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Anthology News News

Announcement of the Stories and Authors for the Upcoming “Deception!” Anthology

After a lot of work in May, our panel of readers and judges chose the stories to be featured in our second annual short story anthology, Deception! We received a plethora of great, well-written, and fascinating stories, and making the decision was quite difficult. In order to make the selections, all entries had the author’s name replaced with a random number before being submitted to the committee of readers. Each person on the committee rated and ranked the stories based on criteria such as originality, character, setting, style, and, of course, matching the theme of “deception.” These rankings were averaged out together to create a list of the top stories, and in the end, we chose twenty-five.

All of the stories were incredible. The work produced by our indie author community never ceases to amaze me. It was difficult to choose between them all, but if we accepted everyone, we would have one gigantic anthology with a hefty price tag. For those not selected, we are working on ways to still promote and expand upon their work, either through features like our new podcast (which you can listen to on the sidebar here on the website), or through a writer’s short story workshop we will soon announce.

The List of Selected Stories for the Deception! anthology

Without further ado and in no specific order, here is the list of the stories and authors to be featured in the upcoming Deception! anthology, anticipated to be published later this year:

“The Cleansing” by Jane-Holly Meissner —

Jane-Holly, an Oregon based writer, has been scribbling stories into notebooks and online for most of her life. She squeezes in time for homeschooling her four kids, date nights at the movies with her husband, and explaining her first name to everyone she meets. Jane-Holly believes that, if creativity is directly correlated to how messy your house is, she might just be one of the most creative people on the planet.
https://www.facebook.com/jhmeissnerauthor/ / jainholliewrites.wordpress.com

“Violet Crane” by Jason Pomerance —

Jason Pomerance’s first novel Women Like Us was published in 2016, and his novella Falconer debuted that same year on Nikki Finke’s Hollywood Dementia. His short story Mrs. Ravenstein was part of the Escape! Anthology, published by Writing Bloc in 2019. He also writes for film and television. Jason lives in Los Angeles with his partner and their animals.
www.jasonpomerance.com

“Scammers” by Ferd Crôtte —

Ferd Crôtte is a practicing physician who writes for fun and fellowship. His short story, “Captiveedom,” appeared in the Escape! Anthology, published by Writing Bloc in 2019. His debut novel Mission 51 is currently in production by Inkshares. Ferd lives with his wife Gail in Winston Salem, North Carolina. https://thebestparts.net

“Card Tricks and Other Tavern Miracles” by Phil Rood —

Phil Rood draws, writes, makes podcasts, and plays music because he loves to pull thoughts from his head in a number of ways. He loves his family, his cats, coffee, and Oxford Commas.
philrood.com / inkandsunshine.wordpress.com

“Picture Perfect” by Deborah Munro —

Deborah Munro is an American biomedical engineering professor in New Zealand. She has worked over half her career in industry and for NASA, designing medical devices and robotics. Hard science inspires much of her writing, but this story branches into a new genre of contemporary fiction.
https://deborahmunroauthor.com / https://twitter.com/DebMunro_Author / https://www.instagram.com/deborahmunro.author/

“Islands in the Void” by Josie Dorans —

Josie Dorans is the pen name responsible for unleashing the feistier side of a rather nice indie children’s author who makes her home in the mountains of West Virginia.
https://josiedorans.weebly.com / https://twitter.com/JosieDorans / https://www.facebook.com/JosieDorans/

“You Might Get It” by Mike X Welch —

Mike x Welch lives in Western N.Y. with his wife and twin sons. He contributed a story (Convict 45) to the Writing Bloc’s inaugural anthology, Escape! Mike is hard at work on his debut novel PrOOF Vol. 1: The Vampire and the Dragon.
http://Mikexwelch.com

“Quibbles” by G.A. Finocchiaro —

G.A. Finocchiaro was born and raised in South Jersey. He is a self-described goofball with a taste for bad jokes and good burgers. Finocchiaro currently lives in the Philadelphia suburbs.
www.theknightmares.com / www.gafino.com

“Honeysuckle Sky” by Tahani Nelson —

Tahani Nelson focuses on writing the stories that she didn’t have growing up– strong, amazing women that would rather receive a sword than a glass slipper. Her debut novel, THE LAST FAOII, is available now.
facebook.com/the-last-faoii

“Girl” by Susan K. Hamilton —

Susan K. Hamilton is the award-winning author of epic, dark, and urban fantasy books including Shadow King, Darkstar Rising, and the forthcoming The Devil Inside. Horse-crazy since she was a little girl, she also loves comfy jeans, pizza, great stand-up comedy, and pretty much every furry creature on the planet (except spiders). Susan lives near Boston with her husband and a cat who runs the house like a boss.
www.susankhamilton.com / www.twitter.com/realskhamilton / www.facebook.com/hamiltonsusank / www.instagram.com/realskhamilton

“Malfunction” by T.C.C. Edwards —

TCC Edwards comes from Waterloo, Ontario, and has been enjoying the life of an expat teacher at a university in Busan. He lives just outside Busan with his wonderful wife and two young sons. He helped edit and wrote short stories in four anthologies by the Busan Writing Group, and he has had work published by eFiction Magazines and Every Day Fiction.
writeorelse.com / www.facebook.com/tcceauthor / twitter.com/writeorelse

“Uncle Dean in the Canoe” by Nicolina Torres —

Nicolina Torres was a manager for Barnes & Noble for 15 years, in seven stores, and represented B&N on Channel 2’s Living Dayton Show for two years. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as an adult, she has become an advocate for marginalized people, working with the National Association of Attorneys with Disabilities (NAAD) on mentorship projects and receiving FAMU Law School’s BLSA 2016 Spirit of Service Award for promoting diversity in the legal profession. Her debut novel, This Red Fire (Launch Pad Competition Top 10 Pick) has been optioned by Stampede Ventures and will be released by Inkshares in late 2019.
https://nicolinatorres.com

“Die Regeln Galten Hier Nicht” by S.E. Soldwedel —

S.E. Soldwedel writes visceral fiction that lays bare the rawest elements of the human condition. After a long career in media, he pivoted to teaching English to speakers of other languages and teaching chess to children. He lives in the Bronx and repairs guitars in Brooklyn. His first novel, “Disintegration,” is due for publication in June 2019.
https://www.twitter.com/soltvaydl / http://www.soldwedel.net / https://www.facebook.com/DisintegrationNovel/

“The End and the Beginning” by Michael Haase —

Michael Haase is a proud father, husband, ER nurse, guitarist, and writer. His first published work, a short story called “Cedric,” appeared in Writing Bloc’s Escape! anthology. He has balanced many writing projects from absurd novels and children’s books, and they all seem to be coming to fruition this year. He lives with his wife and kids in Cleveland, Ohio.
http://www.themindofmichael.com / http://askanernurse.com / https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelHaase/ / https://twitter.com/authormikehaase

“Countermeasures” by Evan Graham —

Evan Graham is the author of upcoming science fiction thrillers Tantalus Depths and Proteus. He has a bachelor’s degree in Education Studies from Kent State University, where he triple-minored in English, Writing, and Theatre. He currently lives in rural Middlefield, Ohio and is extensively involved in local community theatre, both on the stage and behind the scenes.
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEvanGraham/

“Haven” by Jaye Milius —

Jaye Milius is a lifelong nerd, dedicated overthinker, and occasional musician. She lives in Oregon with her two spoiled dogs.
https://jayemilius.com / https://twitter.com/jayemilius / https://www.facebook.com/jayemiliusauthor/ / https://www.instagram.com/prolixitee/

“Rachel Rose, Semite” by Becca Spence Dobias —

Becca Spence Dobias is a mom, author, and ukulele player. She grew up in West Virginia and now lives in Southern California. She is the Project Manager for Writing Bloc.
BeccaSpenceDobias.wordpress.com

“Alpha” by Aly Welch —

Aly Welch resides in Western New York with her husband and twin sons. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys acting, karate, and yoga. She also loves exploring the woods, and still hopes to find magic behind every tree and under every rock.
www.alywelch.com

“Wasted” by Richard Allen —

Richard Allen is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. He currently writes for various publications covering theater (Broadway World), music (Graffiti Magazine), movies/TV/video games (Fan Fest News), and book reviews (Southern Literary Review and the Journal of Appalachian Studies) when not working on original creations.
www.facebook.com/richardallenwrites / https://fanfest.com/author/richard/ / https://www.broadwayworld.com/author/Richard-Allen / http://southernlitreview.com/contributors/richard-allen.htm

“Hummingbird” by David R. Lee —

David Lee worked for forty years in public and private schools as a teacher and counselor. Now retired, he lives in Reno with his wife, dog and three cats. He spends his time reading, writing, and playing with his grandchildren. His blog (davidrlee.blogspot.com) also keeps him busy.
davidrlee.blogspot.com

“Loyalty” by Estelle Rose Wardrip —

Estelle Wardrip is a teacher and writer who lives on a small farm in northern California. This is her first published work, hopefully the first of many.

“New Authority” by Patrick Edwards —

After defeating some inter-dimensional shadow monsters, Patrick returned home in time for the weekly tea party thrown by his toddler-aged daughters. The party got too wild, and the police were forced to shut it down. Two dollies and one action figure were arrested. With nothing else to do, Patrick went back to work on the sequel to his debut novel, Space Tripping.
https://twitter.com/ThePatEdwards / ThePatEdwards.com

“Headcase” by Mike Donald — Mike Donald standing by Hollywood sign

Mike worked for the BBC as a sound mixer, wrote for comedy sketch shows, and developed up sitcom ideas. He was also a script analyst for a gap finance company and has written many award-winning screenplays. Mike lives in Oxford with his wife, and a power-hungry Terrier named Bonny May Donald.
www.louisianablood.com / louisianablog.louisianablood.com

“New Suit” by Kelsey Rae Barthel —

Immediately after graduating high school, Kelsey Barthel moved from her tiny home town of Hay Lakes, Alberta to the city of Edmonton. After a hand full of years working at the airport, Kelsey decided to follow her passion, finished her first novel, Beyond the Code and got it published through Inkshares.com. Now, she has been working hard to build up her name as an author.
http://www.kelseybarthel.ca / https://www.facebook.com/BTCInkshares/?ref=bookmarks / https://www.inkshares.com/books/beyond-the-code

“23 and My Mom” by Grace Marshall —

Grace Marshall is a technical writer by day and a horror writer by night. She lives with her family in Minnesota.
Escapeoftheinnermonologue.com / Twitter: @escapedmonolog

This is an amazing group of writers and stories. I’m truly looking forward to this anthology. These are exciting times.

Deception! will be cooperatively produced with the aim being to release the book later this year but no later than January.

If you need something to read while waiting for this anthology, please check out some of our recommended indie books in our shop, and be sure to grab a copy of the previous anthology, Escape!, on sale for $9.99 paperback and $2.99 ebook!

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News podcast Writing Life

The Writing Bloc Podcast is LIVE! Listen Here!

Amongst all of our great goals coming to fruition, we here at Writing Bloc have officially launched a podcast! Our aim is to chat about all things writing, with us discussing everything from successes to struggles, answering any of your questions, and interviewing authors we think you should know. We will be updating our main page with an embedded player for easier listening sometime in the near future, but until then, you can hear our first teaser episode on the following outlets:

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/writing-bloc-podcast-teaser-episode/id1465101906?i=1000439142232

Overcast: https://overcast.fm/itunes1465101906/writing-bloc-podcast

Podbean: https://writingbloc.podbean.com/

Pocket Casts: https://pca.st/8bLy

We call it a “teaser” episode, as this is mostly a pleasant conversation between four of the authors behind Writing Bloc: Jacqui Castle, Christopher Lee, Cari Dubiel, and Michael Haase. We stay mostly on topic, have plenty of fun, and discuss everything from typos in our anthology to making plans to rewrite Fifty Shades of Gray in the style of Stephen King. You know, usual writer stuff.

We had a lot of fun recording this, and we have plans for many, many more. The next recording session is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29th, and we will let you know as soon as it’s posted. The list of writers to be featured with interviews and discussions is growing, and we plan on taking over the world with this podcast, of course. (Isn’t that everyone’s goal with a podcast?)

There are great things happening around the Writing Bloc. Thank you for being a part of them. Stay tuned for more features, perks, and opportunities.

Happy listening!

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Guest Post Writing Help Writing Life

An Idea is Born: Guest Post by Author John Jamison

Good news! I am about to give you permission to sit down, watch movies, and spend time wandering around on the Internet. The best part? You can call the entire time “research.” And I am going to answer the question I am asked more than any other: “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s something anyone can do who is willing to spend that time watching movies and web pages.

Yesterday after lunch, I turned on the television and came across the 60’s movie, “Psych-Out”, featuring a very young Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Susan Strasburg, and Gary Marshall. Gary Marshall? Yeah, that caught my eye, too, so I opened the IMBD page on my iPad and started reading. One paragraph explained how Strasberg and Nicholas had been nervous about some of their scenes and calmed themselves down by discussing Reichian therapy which they had both experienced. Apparently, it was some kind of cosmic, bio-energy thing, but new to me. I opened a new window to the Wikipedia page for Reichian Therapy.

I read that William Reich was a student of Freud, but had then developed theories about a mind-body energy related to sexuality. My highly oversimplified understanding was that Reich believed that our mental and physical health was connected to a ‘cosmic’ energy that Freud called the libido, or sex drive. Repression of our sexual urges led to illness, mental and physical. It sounded like one of those things that would be in a 60’s movie. Reich built on his theory, identified that cosmic energy as something he called ‘orgone’, and created devices called “orgone accumulators” that would help us decrease our sexual tensions and improve our overall health. He also created a form of therapy called “Vegetotherapy”, which I’ll simply say violated the established ‘distance’ between patient and therapist. His work was banned in Germany, and in the U.S. he was eventually determined to be a fake, was thrown out of various groups, had his books and research confiscated, was arrested, and died in prison in 1957.

No, nothing much so far. Interesting stuff, but not the kind of material that great ideas come from. Then, I opened this morning’s New York Times obituaries.

I read that Mary Boyd Higgins died at age 93, after serving for sixty years as the Director of the William Reich Trust, the William Reich Museum, and the Orgone Energy Observatory that is on the National Register of Historic Places in Maine. As I read the obituary, I recognized things from what I had read yesterday, but there was more detail. For example, it explained that the reason Reich’s material had been banned in Germany was that he explained that Fascism and dictatorships were the result of sexual repression and not at all a healthy thing. Nazi Germany did not agree. And I read that, in 1954 in the U.S., after reviewing Reich’s 789 page FBI file, a Federal Judge wrote: “any journal or pamphlet that mentioned orgone “shall be destroyed,” that all orgone accumulators be destroyed, and that all copies of Dr. Reich’s books that mentioned orgone “shall be withheld” from circulation until such references were redacted.”

My neurons began to fire. I found it interesting that Reich was one of the few men I’ve heard of to be banned and have his books burned in both Nazi Germany and the United States. What bothered me the most was that line in the judge’s ruling that said any of Reich’s books that mentioned orgone “shall be withheld from circulation until such references were redacted.” One word? What was so dangerous about one word that might cause two groups who had completely different worldviews to link arms like that? What was it about “orgone” that made it so important that Dr. William Reich be silenced?

And then my mind said, “What if…?”

And that is how ideas are born. What if Reich was right, and the repression of sexual expression and ‘orgone’ does cause people to be less independent and self-actualized and more open to authoritarianism, Fascism, and dictators? What if encouraging sexual repression does help keep people under control, keep them weaker, more compliant, less likely to resist? What if there are groups ‘out there’ who know this secret and have been the drivers behind the cultural battles relating to sexuality and sexual expression? What if our entire medical health care system could be…What if…?

I may never know the answers to those questions, and honestly, I’ll leave that task to others. My goal was to find an idea to explore. My goal was to find a “What if…?”

Some may say that this experience was all a great coincidence, and I was just lucky to have the movie, Wikipedia, and obituary show-up like they did. Yes, it may well have been coincidence. But I am convinced that the more pieces and bits of information I pick-up and store in my mind, the more frequently those little idea-creating coincidences are going to occur.

Now, I need to go see what’s on television.

John Jamison is a life-long believer in the power of stories. First as a pastor, then educator, creator of Centers for Innovation at multiple universities, Director of a national Game and Simulation academic degree program, a consultant for e-learning and brand development, John has used the power of story to bring about serious change and have some fun in the process. John grew-up in a small river-town in Illinois, and describes his childhood as “kind of Tom Sawyer-ish with a blend of Wizard of Oz.” John says, “I grew up in a family of storytellers and liars, and I spent most of my time trying to figure out which was which.”

Mr. Jamison’s Website: https://pops.jamisonbooks.com/

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Writing Help Writing Life

Five Reasons To Power Through The Criticism And Just Write

So you’re thinking of writing a book, but you keep telling yourself that you shouldn’t. There’s always a thousand reasons not to, so I see where you’re coming from. Writing a book is hard, it takes a lot of time, it’s not a lot of financial reward for the amount of time spent, you most likely won’t get a professional publishing deal that will sweep you away from your day job, people will criticize your work, you might get writer’s block…the list goes on and on and on…

The criticism alone might stifle your first thoughts of writing and working through that story. The internet provides an endless supply of people “proving” how your favorite thing sucks. Heck, even J.K. Rowling gets dragged occasionally. Maybe you have a bunch of grammar Nazi friends who don’t realize language is ever evolving and that even emojis are an important aspect of language and communication. The world is awash with critics, and they are hungry to tear art apart. So, you might think it best not to feed them by either giving up on that story idea or not trying at all.

And hey, there is a chance that the book you’re either writing or thinking of writing is objectively terrible. But, even in this case, I am here to tell you to stop thinking that way and just get on with it. Write your book. Get your words down. Create those characters. Forget all the haters and just get it done. Why? I’ll tell you why.

1. Writing is fun.

Really, it is. And it doesn’t matter what you do with it. Want to find out how awful and agonizing the whole process is? There’s thousands of articles on that, but it’s simply not true. If you don’t like your writing, then maybe you’re writing the wrong thing. Try poetry, haikus, or FanFiction. Try writing a memoir of a favorite time in your life. There are endless possibilities, and all of them are equal, as long as you are having fun. It may seem like the novelists complain the most, but that’s only if you go searching for complaints. The trick is to just keep doing it. Don’t let the negativity stop you.

2. Giving up feels awful.

Let’s say you’ve written a few pages of something you like and you are so bold as to show someone else. And let’s say that someone else shows you all of your grammatical errors and plot holes, and even goes so far as to explain to you why your entire story won’t work and tells you to quit. Obviously, that person isn’t a friend. The truth of the matter is that your critic is trying too hard to make themselves feel better. All first drafts will have problems. All stories need editing. Every tale requires a lot of work until you “get it right.” But if you decide to give up just because it’s too hard or you’re afraid of failure, you’re forgetting that you’re writing for fun. Make your grammar errors and spelling mistakes, power through it all however you decide to do it, and get it done. Why?

3. Finishing a story feels amazing.

I wrote my first novel over the course of two months, and when I finished, I felt incredible – abuzz with the accomplishment. I told everyone I could that I wrote a book. And oh man, when I read it again, I realized how terrible it really was. You might think that discouraged me, but it did just the opposite. I tucked that book into a box and it’s still sitting in my basement, preserved. The story was so odd and convoluted that I decided not to rewrite it. But here’s the important part: I made that decision on my own, and the reason I made it was because I had another story idea I wanted to get started writing. And I started writing that story. And that story was much better and far easier to write because I knew, even though my last attempt wasn’t great, I could finish writing a novel. I got over that hump and knew I wouldn’t give up ever again. I realized that I had more to learn, but I was no longer afraid of finishing a project I started.

4. Perfection will never come.

Finding errors is easy, especially when you’re first constructing something. But here’s the thing: you aren’t writing something that has to be perfect the first time around. And what is perfect anyhow? Writing should be a freeing process. Look to the greats. Do they use sentence fragments? Run-on sentences? Odd spellings of words? Poor grammar? Sure they do. But because the stories were so great, these “errors” could be applied to that writer’s style. What would happen to countless stories if everyone obeyed the same rules and wrote the same way? As I’ve said, language is evolving. Write your story using as many acronyms and emojis as possible. If it’s what you’re feeling and what you want to write, just get it out. Story first, rules somewhere way down the line and definitely not second.

5. Because you can.

Seriously. You can do it. Don’t expect to have a bestseller float out of your fingertips on the first try, don’t try to impress anyone, don’t make the process something more than it needs to be. Just do it. You can. If you had the idea to write a book, it was because some part of your brain, a part you should listen to, said you can and want to. There isn’t something magical to it, you just have to keep at it, make it as fun as possible, and push those critics away – especially those in the other part of your brain telling you that you can’t do it. Show that inner pessimist who’s boss and get that story written, even if it ends up being terrible.

Why? Because there are no good reasons not to. Finish what you start. You’ll never regret it.

Need a little extra motivation? Check out the video below.

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Anthology News News

The Submission Period for 2020’s DECEPTION! Anthology NOW OPEN!

THE SUBMISSION PERIOD CLOSED AS OF MAY 2, 2019—STAY TUNED FOR FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES TO SUBMIT YOUR WORK!

Below is the process for the submission for your own viewing, as the process will be similar for future submission periods.

Writing Bloc is taking short story submissions NOW!

Writing Bloc’s annual short story anthology is taking off with its second edition, and we’re looking for amazing stories incorporating the theme of “deception” in five thousand words or fewer. The submission period is open now through May 1st, 2019. Announcement of the accepted stories will take place on May 31st, 2019. The non-refundable submission fee is $10 (US) for all writers. To submit your story, use the link below to sign the acknowledgment of the Submission Guidelines and use the other link to pay the submission fee. Once both are received, you will receive a confirmation email within 48 hours. All major questions are answered within the guidelines, so please read them in full prior to submitting.

Additional questions? Ask us in the comments section below.

To Apply:

  1. Fill out the submission form below and submit it with your attachment of your story. (Microsoft Word documents preferred.) Your story should be no longer than 5000 words in length, utilize the theme “DECEPTION” in some way, and have your name and contact information on the front page. You will get a confirmation message when your form has been submitted successfully.
  2. Return to this page and click below to pay the $10 submission fee. Billing information will be kept private and will only be used for the purposes of validating the payment. You will also receive a confirmation message when your payment has been processed successfully.
  3. You will receive an email to the address you provided within 48 hours to confirm that we received both your submission packet and your payment.

Submission form and acknowledgment of official guidelines CLICK HERE: using the form located at (link expired).

Then click below to pay the submission fee:

More about Writing Bloc’s anthology series:

On January 1, 2019, Writing Bloc published its first short story anthology, comprised of stories from twenty authors. Writers were given a theme – Escape! – and each submitted a story centered around the theme. The result? An inspiring collection of western, sci-fi, fantasy, and genre-bending stories that demonstrate how vastly different the imaginations of 20 authors can be. You may check out ESCAPE! on Amazon by clicking here.

Cover for Escape! An Anthology by The Writing Bloc

The publishing process was entirely cooperative, as authors banded together to critique and edit each other’s stories. Everyone involved worked diligently to improve their own craft, as well as provide constructive feedback that spurred the growth of their fellow authors. It is this cooperative editing and publishing process that Writing Bloc would like to build on as we work on expanding our collection.

If you have a short story you would like us to consider for submission in our next anthology, we would love to hear from you. Submissions for Deception! A Writing Bloc Anthology are due midnight PST on May 1st, 2019.

The anthology will be published both in e-book format and in print in January 2020 (subject to change).

Contributors will be offered the opportunity to order print copies at wholesale prices, which they can then resell at retail value for profit. Please review the full publishing guidelines carefully before submitting your short story. This is a cooperative short story anthology, and authors will be expected to critique and edit a group of 3-5 stories other than their own. Only those who are willing to participate in this collaborative process will be considered.

Writing Bloc will be accepting short stories, each related to the theme Deception. The number of short stories will depend on the final editorial staff decision. Though the last anthology consisted of 20 stories, the DECEPTION! Anthology could be any number of stories. If your story is not accepted into this year’s anthology, we encourage you to try again in the future and to request to join our Facebook page and/or Our Newsletter for more collaborative opportunities.

To submit a short story, follow the directions above.

-The Writing Bloc Team (Michael, Becca, Robert, Chris, Jacqui, and Cari)


Public copy of official guidelines:

I. Who

A. Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team is publishing a cooperatively-produced anthology of short stories to be released in January of 2020. Contributing authors will have the opportunity to be involved in production, promotion, marketing, and distribution of the finished work. The cooperative nature of the project is intended to be a group effort with tasks assigned and managed by the Heads of Writing Bloc.

II. What

A. The stories to be published in this edition of the anthology are to use the theme of “DECEPTION!” in some manner. There is open interpretation to the theme, and the theme is open genre. For a reference, you may look to our last published anthology titled “ESCAPE!” available on most digital formats and also available through physical formats via Amazon, but a link to download the book in both .epub and .mobi formats will be provided upon receipt of the submission fee.

B. Stories submitted should be no more than 5,000 words in length, and an original work of fictional prose. The target audience is adult, and there is no restriction on language or content, aside from the requirements in II.C:

C. Content Guidelines:

No hate speech (language or action that promotes or encourages racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, religious discrimination, ableism, or ageism).

Though sex can be a part of the story, it should not be explicit or the central action of the story. Stories may not glorify or normalize sexual assault or any non-consensual sexual acts. Any questions regarding what would be acceptable can be directed in an email to [email protected]

D. A story can be removed from the anthology at any time during the production process at the discretion of the Heads. Any cause for story removal will be discussed prior to any action taken and reasonable efforts will be made to resolve the issue prior to removal.  

III. Where

A. Stories should be submitted using the form located at (link expired) between now and May 1st, 2019, at which point the selection process for inclusion will begin. If there are any questions about the story and its acceptability as far as content guidelines stated above are concerned, please contact [email protected], but expect at least 5 business days for a response. No one will receive any indication that their story will be accepted into the anthology prior to May 31st, 2019, and no story will be considered without the submission fee paid in full.

B. The process of editing and a schedule for design and publication will be established after the selection process. This schedule will be determined after May 31st, 2019.

C. Any collaboration or discussion of stories with other members of the Writing Bloc on the group Facebook page is encouraged, but copyright ownership of each final story will remain with the individual author and plagiarism will not be tolerated.

IV. When

A. All stories to be considered should be submitted using the form located at (LINK EXPIRED) starting now but no later than midnight PST May 1st, 2019.

B. The anthology is planned to be published in January of 2020 in both ebook and paperback formats.The schedule may be adjusted to accommodate unforeseen problems related to writing, publishing, or distribution. Contributing authors will be notified of changes to the planned schedule ahead of time through the valid email address they provide through the submission process.

V. How

A. The anthology at this time is to be published by Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team. The book will be available for all major e-readers and available to purchase as a paperback through Amazon. Cost of the end product will be determined at time of publication, and prices are subject to change at the discretion of the Heads.

B. All marketing and publicity is the responsibility of the authors being published within the cooperative. Basic marketing efforts will be made through Writing Bloc’s website (writingbloc.com), Twitter (@Writing_Bloc), and Facebook (facebook.com/writingbloc), and Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team will direct efforts to market the final product.

C. Each selected author will receive a feature and short interview to be published on the above stated outlets in section V.B of these guidelines.

D. The submission fees and profits from sales of the anthology will be collected into a single account to be maintained by Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team. The balance in the account will be used to pay all costs associated with publication first. Any remaining balance will be used to offset any management costs of the organization. Contributing authors can purchase printed copies of the anthology for their own distribution and profit. Any profit from physical copies sold directly by the authors are theirs to keep. Opportunities to purchase paperbacks at lower cost than the general public will be presented after publication.

VI. Why

A. The goal of the cooperative press is to have direct control over publication efforts and distribution, and all authors involved are expected to contribute in some way to the success of the publication. While there is no specific guideline for minimum contribution to the success of the publication, exerting no effort toward marketing or success of the published anthology is not in the spirit of the publication, and therefore might affect involvement in future publications. Enthusiastic and cooperative participation in this anthology may influence acceptance of future manuscripts for publication with the cooperative. Enthusiastic and cooperative participation may include helpful and supportive communication within the group Facebook page, assistance with marketing, distribution, project management, finance, and editing as requested by the Heads of these teams, or voluntary financial contribution not to exceed $100.

B. This is not a project with the expectation of high profit. This publication is collaboration-minded with the idea to cooperatively increase exposure and marketing efforts for all authors involved.

C. For this current run with the theme “DECEPTION,” there is a basic non-refundable $10.00 (US) submission fee. This cost is intended to offset the time and effort required to give each and every submission proper attention. For the submission fee of $10.00 (US), the author submitting will have their story considered for inclusion in the DECEPTION! anthology, a place in the closed Facebook community page (subject to obedience of established rules and regulations within that community), and a link to download free ebook copies of the previous ESCAPE! anthology.

D. All authors retain the rights to their work and may publish them elsewhere or use them for other publications and submissions.

E. No profits are to be distributed to any authors at this time. All monies made for the anthology will be pooled into the creation of subsequent publications in hopes of offsetting all costs and creating greater marketing and distribution for subsequent runs.

F. Every effort will be made to market each individual author equally, including access to place their other works into the store on writingbloc.com for extra exposure.

VII. Statement of Inclusion and Diversity

A. Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team does not exclude any writers for any reason. We encourage writers from all walks of life to reach out and become a part of our community and/or our anthology.

B. The deciding process for inclusion in this anthology is based upon a blind read of all works by our editors. Final decisions will be made purely based upon writing quality, creativity, and inclusion of the theme. There will be no knowledge of the author when making final selections for the anthology. The author’s name will be replaced with a random number prior to assessment by the editorial team.

C. Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team strives to create opportunities for every writer, regardless of cultural background, skin color, sexual orientation, disability either visible and invisible, religion, spirituality, and/or state of health. We focus on helping all writers embrace and expand upon their passion and their abilities. We insist upon an open culture of equality in all of our dealings and want all writers to feel free and safe to bring their authentic, complete selves to our organization.

D. Should any author or member of Writing Bloc decide to behave with a lack of tolerance or respect for the culture of Inclusion and Diversity we strive to maintain, that author will be met with removal from any contract or publication in process as well as removal from all public groups associated with Writing Bloc. We have a zero tolerance policy on hate speech, both within and outside of the Writing Bloc organization.

E. Our privacy policy is openly visible at writingbloc.com/privacy-policy/

F. Any and all questions regarding Inclusion and Diversity at Writing Bloc may be presented to [email protected]

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Guest Post Writing Help Writing Life

Free Writing Workshop Available on the Hubbub Blog

The Kickstarts! Writing Workshop is for: Reluctant writers, stumped writers, writers who think they are blocked, bored writers, writers just looking for some extra practice, even writers who don’t know they are writers…yet. Kickstarts! is for any kind of writer who wants to get some words on paper! And it’s FREE! Bounce on over to Brittney Cassity’s website and visit The Hubbub Blog every Thursday from Jan. 24th through May 23rd for a new, fun writing adventure!

Get started here: Kickstarts! (Week 1)

Brittney Cassity is an Author and Illustrator based out of West Virginia. Be sure to check out her website in the breaks during your workshop: https://brittneycassity.weebly.com/

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Fearless Self-Publishing Self-Publishing Writing Life

Fearless Self-Publishing Part 1: Every Keystroke Matters

This article is part of a series by Writing Bloc written to help indie authors put their best work forward when self-publishing.

Disappointment with ebook appearance? We’ve been there.

When Writing Bloc released our first anthology, Escape!, on January first, I couldn’t wait to download the ebook to my Kindle and read the finished product. We had worked hard and twenty different people pored over the manuscript to produce the final draft, so it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. When we uploaded the finished product to Draft2Digital and Amazon, we were confident and proud of what we had accomplished. So many eyes, so many corrections. The final product had to be perfect. I was beyond excited.

So imagine my surprise when the first story looked all wonky on my Kindle. The cover, copyright, and table of contents pages were all fine, but the manuscript was the bread and butter, and it just looked odd. The paragraphs all started at different places in their indentations. The line spacing felt strange. The quirks and problems in this “final product” were off enough to distract from immersion in the story. What had gone wrong?

via GIPHY

The problems weren’t even consistent throughout the book. Some stories came out perfectly aligned. Others only askew in a few places. Then the last story was just as jagged-looking as the first. Seeing as how we all spent months making this book gorgeous in its editing, I was frustrated with this digital publishing experience. And honestly, I blamed the format. I’m not the biggest fan of ebooks. I will read them, but generally I much prefer holding a printed book in my hand. As our next step was to format the paperback version (which is available now!), my concerns hit a fever pitch when approaching formatting. If a print book comes out looking strange, then you really can’t blame the medium of delivery unless the ink itself is smeared across the page. I combed through the manuscript as I prepared the print version, and soon enough, I found that the problem with the ebook wasn’t the technology at all, it was the way we told the technology the book should appear.

Look out for invisible problems

Writing in the modern age is much more than the words and letters you put on the page. It’s actually a little more musical than that, if you’d like to think of it that way. Music isn’t just the sounds, it’s also the silences. Writing in the digital age is definitely not just the words, it’s all the keystrokes. A few extra keystrokes caused our ebook to look off in many places. The problem is now solved, and after I solved it, I immediately thought I should share what I learned with the independent author community as soon as I could. Mostly because I’ve seen similar problems in other self-published manuscripts, and like so many other readers, I blamed the ebook itself. No matter who is receiving the blame, the end result is that the reader experience is worse for each and every error in a final product.

Specifically to Escape!, the problem was all the different styles of writing. We had twenty different authors from varying backgrounds contributing to the manuscript, and as it turned out, we had many different styles of starting a new line and indenting a paragraph. First, let me tell you the “right way”. If you can get into the habit of starting each new line of your story by simply pressing ENTER-TAB, then you will save yourself a ton of hassle down the road when you go to format your manuscript.

via GIPHY

This might seem like a silly thing to worry about, but it will turn out to be a big deal when publishing your book. Ebooks are just mindless computers displaying information exactly as they have been told. To your e-reader, all you have written is a series of keystrokes. It doesn’t really care about words or grammar. It’s been told to display something based on the information it’s been given, and hitting the space bar several times is different than one tap of the tab key. Pressing enter when you just want the same paragraph to continue on the next line means something completely different than just writing your sentences back to back.

Your published ebook is meant to be dynamic

Despite my distaste for ebooks, I realize their benefits. They have the ability to alter text sizes for different visual abilities. They can change the font for reader preference. Links to websites, blogs, and other works with which the author wishes to associate can be plugged directly into the script. Pictures can change placement and size depending on screen size. And the final product can be read on something as small as a cell phone and as large as a television screen. With print, what you see is what you get.

So when you’re producing the final manuscript for your ebook, remember that you aren’t actually giving your publishing program of choice your final product, you’re giving it the starting point for how you generally want your ebook to appear when readers open it. You don’t have control over what words will and will not wrap around a paragraph because you don’t know how large every reader will make your text appear. You don’t have control over how far your paragraphs indent because you don’t know how large of a screen each user will have. While formatting, you will have access to simulators (most often displayed as a “Preview” button) that will give you a general idea of what your final product will look like, but these simulators don’t cover everything. The best thing you can do is make your manuscript as clean and well structured with as few keystrokes as possible. Make sure your links work. Make sure your pictures are the right quality. These are things you have control over. But also make sure your paragraphs are consistent in their formatting. And keep it simple. ENTER for a new paragraph. TAB for an indent. One space in between sentences. Nothing more.

via GIPHY

Another good, sneaky double-check is to publish your ebook and not tell anyone. Then, download it yourself, or better yet, get a few beta readers with different e-readers to download it, and then search for errors in formatting that would distract your reader. If you find nothing, then congratulations! Tell the world about your ebook! If there are errors, go back and fix them, repeat the process with your betas downloading an updated ebook (by removing the old version from their device and downloading it again). Once it looks great, then you can go on selling your ebook with confidence.

The video below is a great place to start with how to format and upload your book to Amazon, as it points out a few tricks for keeping track of your keystrokes and spacing:

No matter what, take your time. No one becomes a bestseller overnight, so the publication day isn’t something to rush. We here at Writing Bloc want to make the indie publishing experience as great and painless as possible. In that spirit, we will continue this series, giving you any tips and tricks we’ve learned from our own experience and mistakes. Is there anything you need help with or have questions about? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you for reading!

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Software Review Writing Life

The Writerly App Is A Must-Have For Your Writer’s Toolkit

Like anything else, becoming a good writer requires practice. There are no rules for how to practice, but sometimes a little direction feels nice. Books and websites filled with writing prompts help, and there are contests and other challenges that are easily found as well, but far too many of these “services” cost money. I’ve thought for a while that it would be a great resource for writers to have something to inspire practice; an outside source of inspiration and challenge in order to build up those writing muscles.

Then I came across the Writerly App.

Writerly iPad.jpg

An App Custom Made For Creativity

The Writerly App is free and available for iPhone and iPad only at the moment, which is my only argument against the app. Otherwise, Writerly is a fresh take on writing assistance software. They are a self-advertised “one-stop source of inspiration and information to get your ideas flowing.” It was developed by award-winning fiction writers, creative writing instructors, and literary consultants. The app is filled to overflowing with prompts, information, and guidance for writers of any level of experience.

Writerly takes a fun approach toward developing your writing while using an educated background. The entire app is built on the concept of writers working with two fundamental elements during the writing process: Creativityand Craft. Creativity is the basic flow of ideas, the burst of inspiration, the transformation of thoughts into words. Craft is taking the work accomplished during the creativity phase and analyzing it, transforming it into a developed piece of writing that is more enjoyable to the readers. Writerly acknowledges this mental struggle between creator and editor in the writer’s mind.

By separating these concepts, Writerly aims to improve your writing by offering exercises, games, and quests in order to help stimulate your inner creator, and then offering other exercises to help you get the most out of your inner editor. The app blends these exercises together in order to get these two parts of your mind to cooperate, the result being an improvement in your ability to express those amazing story ideas you get on a daily basis.

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Writerly is for everyone

There is no restriction on who would benefit from writerly. It is an open-ended app. The app does not offer a word processor, meaning it does not force you to be restricted. If you prefer to type in Word, you still can. If you prefer to use a beautiful fountain pen on expensive parchment, the app still works for you. It is intended to accompany your current preferred method of creation, not replace it.

Part of Writerly encourages you to abandon the keyboard in favor of pen and paper, and I find the reasoning interesting. The creators argue that our electronic devices connect us with other people on a constant basis. We are often interrupted by other things and other needs when we are using a phone or computer as a creation tool. Paper, they argue, allows us to have a direct and uninterrupted connection with our own thoughts. Additionally, electronic devices have delete buttons that are far too tempting to use during the creative process. Deletion is technically editing. By writing with pen and paper, the writer still has access to his or her “mistakes,” just in case they become useful later on. They call using the delete button “censoring your work in its early stages,” which is a painful yet glorious truth to learn. It makes me wonder what ideas I’ve errantly tossed aside while creating.

The creator’s request to use paper is quite specific, actually. They suggest getting three notebooks: one legal sized, one half that size, and one that can fit into your pocket. The large notebook is for ongoing projects, such as stories, projects, or all of your writerly exercises. The medium notebook is for notes and quick ideas, or even dreams and random thoughts. They recommend keeping this notebook at the bedside. The small notebook is so you don’t miss any random inspiration or fragments of ideas while away from your writing spot.

Give your storytelling an exercise routine

Writerly App is a free app with a noble cause: to inspire and hone the craft of writing in anyone interested. It is well organized, easy to use, and the information and exercises are supported by years of experience. I plan on using the app as often as possible, as it will only serve to make me better at my craft.

While on the subject of writing, I found this video on “The Mystery of Storytelling” to be quite enriching. It is told from the perspective of a literary agent. Enjoy:


Related Links:

Writerly on the App Store

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Software Review Writing Life

Why I Love Using The Hemingway Editor App

We all need an editor. Sure, asking friends or family can help, but sometimes you need an impartial set of eyes to look over your work. Having someone else to catch those simple errors or mistakes in flow is necessary for any writer. Many apps have arrived online over the past few years to help. A mainstay has been the Hemingway App, and with good reason.

The homepage of hemingwayapp.com greets you with beautiful simplicity. Everything the app does is explained in neat text on one screen. Read everything there, and you know how to use the app. Proceed, and begin editing.

Hemingway Keeps it Simple

At its core, the Hemingway App is a simple word processor. You can turn off all its editing tools by clicking on “write” in the upper right-hand corner. Once you do, the app gives you a simple distraction-free place to compose. Simple formatting tools line up across the top of the screen, and the composition area is in the center. The simplest options are the only ones available, though. No extensive font choices, no limitless point sizes, no colors. If you want more extensive for your writing process, you are welcome to copy and paste the text from any other file. Once you do, though, your text will revert to Hemingway’s font and size. This may annoy you, but it shouldn’t. The editing process is about the words, not the frills. You can reinsert all the fancy stuff after you pass through this process.

Once you finish writing, no matter where you do it, it is time to click on the “edit” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This will engage the real power of the Hemingway App.

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The Power of Editing Mode

With editing mode engaged, your text becomes colorful, and a stats bar appears on the right side. This area of the screen displays the value of the app. The first thing you see is the “readability” of your writing, measured in grade level. This is based upon sentence structure and level of vocabulary used. Contrary to what you might think, the lower the grade level, the better. Ernest Hemingway’s own writing and books have been analyzed, and the consensus is that his most popular works are at a 4th to 6th grade reading level.

Why is this important? Why not try to make your writing be at a 12th grade level? The answer lies in your audience. Just because you are writing at a simpler level to read does not mean that your message has to be simplified. For example, why say “I am attracted to you in such a manner that is virtually unidentifiable in description other than to say that I feel this way toward no other human being on this or any other planet in the universe, past or present,” when you can say “I love you”? Keep it simple. If more people can understand your writing, then more people will read your writing. It’s as simple as that. The app only gives you a warning when your writing is at the 12th grade level, which should be reserved for academic papers.

A Plethora of Useful Stats

Below the readability analysis, a drop-down box of basic stats appears. This gives you facts about your writing that you may or may not find useful. If you do not find these stats useful, everything but the word count can be hidden from view.

Below the stats area is the bread and butter of the Hemingway App. A legend of five colors appears, corresponding to the highlighted portions of your writing. These are five important areas to focus on when reviewing and editing. The app can discover adverbs, use of passive voice, phrases or words with simpler alternatives, hard to read sentences, and very hard to read sentences. These areas are highlighted in your text, and the color-coded boxes on the right display statistics with suggestions inside.

For example, the app is not telling you to cut all adverbs, but it will suggest that you bring your count of adverbs down below a certain number relative to the length of your writing. Sometimes, the app misses things. Other times, the app highlights words that end in “ly” that are not adjectives. It’s not quite perfect, but it catches at least 95% of these typical problems in writing.

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You Still Have Control

The app will not correct things for you. You still have to do the work, which is how it should be. It will suggest simpler alternatives for the words and phrases highlighted in purple, but that is the most direct way in which the app will intervene. Whether to take the app’s advice is completely up to the writer. But chances are, you will perform many edits based upon the Hemingway App’s suggestions.

The app can handle a tremendous amount of script, too. I’ve copied and pasted up to 75,000 words of text into the editor and it analyzed it in seconds. Quite impressive.

The online app is free to use, as well. The only drawback is that it will not save your work. To get that feature, you can buy the desktop version of the app, which goes for $19.99 and works for both Mac and PC. The desktop app comes with many benefits, including the ability to import and export to and from the most popular types of text files. Also, the app now has the option to publish your writing directly to your account on either Medium or WordPress.

With its simplicity and power, I find the Hemingway App to be an essential tool in my writing arsenal.

Here are before and after shots of this very article, as I used the Hemingway App to edit it:


Before

 


After

If you’re curious to learn more, here is an incredible video about Hemingway’s style and how it influenced the creation of the Hemingway App:

Related Links:

Hemingway editor App

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Lists Software Review Writing Life

How Learning Another Language Will Improve Your Writing

Want to improve your writing? Learn another language!

I know. You might be saying, “But…writing in English is hard enough. Why would I waste my time with any other language?”

It’s simple, really. Writing, as with any intense activity, is best performed after a good warm up. Your brain is about to produce a story, poem, or anything else creative from scratch. Your fingers need to warm up, your mind needs to get into writing mode, and your body needs to get used to whatever position it will stay in over the next few minutes…or hours.

I find it best not to launch right into my story or main project immediately after sitting down to write. It feels heavier and more like a chore if I don’t warm up with another activity first. Personally, I am focused on writing a novel, and I used to warm up with a quick poem or limerick – something to get the fingers moving across the keyboard and get my mind in the mood.

But now I’ve found that studying a language before writing is an excellent way to become a better writer, and here are nine reasons why:

1) It’s free.

There is a remarkable program online called DuoLingo. It is a completely free website for learning another language. Once you create an account, you can study anywhere at any time, as there is also a free mobile app. The languages offered include Spanish, German, French, Welsh, Russian, and a constantly grow number of other language courses. Users can even contribute to the construction of these courses (which is exactly why they have a Klingon course!) Each language course is packed with skills for individual practice, including writing, translating, and pronunciation (with your microphone on your computer or mobile device active). DuoLingo also offers comprehensive quizzes, immersion projects for translating articles on the internet, community clubs, and an extremely user-friendly interface.

duolingo mobile app interface, three screens

2) It will challenge your perspective on language.

Nvidia StoreWhat makes writing interesting and beautiful is how each individual author manipulates language. The rules of the English language can often seem restrictive. But after playing around with the different verb tenses and sentence formations of another language, your mind begins to accept the fact that there are nearly endless ways to express yourself. Plus, while learning another language, you begin to find the words that are similar between tongues, giving your brain quicker access to synonyms and other descriptors you might not have thought about otherwise. In a similar vein, some words are so completely different in other languages that seeing and hearing a simple sentence become something 100% new will challenge your brain to rethink the basics. Never let go of your appreciation for simpler words and phrases.

3) It will demonstrate new rhythms of speaking.

Rhythm is important in writing. If the cadence is too dull or repetitive in your work, then the reader will become bored and lose focus. Making the words flow in a pattern that is pleasing to read is a talent that must be honed in order to become a quality writer. Each language has its own natural rhythm and tonal structure, and learning another language is similar to learning an old song on a brand new instrument. Everything is suddenly brand new.

4) It doesn’t have to be difficult.

With DuoLingo, the lessons are already set out for you. You just open up the program and click on whatever skill you want to either learn or improve upon. The interface is extremely user friendly, and they have rewards and achievements to keep you motivated along the way.

5) It will train your fingers to rethink the keyboard.

This seems silly to say if you are a proficient typist, however, all skills have room for improvement. Typing letters in different arrangements with new punctuation and capitalization is a good way to make typing in your native tongue seem effortless. Face it, once you’ve mastered putting um lauts and tildes in their proper places, then typing a simple English language story will become all the more simple to do.

6) You will gain new perspective on old idioms and proverbs.

Every part of the world has a different perspective, of course. As a writer, understanding other perspectives is invaluable. When learning another language, you start understanding another culture’s perspective as you decipher their sentence structure and word choice. It’s quite fun, actually. For example, in Spanish, “Let bygones be bygones” is said colloquially as “Borrón y cuenta nueva,” which is closer to “clearance and new account.” Interesting, right?

7) It will improve your awareness of your own language.

The skills in DuoLingo are separated mostly into the the different existing parts of speech. Because of these divisions, the user gains an increased awareness of the different parts of speech of their own language. With skill divisions such as determiners, participles, future perfect tense, and modal verbs, the user indirectly gets lessons regarding the many pieces and parts that make up the English language as well.

8) It opens up the world.

As a writer, keeping an awareness and an appreciation for multiple perspectives is imperative. Language is the basis for all communication, and communication is the basis of world interpretation. When creating characters for a story, each character must have their own voice, background, and perspective in order to seem genuine. Learning another language is an excellent exercise in perspective that is not offered any other way.

9) You will learn another language.

With time and dedicated study, you might actually find yourself being able to communicate with millions of other people around the world. Americans are particularly bad about expecting everyone else to know how to speak their own language, and American writers could benefit from the loss of a comfort zone that comes with speaking in another language. As a writer, you should feel comfortable with words. To help this, try replacing your set of vocabulary with a completely different set. I’m betting that once you start, you’ll enjoy the challenge.

The video below introduces DuoLingo, for those who are interested.

Related link:

http://www.duolingo.com

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