Wanderers Is the Kindle Daily Deal Today, August 3rd

Psst. PSST. If you were looking to get hold of a big-ass bison bludgeoner of a book but didn’t want the actual physical book with which to bludgeon bisons*, then I note that the book is available on Kindle today for a mere TWO BUCKS and NINETY-NINE PENNIES, except these are digital pennies, because real pennies are apparently in shortage. But at the very least, it’s an 800 page book, so you’re getting some narrative bang for your electronic buck. Epic sci-fi horror! Warning: may contain pandemic and also I may have accidentally predicted some parts of our future. (Kidding, the stuff I predicted was stuff we all knew was coming, because the call was coming from inside the house this whole damn time, which is why it’s particularly execrable that our “””president””” decided to undercut and undo every protection we had against coming catastrophe.)

Here’s the link.

Though of course if you still want it in print, there’s Indiebound and

Or, check it out through your local library.

There is a content warning, and I’ve concealed it behind a ROT13 filter so that those who desire the warning can simply unscramble it by c/p’ing the encrypted text into the window at

Pbagrag jneavat: fhvpvqny vqrngvba, fhvpvqr, gbegher, enpvfz naq ovtbgel, qvfphffvbaf bs zragny urnygu naq zragny vyyarff, tha ivbyrapr, naq n tencuvpny qrfpevcgvba bs Z/Z encr (sbhaq ba cc 434-435 bs gur uneqonpx, ng gur raq bs puncgre 50).

And now, a big bucket of praise for the book, because I am not above bragging.

*how many bisons could a bison bludgeoner bison if a bison bludgeoner could bludgeon bison?


A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope. From the mind of Chuck Wendig comes “a magnum opus . . . a story about survival that’s not just about you and me, but all of us, together” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • The Guardian • Kirkus Reviews • Publishers Weekly • Library Journal • Polygon

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

Praise for Wanderers

“The book’s nearly 800 pages fly effortlessly by and offer both first-class entertainment and a clear-eyed view of the forces dividing contemporary society. As I finished this one, I found myself thinking: Where has this guy been all my life?” — Washington Post

“Wendig takes science, politics, horror, and science fiction and blended them into an outstanding story about the human spirit in times of turmoil, claiming a spot on the list of must-read apocalyptic novels while doing so.” — Gabino Iglesias, NPR

“This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic.”—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away

“A true tour de force.”—Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus

“A masterpiece with prose as sharp and heartbreaking as Station Eleven.”—Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

“A magnum opus . . . It reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand—but dare I say, this story is even better.”—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible   

“An inventive, fierce, uncompromising, stay-up-way-past-bedtime masterwork.—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World 

“An American epic for these times.”—Charles Soule, author of The Oracle Year

Wanderers is amazing—huge, current, both broad and intensely personal, blending the contemplative apocalypse of Station Eleven with the compulsive readability of the best thrillers.”—Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns series

“A riveting examination of America.”—Scott Sigler, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Generations Trilogy

“If you ever wanted to know what America’s soul might look like, here’s its biography.”—Rin Chupeco, author of The Bone Witch

“With Wanderers, Chuck Wendig levels up—and when you consider the high level he was already writing at, that’s saying something.” —John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of The Consuming Fire

“A tsunami of a novel.”—Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author of Into the Black Nowhere

“A defining moment in speculative fiction.”—Adam Christopher, author of Empire State and Made to Kill

“Trust me: You’re not ready for this book.”—Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Phasma

“An astounding adventure.”—Fran Wilde, Hugo-, Nebula-, and World Fantasy finalist and award-winning author of the Bone Universe trilogy

“Utterly brilliant and frighteningly plausible.”—Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians

“Beautiful and harrowing—and timely as hell.”—Richard Kadrey, New York Times bestselling author of The Grand Dark

“A harrowing portrait of an unraveling America . . . terrifyingly prophetic.”—Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Ararat and The Pandora Room

“A brilliant, Hollywood-blockbuster of a novel.”—Peter Clines, author of Dead Moon and Paradox Bound

“Approach Wanderers like it’s a primetime television series, along the lines of The Passage [or] Lost. . . . Make Wanderers a summer reading priority; you won’t regret it.”Book Riot

“Wendig is clearly wrestling with some of the demons of our time, resulting in a story that is ambitious, bold, and worthy of attention.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“A powerful story about humanity, technology, and the survival of the world. Comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand are warranted, as Wendig shatters the boundaries of speculative and literary fiction…” — Library Journal (starred review)

“It’s not easy to write the end of the world. With Wanderers, Chuck Wendig has mastered it.” — Bookpage (starred review)

“Wanderers is OUTSTANDING. Wanderers excites me. You want well-developed characters and complex relationships? Read Wanderers. You want grounded sci-fi that ranks up there with bookstagram faves like #Recursion and #StationEleven? Read Wanderers. You want twists and turns and edge-of-your-seat action? Read Wanderers.” — Jordy’s Book Club

“An imaginative and absorbing work of speculative fiction.” — Booklist


Edit For Your Reader: An Exercise and Checklist

By Beth Barany

Editing your novel can be overwhelming, confusing, and a downright hair-pulling experience. I know it was for me at first. Especially the overwhelming part.

So much to keep track of. Where to begin? And the one that haunted me at night… Is this book any good?

I put off editing for months and months, and even years. At some point I realized that I’d never get my book done and published if I didn’t actually face the mountainous task that was editing my novel.

So I turned and faced my book and all the work I imagined lay ahead of me.

And I realized I was facing in the wrong direction.

I was so focused on myself and that wasn’t working.

The end product wasn’t for me, not really. It was for the reader.

Feeling into the Reader’s Experience

It’s not up to you to decide if the book is good. Yes, we all need to learn how to discern a good book, but we don’t write for ourselves alone. We write for the reader.

The biggest mental switch a writer needs to make is from self-focused — which you needed to be in the creative flow — to reader focused.

Exercise to Orient to the Reader

Here’s an exercise to experience what I mean and to help you make the switch.

Imagine you’re sitting at a table with your reader. In front of you both is your completed first draft.

Notice how you feel about your book in general. Just notice and don’t judge the maelstrom that may be churning inside of you. Do identify one or two emotions and notice them.

Identify your thoughts that run through your mind.

Lastly, is there any action you’d like to take in regard to your manuscript? Note that, but hold off on doing any work.

You as Your Reader

Now pretend you can float up out of your chair and sink into your reader, so that you are her or him.

Allow yourself to align with their heart and lungs and fingers and toes.

Now look at the writer’s manuscript. What do you notice? What do you feel?

Appreciate that awareness. Acknowledge and notice what thoughts may arise. Also, notice any action you may wish to take.

Return to You

Take a snapshot of this moment and float on up out of the reader and bring your consciousness back into you.

Take a breath or two and reorient into your body.

Wiggle your fingers and toes and stand up. Now sit down. Okay, you’ve landed. Ok, stick out your tongue and make a silly face. Good. You’re you.


What did you notice?

What Aha or new awareness did you have with this exercise? And how do you feel now about your manuscript? And what would you like next? Perhaps some next steps on how to edit your novel arise for you.

There are many lists and courses and books that tell you how to edit your book. I think there are as many methods to edit a novel as there are novelists.

Here’s my recommended order of editing your novel that I use in my “Edit Your Novel” Bootcamp. Feel free to adapt this list to your liking.

Editing Checklist


  • Pacing: Does the story move at the right pace for the emotions you want to convey? Does it move too slowly? Too quickly?
  • Story Logic: Are there gaps in the story logic or in the actions of the characters? Can you follow the action from one moment to the next?
  • Act structure (Act 1, 2, 3): Does your story have a compelling beginning, rising action and complications, and closing resolution? Does it start at the right place? Have enough action in the middle? Have a satisfying ending?
  • Scenes: Do your scenes start and end at the best point of interest for you? Does each scene have a compelling beginning, rising action and complications, and closing resolution?
  • Readers’ Expectations: Do you meet reader expectations for your genre? Do you surprise the reader and yet fit the genre?


  • Goal, Motivation, Conflict (GMC): Do your characters have clear goals? Clear reasons — motivation — for their actions and goals? Do they have conflict preventing them from reaching their goals?
  • Point of View (POV): Do you stay in one character’s point of view per scene?
  • Setting:: Is the setting conveyed from the point of view character? Is the information shared relevant to the tone and moment?
  • Dialogue:: Is the dialogue different for each character? Does the dialogue move the action forward? Or enhance character? Or be appropriate for the pacing of the moment, like to lighten the mood?
  • Consistency:: Does the character stay in character?
  • Readers’ Expectations: Do your characters behave as readers expect they would for your genre?


  • Grammar: Do you keep the story in the tense you’ve chosen?
  • Punctuation: Is your punctuation correct?
  • Word Usage: Are you using the specific nouns and verbs?
  • Spelling: Is your spelling correct?
  • Metaphor: Do you use metaphor and simile to convey emotion from the point of view character?
  • Readers’ Expectations: Is your book clear of errors in a way that makes the reading easy and clear for the readers of your genre?

After You Edit Your Novel

Once you edit your novel, find a supportive critique partner or beta reader (or several of these) and ask for the kind of feedback you’d like, and not like.

What to Ask Them

When I’m handing off a draft that’s been cleaned up as best I can using the list above, I write a note and ask these questions:

Hi [Awesome critique partner/beta reader],

Thanks for your help on my [title/working title] xxx-word length book.

Please let me know your thoughts on:

  • character arc
  • plot
  • strength/weaknesses as a [your genre.]

And anything else that confused you. And tell me the things you liked too!

No need to point out typos, unless they really bugged you. 🙂

Thanks, Your bestest buddy,

Sincerely, Awesome Author

Feel free to use this as a template for your request and customize it for your project. (Be sure to take out the generic and silly stuff, if you want.)

Next Steps

I usually wait a day or two before inputting the changes pointed out by my critique partners or beta readers. I take their feedback with a grain of salt. I’m the final decider after all. (You’re the decider!)

As you edit, keep your overall story goal in mind and the overall impact you want your story to have on the reader.

For example:

  • For my romance, I want them to be a fun and light read that touches the heart.
  • For my fantasy, I want to create a page-turning adventure of transformation.
  • For my science fiction mystery, I want to create an intriguing and captivating puzzle.

In all cases, I want my characters to be compelling and for my readers to feel as if they are my point of view characters.

Work on the story in a few sessions, section by section, starting from the beginning and moving through to the end.

Once you’ve worked on the edits as best as you can, get final feedback from advanced readers.

What questions do you have about editing? What best practices work for you?

Please comment and let me know your thoughts. I’m always interested in hearing from you.

Click here to read more articles by Beth Barany.
Photo: BigStockPhoto




Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #118


Welcome to this issue of the Carnival of the Indies blog carnival. This issue is for July, 2020. We welcome your submissions on topics related to writing, self-publishing, book design or marketing books.

A collection of outstanding articles recently posted to blogs, your reading here will be richly rewarded.

See the end of this post for links to submit your blog posts for the next carnival, or for participating Bloggers and Featured Bloggers to grab your sidebar badges. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Featured Posts

Fiona Raven presents Combining Serif and Sans Serif Fonts posted at Book Design Made Simple, saying, “Mixing serif and sans serif fonts sounds difficult, but it’s easy once you know the rules. Our font-combining basics will get you going quickly and easily.”

Day Leitao presents How I saved by switching my newsletter to Sendy posted at Day Leitao.
bloggingDave Chesson presents THE BEST SOFTWARE TO PLOT OR OUTLINE YOUR BOOK posted at Kindlepreneur, saying, “Writing a book, fiction or nonfiction, isn’t easy, and planning what you want to write before you start can help you write faster and get books to market sooner. That’s why we personally tested four of the best pieces of story outline software on the market–tools and apps that can help you outline your books.”

Indie Author

Doris-Maria Heilmann presents Writing Your Way While Traveling Canada posted at Marvelous Canada, saying, “Writing about your travel experiences is probably the most attractive way to earn an income as a location independent freelance writer. Many writers have chosen to become digital nomads. Here are the pro’s and con’s, where to find writing opportunities, online writing tips, and even free writer residencies.”

Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. presents 5 Selfishly Great And Satisfying Reasons To Write A Non-Fiction Book posted at The Business of Self-Publishing, saying, “If you like to entertain people, then you would probably enjoy writing fiction. But, if you like to help people improve their own lives, careers, businesses, and relationships – by teaching, inspiring and sharing your own knowledge and experiences – then you should be writing non-fiction.”

Sarah Bolme presents Free Tools Any Author Can Use posted at Marketing Christian Books, saying, “No one is good at everything. We all need help, whether that is with our grammar, our time management, or just concentrating so we can be productive. Following are five free tools. Check them out. You might find one or more of them helpful in your quest to be the best author that you can be.”

Terry Whalin presents Use Your Resources to Meet Needs posted at The Writing Life, saying, “When you have a need how do you do more than ask “Google?” Editor and author Terry Whalin gives several action-oriented ideas in this article.”

Marketing and Selling Your Books

Anne Meick presents The Book Review Dilemma: How to Get Readers to Review Your Book posted at Writers’ Connection, saying, “What is the best way to ensure sales of your book? Book reviews. They can be hard to come by when you are starting out. They can make or break your book sale success. Here are tips on how to navigate the book reader review universe.”

Darcy Pattison presents How to Set Up an Online Bookstore posted at Fiction Notes, saying, “While I talk about children’s books because of the need for good full-color printing, this is really for anyone. The novels look great from this source, too.”

Frances Caballo presents Romance Author Discusses Race, Genre, Amazon Categories posted at Social Media Just for Writers, saying, “Black Canadian author Alexandra Isobel writes swirl (Black and white) romance novels. Find out what she has to say about growing up while fending off racism, being a Black romance author, her dilemma with Amazon categories, and how she markets her books.”

Lois Hoffman presents 5 Children’s Writing Contests posted at The Happy Self-Publisher, saying, “For authors who write children’s and YA stories, here are a few upcoming children’s writing contests to use for gaining valuable experience and building your writing platform!”

Sabrina Ricci presents Guest Post: How to Market Your Book to Teens posted at Digital Pubbing, saying, “In this day and age, the internet rules the world, especially for young people. If you’re thinking about marketing to teens and you aren’t looking at online platforms or social media, then you’re doing it wrong. Social media plays a significant role in marketing today. Here are some ways to market a book to young people.”

Sarah Bolme presents 5 Ways to Promote Your Book for Free posted at Marketing Christian Books, saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic distress for many people. As an independent author, you may be struggling financially. As an author, you have at least one book to sell to generate a little income. Maybe you are struggling with sales. You don’t want to spend money on advertising and promoting your book because money is tight.”

Shelley Hitz presents Author Giveaways That Work posted at Training Authors.

Self-Publishing Success

C. S. Lakin presents 7 Steps to Building a Writer Platform posted at The Self-Publisher, saying, “Writers who build a platform from the ground up lay the foundation for a vibrant career. The process begins with the decision to view writing as more than an interest or hobby but as a serious pursuit. Dedicated writers accept the challenge of learning the craft, which is a lifelong pursuit, and they also embark upon how to gather the tools needed to take an acclaimed role in the publishing world.”

C. S. Lakin presents How Writers Can Benefit from a Sense of Purpose and Routine posted at Live Write Thrive, saying, “We have our own adjustments to make and challenges to face in this time of Covid. But we also have people we care about, close to our hearts and in the world at large. While we empathize with the suffering of others, it is vitally important that we also protect our own emotional well-being. This is easier said than done because once we open our hearts, emotions, of all kinds, flood in. So, how do we keep ourselves emotionally sound and physically fit?”

Writing Tools and Tips

Deborah Jay presents #Writing Tools: have you discovered BookLinker? posted at Deborah Jay Author, saying, “I mentioned using BookLinker’s CATFINDER tool in a previous post on creating Amazon ads. After publishing that post, the site’s designer, Richard Hellewell, contacted me to tell me about the a new tool he’d added, so I thought a dedicated blogpost was in order.”

Lisa Poisso presents Keep It Rolling: Writing momentum hacks for authors posted at Clarity, saying, “There’s more to completing a manuscript than Herculean willpower. Technology can help. These writing momentum hacks will help keep you putting words on the page instead of bogging down in details you can plug in later.”

Phyllis Zimbler Miller presents Can Writers Authentically Write About Cultures Other Than Their Own Cultures? posted at Joylene Nowell Butler.

Sandra Wendel presents Stop Starting at a Blank Page posted at Jane Friedman.

Zara Altair presents Plan Your Mystery with Plottr posted at Write Time, saying, “Use Plottr, the customizable planning tool for writers. Plan to write faster.”

Well, that wraps up this issue. I hope you enjoy some of the great articles here, and let other people interested in self-publishing know about the Carnival—Use the share buttons to Tweet it, Share it on Facebook, Link to it!

The next issue is August 28, 2020 and the deadline for submissions will be August 15, 2020. Don’t miss it!

Here are all the links you’ll need




Featured Client: Tobie Shapiro | Writer’s Relief

Click on the video above to hear about Tobie’s experience with Writer’s Relief!

Meet our latest featured client, Tobie Shapiro! Like many writers, Tobie felt brave enough to write and wanted to share her stories, but didn’t feel so brave about tackling hours of research, dealing with the submissions process—or facing the possibility of rejection. Enter Writer’s Relief! With the right support system, Tobie has been published or has work forthcoming in American Writers Review, Bluestem, and Santa Fe Writers Project, just to name a few.

Read on and watch the video to hear how Writer’s Relief helped Tobie realize she didn’t have to face it all alone, and that she could overcome her fear of rejection and get her stories and essays published.

In Tobie’s Own Words

The older I get (and I can get pretty old), I find it a relief to divest myself of the burdensome internal directive that I should be able to do everything and do it well. I am good at a lot of things, but I’m just not good at selling myself, and I’m not good at taking rejection.

Writing is a strength and I’m awfully brave with what I write, but I tremble before the process of getting my writing out there into the world. Organizing a filing system, sending things out on a regular basis, doing the research into the opportunities for publication—it’s just not going to happen. When I was younger, I chastised myself for that. I told myself I was weak, timid, disorganized, and somehow sabotaging myself. So of course, my writing piled up on shelves, going nowhere. That’s a lot of time wasted on self-loathing, don’t you think?

Since I connected with Writer’s Relief, none of that is an issue anymore. They do all the things I’m rotten at, and they do them well. Now I’m at enough of a distance from all that roiling risk-taking that the rejections don’t even bother me. I can concentrate on the acceptances!

More About Tobie

Tobie Shapiro is a composer and cellist who has also worked as a visual artist, cartoonist, graphologist, and professional chef. She was a columnist for the East Bay Phoenix and has also been published or has work forthcoming in Entropy, Songwriter Magazine, The Monthly, The Penmen Review, Pisgah Review, The Coachella Review, and in the anthology Fire in the Hills: A Collective Remembrance (1992). Tobie has attended numerous writing conferences with The Opening and studied with Andy Couturier. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her family.



How To Novel: Pandemic Fun Times Edition

I know why you’re here. You’re a writer, like me. This blog doesn’t shy away from talking about the difficulties in writing (both the act and the life of being a writer), and right now, we are under siege by a big scary-ass monster: The COVID-19 pandemic. This frothing beast, this greasy hell-creature, is a period of time one might say is “not that fun” or “like being boiled alive in a pot of distilled liquid anxiety.” Or, if you’re a science-denier, you might describe it as, “a hoax created by the lib-turds to sell vaccines from Bill Gates that will put a Tom Hanks-branded microchip up your butt that will destroy God’s midichlorians inside you.” To-may-toe, to-mah-toe.

Either way, I think it’s fair to say that it’s very hard right now to be creative.

To be productive.

And you have two competing schools of thought here — one that is


And another that is


Whereas, with so many things, the truth is in the middle.

As such, I present you with an easy-to-follow path to writing your novel during the Quarantimes.


You’re doing it. You’re finally doing it. The times may be bad, but you’re going to put all your word eggs into this book basket. You’re going to use stories to get away from this world and go to another one. This is your time. You’re the god of this place. Jetpack on. Pen in hand. Blast off!


Wait, how did you get on Twitter already? You don’t really remember clicking over to Twitter, but there you are. Well. Okay. Since you’re here, you might as well just see what’s g


Congratulations, you’ve been doomscrolling for six hours. That’s probably fine. Somebody was wrong on the internet. Then someone was mad on the internet. Then you were mad on the internet. Then you were wrong on the internet. And someone was talking about demon sex and alien DNA? And you learned so much about *checks notes* how everything is bad. It’s fine. Your heart rate is elevated and now there’s a tickle in your throat and you feel hot and sweaty and


Well it was bound to happen eventually, you’ve got the virus, the corona, the cove, the vid, and it’ll be fine, probably, you might just be one of the people who die or who lose their smell forever or who have an alien burst out of their chest at dinnertime or wait was that a movie? Fuck fuck fuck fuck


You have allergies and anxiety, not COVID-19. I mean, probably.


You haven’t written any words. Tomorrow! Tomorrow you’ll write words. It’s fine. It’s fine.


Yes. Yes! Now is the time! You’re, as my father used to say, rip-roarin’ — time to rip some roars, whatever the fuck that means. You’ve got coffee, an outline, a Word processor whose blank page is as pure as the the most innocent snowfall. You’ve blocked Twitter. You logged out of Facebook. You (probably) don’t have The Cove. Everything is quiet. It is time to create.


Wait what fucking day is it? Is it Tuesday? Tuesday is a day, right? A day of the week? What week is this? What month? Days matter, right? They totally matter ha aahahaha hah so, okay, it isn’t Tuesday, it’s Monday, and that means


I mean, it’s 2020, so ha ha every day is garbage day but no really, today is garbage day.


Wait, you have kids? What are their names again? Steve and Diane? Storg and Japertha? Shit shit shit. Whatever. Just call them HEY YOU and SCOOTER. Anyway. Your kids need things ha haha because there’s no camp they can attend and even if they could attend camp they’d be not attending camp because you don’t want them to bring home The Pandemic so they need things like “food” and “brain stimulation” and “more food.” Shit, did you feed them yesterday? Do you remember yesterday? Why does your watch say 7:61AM? That’s not a real time, is it?


Okay! Okay. Okay. Let’s do this. Let’s do it. Get it done. Rip and roar. Yeah. Mrow. Boom.


Aaaand, still nothing. But that’s okay! That’s fine. The actual writing is just an icebergian tip — beneath those cold waters are lots of non-writing activity. Lots of brain thinky business. Lots of just ruminating and marinating and what are you making for dinner oh shit


Wait are your neighbors having a fucking pool party? You look out the window and jesus fuck that’s a lot of people. Kids and olds and everyone in-betweens. You see two masks among them, and one mask is hung under the chin like a face hammock and the other suffers from dicknose syndrome, and the rest are right up on each other, and they’re sharing sandwiches and drinking poolwater and laughing and aerosolizing saliva for fun and profit. Is the pandemic real? Are you dreaming it? Wait did you write a book about a pandemic and your brain has convinced you it’s real? Or were you hit by a bus and now you’re comatose, your mind trapping you in an interstitial nightmare realm where Donald Trump is president and there’s a coronavirus pandemic and actually that doesn’t sound so bad because at least when you wake up that shit will be vapor.


I mean, you should probably tweet about that pool party, just to get it off your chest. Or at least insta that shit. Or Tik-Tok? Are you Tik-Toking now? Or posting to Facesquare? Or Jimjam? Or Dronelyfe? Are any of these real? Are you real? Fuck it, you’ll just tweet.


Tweeting was a mistake.


The writing thing isn’t happening at this exact moment so you should definitely move your body. Get the blood moving. Get the ideas flowing. They say people in the Quarantimes are becoming hunks, chunks, or drunks, and so far you’ve hit two out of three, manifesting in full-on CHUNKADRUNK mode, so go go go, move move move. Clean living time. Time to HUNK UP.


It’s 1000 degrees outside. So you clumsily gallumph on a treadmill for ten minutes and then go bake some bread. Because your sourdough starter is feeling neglected. Sometimes you hear it weeping.


Ah. There it is. You figured it out. You know what? You’re not reading enough. Words in, words out. Fuel for the machine. Blood makes the grass grow or whatever metaphor you like. So you pick up a book, sit down in a chair, Instagram the book because if you didn’t put that shit on The Gram, did it even happen? Here we go. First page. First sentence. It was a dark and storrrrr


Stuhooorrrmmssngnh guuh. Fuzza. Wuzza. Huh? The fuck? Did you sleep? You slept. I mean, it’s not like you’re sleeping at actual night when the sleep usually happens so that’s fine probably but uhhh the book is tented on your chest and you got to page *checks notes* one but somehow you also managed to tweet like, seven times, so that’s almost like writing. What even woke you up? Oh, right —


BREAKING NEWS, your phone says. Trump said to CBS News something about “nuking baseball” and “curing COVID with raw chicken juice” and also he’s been using Federal military contractors to throw people into random Portajohns which they then blow up with grenades, so that’s great, and it’ll be very easy to ignore this and write something, definitely. You don’t even have to think about it, or the pandemic, or anything, all you have to do is write. I mean, tomorrow. Today’s fucked!


But somehow




You bite a hunk of granite, and your teeth break, and blood comes out


And from those teeth and that stone you extract words, words you can take


And line up one after the other until


You have sentences and paragraphs and a story, and no, it’s not good, and no, it’s not fast, and it’s sometimes like trying to run in a dream, and sometimes it’s 100 words, and other times half that, and on lucky days ten times that, but somewhere along the way, somewhere through the noise and the news and the anxiety, you emerge and


You have written something. And it’s done. Because that’s the only way you can do it. By going slow, slow as you had to, and carving this unforgiving, unyielding hunk of tree trunk into splinters. Despite everything. In spite of everything. Through grief and anxiety and giddy bewilderment.

You wrote something.

It’s done.


Now you just have to edit it.



Lisa Braxton: Five Things I Learned Writing The Talking Drum

It is 1971. The fictional city of Bellport, Massachusetts, is in decline with an urban redevelopment project on the horizon expected to transform this dying factory town into a thriving economic center. This planned transformation has a profound effect on the residents who live in Bellport as their own personal transformations take place.

Sydney Stallworth steps away from her fellowship and law studies at an elite university to support husband Malachi’s dream of opening a business in the heart of the black community of his hometown, Bellport.

For Omar Bassari, an immigrant from Senegal, Bellport is where he will establish his drumming career and the launching pad from which he will spread African culture across the world, while trying to hold onto his marriage.

Della Tolliver has built a fragile sanctuary in Bellport for herself, boyfriend Kwamé Rodriguez, and daughter Jasmine, a troubled child prone to nightmares and outbursts.

Tensions rise as the demolition date moves closer, plans for gentrification are laid out, and the pace of suspicious fires picks up. The residents find themselves at odds with a political system manipulating their lives and question the future of their relationships.



My husband and I were having a tough time. I had been working on my novel for years, grinding out one draft after another, sending out sample pages to literary agents, getting no response, or getting the canned response email rejection or a few nibbles in which an agent asked to see additional pages and then would later tell me that my work wasn’t “the right fit.” I’d burst into tears, punch the sofa cushions and cry on my husband’s shoulder. At the same time, my husband was having a similar response from potential employers. He’d been out of work for more than a year and either got no interviews, interviews that went nowhere, or interviews that seemed to go somewhere…and then silence. In desperation to get my novel to sell, I scanned a list of “book doctors” who charged upwards of $100 per hour. Unwilling to spend that kind of money, I brainstormed until it occurred to me that I could get hubby to be the doctor. After all, he was a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years and did consultation for a fellow journalist whose book ended up on the New York Times bestseller list. My husband took the job, didn’t charge me a dime, and as they say, the rest is history.


Who says that research can’t be fun? It doesn’t have to involve poring over dusty old back breaking tomes at the public library, spooling rolls of microfilm onto rickety old projectors, or watching documentaries until you’re bleary eyed. Once I decided that one of my main characters was going to be a Senegalese restaurant owner and his nephew was going to be a drummer who’s very good at making Senegalese dishes, I took a trip into town to try the cuisine at the local Senegalese restaurant. The chef prepared the most succulent pork chops I’ve ever had and I still think about the lamb stew. Several trips to the restaurant helped me to realistically portray the meals in the story. I even prepared the lamb stew at home and it was nearly as good as the restaurant version.


In my continuing effort to accurately portray my drummer, I signed up for a drumming circle led by a master drummer from Guinea. Even though I’d already taken an adult education course, I soon realized what a leap it was to take a master class.

Seventy-five-plus students showed up, drums in tow, ready to learn new rhythms from a musician they revered. The student seated next to me kept grumbling, “People who aren’t serious about this should stay home!” I wondered if he’d figured me out, that I was an imposter, not a real drummer. I could feel my shoulders slumping in a ridiculous effort to make myself invisible.

The room went silent as the master drummer played a combination of rhythms. He beckoned us to repeat them. On the beat, he slowly strutted around the large circle, inspecting our hands closely, nodding and smiling slightly when he was pleased, narrowing his eyes when a tone or slap was made without confidence.

As I feared, as he was making his rounds, he paused in front of me, raised a hand to get everyone to stop playing and worked with me one-on-one. After he tried again and again to set me on the right path I finally confessed in a weak voice: “I’m not a real drummer. I’m a writer wanting to learn to play to create a drummer for my novel.” He gave me a smile and continued circling the room. When he came back around to me, he paused again. Was I hitting the drum wrong? Apparently not. He gave me a flirtatious wink and kept going.


I was on a business trip to a convention in Chicago and brought my laptop with me that had a copy of my manuscript on it. I was feverishly working on the manuscript whenever I had a chance—at the airport gate, the hotel room, on the airport shuttle. One afternoon after leaving the convention center, my boss and I took a taxi back to our hotel. I was so exhausted that it wasn’t until we were out of the taxi and in the lobby of the hotel that I realized that I’d left my computer bag in the trunk of the taxi. I was practically hyperventilating. The only copy I had of the manuscript was on that laptop. I hadn’t backed up the file. Keep in mind I wasn’t concerned about the loss of my work files. Of course, I hadn’t bothered to take note of the driver’s name or the taxi number. I did remember the name of the taxi company, however, but calls there didn’t help. Eventually, it occurred to me that the driver was likely making a continuous loop from the convention center to the hotel. I stood out front and waited. Sure enough, he eventually returned and I got my laptop back. Whew!


Maybe not the kind of instructor who opens up a school, teaches ballet, tap, and jazz, and conducts recitals, but a halfway decent choreographer of fight scenes. In The Talking Drum I have a scene in which my drummer gets into a wrestling match of sorts with his wife. There’s a bowl of lobster stew involved, an herbal aphrodisiac in a jar, a wall-dial-style mounted telephone with an extra lengthy cord, and a pepper grinder. The drummer’s wife discovers that he is trying to insert some of the herbs into her bowl of stew and assumes he’s up to something sinister. They get into a tussle that involves a bear hug, squeezing of wrists, squirming, her using all of her weight to knock him against the refrigerator door with the palms of her hands, the jar of herbs flying out of his hand. I actually spent a good hour in my kitchen choreographing the scene, acting it out to make sure the two characters could actually go through those motions. In another scene, my drummer gets into a bar fight, pounces on the guy seated next to him and is eventually kicked out of the bar by a bouncer in a bum’s rush. That required some choreography on my part as well. I didn’t spend time in a bar going through the paces, but I think it nonetheless came out pretty believable in the published work.


Lisa Braxton is the author of The Talking Drum, published in June 2020 by Inanna Publications, and a recipient of a 2020 Outstanding Literary Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. She is a fellow of Kimbilio, a fellowship for fiction writers of the African diaspora, and an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, and short story writer. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category.

Lisa Braxton: Website | Twitter | Instagram

The Talking Drum: Amazon | Inanna Publications


Book Summaries Make Sales for Nonfiction Authors

By Erik Nilsson

Here at The Book Designer, we’re always looking for book promotion ideas to share with our readers. If you haven’t heard of using book summaries, particularly in this case if you’re a nonfiction author, you may appreciate today’s guest post by Erik Nilsson who explains how they can be helpful to sell nonfiction books.

Have you ever tried searching on Google for a summary of a nonfiction book? If not, then you are about to find an enormous market where companies summarize books and share them with millions of readers around the world. Many of these readers also end up buying the full book in the end, which is why publishing a summary of your book may be an overlooked marketing strategy.

Today, our world is busier than ever and full of distractions. People have less and less time to deep dive into a specific subject, and often it’s rare to find the time to sit down and finish an entire book. Moreover, there has been an enormous influx of books in the personal development and self-help fields over the last 10 years.

One can argue that the combination of these two trends has increased the need amongst readers for guidance. Being saturated with new books makes it increasingly difficult to select among all the available options, and to see past catchy headlines and book descriptions.

I believe guidance in book selection is one of the reasons that book summaries have become a large industry. As both the appetite for nonfiction and the sheer number of nonfiction books released are both increasing, readers want to ensure that a book is worth their time before investing their time and money.

This trend of summarized books was spotted early on by a number of companies such as Blinkist, getAbstract, and Instaread, which today have thriving businesses based entirely on summarizing nonfiction books.

Why would people who read a summary then read the full book?

According to The Entrepreneur, Blinkist alone had over 6 million users in mid 2018, and since then that number has increased greatly.

However, a question that remains is how many of these summary-readers actually have an interest in reading the full book. We have looked into some of the data.

I’m Erik and I am the blogger behind BookSummaryClub, where I read and summarize nonfiction books. The blog started as my personal notebook, and today it allows me to reach over 25,000 monthly users either looking for their next read or simply enjoying a brief summary of major nonfiction books.

When I look into my own data, I see that over 5% of my readers click through to Amazon and look into buying the full book or listening to the audiobook. That means that my tiny website (in comparison to mammoths like Blinkist) generates over 1000 interested readers to the books I’ve written about.

Moreover, when I researched the subject online, it became obvious that some of the companies mentioned above also use this strategy to acquire new publishers and books to their library of summaries. Fortunately, getAbstract has made a really nice graph explaining how book summaries fuel book sales.

The data in the image above from getAbstract depicts the number of books purchased in the last year from reading a book summary. As you can see, over 10% of those who read summaries of a book end up buying it at a later stage. Moreover, almost 20% of book purchases are influenced by a summary being read.

At getAbstract I could also find several testimonials attesting to the benefit of including book summaries in your book marketing strategy.

One testimonial argues that book summaries have become as important as book reviews in major media, such as The Economist, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal. The testimonials also mentioned that summaries which are succinct are most valuable for subscribers and readers. This makes sense when you consider the short span of attention of today’s readers.

Another testimonial points out that book summaries are the perfect way to bring attention to books that appeal to busy professionals. Further, they can see a direct correlation of increased book sales with titles that are accompanied by summaries.

Should I summarize my book?

If you’re still in doubt… YES! Start writing a summary of your book. There are many ways to get it published, where companies such as Blinkist, getAbstract and Instaread are obvious choices. Moreover, authors can publish their summaries at my blog free of charge, and all I ask for in return is a link to it from your own blog (apply here).

Best of luck with using summaries as a marketing strategy for your books and feel free to reach out with questions at any time!

Erik Nilsson is the blogger and writer of BookSummaryClub, where everything regarding reading, writing, personal development, and books is discussed. To date, he has written over 140 book summaries based on his favorite reads. You can reach him by email.
Photo: BigStockPhoto




How To Write Believable Characters For Your Story ∣ Writer’s Relief

How To Write Believable Characters For Your Story ∣ Writer’s Relief

There are many elements to writing a good story, but one of the most important is having great characters your readers can cheer for, identify with, or even love to hate. At Writer’s Relief, we know the actions, motivations, and choices of your characters will help move the plot forward and keep your audience emotionally invested. But if your characters seem flat, stereotypical, or unbelievable, the story won’t resonate and readers won’t stick around to see what happens next. Here’s how to write believable characters for your story and captivate your readers.

Tips For Writing Believable Characters

Get physical: It’s important to offer physical descriptions of your characters. You don’t need to go deep into detail at first, but give readers a few key points about what the characters look like—which can include what they are wearing—to help differentiate one from the other. When each character has unique physical characteristics, they won’t blend together easily or seem like stock characters. Physical details can also give insight to a character’s history or personality!

You can find inspiration for your characters’ physical characteristics by observing the people around you. Grab a cup of coffee, sit on a park bench, and notice how people are dressed and styled: Are they wearing designer jeans, blue hair, or suspenders and a belt? Is someone limping—and if so, what could be the reason? Watch for body language that you can incorporate into your characters. If you see someone staring at the ground while waiting in a line for coffee, perhaps your meek character does the same thing while waiting to speak to the handsome dragon king.

Have a backstory: The backstory of each character won’t necessarily be written into your story, but it will help improve your writing. Knowing each character’s history, hopes, and wants will allow you to treat them like three-dimensional individuals as you write—rather than cookie-cutter stereotypes. A character who won first place in every spelling bee as a child may be very particular about grammar when writing a letter, even if it’s a ransom note. When you know what motivates a character, you can make them more believable and realistic.

Give each a unique voice: Think about it—does everyone around you speak the same way? Of course not! Beyond accents, different people will use various words, phrases, and cadences of speech. Some people can’t stop talking; others barely utter a few words. Personality shines through in speech and dialogue, so use that to your advantage when building characters. The swashbuckling pirate and the royal-blooded countess in your steamy romance should not sound the same. (Unless he’s the duke in disguise who’s secretly in love with her! But we digress.)

Add some flaws: Real people aren’t perfect—so your characters shouldn’t be either. Even superheroes have flaws and weaknesses! Imperfections make it easier for your readers to identify with your story’s characters. Maybe your character puts ketchup on his eggs, or she constantly forgets her wallet. Quirks and foibles will make your characters more relatable and maybe even a little endearing.

Let them change: People learn and evolve over time. Be sure your characters have the opportunity to change as well. The transformation can be emotional or physical—and it doesn’t always have to be positive! Even if they choose not to change, their inaction will still move the story forward. When your characters aren’t static, they’ll seem more realistic.

Once you make your characters living, breathing individuals, you’ll be ready to set them loose in the world of your story. And that’s when writing gets really interesting!


Question: What is it about your favorite characters that makes them believable?


Registration Is Open for YOU Are a Writer!

I just opened up registration for the YOU Are a Writer course, my new live class in August. You can find the sign-up page here:


(Registration will be open until Sunday August 2, but after that it’s closed for good and I can’t let in any late-comers, so if you know you want in, register now!)


12 Books We Love That Need To Be Made Into Movies | Writer’s Relief

12 Books We Love That Need To Be Made Into Movies | Writer’s Relief

Some of the best movies and televised adaptations have been inspired by really great books. As avid readers, we here at Writer’s Relief have our own favorite books that we hope will one day be made into movies. Grab some popcorn and get ready to find your next To-Be-Read book from our list of movie hopefuls!

Books That Need To Be Made Into Movies Right Now


The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson’s epic novel is the first book in the Stormlight Archive series. With its broad scope and exciting storyline, this has the potential to be the next Game of Thrones.


Stay with Me Ayobami Adebayo

Set in Nigeria, this book tells the story of a young couple named Yejide and Akin whose struggle to get pregnant has devastating consequences.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s novel of the trauma of capture and enslavement through the generations spans centuries and continents. While its scope may be difficult to capture in a film adaptation, its structure offers strong miniseries potential.

The Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s stunning series earned her the title “reigning queen of the wildly successful paranormal scene” by Publishers Weekly. The series follows a group of hunters who protect the human race from Daimons who take human blood and souls in order to stay alive.


Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Wilson’s sci-fi thriller—in which the world’s global network of machines nearly annihilates humanity—was slated to be adapted into a film, but so far the project hasn’t moved forward.


Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator)

Often described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones,” this bestselling series tells the story of a girl named Hazel and her parents, members of a long-warring extraterrestrial race who flee from the authorities while trying to raise their daughter.

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton’s novels The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence have been adapted to film. But this cynical tale of insatiable social climber Undine Spragg has never been made into a movie. A TV film adaptation by Sofia Coppola was announced in May of 2020.


There There by Tommy Orange

Orange’s fantastic novel is a panoramic depiction of Urban Native American life in which twelve characters are bound by a fateful powwow. Although relatively slim, it is ambitious in scope and rich in character.


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Patchett’s poignant novel of memory and family was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Patchett’s Commonwealth is another book we love that also has yet to be adapted to film.

A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oë

Oë’s brief but complex novel tells the story of an intellectual named Bird whose world is turned upside down when his wife gives birth to a brain-damaged child, and the impact this will have on his life.


Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran

This classic novel from 1978 about the club and cruising scene of 1970s New York has often been referred to as “the gay Gatsby.” A film adaptation directed by Alan Poul was announced in 2015, but it hasn’t been made.


The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has enjoyed several adaptations. The Magician’s Nephew explores what happened in Narnia before that book, and has yet to be adapted to film.


Question: Which book would you love to see turned into a film or miniseries?