How to Write When the World Has Broken Your Heart

Today’s guest post is by author Nancy Stohlman.

It’s been a common theme in 2020: normally prolific writers finding themselves creatively blocked. And there is nothing more painful for a creative type than to not be creating.

Of course we blame the Corona scorched-earth meltdown. I mean, we were blindsided. We weren’t ready or expecting this. It’s as if we got our hearts collectively broken, and no one saw it coming. We’ve probably cycled through our stages of grief, maybe multiple times, and now we just feel unsettled in this awkward aftermath, this endless creative desert.

So now what?

How do you write when the world has broken your heart?

I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album. A lot. And I’m not at all surprised that TS has been able to compose under quarantine; she’s made a career from harnessing her heartbreaks and turning them into creative fodder.

Which got me thinking: Hey, wait a minute. We’ve all done this before.

Remember the poetry that poured from you in the midst of high school angst? The songs you wrote during late-night college heartbreaks? The drawings you sketched as you nursed your bruised feelings back from the shock of despair, betrayal, broken promises, or loss? Continue Reading…

How to Launch a Book during a Pandemic

Today’s guest post is by Samuel Moore-Sobel.

The coronavirus has brought much of what used to constitute daily life to a screeching halt. The affects have reached many careers—including those of writers. Bookstores across the country have reduced customer capacity, limited their hours, or closed. Opportunities for authors to share their work has diminished, almost overnight.

Earlier this spring, I found myself with an important decision to make. Just as the pandemic was getting worse, I was nearing publication of my book. I had spent more than a decade writing my story.

My book is about an accident I experienced at fifteen years old. I was hired for a day to move boxes and furniture, but by the end of that day, I had suffered second- and third-degree burns as a result of an accidental encounter with sulfuric acid. I spent the next several years in recovery, both physically and emotionally. I wrote my book because I wanted to share my experience with others.

When I talked to my publisher in early April, I expressed doubts over moving forward with the publication date due to the pandemic. My editor recommended that we “keep moving as normal.” Moving forward with publication plans would ensure that my book would be available in the fall—which, we anticipated, might be the end of the pandemic. “You’ll be ready to go once places are ready to open again,” she told me.

Several months later, this has not come to fruition. Despite the pandemic, my book has been officially published for four weeks now, and it’s done better than I expected. Within the first twelve hours of publication, it made it to the top 77 in my category on Amazon. Continue Reading…

4 Ways to Bring Out Theme in Your Story

Theme is such an important element of story, regardless of medium. Even visual arts, such as paintings or sculture, tell a story and often center on some theme. Yet, you’ll find few blog posts or podcasts discussing what theme is in a story and how to showcase it.

I feel theme is so crucial to a great story that I chose it as one of the four corner pillars of novel construction. And while some novelists may argue that the genre they write in really doesn’t require themes (suspense/thriller, mystery, for example), for a deeper, richer story, themes are the ticket.

To get to the heart of the themes for your story, ask yourself questions:

  • Why I am passionate about this plot I’ve come up with?
  • What issues speak to my heart or upset me?
  • How can I have my characters embody these opinions or passions?
  • What kinds of conflicts in values, morals, beliefs, and ideas can my characters have that will enhance my premise?

Continue Reading…

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