Manuscript Monday: Word Power – Happy

It’s Manuscript Monday! How are you using your words?

One way to make your manuscript shine and take it from normal to exceptional is to push your word power. Here are some different ways to say happy.

In the comments, leave us a sentence with your favorite subsitution for happy and we will randomly select a winner for an ebook of your choice from either Pen Name Publishing or French Press Bookworks.

Manuscript Monday - How else can you write "Happy"? | Pen Name Publishing


We’re Writing Wednesday: What’s Your Genre?

Ack!  The Genre! What is it, where do I fit, how do I market, WHAT DO I DO?

We are going to start talking genres on Wednesday’s in with our writing tips.  Now obviously, or at least we hope so, writing is distinguishable by being either Fiction or Nonfiction.  Fiction of course means made up (or mostly) and Nonfiction means true story (in vague layman’s terms.)

Now from there, that is where we often get slapped with the question of “What’s next?”

A “simple” search of BOSAC codes will tell you that actual classifications for your title are about as plentiful as actual titles in this great sea of bookstores and libraries.

Nonfiction is generally broken down further into essays, biography, autobiography, and speech.

Fiction, on the other hand, is broken down into drama, poetry, fantasy, humor, fable, fairy tales, science fiction, short story, realistic fiction, folklore, historical fiction, horror, tall tales, legend, mystery, mythology, fiction in verse, and then of course, broken down into the more popular sub-genres that we often toss around when describing our manuscript.

Whew.  That is a lot to take in and a lot to think about, isn’t it?  Well, lucky for you we are going to take one genre subcategory each Wednesday, tell you what it is, and the further breakdowns in that category.  If all goes well, we will finish describing and teaching you about genres by the time we are retired and buried.  If not, can we get a volunteer to take over the task?  Anyone?


Well, we will just work extra hard to get it finished.  Correctly categorizing your book and knowing your genre not only helps you market your piece, but it helps you look more credible in the eyes of those who might pick up your book or add it to their store’s stock.

Nothing is more frustrating than getting a book titled “Suspense” only to find there was absolutely nothing suspenseful about anything written in the pages.  Likewise, putting your book into a category that it might halfway fit into might damage your potential.

We have said it before, we will say it again.

Know your genres, work your genres, and be proud of them.

Next week we will start with nonfiction and then work through fiction.  I know, I know, moans of disapproval but it is estimated that 80%+ of all written books fall into the nonfiction genre.  Would you have guessed that?  Probably not, but it’s true, and so that is where we shall begin.

Any questions on genres, categorizing, or the such can be added into the comments and we will address them as we approach that topic.


Manuscript Monday: How To Start Writing

Greetings friends!

Wow, was last week crazy or was it just us?  It seems like we just wrote our last Manuscript Monday dealing with how to find a publisher, and then the rest of the week disappeared.  Does anyone have a time machine?  Anyone?

Last week was exciting, despite being so quickly paced that we seem to barely remember even being present for any day.  We barely had time to touch our social media accounts and our blog missed out on content last week as well.  I know, we have our heads hung in shame but we are ready to talk it out with you this week!

Today’s topic deals with starting your manuscript.  You have an idea that is burning in your head.  You may have told a few friends and they say, “Yes!  Go!  Full speed ahead, hi-yo Silver, Away!”  You wake up the next morning refreshed and eager to start your run as a bestselling author.  You pour a hot cup of coffee, you power up your computer, maybe crack a few knuckles, open up a notebook, and then spend the next 8 hours staring at the room around you, unable to write even the first line.

Oh yes, we know this all too well.

So how DO you do it?  How do you move from that great idea into a 63,000 page manuscript that you can then begin to shop and one day see under the flashing lights of  shelf in a dimly lit bookstore?

There’s no one magic potion or formula.  We aren’t Harry Potter or Hermione Granger and we have no recommendations for how to wave a magic wand and bring your pencil to life a la The Sorcerers Apprentice.  But, we are going to share what works for us and the first thing we always do is brainstorm.


Eeks.  We haven’t had to do that since high school group assignments!

Do not fret!  Brainstorming when it comes to your writing is a blast.  The more creative and the more visual, the better your chances are of being successful.

Writer’s have this innate ability to find themselves lost in the moment and sink into a setting, character, or plot.  We are often inspired by something we see around us in nature or on a person.  I have a full story based around a navy blue trench coat I saw on a woman at a bus stop.  For one week, I only looked for photos of navy blue trench coats, created tear sheets, and then looked at the settings in the photographs to get inspired for my next move in development.

Author Christy Pastore works through her Pinterest boards to create visual brainstorming and inspiration sessions for her stories.  It is an absolute blast to waste a few hours while I’m working through something she has created and actually see inside of her mind.

I prefer the good ol’ corkboard myself but whatever floats your boat, set it a sail.

To kick off any good brainstorming session, here’s what you need:


That’s it, that’s all you need.  Things that will help you:

Any possible piece of inspiration.

Well, now that we have officially wasted your time and provided no help, let us try to explain one more time before you click away!

Our point is to stop dwelling on your idea so hard that you block your inner creativity.  You came up with the idea, you must have thought where to take it in some aspects at that moment.

Think of those fine details and surround yourself with visual books and magazines that deal with those little slices and tear things out.  Stick them to a wall or pin them on a corkboard.  Give yourself something to look at and get lost in.  If you’re having writers block, pop out a short story real quick dealing with one of the images and you may have created a new character to work into your manuscript.

Leave the confines of your home, sit for a few hours a day somewhere and only keep a notebook and pen in your pocket.  Drop the cell phone, the tablet, the eReader, the ball and chain, and immerse yourself in something new and different.

Put together a play list.  This is something else Christy Pastore did for the creation of Fifteen Weekends, and the link to her playlist is available on her author website.  We’ve seen this popping up left and right recently and we love it!  Afterall, what are songs but another form of storytelling?  Some of the most masterfully crafted tales are told in only 3-4 minutes, that my friends, is amazing.

Finally, don’t rely on your memory to carry you through.  Keep a little notebook in your pocket or purse and write down any little note that pops into your head.  If you see a detail in architecture that you adore, take 2 minutes and describe how it is making you feel or what it looks like.  Let’s say you tried a new pie at the coffee shop and it made your tastebuds do a happy dance, jot down a little note.  And most importantly, you came up with the idea for a story, WRITE IT DOWN.  Write down your thoughts at that moment in time instead of relying on your memory.  At the moment when a story pops into your head is the moment when your neurons are firing and creating little nuances that you will more than likely forget the next day.

Write down one or two words if you’re in a hurry, chances are you will pick up on the idea later or be led in a new direction based on those words.

The one thing to remember is writing a manuscript is not a heavy weight title match.  You don’t have to fight yourself or anyone else, you just need to enjoy what you are doing.  Personally, I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I do believe in writer’s fear.  Fear of your story ending, or even fear of your story starting to take shape.  Just go with it, pour some coffee, do a quick dance around your house, go for a walk, or pet a puppy.  And while you’re at it, take some notes.

Try this for a week and let us know how it goes.  Did it help you start or pick up where you are struggling?  What are your favorite tricks for brainstorming and starting off on a new piece?

Leave us your thoughts below, we love to chat with you!