Stats Wrangling V: The Words that Bring You Traffic News


Every blogger wants to find an audience. While we each have different ideas about the definition of great content, it’s clear that making informed, data-backed decisions can help us connect with our potential readers.

Today, we’ll conclude our Stats Wrangling series by focusing on a key ingredient in any blog’s success. We’ll show you how to look at your stats to determine if you’re using Tags and Categories to their maximum potential.

While tagging can make a difference on its own, be sure to check out earlier posts in the series to form your own, stats-inspired plan. If you haven’t looked at your numbers before, take the grand tour of your Stats tab. Then follow up with a closer look at the data you can glean from analyzing your stats through time, focusing on your best-performing content, and tracing the sites your visitors go to before and after coming…

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The Inside Scoop on Publishing by Kensington CEO Steven Zacharius

very helpful insight into publishing

Writers In The Storm Blog

Writers In The Storm is honored to welcome Steven Zacharius, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kensington Publishing Corp. Steven has graciously offered to give us the inside scoop on the publishing world from his unique perspective as a New York Publisher. Be sure to find the link below to a YouTube video where Walter Zacharius explains how Kensington started their African American Line. It’s truly fascinating.

By Steven Zacharius


I’d like to begin by thanking Sharla Rae to invite me to be a guest blogger.  Usually it’s only my co-workers who have to listen to me blab on and on, so this is a treat.  Shar has submitted to me a list of suggested topics and I’m going to try and address all of them.  If anyone has any questions, you can always email me directly from our website at

Just for a little background…

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NaNoWriMo 2013: Want to Write a Novel? News

It’s just a few days until November, and you know what that means: National Novel Writing Month, better known ’round these parts as NaNoWriMo, is near.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

We know some of you have been waiting all year for this month! For those of you who are new to this project, here’s the gist:

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Publisher pitch: Escape Publishing, Nov 2013

Australian Romance Readers Association

Escape logoNovember is a big, big month for us here at Escape—a year ago, we opened our digital doors and published our first titles. Now, a year later, we’ve got 70+ Escape Artists, more than 100 titles, and modest plans for world domination. Thanks so much to everyone who has checked us out, read our stories, commented on our blog, sent us tweets, posted a review, or generally let us know how excited you were about all the new opportunities for authors and readers in Australia.

To celebrate, we’re going to give away one copy of each of our 10 anniversary month titles—10 books to random commenters, so you can celebrate with us. Just comment below, and we’ll draw the lucky winners. The giveaway closes on 11 November 2013. Good luck! (UPDATE: the winners have now been drawn. Congratulations to Deb K, Sonya F, ZjaNoir, jbiggar2013, Lyn W, Satima F, Tien…

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Dialogue special part 3: subtext

food for thought, I found this blog gave me all kinds of great ideas

Nail Your Novel

8290528771_4ab84a0303_hIn part 1, I discussed how to get into the mental zone for writing dialogue. In part 2, I talked about the non-talking and action elements that also make a dialogue scene come alive. Which brings me to the natural conclusion of this trilogy of posts on dialogue – subtext.

What is subtext?

Put simply, subtext in dialogue is what’s between the lines.

I find it easiest to split it into two aspects – subtext for the characters and subtext for the author.

The former is the hidden agendas or feelings of the characters; these may be deliberate, unconscious or a mixture of the two. The latter is the author’s themes; the universe of the story influencing the language and tone.

Subtext and characters

Novel dialogue has to be more condensed and purposeful than real-life chattering. As writers, we need to pick the encounters that will show something…

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Foreshadowing Techniques and Examples

Writing Tips from Creative Writing Institute

How to Foreshadow

by Deborah Owen

What is foreshadowing? You read it in every story and see it in every movie, but what is it? With new understanding, you can spot it and learn how to use it effectively in your own work.

Foreshadowing is the art of layering clues to build tension. For example, if a story has a prowler on the loose and there is a scene with an open window in an otherwise locked house, that is foreshadowing.

You can introduce foreshadowing with fortunetellers, séances, and Ouija Boards, or use them in opening lines, settings, dialogue, imagery, poetry, articles, stories, or even advertisements.

You’ve seen stories where a man is about to stab a woman in the shower. The act of a hand holding a knife and reaching for the shower curtain is foreshadowing. Or how about the drum beating, heart throbbing fin of Jaws? The…

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Learning the Basics of Dialogue

Writing Tips from Creative Writing Institute

000000Engaging in Dialogue

by Miss Katz

Writing believable dialogue can make or break a story. By the time you finish reading this article, you will understand good dialogue rules… and when you can break them.

Dialogue is an essential part of every story. Properly written, it will move the story forward, bring characters to life, reveal their quirks, and engage your readers.

The Encarta World English Dictionary defines dialogue as “the words spoken by characters in a book, a film, or a play, or a section of a work that contains spoken words.”

Dialogue has several functions:

♥          To express through conversations what the reader must know so they can understand the character’s actions, motivations and thoughts.

♥          To convey character which shows the reader what kind of people make up the story.

♥          To give the reader a sense of time and place through speech patterns, dialect, vocabulary and…

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Dancing With Words

Writing Tips from Creative Writing Institute

The Word Waltz

by Linda Cook

Do your words dance? Do they have musicality, form, and structure? Do they connect emotionally with the reader? Do your characters glide across the page and through your story? Or do they flounder, trip, and stumble?

Have you ever watched the TV program called Dancing with the Stars? It’s a dance competition where professional dancers pair up with celebrity contestants. The stars can be anyone… football player, soap star, singer, politician, gymnast, comedian, or an astronaut.

Each week, the pros inspire, instruct and train the stars so they can successfully compete against other pro and celebrity couples. Judges and viewers score the dancers. The remaining pair wins the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy.

The celebrities begin with high hopes, excitement and enthusiasm, but few have a clue what is expected or involved. They don’t know a Jive from a Foxtrot or a Cha-Cha from the…

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Halloween writing prompts!

Writers Journal


The end of October is drawing close and that can only mean one thing: Halloween!
Where I live this celebration isn’t alive. At all. Sure there are some trick-or-treaters but no pumpkins and massive garden decorations, which is sad.
It leaves my family with so little of an impression that we nearly every year have forgotten to buy candy, and the kids were too nice to give us any crazy trick to have us remember for next year. I can’t even be bothered to go to the door because they all have really boring costumes.
As I said it’s quite dull around Halloween where I live, but enough about how I (don’t) celebrate Halloween and more of the writing prompts.

Halloween is in my eyes a time of coziness, pumpkins and a tad of horror so here we go:
  1. What is Melanie doing in an abandoned house in…

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Morgen Bailey’s Writing Prompts

Laurie Boris

Typewriter - Once upon a timeIf you want to jump start your writing or give your creativity a little cross training, you might want to check out Morgen Bailey’s Online Novel Writing Group website. Every weekday, she posts four writing prompts. Sometimes it’s a group of words to be used in one piece of writing. Or sentence openers, concepts to explore, or maybe even a picture. Set your timers for fifteen minutes and try one of them. You don’t even have to be a novelist. Use them as a warm-up exercise for other writing, or to shake the cobwebs out of your brain if you have a problem you can’t solve.

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The Opportunists

Nicola Tsoi 蔡寬怡

There’s something about storytelling that warms the mouth, and finding companions on the way to a long journey is like writing the first few notes of music. There’s a friend to be found in the most unlikely of people, and everyone can be drunk like wine.

So the four friends make a toast to the night; to all the music that will never be written but has already been made, and the silence is made beautiful by what they find in each other’s presence.

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The Two Sentence Horror Story Challenge!

Writers In The Storm Blog

I don’t remember where I first found reference to this writers challenge, but I was intrigued. Writing a horror story in two sentences? How could someone DO that?

Well, it’s not only possible, the results are amazing!

Go read these twelve, and come back. We’ll wait . . .

After reading those, who could resist taking up the challenge?

Not the WITS Bloggers!

medium_1844962923Here are our two sentence horror stories. Our gift to you, for Halloween.

Laura Drake:

She loved Don, but Fear Factor? She’d thought she could power through, but love died when the first hairy leg touched her face.

Jenny Hansen (from my contemporary single title, A Bit of Intrigue):

Simon missed the personal contact of gutter-variety larceny; he missed the smell of fear that oozed off a person as he beat them.  Most of all, he missed that effervescent moment, when their pain-crazed…

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11 Frequently Asked Questions About Book Royalties, Advances and Money

answers many questions us newbies have 🙂

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Chuck Sambuchino

medium_2699296069If you’re going to wheel and deal with literary agents and editors, you’ll end up spending more time than you’d like discussing rights, contracts, advances, royalties and a whole lot of other important stuff. That said, I want to address the most common questions regarding how advances and royalties work. In other words, how does the payment process work when you sell a book?

Here are some FAQs:

1. How do writers make money?

You sign a contract with a publisher. In exchange for signing over the North American and English language print rights to your book and possibly other rights, as well, you are paid one of three ways:

  • flat fee: a set amount of money upfront that’s yours to keep. The amount does not change no matter how well the book sells. For example, if your flat fee is $10,000, the amount remains the same…

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Advice For Writers From Literary Agents

huge help for aspiring authors learning their way

Writers In The Storm Blog

Writing on PaperBy Chuck Sambuchino

Literary agents are full of great advice for writers. That’s why, whenever I am concluding an interview with an agent, I always end the encounter by asking “Is there any other piece of advice you’d like to discuss?”

This open-ended question often draws a fantastic answer, as the agent’s most passionate advice will pour out.

That’s why I’ve gone through a whole bunch of literary agent interviews and cobbled together some of the best writing tips that agents have passed on over the years. There was so much good material that I had to break it down into multiple columns. This is Volume I, and you can check out agents’ helpful and inspiring advice below.

And I want to take a moment and say that I’m excited about being a recurring new contributor to Writers in the Storm. You will be seeing more columns from me on…

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NaNoWriMo: Because This Exists, and the World Needs Better

for a pantser the thought of this terrifies

Rachel Peterson: writer. reader. occasional wanderer.

This November, I’m trying National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). 30 days, 50,000 words – that’s about 1,667 words per day. And I am terrified.

Generally, I write short form fiction and poetry. I’ve started countless novels, but they’re all currently lying about in various stages of abandonment. I have trouble finishing what I start, and I don’t know if it’s just because I don’t plan properly, or I get bored, or I don’t do enough research. But for one reason or another, I’ve never finished a novel. And I would really, really like to.

I owe this adventure mainly to a couple of very creative friends of mine. You can check out two of their blogs here and here. The point of NaNoWriMo is not to create a brilliant masterpiece or shining work of literary genius, although I’m sure some people will. It’s more about giving you the push…

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Writing In Living Color And Two New Lists

a very helpful chart of colors

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Sharla Rae

I’m sharing not one list today, but two. The first one covers shades of the basic color spectrum. The second deals with adjectives describing color and the possible “conditions” of color, that is, how it’s used. But Writing in living color is more than just knowing and choosing color descriptions. It’s showing the reader the story in living color even when “no” colors are mentioned.

Here’s how Laura Drake did it in her book, The Sweet Spot.  In this excerpt, the focus is not on the color but the “entire” picture the character Belle presents. Only three basic colors are used. Remove the color terms and the reader would still see this scene in living color.

At the end stood a woman perusing a dog-eared catalog – a woman Char had never met, but recognized from the gossip. This was that new Yankee that moved…

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Dialogue special part 2: dialogue is more than talking

very helpful advice on the art of dialogue

Nail Your Novel

jamie lucie sheffield pk 008Last time I discussed ways to make dialogue scenes easier to write. But dialogue is more than just what characters say.

Dialogue is action

Dialogue is a kind of action scene. Although the conversation is the main focus, the characters are more than just mouths.

Make the characters respond to each other

There should be give and take. A good scene will give a sense that something in the story has changed; in a dialogue scene you can make the conversation cause this change. And if so, the characters should respond to each other – listen, be surprised, perhaps refuse to accept. They could change each other’s minds or become more entrenched in their wrongheaded mission. Maybe strengthen their supportive relationships; deepen rifts and conflicts.

Non-talking responses

Some writers try to make the characters express everything in speech. For a radio play, that’s probably a necessary evil, but for a…

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Seven Ways to Spark Your Writing with “Golden Lines”

Writers In The Storm Blog

by Fae Rowen

On the plane home from Atlanta in July, I re-read my notes and handouts, highlighting tips that resonated with me as I prepared for a major edit on my WIP. When I participated in the UC Irvine Writing Project, I learned the technique of highlighting a few word in an article, an essay, or short story that were lessons for me and my writing. The instructors called these highlighted snippets “golden lines.” This method is different from using up the ink of a yellow highlighter as if you’re getting ready for a test. It’s much more selective. Think of it as a “for immediate implementation” list.

Here are my Golden Lines (in no particular order) and how they’ve helped me step it up a level (or two) in my writing:

1. Be grounded in emotional reality. We ‘re human. We feel. I’ve run the gamut of writing…

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