myWriteClub: A Fun Accountability Site

So once upon a time, I was looking for a website with NaNo-like word progress functionality available during non-NaNo months. And there was nothing out there, and I was sad. 

Until recently! When I stumbled across this fabulous writer accountability site called myWriteClub

As of right now, myWriteClub is still in beta, so not all of the features are up and running quite yet. That being said, even in beta version, it’s been really fun to play around with.

Like NaNoWriMo, myWriteClub allows you to make projects with goals, then has a little progress chart as you progress through your goal. The chart looks like this (or at least, mine did when I wrote this):

myWriteClub also allows you to follow people, who can then follow you back and see your progress. And because writers are awesome, we cheer each other on and it can be a really nice motivational boost to have lovely people tell you you’re doing great. :)

What’s really cool about the site is you can customize each of your projects and goals to your needs. You set the word count goal, the deadline, the name of the project, etc. and if you need to adjust it, you can.

In the future, myWriteClub plans to have word sprints organized within the site, so you can race your friends and see their progress in real time as you sprint, which I think is completely amazing and I’m super looking forward to that feature going live.

For more information, check out myWriteClub’s about page

All in all, I’ve had a really positive experience with myWriteClub so far, and I look forward to using it more in the future. If you join, definitely let me know and feel free to follow me!

Have you tried myWriteClub? 

Twitter-sized bites:
Writers! Looking for NaNo-like progress charts & accountability? Here's why @Ava_Jae suggests trying @my_write_club. (Click to tweet)  
Have you tried @my_write_club? Here's why one writer says you may want to give it a shot. (Click to tweet)

Guest Post: The Myth of Normal

Photo credit: Lil Larkie on Flickr
Normal people are weird. 

Normal people: in our definition, anyone who is not either writing a book or talking about writing one while attending every Con in the proximity of 500 miles. All those accountants, stockbrokers, engineers, car mechanics, and (God love ‘em) the people who clean your hotel room. Someone who does not know what a TARDIS is, or the proper way to address Elven royalty.

They are the ones who ask us to take out the trash while we are furiously, tearfully trying to finish that chapter that we’ve been agonizing over for the last week. We chain ourselves to our keyboards, pouring our souls into a story that will change lives, and they loudly ask when we’re getting a real job.

Sometimes we don’t like normal people.

And we let it show. We make barbed comments about them on social media. We avoid coming into contact with them whenever possible. We treat them like an inferior species, a lower rung in the evolutionary process. Because we are Writers, and they are normal people who cannot possibly understand or appreciate the complex workings of our lofty and inspired minds.

I thought this way once. I still struggle with thinking this way. But I’ve come to a realization in recent years, as I’ve come to know the people around me a little better.

There is no such thing as a Normal Person.

Writers, artists, and creatives are not the only people who feel insecurity and self-doubt. Or anxiety, or inadequacy, or crushing loneliness. We are not the only ones who feel like we don’t fit in.

Basically, everyone is a little bit weird. They’re just weird in different ways. And because we don't “get” each other's weirdness, we slap around labels like “artsy hippie-ish weirdo” and “boring engineering major weirdo.”

I’ve read so many books and blog posts talking about how you shouldn’t be apologetic about your writerly needs or idiosyncrasies, that the people around you need to come to accept and understand you as you are. And I agree with that. But how often do we try to accept and understand the people around us?

We as writers and creatives have a tendency to burrow away from the rest of humanity. It’s partly fear, partly an elitism complex, and often because we have been legitimately hurt by “normal people” who don’t understand how our minds work. But can I just say that I think burrowing is one of the worst things a storyteller can do?

Because we’re not just writing stories for other writers. We’re also writing for all those accountants, stockbrokers, engineers, and burger-flippers, those quirky, messed-up bundles of human weirdness. And if we don’t understand those people—what turns them on, what makes them tick, what makes them cry—we’re not going to write stories worth reading.

So go find some normal people. Get to know them. You may need them way more than you think.

Braden Russell is an aspiring author and music instructor who writes weird speculative fiction from his wilderness home in Oklahoma. You can find him blogging about writerly things at his website The Storymonger.

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Story_Monger reminds us "we’re not just writing stories for other writers" on @Ava_Jae's blog. What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
If we don't try to understand others "we're not going to write stories worth reading." (Click to tweet)

Guest Post: Not So Fast

Photo credit: CarbonNYC on Flickr
I think it’s safe to assume we’ve all heard about not comparing ourselves to other writers. 
And for the most part, I think I do an okay job. Oh, sometimes, the envy bug bites and I think, If only I could write something that amazing. But I shake it off with reminders that just like I can't tell that author’s story, the same is true for me—no one can tell mine.

What I want to talk about today though, is comparing not the story, but the speed. When I hear of writers hammering out a draft in a month, I want to pull out my hair. Or maybe pull out their hair. Yes, I know, that’s low of me. ‘Cuz the fact of the matter is that I am a slow writer. I am the tortoise in this race. Except…is it really a race?

Sometimes I feel like it is. I have tons of story ideas rattling around in my brain. They all want to be told, all want their time in the lime-light of my computer screen. But here’s the thing: It takes me a year to get one story out. And that’s completely written and only so-so revised.

I don’t want to be sixty and writing a story that I conceived when I was twenty-five. And despite the urgency of telling myself this, I can't make my brain compute the words any faster. Oh, I can get better at time management skills (I can, I can!) but any attempts to dash words onto the page for the sake of speed just results in a steamy pile of word blubber that needs extensive revision time. Trust me, folks, it’s not pretty. Nor readable.

I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that it's okay if I'm a tortoise and not a hare. This is my style, the way I write. I need time to find the right combination of words to show that snarky interaction between characters, yet with an undercurrent of attraction. To find the best words to describe the belly-flipping fear of being thousands of feet in the air with the hard, hungry ground waiting below (pretty sure when I get done writing my aerial acrobatic novel, I'm going to be terrified of heights).

All this isn’t to say that I don’t want to become better at writing more quickly. I do. My goal is to eventually work that year down to six months with practice and determination. Because even if the tortoise isn’t quick, it never stops moving forward. It gets there, friends, and that's what is important. 

Leandra Wallace is an IN girl w/a love for vanilla in her pop, old buildings, ampersands, and sparkly things. She can be found blogging weekly at and on Twitter @leandrajwallace.

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@leandrajwallace talks coming to terms with her writing speed on @Ava_Jae's blog. What do you think? (Click to tweet
Just how important is writing quickly? @leandrajwallace discusses coming to terms w/ her process on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)  

Vlog: 5 Writer Problems

It's Tuesday! And I have a vlog!

I thought it might be fun to talk about some problems writers frequently have. Or at least I sometimes have and assume other writers have too. Anyway.


What writer problems would you add to the list? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Writer @Ava_Jae vlogs about five problems writers often have. Have you experienced any of these? (Click to tweet)

Guest Post: The Importance of Layers

Photo credit: @Doug88888 on Flickr
A workshop discussing how to pitch your book to Hollywood was a big hit at RT14, but it got me thinking: how many of those books are truly ready to make the leap? Even if the concepts are commercial and the characters castable (meaning the roles are juicy enough to attract good talent), is there enough material there to sustain a film or television series?

“I need someplace to take the characters,” said a successful screenwriter friend when we discussed adapting books for episodic television. “What are the main characters’ dark sides? What are their Achilles’ heels? How do you inspire a writers’ room to find fresh stories to tell about a character’s psyche season after season?”

The answer, of course, is giving your characters layers that a screenwriter can gradually peel away. It doesn’t require an info dump, or even going beyond what most of us do already. Those complex breakdowns many of us write for our characters are the only road map you need. What are their hopes, dreams, and flaws? What do they love, hate, and fear? Dig deep, and give your characters secrets that will subtly or not so subtly influence their dialogue and actions, depending on how far down those secrets are buried.

To illustrate, a character in my current manuscript is a rule follower, one who is driven to always do the honorable thing. That’s not a bad trait in a hero, but he becomes a cartoon character if there is nothing beyond a sense of honor motivating his actions. Only I know of the shame that informs his every move, one that will be slowly revealed. He will never come out and say, “I do X because of Y,” because this isn’t a story of a guy in therapy. But hopefully, if I plant the seeds correctly and compellingly, both my readers and a potential screenwriter will sense the darker dimensions that simmer beneath his shiny exterior.

Kes Trester is a former feature film development executive and television commercial producer. Her (hopefully) soon-to-be published YA thriller 7 DAYS is currently under option for a television series. She is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary. Check out her website at and you can find her on Twitter (@kestrester) as well. 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do your characters have layers? @kestrester discusses why it's so important on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)  
.@kestrester says "Give your characters secrets that'll...influence their dialogue & actions." Thoughts? (Click to tweet)

On Writing Flashbacks

Photo credit: NativeBacon on Flickr
It’s been a while since I’ve answered an e-mail with a blog post, probably because most of the time I’ve already blogged about the topic, but every once in a while one of you fabulous readers points out a topic I haven’t covered. Yay! 

Today's lovely e-mail is...
My question is what is your opinion about flashbacks? When and when not should you use them-or should you use them at all? And what should you do and not do?  
Some people I have talked to said that they dislike using and reading flashbacks, but I have found that I cannot get rid of the flashbacks without completely changing the story, and making longer than I wanted.
Flashbacks! So this may actually surprise you guys, but I actually like flashbacks…to a point. 

As with most writing-related topics, the key is balance. I think, depending on the situation, flashbacks can serve as a really great way to show some background information without info-dumping, particularly because the whole point of the flashback is to show the action. I tend to use flashbacks in my own writing quite a bit for that purpose. 

However, if you’re not careful, you can definitely overdo it. 

I’ve compared stylistic elements in writing to spices in a stew in the past, and I definitely consider flashbacks one of those stylistic spices. A dash of flashbacks here and a splash of flashbacks there can be a super effective way of revealing information about our characters backgrounds in a way that feels immediate and interesting. Too much of it, however, and the flashbacks lose their effect and the rest of the manuscript can drown in nostalgia. 

So when should you use flashbacks? Personally, I think the best use of flashbacks are to reveal a very significant event in your character’s life in a way that feels as important and immediate as the rest of the plot. These should be events that the readers need to know to really understand the plot and your characters. It also needs to be an event that your character remembers, assuming you’re not writing from an omniscient POV. 

So, for example, your protagonist’s birth is probably not going to be a good flashback because a) if we’re in your protagonist’s POV, they’re not going to remember it and b) it’s probably not an event significant enough to flash back to. PROBABLY. I mean, there are always exceptions, but anyway. 

An example of a potentially good flash back is a traumatic event from your protagonist’s background—one that has relevance to the plot, of course. 

Basically, when thinking about writing flashbacks, you want to ask yourself, is this event/information absolutely vital to the plot? and is this the most effective way to show this information? If you answer “I don’t know” or “no” to either of those, you may want to do some more brainstorming before jumping into a flashback. 

So there you go! Keep your flashbacks balanced, don’t overdue them and make sure they’re vital to the plot, and I say happy flashbacking. 

Do you use flashbacks in your writing? How do you feel about writing or reading them? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do you use flashbacks in your writing? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips for making them effective. (Click to tweet)  
How do you feel about writing or reading flashbacks? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet

How to Set Up Writing Goals in Scrivener

One of my favorite aspects of NaNoWriMo in my pre-Scrivener days was it’s ability to calculate how many words you needed to write a day to complete your NaNo goal. This was something I’d always calculated by hand before, so to find a program that did the math for me? Awesome.

You can imagine, then, my joy upon discovering that the very same auto-calculate feature is on Scrivener for Mac. Except it’s a tad bit better, because you can customize it to your needs.

Unfortunately this feature, as of this writing, is still a Mac-only feature. But my hope is this will someday change and I’d guess that when it does, the process will be pretty similar. So.

For my Mac friends with Scrivener! Here’s how to set up your very own writing goal within the program:
  1. Go to Project > Show Project Targets.

  2. Select the word goal (highlighted in blue) and type in your word count goal for your manuscript.

  3. Go to Options…
  4. Select your deadline.

  5. Check “Automatically calculate from draft deadline.” 
  6. If you won’t be writing every day of the week, choose what days of the week you plan to write on.
  7. If you want to write on the day of your deadline, make sure that’s checked off. 
  8. Click OK.
And that’s it! Now every time you write, you can check how many words you need to keep to your goal by looking at “Show Project Targets” (which is under the Project menu, in case you forgot). And at midnight, it recalculates every day (assuming you did step 5) to keep you on target.

I especially love the auto-calculation, because when you miss a day, it adjusts for you so you can easily see what you need to do to make it up over time. And on the other side, when you write more than you need to, it’s pretty gratifying to see the number of words you need to meet your goal slowly decrease over time. :)

UPDATE (6/20/14): I've been told while Windows doesn't have the full functionality shown above, it DOES have a project target section that allows you to set a word goal. So everything before Step 3 works in Windows. Yay!

Do you use this feature on Scrivener? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Do you have Scrivener for Mac? Writer @Ava_Jae shares how to set up your writing goals within the program. (Click to tweet

Vlog: #YAforHaters: 5 Book Recs

It's my 500th post! And I'm spending it talking about my favorite thing ever: books. Specifically, awesome books.

In concordance with Megan Whitmer's fabulous #YAforHaters vlog tag, as well as the awesome Twitter tags #PromoteaYAInstead and #NoShameYA, I'm sharing five books I'd recommend to those who haven't read YA or say they don't like YA.


What books would you recommend to those who haven't read YA or say they don't like YA? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae joins @MeganWhitmer's #YAforHaters vlog tag & shares 5 books she'd rec to YA newbies or haters. (Click to tweet
What books would you rec to YA newbies or haters? Writer @Ava_Jae shares her 5 picks: #PromoteaYAInstead #NoShameYA (Click to tweet)

Mini Guest Post Contest Winners!

Photo credit: hellojenuine on Flickr
You guys! This was so fun. I really enjoyed reading all of your entries and I’m pleased to announce I’ve chosen three winners. Yay!

Firstly, I want to thank everyone who entered and shared—this contest wouldn’t have been possible without your awesome support.

Second, if you didn’t win, I encourage you not to let your guest post entries go to waste. Post them on your blogs! They were wonderful entries. :)

Okay okay, so without further ado, the three winners are…

Leandra Wallace

Kes Trester

Braden Russell

Congratulations you guys! I’ll be e-mailing you shortly to collect your links and bio information, if you didn’t include it in the submitted post.

I look forward to sharing these guest posts with everyone!

Upcoming Books I’m Psyched to Read

There are so many amazing books coming out! And like the bookaholic I am, I have a running list of books that I can’t wait to read (that will all be out this month!). And so I thought I’d share some with you. :)

Photo credit: Goodreads

Technically, this isn’t upcoming because it was just released this Tuesday (Congratulations, Lindsay!), but my pre-order hasn’t arrived yet, so it’s upcoming to me. Anyway. The cover is gorgeous and the book sounds so frickin’ awesome and—forget it, let me just give you the Goodreads summary: 
“An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna. 
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision. 
The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family? 
Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.”
Hanna the movie was awesome, I never get tired of books and movies about assassins and this sounds like a ridiculously exciting, action-packed book. Now where is my copy?

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (June 17th, 2014) 
Photo credit: Goodreads
“The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. 
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. 
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. 
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.”
UGH, you guys. This is the final book to one of my favorite fantasy series ever. I cannot wait to read it—and I’ll be re-reading Siege and Storm before I do to make sure I don’t forget any extra details. I can’t wait to get my Darkling—err, I mean, Mal—fill! 

Otherbound by Corrine Duyvis (June 17th, 2014) 
Photo credit: Goodreads
“Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.
She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes. 
Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious. 
All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.”
I’ve been excited about Otherbound ever since I heard about this awesome-sounding book. Not only is the premise fabulous and the Fantasy aspect totally sweet, but it features not one, but two super diverse characters, which we don’t see nearly enough of. 

Rain by Amanda Sun (June 24th, 2014) 
Photo credit: Goodreads
“American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control. 
When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.”
Amanda Sun’s Paper Gods series, is, in my opinion, a highly underrated series. Or at least it’s not talked about nearly as much as it deserves. I raved about Ink here, and I’m super excited to read Rain and see what happens to Katie and Tomo! 

So those are some books I’m looking forward to—now I want to hear from you: are you looking forward to any upcoming books? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Looking for some great YA? Here are 4 awesome novels releasing this month that should be on your list! (Click to tweet)  
Are you looking forward to any upcoming books? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog! (Click to tweet)  

How YA Books Have Made Me a Better Writer

NOTE: Don't forget, you have until THIS Friday (6/13) to enter a guest post that could be featured here on Writability! Go here for details.

So I’ve already mentioned several times the importance of reading what you write, and why reading is not optional for writers, and why we shouldn’t shame each other for our reading choices.  

But in light of a certain article shaming adults for liking YA, and in honor of the fabulous #PromoteaYAInstead and #NoShameYA, I want to share how YA books have made me a better writer. Because they have.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi taught me that the conventional rules and styles of language can be broken, and broken beautifully. They taught me that poetry, beautiful imagery and action aren’t mutually exclusive. The Shatter Me series also remains an awesome example of how to completely nail character development over the course of a series.

The Across the Universe series by Beth Revis arguably has influenced me the most with my writing. The AtU series taught me Sci-Fi doesn’t have to be robots and super technical science-y things—it can be mixed with romance and mystery and make for some awesome reading. It taught me that dual POV is a thing I actually like, and, as it turns out, love to write. It also taught me some really neat stylistic tricks and reminded me that action, death and things blowing up is fun to read and write about.

Every Day by David Levithan taught me about the power words can have when they connect to a reader and really get them to empathize. It’s a reminder that every person (and character) has their own story. It also serves as a brilliant example of how to get your readers to connect to a character with just a couple pages.

There are so many lessons to be learned from YA, whether it’s for writers or everyday life. And if YA isn’t your thing, that’s totally okay, but know that the rest of us? We’ll continue to proudly read some really awesome books, and learn from them along the way.

These are just a few examples of lessons I’ve learned from YA, but now I want to hear from you. What have you learned from YA novels? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae shares lessons she's learned from YA novels. Have you learned anything from YA? Join the discussion! (Click to tweet)  
How YA books have made @Ava_Jae a better writer. #PromoteaYAInstead #NoShameYA (Click to tweet

Vlog: 5 Ways to Support Your Favorite Authors

Once upon a time I blogged about how to support your favorite authors. And I thought it'd be fun to vlog about it, plus one of the tips is different. So. Yay!

Happy viewing!

Twitter-sized bite: 
Want to help support your favorite authors? Writer @Ava_Jae vlogs about 5 easy ways to do so. (Click to tweet)

Why I Loved Watching The Fault in Our Stars

Photo credit: theglobalpanorama on Flickr
NOTE: Don't forget, you have until Friday (6/13) to enter a guest post that could be featured here on Writability! Go here for details.

So the TFiOS grand opening weekend is over, and like many others, I saw the movie on opening night. And I loved it.

Movie adaptations are tough. On one hand, we want them to be as faithful to the book as possible, but on the other, movies are not books, and they shouldn’t be handled the same way as a book. Sometimes, staying perfectly faithful to the book means making a not-so-great movie, so there needs to be a balance between making a great film representation of the book and remaining faithful to what’s on the page.

To me, the TFiOS movie hit that balance beautifully.

It wasn’t just the acting (which was incredible), or the casting (which was perfect), or the cinematography and plot and set design. It was the feel of the movie, with a tone that matched Hazel’s snarky, cynical attitude in the book. It was the carefully chosen direct quotes and perfectly timed voice-overs and actors that really embodied the characters just like I’d imagined them in the book. It was respectfully handled portrayals of disability and perfectly awkward, sweet, funny and heartbreaking moments that fit the book so well.

The TFiOS movie was everything I could have hoped for in an adaptation, and it gives me hope for future YA adaptations. Because the sooner people realize YA books to screen can be truly fantastic movies and take them seriously, the sooner people may stop writing stupid articles degrading a whole category of novels and the sooner I’ll see more of my favorites in theaters.

So if you haven’t seen it yet? Do it. You’ll probably love it.

Have you seen the TFiOS movie yet? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to?

Twitter-sized bites: 
Why the #TFiOS movie gives one writer hope for future YA adaptations. (Click to tweet)  
Have you seen the TFiOS movie yet? What did you think? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Guest Post Mini-Contest!

Photo credit: rsutton198 | on Flickr
So over the years I’ve had many gracious offers for guest posts here on Writability, and while I wasn’t ready to open up the blog to guest posts I didn’t specifically request myself, the time has now come! At least, for a week.

The week of the 22nd of June is going to be a rather busy and stressful one for me (but for good reasons!), and so I’m going to be taking a mini-break. Granted, I’ll probably find a way to do bloggerly and writerly work during my mini-break because that’s just how I am, but point is I have THREE open slots for guest posts. And I’m leaving it up to you guys to fill them.

The posts will be up on Monday the 23rd, Wednesday the 25th, and Friday the 27th. I’ll be accepting posts from TODAY to next Friday, the 13th, and I’ll notify those who have been chosen on or by the 18th.

Posts should be about writing, books or publishing. I’ll also accept posts about social media geared to writers (i.e.: my tumblr for writers post). Before you submit, make sure I haven’t already covered the topic you’ve written about (or are thinking you might write about) by checking my directory. As of this post, I’ve written 494 posts, so I’ve covered a lot of ground. :)

Keep in mind! I’m all for taking a subject that might not traditionally be writing-related and show how it could be helpful to writers. Or put a writerly spin on it. Or something.

As for what I’m looking for! I want some fresh voices here on Writability. I have absolutely no idea what I’ll choose, but I will say if you can make me laugh, I will remember you. So.

The three posts I choose will include a mini-bio of the writer (that’s you!) and up to five links of your choosing. Yay! I also expect that you try to answer any comments on your guest post because the community here is fabulous and they deserve to hear from you.

If I don’t get enough entries, I’ll just write up more posts myself. Or if I don’t feel the entries are quite what I’m looking for, I’ll write up posts myself. So really, whether or not this works entirely depends on you guys.

So you’re interested in entering? Awesome!

  • Please use my contact form between now and 11:59PM Friday, June 13 EST to enter a guest post that you have written. Copy and paste the whole post into the message box there. 

  • You may enter up to three posts if you so choose. 

  • Posts should be between 100 and 500 words. 250 is roughly average and anything longer than 500 will probably be rejected. 

  • Please use block formatting (no indents, single space, double space between paragraphs, plain text) to make my life easy when copying and pasting. 

  • I’ll choose my three favorite posts. What makes them my favorite may vary. Be yourself, write something that would work well subject-wise on this blog and voila. 

  • In the event that I get way more entries than I expected, I reserve the right to close the entry period early. Conversely, if I don't get enough entries that I think would fit, I may choose less than three (or none at all). 

Good luck! 

Twitter-sized bite:
Want a chance to have your guest post featured on @Ava_Jae’s blog? Check out her mini blog contest and enter! (Click to tweet)

So You Want to Write NA Contemporary Romance?

Photo credit: svacher on Flickr
What is it? 

College-age protagonists in everyday settings, falling in love. NA Contemporary Romance is quirky, funny, awkward, dark, gritty, real and everything in between. Every topic under the sun is up for grabs: military matters, drinking, pregnancy, marriage, drug abuse, sexual assault, first jobs, first time away from home, etc.

Pros/Cons of Writing NA Contemporary Romance: 


  • It’s crazy popular (right now). NA Contemporary Romance is huge right now, which is great because there’s plenty of reference and interest in the genre. But it also has a downside, mentioned below. 

  • YA energy with more mature NA themes. This is something I love about NA in general (not just Contemporary Romance)—the energy and raw quality often seen in YA novels is still present in NA, but now there are more mature themes and characters. As they say, “old enough to know better, but too young to care.” And it’s awesome. 

  • It’s fun. NA Contemporary Romance is a really fun space for writers. There’s tons of room for experimentation and so much potential for some really great variety. 


  • It’s crazy popular right now. As great as it is, this also makes life a little more difficult for a writer trying to get published, both because your book has to be awesome to stand out among the crowd and because, as it is with trends, this is a trend. I don’t know what will be next for New Adult, no one does, but every bubble eventually bursts. 

  • Certain areas are over-saturated. This is pretty inevitable considering how popular NA Contemporary Romance has gotten. There’s definitely overlap with many of the plots, but to me, this is just a challenge to push the boundaries. There have been a lot of stories told, true, but there’s so much room for stories that haven’t been told and twists that haven’t been explored. 

  • Stigma. Unfortunately, there are still people out there who believe NA is just sexed-up YA. I’ve already written about why this isn’t true, but the stigma, while not as bad as it used to be, is still there. 

Recommended Reading: 

As I’ve said before and will say again: you must read what you’re writing. So if you’re writing (or thinking about writing) NA Contemporary Romance, here are some great recs, all of which I’ve read and enjoyed:

Helpful Links: 

Do you enjoy reading or writing NA Contemporary Romance? Share your experience! 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking about writing NA Contemporary Romance? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips, recommendations and more. (Click to tweet)   
Do you write NA Contemporary Romance? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae’s So You Want to Write series. (Click to tweet

Vlog: How to Make Your Villains Awesome

Today's vlog is about sexy villains! Or Vampire Diaries. Or Klaus. Or something.

Happy viewing!

Twitter-sized bite:
Do you have trouble writing villains? Writer @Ava_Jae vlogs about how to make them memorable. (Click to tweet

Why I’m Grateful for (Nearly) Seven Years of Rejections

Photo credit: Ultra Sonic Photography on Flickr
On May 28, 2007 I sent out my first ever query letter for my very first manuscript, which I began writing in Fall 2005. The manuscript and the query were not good. Actually, I cringed while re-reading the query before writing this post, so it was very not good. 

But I didn’t know that at the time. When I sent out that query letter, I was sure the book and the letter were amazing and I had dreams of getting published and maybe if I was lucky a movie deal, and I can laugh at my past self now, but at the time, they were legitimate feels. 

And the rejections I got for that query and manuscript legitimately sucked. 

In 2007, self-publishing wasn’t what it is today—something I’m so ridiculously grateful for. Because if it was? I might’ve published it. And I was so not ready for that. 

The thing is, looking back, I’m grateful for those rejections. Because yeah, they sucked, and I’m pretty sure I cried over a couple of them, and at the time it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But now, nine manuscripts and seven years later, I can’t imagine debuting with any of the manuscripts I once thought were going to be it (except maybe one). 

I’m grateful for nearly seven years of rejections because quite frankly, I wasn’t ready. I still had so much more to learn about writing and the publication process and what makes a good book and how to write a decent antagonist and so many things that are so essential to writing a captivating novel. But I didn’t know that then. I thought I was ready then. 

I was wrong. 

To be fair, I still have loads more to learn—I’m of the belief that writers are never done learning. But my point is, while all those rejections hurt in the moment, they were worth it. Because they pushed me to do better. They motivated me to keep learning. And they taught me I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was. 

I don’t regret a single query letter. I’m grateful for the nos that brought me to where I am today. Because when I did finally hear the yes I’d been dreaming about for years? It sounded that much more incredible. 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae shares why she’s grateful for 6+ years of query rejections. (Click to tweet)  
Are you grateful for your query rejections? Here’s why one writer says she is. (Click to tweet)
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