Tag Archives: Question of the Week


2 Dec


All The Ladies At LTWF


So, for a while now, the ladies of LTWF have wanted to find a way to take this site to the next level. Since LTWF started in fall 2009, we’ve grown and grown and grown, both in terms of our wonderful community and in terms of our own personal development. It has been exciting and exhilarating and one of the greatest experiences of our lives.

But a few months ago, we asked each other: what if we changed things up a bit? What would we have to do to take LTWF as it stands and make it into something bigger—something even more awesome?

So we talked. And talked. And talked. Many skype chats, google documents, and email chains later, we all agreed:

In order to grow, we had to undergo a major transformation. We’d have to take the best parts of LTWF and shape them into something new.

And to do that, we’d have to leave LTWF behind.

Not the community, not our contributors, not the openness of the site, but two things:

Our name, and our “Fictionpress authors only” background. Both of those things are closely tied—our LTWF name CAME from the FP website. And now that we’re no longer keeping our ranks closed to the FP community, it made little sense to hold onto the name.

So, today is the last day of Let The Words Flow.

Or, LTWF as LTWF. After today, we’ll be closing down the site until January 9th, so we can have time to organize, to recharge, and to make sure our new site is in order.

And on January 9th, we’ll be launching…

We’ll have our own domain name, a brand new look, and some new, amazing members. We’ll have a new structure, new content, and a new focus. All of us in LTWF will be there—and even though our wordpress site will no longer be active, we promise that none of the closeness and intimacy will be lost in the transition.

We are so, so phenomenally excited for the change to Pub Crawl. We’ll be spending our launch week introducing our new members, who are all fabulous, warm, and talented people. And we’ll be doing a MONTH of giveaways (from ARCs to critiques to agent pitches) when we launch in January.

So, this is our last post on this site. And, in honor of that, we thought we’d do one final Question of the Week—one that we hope you guys will participate in as well.

But before we get to that…

Thank you all so much for your support, for your enthusiasm, for embracing us—for making this into a community that we’re proud to be a part of. For making LTWF into a home for aspiring and published writers. For celebrating with us, commiserating with us, for laughing and crying with us. Thank you for two years of memories—two years that have changed all of us in every possible way.

Thank you—thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It has truly been an honor.

And to quickly announce Wednesday’s GIVEAWAY winner:


Email us at letthewordsflowblog (at) gmail (dot) com!


What has Let The Words Flow meant to you?


 I don’t think there are enough words to describe exactly what LTWF has meant to me. I’ve tried to write this at least six or seven times, but I couldn’t seem to fit in everything I wanted to say. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, try as I might, there is just no way to properly express how I feel about this place, these ladies, and all of you.

LTWF scooped me up a year and a half ago, just as I was beginning my internship. It was my first real publishing job, and they’ve since guided me to where I am now. I’ve learned so much about this industry and writing because of them, and I could not be more grateful for their help and insight. Not only did they keep me focused on my career, they’ve helped me hone my writing skills, and I can safely say I’m a better writer because of these ladies.

But more than that, LTWF has meant unconditional friendship from some really incredible people. They’ve been there to support me in all of my crazy schemes, from numerous writing projects to graduating to moving to New York. LTWF has meant late-night skype dates, far too many inside jokes, and weird emails that never fail to make my day. These ladies have become some of my closest friends, and I’m so excited to move forward with them. As amazing as LTWF has been, Pub Crawl is going to be even better!

LTWF, I raise my glass to you.

–Sammy Bina


 What has LTWF meant to me…wow… That’s such a hard answer to condense into words. All I can say is that joining LTWF was without a doubt the best thing that happened to me in the last year. Better than getting an agent and better than getting a book deal. Like Kat said, it’s so much more than just a writing blog… These girls and you readers are my best and dearest friends, and I wouldn’t know any of you if it weren’t for LTWF. How can that not mean the world to me?

I don’t want to get too sentimental because then I might start crying, and no one wants that (I am quite literally the world ugliest crier). So I’ll do this instead:

Once upon a time, there was a girl who had no idea what she was doing. When she saw her favorite blog was taking applications, she said, “What the hey? Worst thing that happens is that I don’t get in.” But she did get in…and she found something she had never expected–never even believed possible from “just a blog”.

She found community, support, and fun. She met new people through comments and chats. She learned lots and lots and lots from the other LTWF-ladies and she learned even more from the LTWF-readers.

And the days passed and the blog posts piled up and she thought, “Surely I should be sick of this by now? Surely after a year, this whole blogging thing would feel stale…?” But it didn’t…and then she realized why: LTWF is a community of writers and readers. Pub Crawl will be a community of writers and readers. These are people who live their lives around STORIES. And there are always new stories to experience and always new stories to share. How can that ever get “stale”?

And so, the girl set out to write the next post, to make the next friend, and to tell the next story…

See you on the flip side!!

–Susan Dennard


 The last time we talked about what LTWF meant to us, my answer was pretty long. And all I can think of is, how do I top what I said last time? How do I not repeat myself?

And so I’ll keep things short and sweet (hopefully). LTWF has meant meeting amazing people, geeking out over books, and being part of an amazing community. To all the girls at LTWF: You’ve become some of my closest friends, and I’m forever grateful to be able to spam you with emails at ungodly hours, talk via Skype, and make delicious cookies (here’s looking at you for that last one, Biljana).

To all our readers: You have all been awesome, whether you’ve been the constant commenters, the silent creepers, or the ones who sent emails with suggestions / cool links. You’ve made LTWF worth it; worth all the late-night scrambling, hours and hours of blog post writing, and endless tweets. Without all of you, LTWF would’ve been nothing – and I hope you all move with us over to Pub Crawl in January. We’ll be bigger and better, but we’ll still be nothing without you. Cause in all honesty, LTWF has been a community of amazing people – and without people to talk to, us girls would just be talking to ourselves. So thank you!

–Vanessa Di Gregorio


 What has Let the Words Flow meant to me? Others have used analogies to answer this (almost impossible to answer!) question, so I hope no one minds if I use one more.

When I was in college, there was a specific place on campus where I knew I could always find a friend or two. To my friends and me, this was “our spot,” and whether a half dozen of us were there or just two, it was always the place I felt welcome and understood. When I moved on from college, having a place like that was one of the things I missed the most. It had been so wonderful to know that – whether I had five minutes or five hours to hang out – I had a little sanctuary where I knew I would find people who really “got” me.

For me, Let the Words Flow has become a virtual version of that cozy spot on campus. I always know I will find friends at Let the Words Flow, whether those friends are the other bloggers or our fantastic readers. I know I will find wonderful conversation in the comments! I know that whenever I come to LTWF, I will find like-minded people who know what NaNoWriMo means, who don’t think I’m crazy because I have a two foot high stack of unread books beside my bed, and who will always encourage me to keep going toward my writing goals. Let the Words Flow has been a cozy sanctuary to me, and I feel so fortunate to have found it.

I look forward to Pub Crawl, in part because I know that this sanctuary will still be there, but also because I know it will be fresher and broader, and that I will meet even more wonderful writers and readers. Can’t wait!

–Julie Eshbaugh


 The mentality of being a part of LTWF is incredibly hard to describe. It’s a group of friends, but it’s also a responsibility. We talk constantly, but we also work, and so I suppose it’s sort of like being in school 🙂 The ladies of LTWF are not only my friends, but my classmates, and they’ve given me an education I could never find in any college or university. I like to think I bring a little something to the table, but the truth is they have mostly been MY teachers. Being in LTWF changed my life in a big way. I had an agent but was still a hopeless noob. I didn’t know anything behind the scenes of the big, scary publishing world, and didn’t have the resources to learn. LTWF changed all that. It made my writing career an intimate and REAL part of my life, where before it had been a secret hope and dream.

LTWF was the only safe place I could retreat to during some of the most difficult times in my life. I am so eternally grateful to my friends here for their warmth and wisdom. We are SO excited to be adding our awesome new members and expanding our audience with a new website and brand. It is our hope that we can reach and assist more writers than ever before, and yet… and yet… I will definitely miss saying LTWF and how easily the acronym flows from under my fingers. This was the best time, you guys. Thank you so much for letting me be here.

–Savannah Foley


 It really is hard to put into words. I can’t imagine life without these people. They listen to me rant, they laugh at my (stupid) jokes, they commiserate with me when frustrating things happen, and they support me to no end through griefs. In return I try to do the same. We share in our joys and sorrows. People throw around the word “family” but that’s truly what this feels like. Losing them would be like losing family.

And that’s not even touching on the sheer amount of information I’ve soaked up in the past few years, on writing, on editing, cutting, querying, the industry, not even close to covering the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made over random online interactions…

It’s really gotten to a point where I can’t imagine my life without it. I don’t know where I’d be right now. Probably still angsting over whether it’s financially prudent to be a writer :P.

Thank god for these people and this community :). I’m really excited to continue this trend in PubCrawl! 😀

–Biljana Likic


 It is insanely hard for me to describe what Let The Words Flow has meant to me in just a few paragraphs. It’d be hard to explain in a few PAGES.

When I started my road to publication, I had very, very few friends in publishing. In fact, I’m pretty sure that for a while, Mandy was my only friend I had that was agented and (soon to be) published. I used to read author blogs and twitter feeds and wish—with all my heart—that I had wonderful writer-friends, too. Sometimes, it felt like I was on the outside, watching this wonderful world through a window. Though it might not have seemed that way at the time, there were moments when I felt really, truly lonely.

LTWF changed all that. Ever since LTWF started, not one day has passed where I have ever felt alone. Since LTWF started, I have never felt like I was on the outside, looking in. Since LTWF started, I have always felt like I belonged.

I have had many, many friends in my life, but I can say—without a doubt—that the friends I have made in LTWF are the friends of my heart. The ones that I’m fairly certain I couldn’t live without. They make my world a far, far better place. They make me a better person.

So, more than learning about the industry, more than learning about writing, I’d say that LTWF has meant unbreakable and irrevocable friendship. And no matter what happens on the road ahead, I will be forever grateful for it.

Sarah J. Maas


 Vahini Naidoo: A year ago, when we did a similar post, I said something to the effect that LTWF meant home to me. It meant community. It was, to stretch a thin analogy comparing books to babies yet further, the community required to raise my book babies. At the time, I meant that very, very sincerely, and I still think it’s true. LTWF is a home, a haven on the internet, but over the past few months I’ve come to realize that LTWF also means something else to me. This blog doesn’t just represent home, comfort and safety. This blog represents growth. This blog is about all of us, writers and readers, aspirers and dreamers, at different stages of progress coming together and learning and growing. This blog is an adventure, fun and exciting and awesome, and I have to say that you guys (both my fellow bloggers and readers) are the best companions a girl could hope for.

So that’s what LTWF is to me — a journey. One that I hope you’ll share with me, and the other LTWF ladies, as we transition into Pub Crawl.

–Vahini Naidoo


 I cannot *believe* it’s been a year and a half since I first joined LTWF. On one hand, how did time pass that quickly?? On the other, what do you mean I haven’t known these girls half my life??

When I joined back in Spring of ’10, I didn’t even have my first draft of WHAT’S LEFT OF ME finished. My entire writing/publishing since then–finishing that first draft, revising, querying, agent offers, more revision, submissions, selling–is utterly tied to the girls here at LTWF. They were my first critique partners, the first people I told about anything exciting that happened. They taught me so much about writing and about publishing and made me believe harder than ever that getting publishing *now* was doable.

I also now count them among my closet friends, and that’s even more important to me.

Being a part of LTWF opened my eyes to the vast network of writers and readers on the internet. I’ve met so many awesome, amazing people through LTWF–and from all over the world! You guys have all been so fantastic, and I’m so glad to have met you.

So, what has LTWF meant to me? Friendship. Support. Links to crazy things on the internet. Skype chats after midnight–I could go on 🙂

Here’s to continuing all that as Pub Crawl!

–Kat Zhang


To All Our Friends, Old And New:

Thanks For Everything.

Love Always,

The LTWF Girls


QOTW: What are you thankful for?

25 Nov

What are you thankful for?


A healthy family, an amazing mechanic brother who spent ALL DAY yesterday trying to fix my truck, a warm house (because I walked to the train this morning and got SOAKED), and a towering bookcase filled with awesome things to read! And the ladies of LTWF for being made of AWESOME.

Mandy Hubbard


I’m thankful for my husband. And my dog. And my agents and my family and my cats and the food I eat and the roof over my head.

I’m thankful for my writing career because despite being the hardest job I’ve ever had, it’s also the most rewarding.

I’m thankful for my friends and Let the Words Flow and my critique partners and all the amazing connections I’ve made through writing.

I’m thankful for my health and my happiness and the fact that I woke up today to see the sun shining.

I’m thankful I have such a blessed life and that I have the opportunity even consider what things I’m thankful for–and that I have a list so long.


-Susan Dennard


I’m feeling particularly thankful this year. Thankful that I have a job I love and a roof over my head, thankful for this new life, in a new city, with new friends and new obstacles to overcome.I’m ridiculously thankful for my family and all the support they’ve given me the last six months. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without them. I’m thankful for all of my friends back home, and for the ones I’ve made. And I’m, of course, unbelievably grateful for the girls at LTWF. I honestly don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for them.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-Samantha Bina


As always, I’m thankful for my healthy, wonderful family, thankful for my supportive and loving husband, and thankful for the fact that I’m now living my lifelong dream. But this year, I think I’m also especially thankful for the amazing friends in my life–friends that I can rely on through thick and thin, friends that I can trust with anything, friends that have my back no matter what. Even though I’ve only met most of them in the past year or two, I feel as if they’re the people I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet. So, this Thanksgiving, I think I’ll raise my glass to the friends worth waiting for. 🙂

-Sarah J. Maas


I am thankful for so many things that I don’t really know where to begin.

For family, who stick with me always. For friends who make me laugh until I can’t remember times when I wasn’t laughing. For my agent and editor and everyone else who has worked so hard with me on this book I love so much. For the fact that I am writing and will be able to continue to write. For dreams and the feeling of working to bring them closer. For all you readers! For fantastic books and even more fantastic writers.

QOTW: What time period would you most like to visit?

21 Oct

If you could visit any time period for a day, which one would you choose, and why?


If I could live in any time period, I’d probably pick the Carboniferous period. I KNOW, UBER DORK ALERT. But seriously, it was the golden age of sharks! There were about a bazillion different species of sharks roaming the seas–including some real crazy ones like the Helicoprion.

My second choice is the Jurassic period. Gimme some dinosaurs, and I am one happy gal.

-Susan Dennard


1950, baby. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have been an EXCELLENT June Cleaver. Give me a day full of baking in nice dresses and pearls and I’m good to go.

-Sammy Bina


I don’t know about a specific period, but if I could, I’d go back in time to see the Library of Alexandria in Egypt (the largest library in the ancient world) before it was destroyed. So much knowledge–from so many different places–was housed there…and so much of it was later lost. Actually, I’d love to see the entirety of the Musaeum of Alexandria (the institution that housed the Royal Library). And while I was there, I’d take a stroll through Alexandria to see the Lighthouse (um, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world? How could I NOT go see that?). But if that somehow doesn’t work out, then I’ll just tag along with Susan to see the dinosaurs in the Jurassic period. 😉

-Sarah J. Maas


My current novel is set in 1895ish, in England. I’d go there and take a lot of notes. If I could please be in the body of a smokin’ hot aristocratic girl during her first season, that’s be great, thanks. I still have yet to dance with a Duke or anything. I’d settle for an Earl. There’s gotta be a few of those running around, right?

-Mandy Hubbard


I’m really pretty happy with this time period, tbh. The past had some pretty awful stuff going on. But the new novel I’m working on is set in Ancient Greece, so I’m going to go with that. I’m only educated about the time period through popular media such as The Odyssey and the movie Troy (lol), so I could cite research purposes, but honestly I’d probably just run around pointing at stuff and fangirling. Oh, and monster hunting! All those awesome beasts and legends… I would totally try to find one.

-Savannah J. Foley


If you could visit any time period for a day, which one would you choose?

QOTW: Myers-Briggs Type Indicators

14 Oct

So, we thought we’d switch it up a bit this week and have some fun with the Myers-Briggs personality type indicators! We all took the test (and you can take it here!), and found that the results were eerily accurate! What was also interesting was seeing how many of us were either compatible or the same personality type (three of us are INFJs!).

We decided to share the results–along with lines from our personality analyses that especially resonated with us–and want to see if we match up with any of YOU GUYS.

So have some fun today–go take the test! And feel free to share your results in the comments! Do you agree with your analysis–or is it totally inaccurate?


I am an INFP, a Dominant Introverted Feeling. From the analysis, I’d say the one line I really identify with/think embodies me is,

“They live for the understanding of others and feel deeply grateful when someone takes the time to get to know them personally.”

I think this explains why I love to write. I feel like I can fully share who I am and how I feel through my stories–my characters and plots wear the emotions I can’t express in normal conversation. Plus, I’m incredibly shy and meeting people has never been easy for me…yet I really enjoy it when I get the chance. So when people take the time to read my stuff, comment on my blog, or just chat for a little while on skype, I always feel incredibly, over-the-top happyI know it sounds silly, but it feels like a real honor that anyone would actually want to talk to me. SO THANKS, GUYS! Joining LTWF was without a doubt the best thing that happened to me in the last year (yes, even better than my book deal). 🙂

-Susan Dennard


I’m an INFJ, a Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging. While the whole INFJ analysis was pretty spot-on, this passage really resonated with me:

“INFJs…are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people — a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. ….At intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload…”

 As a writer, I feel like I often get the most inspiration just by LIVING–by going out there and meeting new people and seeing new things, by keeping myself open to anything and everything. But at the same time, I need that personal space (“alone time”) in order to sort out all of that–and later insert it into my writing (maybe). While a lot of the inspiration for my stories might come from the outside world, in order to WRITE, I have to shut out the world a bit, too. Which is why being around writers (and LTWF) is so amazing–I never really have to explain that kind of behavior to them. 😀
I am an INTJ, an Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. Mostly my reactions to my results were to celebrate the negative aspects of it, because it turns out a lot of the personality stuff I’ve struggled with in the past (excessive logic, lack of externalized emotion, inability to comprehend social interactions, etc.) were simply symptoms of a common personality type. What a relief!
But the part that I feel most embodies my personality type is this (taken from a different site):
“The internal form of the INTJ’s thoughts and concepts is highly individualized, and is not readily translatable into a form that others will understand. However, the INTJ is driven to translate their ideas into a plan or system that is usually readily explainable, rather than to do a direct translation of their thoughts.”
This passage truly shows my motivation in both writing and blogging. I feel driven to reassemble information in a way that is easily accessible and relatable to others. Sometimes that means passing down lessons I’ve learned in ways that resonate with people struggling with things I’ve struggled with. Other times it means making complex ideas and laws easy to understand for my coworkers. Noveling is another form of transferring information, hopefully in a way that will stick with you for the rest of your life. I’m so grateful to have a platform to get my message across, and thanks to the other LTWF members for putting up with my INTJ weirdness 🙂
I’m an INFJ too!!!
I thought this particularly described me:
“They are determined, perseverant, inspired and often see things just around the corner, into the near or far future.
I am definitely a person who is always looking toward the future!

“They have good listening skills, are genuinely concerned, insightful, and usually avid readers. At their best, they inspire others to be themselves.”
HAHAHA, I totally am “usually an avid reader.” Understatement of the year.
Like Sarah, Kat and Julie, I’m an INFJ! The test is freakishly accurate, but there was one point that really resonated with me:

“Their mind usually travels from the past to the future, seeking to fit a particular situation in a large context.”

I think that’s why I write the way I do. Only two of my stories have been contemporary — everything else was either historically based or set far into the future. It certainly might explain why I have such an affinity for dystopians! I love thinking about what comes next and how it relates to things I’ve already experienced.

What about you guys? We’d love to hear what your results are! Again, you can take the test here.
Happy Friday!!!

Question for Our Readers: Fantasy Going Mainstream

23 Sep

“The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve.”

-David Hartwell

I heard it proposed the other day that therefore the Golden Age of Fantasy is also twelve. However, some have said the Golden Age of Fantasy, in a less abstract sense, is right now.

Fantasy as a genre has become far more mainstream in the past few years. From Harry Potter mania, to Twilight diehards, to Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, and the HBO adaption of the Game of Thrones series, fantasy has definitely experienced an increase in popularity. But is ‘going mainstream’ bad for the genre?

Do you think that Fantasy is losing the quality it once had, or is the quality, along with the quantity, increasing? What trends in modern Fantasy are you in love with? What trends to do you despise?

QOTW! Describing Characters

19 Aug

Last night Hannah Celina emailed us with this question:

What is the best way to describe the main character with 3rd person limited point of view? If I am telling the story from the point of view of Viola, I want the reader to know what she looks like. Yet, I want to avoid the cliche look-in-a-mirror trick. What do you recommend?


I think describing physical characteristics of the MC in third person limited is slightly easier than doing so in first person. Even with a very close third, there’s still that extra layer of “distance” there, so things like “Viola fidgeted with her hair, running her fingers through the coarse blonde curls” sounds better than “I fidgeted with my hair, running my fingers through the coarse blonde curls”…though in my opinion, the second isn’t so bad, either.

The most important thing, I believe, is creating a situation where it makes sense for the character to be noticing things about her own body. This is why the mirror trick works–when a person looks in the mirror, they’re examining themselves, so it only makes sense that they think about their physical appearance. However, this trick has been used so much in literature that it does annoy some people.

Try thinking of other situations in which someone would note their own looks. Say, if they say someone related to them and thought “Viola imagined her mother was the carbon copy of how she herself would look in thirty years, when her blonde hair started showing streaks of gray.” Or maybe compare and contrast Viola to someone else: “The man was barely taller than Viola, and that was saying something.” (we get the hint that Viola isn’t exactly statuesque).

Tying physical description with physical movement is also a good trick. The fidgeting with hair line is one example. Tall characters can have to duck through low doorways. Short ones might have trouble reaching something high up. Things like that 🙂

-Kat Zhang


Also, there’s a recent post from Janice Hardy answering the same thing!

What tricks do you use to describe your characters?

QOTW: Whose writer’s shoes would you want to fill?

1 Jul

This week’s question is from Marina, who asks:

Marina If you could fill one writer’s, living or dead, shoes for one day, who would you choose? And why?


I’m not so interested in filling shoes as… filling minds. I would looove to be able to see inside some of the thought processes of my favorite authors. Starting with Anne Rice, because I’ve been on an Anne Rice kick lately. How does she come up with those huge, complex plots? From where does she pull inspiration for those detailed descriptions of houses, restaurants, and hotel rooms? I’d love to be there on her shoulder observing as she writes. Other writers whose processes I’m curious about are Chuck Palahniuk and Toni Morrison. I just want to know how they think. But, as for the original question… probably J. K. Rowling. Just to see what she does day-to-day. 🙂

Savannah Foley


I’m with Sav here, I’d more just want to experience how they think. And one would probably be Tolkien. The reason is incredibly nerdy; it’s not particularly because of LOTR, but just because of his freaking mind. He was a medievalist and knew a bunch of dead languages like Old Norse and Old English which is how he created the language in LOTR, and I would love to have that knowledge at my disposal. (Of course, actually learning them is probably a bit more realistic :P). Also, Neil Gaiman. I adore his sense of humour and the way it’s conveyed through his writing style, and he just seems like an all-around awesome person.

Biljana Likic


What a tough question!  I don’t know that there’s a single writer whose shoes I’d want to fill–I mean, I’m pretty happy in my own shoes.  That said, there are quite a few I’d want to hang out with!

Ursula K. Le Guin would be number 1. She’s led such a fascinating life, her novels are some of my all time favorites, and she just seems so…grumpy–in a good way.  Plus, the fact that she also gave up her PhD and married a Frenchman–I’ve always been convinced this means we’d get along. 😉

I’d also love to jam with Neil Gaiman (or Billy-as-Gaiman–ha!), Kurt Vonnegut, and E.M. Forster… Oh, and I bet George R. R. Martin is pretty entertaining!

Susan Dennard


Savannah stole mine — I was totally going to say JKR!  Essentially, she’s the most awesome person on the planet. After all these years, and all the fame she’s gotten, she’s still incredibly humble and down to earth. Have you guys seen the commencement speech she did for Harvard a few years back? It’s one of the greatest things I’ve had the privilege to witness, even if it was only via YouTube. Not only is she creative beyond compare, an incredible writer, and absolutely gorgeous, she’s funny. She’s charming. And she’s got a huge heart. That’s the kind of writer I’d like to be someday.

Sammy Bina


Any writer’s whose shoes you’d want to fill?

QOTW: How will Pottermore affect the publishing industry?

24 Jun

Last night a reader emailed us with this question:

So I know a lot of you are avid Harry Potter fans (I may fall under the more rabid category.) J.K. Rowling announced Pottermore (pottermore.com) and I was wondering what you thought about it. I read an interesting blog post that I stumbled across here: http://albertriehle.blogspot.com/2011/06/pottermore-whole-new-ballgame.html

I would love you to react to it. Oh sure, I scoff at people who claim that the end to the book publishing industry is near. All the same… this is not very encouraging for new writers. What are your thoughts?


NOTE before I start: E-publishing and the general fate of the publishing industry is a sensitive topic with writers. We don’t want to give you guys a wrong prediction, or do something that will alienate our relationships with those in publishing. Therefore a lot of writers are opting for silence on this topic. But this means that those who want the pub industry to crash and burn become the vocal minority. Honestly I don’t think this is as big a deal as everyone is making it out to be. Self-publishers are screaming that they were right all along, and news sources are running with it because God forbid they report actual news instead of these speculations with ‘yellow journalism’ titles. But I digress. Let’s answer the actual question 🙂

I think that J. K. Rowling’s announcement and pre-announcement have been misinterpreted. You know what the first thing I heard was after the official video announcement? “I thought there was going to be an interactive MMPORG!” But when did she ever say that? People’s expectations got out of control. Secondly, when did Rowling ever say that she herself was e-publishing HP? For all we know the e-books are going to be sold through a traditional publisher and available solely on the website, in some major branding coup. The truth is that we don’t know what she’s planning, and won’t know until it’s officially ‘live’.

Honestly I think people are using this as an excuse to panic even more about e-books. But I’m not going to. You know why? Because nobody knows what’s going to happen. Agents don’t know. Editors don’t know. Writers don’t know. We’ll know when it happens. I’m not going to worry about it until then. Personally, I’m not locked into a contract. My rights haven’t changed, and won’t be changed by the market or the ‘new norm.’

I think we all need to calm down and wait for more details.

But for argument’s sake… suppose Rowling IS self-e-book-publishing and self-audiobook-publishing? So what? She’s J. Freaking K. Rowling. She can do what she pleases. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t assume you can do something just because Author X did it?” That means that you can’t assume you can break the rules of publishing or writing just because somebody else did. Don’t expect you can query with a 200k YA Contemporary novel just because you saw one in the bookstore.

If you really want me opinion on the whole e-publishing thing, then fine, I’ll go public with it: I’m sticking to traditional publishing.

Let’s pretend that physical publishing becomes extinct. No more physical books. Now all we have are e-books. Let’s say you’re a kid who wants to read something. Where do you go? You’re not going to hunt for hours to find an author who’s self-published what you’re looking for. No, you’re going to go to a website that specializes in selling e-books, and click on the ‘kids and teens’ section and then start browsing. And do you think that website is going to carry every Tom, Dick, and Harry who self-publishes? No way, they’re going to vet for quality because they want to be known as a place you can go to and order books you’ll enjoy.

E-publishing isn’t going to do away with publishers. The public still needs someone to act as a warden against the bad and the ugly. Publishing might go completely electronic one day, but I honestly can’t see it disappearing. Who will give you publicity money? Who will sell you to the e-bookstores? Publishing exists as a way to weed out the trash and elevate the good stuff to a higher level.

There are those who are angry at traditional publishing. They talk about money, about how why would you share your profits when you could sell your own books for 90% profit?

To them I say, are you seriously doing this for the money? Personally I’m doing it because I believe I’m writing stories that will be cherished by my readers. I’m doing it because I want to reach the maximum number of kids who might benefit from my books. I don’t care that I could make a million dollars self-publishing to a fraction of the readership I’d get if I self-published (Note: Making a million dollars from self-publishing is currently a highly rare phenomenon).

I’m sticking with traditional publishing because I want to work with someone who knows better than me, who can mould and edit my novel into a masterpiece. I want a team of designers to analyze market trends and design my cover. I want a publicist who’s friends with a reviewer at the NYT. I want a Sales Associate who falls in love with my book and pressures bookstores into carrying it, where a young reader finds my work and escapes for an afternoon into a world they love.

Additionally, who will take care of your work when you’re gone? Who will still work at promoting your stories and repackaging your books for newer audiences when you’re dead? J.K. Rowling probably has a legal team to attend to Harry, but what about small time writers like me? I don’t have anyone in my family who could step into my shoes if I were to pass on. But companies don’t die. Rights get passed on. Look at the classics that are still beloved because publishers kept them in the public eye. Yes, most assuredly I’m sticking with traditional publishing.

In short, keep calm and carry on. The important thing is to write, and worry about all this publishing nonsense when you get to that point, and see what the market is doing when you get there.

Okay, we’re asking for the first time… what do you guys thing about e-publishing and the future of the traditional publishing industry?

QOTW: Fictionpress

10 Jun

This week’s question is from Alex, who asks:

I know most if not all of you got your start with Fictionpress, but have since left. Would you advise the same to other writers just starting out, or just skip that and use the feedback of our peers on the road to getting published?


I wish I had an easy answer to that. Back when I was writing on Fanfiction.net and on Fictionpress, I knew nothing about the techniques and rules of writing – I just wrote because I enjoyed it. And when I saw people telling me they couldn’t wait for the next chapter, I would hastily write something up to appease the few readers I had. It was definitely an incredibly strong source of motivation.

I didn’t know any other writers prior to joining those sites. I didn’t know about critique partners or beta readers or that first drafts were just that – drafts. But without that experience and without readers just as inexperienced and yet as passionate as me when it came to writing, I’m not sure I would be where I am today. Writing on those sites made me the writer I now am.

Here’s the thing, though. Most of those comments were not constructive – most of those comments were from people telling me they couldn’t wait for the next chapter – people as inexperienced as I was and said nice things about my work no matter how terrible it actually was. Those comments didn’t help me grow as a writer – but the fact that I WROTE as much as I did made me a better writer. So in that way, Fictionpress worked  – because of those comments, I wrote.

Just by being out there, looking for ways to improve – just by reading blogs like this puts you at a HUGE advantage. You have the ability to network with so many other writers at a similar stage as yourself in the writing process – and can network with these writers who are looking for beta readers and critique partners. You have contests and competitions that offer critiques on so many writing blogs – all you have to do is look. And by asking this question, you’re already well on your way to finding people who WILL help you grow as a writer. You don’t need sites like that anymore when you have communities of writers cropping up all over the internet.

If you’re writing to get published, I would suggest finding critique partners instead of writing on Fictionpress. If you’re writing for the joy of it, then Fictionpress might be more suited to you. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong answer – I mean, look at Sarah. She had her entire Queen of Glass trilogy online for all to see, and it’s getting published. Sure, it’s changed a lot over the years of revisions, but it hasn’t stopped her. It hasn’t stopped any of us. And though I can’t speak for her or anyone else, I know I was of a different mindset back then. Yes, I wanted to get published, but I wasn’t serious about it – not in the way I am now. But again, it made me who I am as a writer – it sparked the fire in me. So keep that in mind when you consider sites like Fictionpress. Either way, you’re writing – and that’s always a good thing!

-Vanessa Di Gregorio


I totally agree with V. Fictionpress (and its sister site, FanFiction.net) are excellent places to start for beginning writers. I wouldn’t trade my experience on either site for anything. Seriously, a lot of my best times as a teen were spent reading, writing, and responding to fan fiction. It motivated me to write. It taught me to keep my eyes open for the next angle for my oneshot. And it eventually led to the creation of my own, original work.

Now we come to FictionPress. V is totally right in that an audience is a powerful motivator. That’s pretty much why I finished my first book; I was dying to get the plot written so I could share it with my readers. Was any of my stuff ready to be published? No (But I thought it was, lol). I’ve seen a few articles lately discussing how powering through and actually FINISHING a project is a skill all young writers have to learn. FP and FF taught me that.
But, I was young. Aged 14-17. I was inexperienced. I was, as V said, wanting to be published but not SERIOUS about it now. For anyone in their late teens or older, or anyone who is SERIOUS, I would recommend not using FP or FF. I would recommend finding yourself some good CPs and getting involved in the community. CPs give feedback that can help you grow, while an audience only gives adoration. There are some things you can learn in a vacuum of constant approval, but there’s a lot more you can learn with the help of people who are just as serious about writing as you are.
So, if you feel like you’re not ready to be SERIOUS, then yes, go and have fun! Because it really is fun. 🙂 But if you want to work and focus, I wouldn’t recommend using FP or FF for feedback on your writing.
-Savannah Foley
I’m glad that, as a thirteen/fourteen-year-old I posted my work on fp, because it was fun. There was instant feedback and gratification, and I learned to be slightly more confident as a writer. And for me, confidence has been crucial. Learning to throw words onto the page in my voice, without having that voice stumble, stutter, or pause because I lack confidence, has been crucial to my development as a writer.
But. Nobody really offered me critiques on fp, and I’ve learned more about how to write from critiques than I have from anything else (except, perhaps, reading). I learned, first, from my beta readers and critique partners. And then I had a steep learning curve when I queried agents with my first novel, and got some very pointed feedback. I learned more doing revision requests for agents, and then pre-offer revisions with my agent. I’m learning now, from my editorial letters (and I’m still learning a ton from my CPs critiques, and my agent’s critiques etc). Every critique teaches me about my writing, what my strengths and weaknesses are, what I can do better next time.I don’t for a second regret using fp, but I wasn’t serious about publication when I did (although it was a distant dream).
For those who are serious about publication, I would recommend getting CPs, and truly seeking out feedback (constructive, harsh, shred-it-to-pieces, whichever level you can take) on your work.
-Vahini Naidoo


I know I would not be the writer I am today without fictionpress. The wonderful encouragement I received there motivated me to keep going and I started actually finishing the stories I started. I also used the forums to find my first critique partners, and get feedback from a range of people. The critiques I get now are far more detailed and intense, but when you’re learning how to take criticism starting small can be good! It also gave me a chance to write a bunch of short stories with different characters and different voices and have people read them and respond. Sometimes people respond really well to a new style of writing and that can be the push you need to run with it. Practice, practice, practice as they say.

If you need the encouragement of someone saying ‘yay new chapter!’ then fictionpress can be good for getting into the habit of writing regularly. If you’re still finding your feet with novels, it can be good practice. But I stopped posting there, not because I meant to or it was intentional in any way, but because the way I write changed. The purpose shifted. Now I don’t write a chapter, half-ass edit it and throw it online for the world to see. I write a whole first draft, then I get people to read the whole thing (bless them) and tear it to shreds. Re-write and repeat. That doesn’t really fit on fictionpress. So really, as the others have already said, it depends on what you’re doing.

-Jenn Fitzgerald


I don’t think posting on Fictionpress will teach anything that you can’t learn elsewhere 🙂 There are good points and bad points about Fictionpress. If you “make it big” on the site, it can be very encouraging to know that people are reading and enjoying your work. Reviews are lovely motivation to keep writing and finish a story, something that is often one of the biggest milestones for beginner writers. I know I used to check my email rather obsessively for reviews back then ;P

On the other hand, the vast majority of stories on Fictionpress get few or even no reviews at all, and this is not always a judge on their quality. Fictionpress has a certain demographic of users and readers and stories that cater to their tastes will tend to be reviewed more. Also, stories with a good number of reviews tend to attract more readers and more reviews, which, in turn, attract more readers and so on, while stories with no or few reviews languish. If your story falls into the latter category, posting on Fictionpress can be very disheartening.

Finally, reviewers on Fictionpress are not known for giving good critiques. I haven’t been to the site in a long, long time, but from what I remember, reviews almost always fell into the cheerleading category or the flames category, neither of which is particularly helpful to a writer seeking to improve their craft. I think they have started a new beta-reader program, though that didn’t exist when I used the site, so I can’t say how helpful it is.

I guess I’m sounding pretty harsh about Fictionpress, but I’m not trying to put the site down or anything! Posting on Fictionpress can be a lot of fun and can certainly earn you some fame. I still remember my favorite stories from there from when I was 12 or 13, which certainly says something. Fictionpress also builds community, linking you with other writers and readers, something I think is incredibly important. There are certainly lessons to learn there: writing regularly, crafting a good chapter, hooking a reader quickly…

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you want to try posting on Fictionpress, by all means do it! It’s easy and free to sign up, and you can have a lot of fun. Don’t think of it as an essential step, though!

-Kat Zhang


Are you a member of Fictionpress? How has it helped you grow as a writer? Would you recommend it to others?

QOTW: Favorite Fictional World

3 Jun

If you could live in the world of another book, which one would you choose?


I’ve always thought that if I could live in any world it would be the one I invented in NAMELESS, but if we’re looking to external fiction… gosh, there are so many options. Definitely something with magic. Harry Potter, but only if I got to be a wizard. If I had to be a normal person, I guess Ella Enchanted, or the Eyre Affair! Or In the Forests of Serre.


Growing up, I wanted desperately to live in Dinotopia.  Then as I got older, it was Pern and Hogwarts.

And, also, even though it’s not from a book, I’d really like to live in the Four Nations from the TV show Avatar. I’d totally be an air bender (and I claim Zuko as mine)


I definitely wanted a letter from Hogwarts on my 11th birthday! (Come on, who didn’t?) but I’m with Sav – I’d only want to live in the HP world as a witch. Otherwise I might be very stereotypical and opt for Middle Earth. Just so I could see the elves…


Which one would you choose?