhile.

    The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman

    Just as we are all unique, we all experience and feel love in different ways. This book describes the five different of ways we like to give and receive love. Each person prefers one or two, and for a successful relationship you need to know your partner’s. Also good for close relationships in general!

    The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

    This book has changed millions of lives. Yours is next! It’s been translated into thirty-five languages. What most people disregard is that it does take hard work to get to the point that Timothy Ferris writes about, but he is not shy about letting you know it.

    The Giver by Lois Lowry

    This is the second (and last) young-adult genre book on our list, but also holds a well-deserved spot. It won a Newbery Medal, and also remains one of the most challenged books in the 1990s. It’s about dealing with many emotions in a seemingly perfect society. Check it out and you will be surprised how much it makes you think.

    How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    If you’re thinking this book it full of tips of how to control and manipulate people, you’ll be surprised. This wildly popular book will change your mindset. It will make you more popular and not only easy to work with, but the kind of person that people will want to work with. Increase your standing in people’s eyes by changing your own way of thinking with this book as a guide.

    Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss

    A personal favorite, this book is a short read that leaves you inspired and with tools to turn negative thoughts and happenings into positive ones. There are some truly great anecdotes inside that will make you see your own life in a different light. Plus, who doesn’t want to learn how to be happier?

    Well, that should get you started in the right direction! One of these, and probably more than one, has caught your eye. Don’t hesitate to read them. You’re only making yourself better!

    Lucy Adams is an essay writing expert from BuzzEssay. She’s a diligent woman who never misses a chance to cover an exciting topic related to blogging, writing, education, and a few more niches. Feel free to share your ideas with this diligent author and go ahead for a mutually beneficial collaboration.

  • Please, Don’t Be Afraid by Harley Randy Green

    Photo Credit: dryhead on Flickr
    Hello, this is Briana! I’m on vacation in West Virginia this week, so I’m publishing some wonderful guest posts. As soon as I’m back, we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy!

    I wrote my first novel back in 2004, which I put into a book with my other short stories from past years. I never really read it after I was done, so I had no clue how good it was or even if it was readable. I really didn’t want anyone to read it. I was more concerned with a short story I wrote being acceptable for publication.

    Finally, I allowed my then wife to read my first novel, fix the words here and there, and maybe critique it for me. I found out the book was worse than I had imagined. Even today when I try to fix it with my own editing process, I realize how bad of a story I had previously written. However, if it were not for asking someone else to read it, I would not have learned from my experience, and my next novel would probably be just as bad as the first one.

    You also can’t learn from mistakes if you are all afraid to have others read your work. Remember, your first rough draft is not an instant American classic, and you don’t have professional editors at the ready to fix the book so it’s ready to go; so the more insight from others, the better to learn. Find yourself alpha and beta readers, people you might know a little or others you just met with many different creeds and ages in their background. This is also a great way to learn about what demographics your work lands.

    Find yourself an editor, please—specifically, an editor who you believe is reasonably priced and you can get along with. Now I know this may be difficult, but they are indispensable in the creation of your final draft. Like alpha readers, editors always find things you’ll miss. They fix them and make them better so you look like the smartest person in the room. I found mine by using a short story of mine that I knew was good but needed an editor’s touch. I find it’s a lot easier than just giving them your baby and “ripping it to shreds!” The right editor won’t do that.

    Finally, you believe the book is done; now it’s time for the critiques. This is the hardest point because you have no idea you’ll get a good review. Amazon is a prime location, but not a perfect one, for this. Don’t be afraid to ask for those more established with widely read blogs or even columns to give your book a go.

    But none of this happens unless you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask and find your thick skin. What people say, you should use constructively, not negatively unless they are just brutal and give you absolutely nothing to work with so you can fix the writing. Remember, you alone are the end all; be all to your story, but in order to get there, you cannot be afraid to ask.

    The author was born in Port Huron, Michigan where he still resides. He has had a long time fascination with science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction.  H.R. Green has written three novels, Daemon, Shifter, and Machete Mauler, and one compilation, Listen Like Fiends.  You can visit his website here. Thanks for writing this post!

    When it comes to writing, what are you most afraid of?

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  • 6 Tips for Defeating Writer’s Block by Louise Matchett

    Photo Credit: mikkime on Flickr
    Hello, this is Briana! I’m on vacation in West Virginia this week, so I’m publishing some wonderful guest posts. As soon as I’m back, we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy!

    You should be writing. And yet whenever you open your manuscript and write a sentence you delete it, rewrite it and delete it again. Just like that you’re stuck, your mind goes blank and your character voices that live in your mind, who have always been there whispering to you, have fallen silent. And whilst you sit there your deadlines are creeping up on you, getting ready to pounce.

    Writer’s block. Hitting a wall. Falling out of sync. These are some of the many different names we writers come up with for one common problem and that problem is when you can’t make the words pour out onto a page, whether it’s a page in a notebook or a page on a computer screen.

    So what can you do to get the juices flowing once more? (Aside from making a sacrifice to the muses)

    • Sometimes all it takes is a re-read of the last paragraph or chapter you wrote to remind yourself of what might happen next. Though the urge to re-write a whole chapter can be tempting try to focus on just reading and not editing.
    • Take a break from your current project and start something new, it could be a blog post or even a competition piece. Anything that can wipe your creative palate clean.
    • Take a scheduled break from writing altogether, spend time with friends and family. But fix a deadline so that you know when that day comes you have to return to your current project.
    • Do something new. Is there a place you’ve always wanted to go, a new sport you’ve been wanting to try or maybe it’s something else. Whether it’s crossing something off of your bucket list or just following an impulse, give it a go. Take photos. Make the occasional note. If it doesn’t spark your imagination it can always make a great blog post.
    • Pick up your favourite book and read the first page, just the first page though. Done it? Now ask yourself questions; what makes me want to turn the next page? What do I learn from this page? Why is this book my favourite? This helps you identify what you find important in a story and if you apply these elements into your book it might help you get back into your writing.
    • Change your location. No I don’t mean you have to move house, what I mean is identify where you normally do most of your writing, then change location. You do most of your writing sitting in the living room? Try the kitchen. You write whilst lying on your bed? Try sitting on the stairs.

    I hope these tips can help you push through your writer’s block and get the words flowing once more.

    Louise Matchett is an author and photographer. You can visit her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Thanks so much for writing this post, Louise!

    What tips do you have for defeating writer’s block?

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    Feeling stuck? Check out @louisematchett8’s post on defeating writer’s block! (Click to tweet)

  • Guest Post: What Makes a Writer?

    Today’s guest post comes from my dear friend Mariella Hunt! What makes a writer? Who decides? What do you think? Check out Mariella’s thoughts, and feel free to share your opinion in the comments!
    Guest Post: What Makes a Writer?

    During NaNoWriMo, I found several controversial articles stating that writers write. It triggered so many arguments, I couldn’t help meditating on the matter. I wound up agreeing with both sides to an extent.

    We have to remember that life makes it hard to just write, and it’s unfair to disqualify someone as a writer because they can’t do it every day. Sometimes writers can’t write, and it’s not that they don’t want to. Other duties get in the way.

    These are other signs you may be a writer. Pay attention to your daily routine—maybe you’ll notice a few of them! While these aren’t all the signs, they’re the ones I found most of my writer friends relate to.

    • Writers daydream when we’re supposed to be working on chores or school. We might be unloading the dishwasher, but our minds are somewhere else—not in a messy kitchen, but the universe we’ve crafted in our books.
    • Writers get frustrated when people say writing’s not a ‘real job.’ Those people don’t know the effort it takes to craft a story, let alone a novel. They’ve never faced the challenge of focusing on a storyline when we have so many ideas. They never felt restless staring at a blank document, praying for the perfect ending to write itself. Writing is work. You’re a writer if you’re passionate about helping people understand that.
    • Writers have a habit of correcting peoples’ grammar, sometimes out loud. We might spend long hours thinking of better ways to say what that other person said. Most of us have issues with chatspeak and harbor a fascination for big words, sometimes even dead words. Because of this, we might confuse people in daily conversation and enjoy it!
    • Honest writers are never satisfied with our work. We struggle to ignore the inner editor so we can reach the end of a chapter…then we scroll up and change things again, but don’t ask because we’ll deny it! After all, editing is for later drafts…or so they say.
    • We gaze out the car window at buildings, wondering what the background music would be if we were in a movie. Our imaginations panic over situations that will never happen; they whisper solutions we’ll never need.
    • It frustrates us that we can’t write our life stories to make them more exciting or comfortable. Since we can’t write our life stories, we write novels. Most of us don’t make characters representing ourselves, but we might accidentally give protagonists our traits!
    • We’re often caught staring into space with looks of contemplation. Most of us have had to assure people multiple times that nothing is wrong—we aren’t angry, and we’re not tired. We’re plotting!
    • We carry a bit of each book we’ve read in our hearts. Even if we didn’t enjoy the read, we catalog the book as an example of what not to do in our writing.

    Sometimes you can’t write as you’d like to, but that doesn’t make you less of a writer. Writers can’t always write. It would seem a true writer is the person who always wants to write (even when they put it off. It is a lot of work!)

    If you’re too busy to just write, don’t be discouraged…you’re still a storyteller with a heart full of ideas!

    Would you add anything to this list?

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    Check out this special guest post for @brianawrites in which @mariellahunt discusses what it means to be a writer. (Click to tweet)

  • When Should I Release My Novel? by Mariella Hunt

    Note: This advice is directed to authors who’ve finished editing their manuscript into something ready for release. How to know when that is would take another blog post, which I’m considering writing! I urge you to make sure your book has been edited—and possibly rewritten!—before you publish.
    When Should I Release My Novel? By Mariella Hunt

    With the choice to self-publish, an author faces many challenging decisions. While some people approach it as the “easy” way to sell your work, nothing worthwhile is easy. Though no self-publisher’s journey will be predictable, there are guidelines authors should follow to make the process smooth.

    As a first time self-publisher, I don’t claim myself an expert; however, if probed for one piece of advice by someone considering the route, I would say don’t get carried away in setting a release date. Let me explain.

    Dissonance is my first published book. Researching the process taught me how publication works behind-the-scenes. Most things I learned are common sense—get an editor, have a good cover, figure out a marketing plan. There won’t be a magic button to press for sales and pageviews, so you’ll spend a lot of time on social media spreading the word. These were things that, though challenging, I tried to follow faithfully.

    There are plenty of posts that give advice about book covers and marketing plans. If you’ve taken seriously the decision to self-publish, you’ve read a few of them; in my opinion, there aren’t enough posts telling us to be patient.

    I made the mistake of losing perspective in my excitement to be published. Nothing is set in stone, and it is better not to give yourself a release date, especially if you’re a writer undergoing this process for the first time.

    I can only recall being warned about the release date dilemma in Catherine Ryan Howard’s book, Self-Printed. It’s an excellent source of advice if you don’t know where to start! However, despite her warning, I wanted to claim the book birthday of 12/13/14.

    12/13/14—not only was it fun to put on announcements, my birthday was the day after! Convinced I could get things together in a year, I told everyone Dissonance would be available then—and complications arose.

    Though I’d chosen 12/13/14 with a year in advance, there wasn’t time to get everything sorted. As a friend of mine once said, nothing is finished until it’s published. I missed the release date and published five months later.

    As a first-timer, I am proud of my book and glad I chose this path, but learned a lesson: I can’t control everything. I won’t be setting a release date again unless everything is sorted, because life has ways to throw you off-course. Soon I’ll be working on the second book of my series, and this time when I publish, I’ll know what not to do—which things I have power over and what I should leave to others.

    I’m not ashamed of this incident because it gave me insight. However, I’d like to give you this word of advice if you want to self-publish a manuscript: Your book may not be ready when you are.

    It’s worth the wait—good things always are.

    About the Author:

    Mariella Hunt writes faery tales from her bedroom/library in Boise, Idaho. She enjoys reading the classics and hopes to one day write like Charles Dickens (hey, a girl can dream.) Her first novel, Dissonance, was published in June of 2015. Check out her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on her writing life.

    How do you know when your book is ready to be released?

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    In a revealing guest post for @brianawrites, @mariellahunt shares some wisdom about book releases. (Click to tweet)

  • Guest Post: My Top 5 Tips for Writing Fantasy Fiction

    Kristen Kieffer is the creative-writing coach behind She’s Novel, where she helps writers craft novels that will endear readers, excite publishers, and launch their writing careers. Her latest creation, The Pre-Write Project, is an epic workbook designed to help writers prep their next novel in just five days flat. Kristen loves coffee, geeking out over Tolkien, and editing her upcoming medieval fantasy novel, The Dark Between. Want to learn more? Click here!
    Guest Post: My Top 5 Tips for Writing Fantasy Fiction

    Three and a half years ago, I realized something crazy: I wanted to be a professional novelist. And once I had that dream in mind there was no going back. Ever since that fateful day, I’ve spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours reading widely, writing generously, and studying fiction like a madwoman so that one day my dream might become a reality.

    And all the while, I’ve focused on the one genre I knew I wanted to one day be known for: fantasy.

    Three years of experience certainly doesn’t make me an expert on fantasy fiction, but I have picked up a few valuable tips and tricks along the way that I wish I had known when I first began.

    Today, I’ll break down five of these tips and include lessons from my own experience, as well as action steps you can follow to take your fantasy novel to the next level. Ready to get started?

    • Pre-writing is essential.
      No matter what type of fantasy you write, pre-writing your novel is crucial. The very definition of fantasy states that it includes or addresses otherworldly elements, such as magic, mythological races, or imaginary worlds.

      If you don’t fully understand how these otherworldly elements work in your fantasy world before beginning to write, you’ll spend countless hours struggling with plot holes, inconsistencies, and other errors when it comes time to revise your manuscript.

      My Experience: With my first fantasy novel, The Dark Between, I failed to explore all of the fantasy elements I planned to include before drafting. Instead, I focused solely on the elements I already had laid out in my head. By pushing these other elements aside, I ended up having to spend the first three weeks of my second draft painstakingly seeking solutions to the plot holes I had created.

      Action Step: Pull out a notebook and write down every fantasy element you plan to include in your novel (magic, secret societies, mythological races, etc.). Include anything you believe readers wouldn’t understand without an explanation. When you finish your list, spend as much time as you need ironing out each element’s exact details.
    • Less is more.
      Building a fictional world – or altering the boundaries of our real one – is always a fun process for fantasy writers, but sometimes we become so engrossed in world-building that we forget what our main focus should really be: crafting a killer story.

      When it comes to what readers truly want from your novel, it’s not an elaborate fictional world; it’s a story that will sweep them off their feet. Allow your fictional world to serve as the backdrop of your fantasy novel rather than the main attraction, and you will take one giant step towards achieving success.  

      My Experience: One of the reasons it took me so long to finally complete the first draft of The Dark Between was because I spent nearly a year building my fantasy world. Yes, you read that right. A full year. Needless to say, I regret spending that time world-building when I could have been discovering my story’s incredible secrets.

      Action Step: Take a step back from your work and do your best to identify only the essential elements of world-building. What do readers need to know in order for your story to make sense in the context of your fictional world?

      If you’re struggling with this exercise, ask yourself this: “If I removed this piece of information from my novel, would readers still understand what’s going on?” If the answer is yes, then it’s time to kick that element to the curb.
    • The Hero’s Journey is your friend.
      The Hero’s Journey is the most popular plot structure for fantasy novels – and with good reason. In his book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes the essence of this structure:

      A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

      Sound familiar? The Hero’s Journey is the very plot structure used to craft famous fantasy novels like The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Eragon, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and more.

      And though a few renowned fantasy novels break from this classic structure, chances are that your tale will benefit from a few hours spent getting to know The Hero’s Journey.

      My Experience: The Dark Between is a multiple point-of-view novel, but I utilized The Hero’s Journey to construct each character’s plotline. Using this set structure not only made the plotting process easier (goodbye Sagging Middle Syndrome!), but it set my story up to follow the same successful pattern readers recognize and adore.  

      Action Step: Read up on The Hero’s Journey plot structure and consider how your own story might follow its path.  
    • Keep it grounded.
      In a market saturated with modern fantasy fiction, it can be hard to write a novel that stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Recognizing this, many fantasy authors make the mistake of over-complicating their novels in an attempt to make them original. This is a huge mistake.

      Nothing is worse than cracking open a new novel, only to find that you can’t pronounce any of the names, visualize any of the supernatural races, or identify with any of the problems the characters face.

      By writing a novel that instead focuses on creating a simple yet profound connection with readers, your book will be far more likely to find success.

      My Experience: I have nothing against well-crafted novels with complex plots, such as A Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but I’ve read so many over-complicated fantasy novels in my lifetime that I’ve made it my mission to avoid this issue in my own work. And I know that my story will benefit from it.

      Action Step: Take an honest, open-minded look at the otherworldly elements included in your novel. If you suspect even for a moment that readers won’t be able to pronounce, understand, or relate to one of these elements, consider giving it an overhaul or cutting it altogether.
    • Characters come first.
      Speaking of making a profound connection with readers, the only way you’ll be able to accomplish that is to craft relatable characters your readers will adore.

      I’m always telling my readers to spend more time developing their characters than they think necessary. Why? Because it is their characters’ actions that make up the journey, their personalities that bring them to life, and their hearts that grip readers by the shirt collar and refuse to let go.

      As a fantasy writer, if you want to hook readers in for a thrilling read then you must find the heart of your characters’ stories in the midst of all the fantasy fun. Once you’ve found it, make sure that this heart finds its way to the forefront of your novel as often as possible.

      My Experience: I spent a lot of time world-building and plotting before I wrote the first draft of The Dark Between, but because I didn’t also develop my characters I found it very hard to write from their perspectives. As I struggled to get inside their heads, I unknowingly slowed my writing process down for months on end, not to mention that my first draft read without any sort of emotional attraction.

      Action Step: If you haven’t spent time developing your characters yet, take a step back and write down a list of every character whose actions affect the plot. Spend time getting to know each of these characters. Discover their personalities, goals and motivations, and the character development they’ll undergo before beginning to draft again.

    Do you have any additional tips or tricks for writing fantasy fiction? How will you take the tips we discussed today and apply them to your next novel? Sound off in the comments below!

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    In this guest post for @brianawrites, @ShesNovel shares some tips for writing fantasy fiction. (Click to tweet)