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Everything indie publishing, beta reader research, creative writing tips, and all around tomfoolery (I just wanted to say tomfoolery.)

Writing Prompts for Fighting Writer's Block

With National Writing Month coming to an end, many of you may be burned out.

Writer’s block can be hard to overcome. One of the worst things to do can be to try to force yourself to write a section, paragraph, or idea just because you really need to get it done. You won’t have fun writing it and your readers will be able to tell. It is totally acceptable to take a break and work on something fresh in order to revitalize your creative flow. For anyone looking for inspiration or just to get their writing muscles flexing, I have created some writing prompts and exercises to help you get excited to write and maybe spark an idea for your next novel. 



  • Find a random item in your house. Describe it in as much detail as you can. Then describe how it could be used as a weapon.


  • Google Image search your favorite color and keep scrolling until you find a picture of a person or persons. Give them a back story and a world to live in.


  • Write a Day-In-The-Life vlog/blog from the POV of your pet.



  • What was the last song you heard? Write a character sketch for a person whose favorite song/personal soundtrack is this song.



  • Write a manifesto as to why your favorite type of soda is the superior type of soda.




  • One day an unmarked package is delivered to your door. Inside it is a wooden box that is sealed shut. What do you do with it? 


  • You receive an invitation to the annual Faerie Ball. There must be a mistake, right? 


  • You wake up one morning the find that plants can talk, but only you can hear them. 


  • You walk in to work to discover that all your colleges have been replaced by mannequins. Upper management doesn’t seem to notice that anything is amiss.


  • You are the deity responsible for changing the seasons. Until one day a kid wishes on a star/genie/etc. that it could be one season all year round. What do you do about it?


  • What is a babysitter to do when the kid you are watching accidentally summons a demon? 


  • Your band is going on tour … in a time machine!


These are some prompts that I came up with on my own (though some may end up being similar to other prompts you may find just by chance). Hopefully these will help inspire and motivate you. Even if you aren’t inspired to flesh an idea out into a full-fledged novel, you will still be practicing writing, keeping your ideas flowing, and stepping outside your comfort zone. Maybe a character trait or a line of dialogue from this writing exercise will migrate its way into your novel one day. The best thing about these writing prompts is that you never have to show them to anyone so this is a judgement free zone. Be bold! Try new writing styles! Write in a new genre! Short writing prompts are perfect for new writers who just want to practice writing with no pressure.

For more writing prompts, I recommend you check out this blog: They post at least one new prompt a day. They will also occasionally re-blog creative responses that their prompts have gotten which are always fun to read.


Good luck fighting your writer’s block!

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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What's the Deal with the New Adult Genre?


With the popularity of books like Harry Potter and Twilight peaking over the last decade or so, the genre of Young Adult (YA) has been in forefront of media attention. This genre stars characters who are the same age as their target audience of mid-teens to late-teens. But what about those readers who are slightly older than this? For those who have aged out of the Young Adult genre, there is a lesser known genre called New Adult (NA).

The New Adult genre is geared towards readers who are within the age range of 18/19 to around 30. This is the genre for college students and post-college individuals who are still trying to figure out “How to Adult.” This is something that, as a 23-year-old, I can really get behind. 

These books typically focus on characters in this age range who are struggling with the same things that their target audience may be struggling with. These are topics like identity, sexuality, and career choices. However, this doesn’t mean that all literature in the NA genre is realistic fiction or romance (though these genres are popular for this age bracket).

Additionally, one of the things that distinguishes the New Adult genre from the Young Adult genre is that it is considered acceptable to use profanity and have more explicit sexual references.

Some examples of this genre are Slammed by Colleen Hoover, Easy by Tammara Webber, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuirejust to name a few.

If you would like to turn to the realm of film for examples, many popular films technically fall into the NA genre based on the age of their protagonists. A well-known example would be the Star Wars series. Luke and Leia are ages 19-23 throughout Episodes IV-VI, Rey from Episode VII is 19, and Anakin from Episodes II and III is 20-23.

At first glance, despite the ages, Star Wars may not seem like it fits in to the New Adult genre, but it does deal with the same struggles that are present in NA fiction. Both Luke and Anakin deal with their burgeoning sexuality, there are many moments where these characters question their identity, and they even must decide on a career path (whether to be a Sith or a Jedi).

This example should show that, whereas the NA genre may be aimed at readers in their twenties, all age groups read this genre. An author shouldn’t be afraid to write their protagonists this age. If adults will read Harry Potter, a story about a young teen, why would they suddenly be turned away by a story about a character who has just entered adulthood? And, if you are worried about attracting younger readers, I can assure you that many readers in the YA bracket read up a level or two and can handle swear words as well as 20-year-olds. 

The only thing that YA has going for it as a genre that NA doesn’t is that it is more established in the public’s mind. Many consider NA to be a still emerging genre. So, if you write a book that is New Adult you can be a part of helping it to grow.

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Are You Ready for National Novel Writing Month?

Happy November!

Many of you may know that November is National Novel Writing Month, colloquially known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a time in which all writes are encouraged to write that novel they have been putting off. The typical word goal for NaNoWriMo is at least 50,000 words to be written during the month of November.

Since it is National Novel Writing Month the goal is for all the writing to be done on one piece, but realistically this writing can take any form. You could write short stories, letters, diaries, poetry, or anything you like.

There is a nifty website at where you can create a profile to track your word count (and measure it against other writers). Of course, you don’t have to sign up to write 50,000 words on your own time, but it is good fun to do so.

There is also a community on this site where you can talk with other writers and encourage each other. The site also has fun and engaging projects. There are “Write-ins” which seem to be meets ups where authors can write together and socialize, there are live stream events, and something called a NaNo Sprint which are timed events to encourage you to spike your word count.

This site also has sponsors and publishers waiting to take a look at the writing that emerges from this month.

The most important thing to remember about NaNoWriMo is that you shouldn’t be discouraged if you can’t reach your word goal. Your life doesn’t go on hold because its November. I personally have never met the word goal in all my attempts. So, don’t feel guilty! However, even if you only write slightly more than you would otherwise. Or even if you just end up dedicating more time to thinking about your novel than usual. You still have done more than you might have otherwise. Most importantly, if you do decide to participate in have fun. Writing your novel shouldn't stress you out and you should never feel pressured to write. NaNoWriMo is not supposed to cause anxiety. It is supposed to be a positive push. Are you going to participate? You have nothing to lose, so give it a try!

And then have fun trying to edit all your new 50,000 words over the winter holidays. 

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 




Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Discovering the Difference Between a Colon and Semicolon

I’ve really been enjoying writing these grammar-based blogs because they not only help you, dear readers, but they also help me to refresh my memory and expand my knowledge on these topics. So, I sincerely hope you are enjoying them as much as I am!

Today’s topic is the proper use of colons and semicolons. Unfortunately, many people find themselves getting the two types of punctuations confused. This is not all that surprising because they look very similar and, typically, occupy the same key on a keyboard.

The semicolon and colon are located next to the “L” key on the traditional qwerty style keyboard.

The semicolon consists of a dot over top of a comma. It looks like this—> ;

The colon consists of two dots in a column. It looks like this—> :


The semicolon has two uses:

1.       To connect two different independent clauses which are related.

An independent clause is a standalone sentence which has all the grammatical features needed to be a sentence. This specifically means the phrase must contain a noun (subject) and verb (action or predicate) and express a complete thought.

If one of your two clauses are dependent (not expressing a complete sentence) then it cannot be attached with a semicolon.

Semicolons often replace conjunctions, but can be used alongside conjunctions also. Typically, a semicolon is used when two sentences are related to each other but to connect them with a conjunction would cause the sentence to be confusing or not make sense altogether.


Sarah ate a big lunch; however, she was still hungry an hour later.

Anne wrote a book; the book did really well in her hometown.

Ted bought onions; I don’t like onions.


2.       To separate items on a list which already contain commas.

Traditionally, commas are used to separate items on a list but, in instances in which the individual items already contain a comma, semicolons are used.


Our readers are from many locations: Los Angles, California; New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; and Detroit, Michigan.

My favorite sandwiches are the following: peanut butter, banana, and chocolate; bacon, lettuce, and tomato; and ham, tomato, and mustard on rye.

This is a semicolon in braille!

The colon has three main uses:

1.       After an independent clause in situations in which what follows the colon describes or elucidates what comes before it.

If the phrase that you wish to write is a description of the independent clause you just wrote, a colon may be appropriate. I often consider the part of a sentence that occurs after a colon to be another way to write what is in front of the colon (whether this is a more specific or vague way of expressing it). This is also holds true for lists, quotations, and examples.


To make a PB&J sandwich you need three ingredients: peanut butter, jam, and bread. 

In this example, the items “peanut butter,” “jam,” and “bread” describe the “three ingredients” which precedes them.


He kept repeating: “bright red eyes.”

In this example, the “bright red eyes” quotation describes what it was that the person kept repeating.


2.       In titles to announce a subtitle to follow.

You can and should put a colon between a title and a subtitle, especially on a formal paper.


The title of my paper is “Mice in Literature: From Cinderella to Flowers for Algernon”.


3.       In established convention.

There are some places where it is just convention to use a colon. Some of these places are time, ratios, bible verses, greetings in formal letters, and citation locations.


It is 3:30 pm.

The ratio of pears to apples is 3:4.

Please open your bible to Joshua 1:9 and read the verse aloud.

He started his letter with “To whom it may concern:”.

The inside page of the book proclaimed—"New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001.”  

These are all examples of formal writing conventions featuring a colon.

Colons can be very confusing and I often find myself second guessing myself when using them. So, lastly, I leave you with a helpful list of common colon mistakes which I found from The Writing Center’s website.


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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What to Consider When Looking to Translate Your Book


If you are looking to sell your book internationally, something to consider is the option to localize your book by translating it into other languages. Translation is more than a plug and chug. Harry Potter has been translated into 68 languages and each translation needed to edit all the anagrams and acronyms so they worked in that language.

Image Source:

Here are some things to consider before you commit to the translation process.


Does your publisher already do this for you?


Check with your publisher, if they distribute internationally there may be translators who work with them directly. The price for this service may be included, or it may be extra. Alternatively, you may be responsible for finding your own translator.

This is certainly true if you are self-publishing!

Either way, make sure that you maintain the rights to your novel in order to do so.


What countries will your story do well in?


There are a lot of languages in the world. It would be very time consuming to translate your book into all of them. It would also be expensive.

I would recommend translating it into the languages that are most widely spoken. Also, if the English version of your novel is selling well internationally, look and see in which countries it is doing the best. If it is already resonating with the English-speaking readers in that country, there may be a market for the book with the speakers of that country’s native language as well.


Freelance or service?


When you are looking for a translator, you can either look for a translating service or for an individual freelance translator. For either, make sure that you check out the reviews on the service they provide. If you already distribute through Amazon, check out their translation service Amazon Crossing.

Additionally, get a quote and compare price points. Some translators provide their services by the word, some by the page, some by project, and some by time. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth. Be aware that some services, like Babelcube, may ask for a commission.

Make sure that the translator you choose is confident in your genre. If your book is a romance and the translator typically does textbooks it may not be the best fit. Imagery and metaphors can be lost if the translations are too literal. Don’t forget to translate the bio, summary, and any other superfluous text you may need.

You shouldn’t try to translate by yourself unless you are fluent. If you are fluent in the target language—great! Who knows your book better than you?

Regardless of who you get to translate your book, you should have it proofed by someone fluent in the language. Ideally this would be by someone who can test for faithfulness to the English version, but at the very least they should check that it makes sense and that there aren’t grammatical errors. This proof can be done by an editor or by beta readers (BookHive provided readers for a localized Russian story that was translated to English!).


EBook or physical copy?


If you are looking to sell a physical form of your translated book, check with your current publisher or distributor to see if they have protocols in place for this. You may have to resubmit the book; remember to make sure you maintain the rights to your story.


One of the fastest and easiest ways to distribute internationally is by selling an eBook or other electronic version, like an audiobook. Make sure that you put your eBook in the right language category when you submit it!

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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How To Use Dashes and Hyphens


One of the most confusing types of punctuation to use and become comfortable with are dashes and hyphens. It is my hope to provide you with a helpful guide—so that you too may become a dash master.

Rule 1: Hyphens and Dashes are not interchangeable in formal writing (do what you’d like in your personal life).

Hyphens are a single line and are found on the typical qwerty keyboard next to the zero key. They look like this: -

There are two types of dashes: the EN dash and the EM dash. Just as the letter M is twice the size and number of peaks as the letter N, the EM dash is twice the size of the EN dash. You can write an EN dash on the typical word processor by typing a space then two hyphens in a row and hitting enter or writing another word and adding a space. It looks like this: –   To type an EM dash don’t put a space between your words and type two hyphens, put the space after the next word. It looks like this: —

EN Dash: [word] + [space] + [2x Hyphen] + [enter] or [word] + [space] + [2x Hyphen] + [space] + [word] + [space]

EM Dash: [word] + [2x Hyphen] + [word] + [space]


Rule 2: EM dashes can replace commas, colons, semicolons, or parentheses. Doing so, often emphasizes what comes after or between the dashes.

Ex: His mind focused in on one thing—food, She was the mom friend—a name she wore with pride—so, of course, she had Band-Aids, etc.  

EM dashes shouldn’t have space between it and the words around it typically—but occasionally a style guide will call for it. Also, just because you can use an EM dash pretty much anywhere, doesn’t mean that you should. It is mostly used for emphasis and using it too much can make it loose this impact.  


Rule 3: EM dashes can be used in dialogue to indicate an interruption.

This interruption can be a character interruption, such as another character interjecting or a loud sound causing the speaker to break off. Or, it can be a narrative interruption taking place in the text.

Ex: “Why couldn’t he” — Andrew kicked a nearby chair— “just tell me?”, “I was going to —” “Well, you didn’t.” Mark interrupted, etc.


Rule 4: Two consecutive EM Dashes in the middle of a word indicate that a portion of the word is missing.

You can use this to block out a name or swear word, or to indicate that part of a word is unknown or unclear.

Ex: Mr. J—s, It sounded like: “my m—k and the ch—s”, F—k you, etc.


Rule 5: EN dashes are used to span and connect.

One of their most common uses is to connect two numbers. These numbers can be years, page numbers, scores or anything. Though it should be noted that the EN dash should not replace the word “to” or “and” when using words like “from” or “between” before the two numbers.

Ex: Your homework is to read pages 14 – 25, I attended the 2014 – 2015 seminar, etc.

You can also use it to represent a connection between two ideas. Some examples of this are:

Ex: The road runs north – south, I’m live streaming the liberal – conservative debate, etc.


Rule 6: Hyphens are used in compound nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

Ex: Sugar-free, user-generated, fair-haired, well-known, etc.

You can choose to use an EN dash in place of a hyphen in compound adjectives, but this is your prerogative.


Those are the three main types of dashes and hyphens you’ll use in your writing—don’t even get me started on the minus sign.




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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Setting Up the Perfect Book Launch

Your book is finally published and printed; it's time to get the good news out to the rest of the world! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when setting up your Book Launch. 


There are a lot of potential locations to consider renting for your book launch. Conference rooms at hotels or universities are good options. So are auditoriums and ballrooms. If you can hold a wedding or a prom there it may be a good place to consider. The exceptions to this are religious sites and anywhere outdoors because you don’t want to be rained out. You can also contact your local libraries or bookstores and see if they have space for your event (and for your book on their shelves). Also keep in mind how accessible the location is: is there parking nearby, is it reachable by public transportation?

Make sure the space is neither too big nor too small for your event. Make sure there are enough seats for everyone and any gate crashers (or no seats at all). Also keep in mind, you should read excerpts from your book during the event and everyone will need to be able to hear you. So, make sure you check out the acoustics of the venue.

You should book your venue early or you may not be able to find anything on the date you were hoping for. 


Send out personalized invitations to important individuals (journalists, bloggers, radio and news hosts, local schools and libraries, celebs, and influencers (and your family!). These can be electronic invites. Make sure to ask guests to RSVP. You could also advertise your launch online, locally, and with the venue. But make sure that you know how many people are going to show up so you know the venue can handle it and be prepared for your numbers to be off so leave wiggle room. Facebook events are a great way to do this because there is a section built-in for RSVP-ing. 

Event Theme and Features:

You should decorate the space according to the mood you’d like to set. Try searching Pintrest for party decoration ideas. If you can, decorate themed around something related to the book. Or you could pick a color theme. If it is a children’s book, use bright colors and make sure you have games to entertain children. I recommend an understated color theme of one or two colors and white.

A snack or small plate of food should be served with a vegetarian option available. Again, if you can, try to stay in line with your theme. Maybe there is a food that a character in the book likes or eats a lot? Perhaps there is a food native to the book's location? Depending on the venue there may be the option for an alcoholic beverage. Keep it appropriate for the time of day, i.e. mimosas earlier in the day. If alcohol is not an option, coffee and tea is a classic. If there are children coming, make sure there is something there for them. Beverages and food should be complementary. 

People love handouts! You could give out customized bookmarks that are full of information about you and your book or maybe have a crafting station. You could play an ice breaker game with small prizes for the winners. Or, you could have a raffle for a free copy of your book or small gift themed around your book.


Make sure you have enough copies of your book for everyone there. It is considered polite to sell your books at a discounted price for those who attend the book launch and to sign the copies for the guests. 

Don't forget to thank your guests and to post lots of pictures on social media.

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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Adjective Order: The Red Big Barn


Writer’s love description. When describing a given object or person a writer can use as many descriptors as they would like. This is because English allows for multiple adjectives to be listed consecutively.

It was a beautiful, small, shiny, round, old coin.

It was a big, dirty, old, red, wooden barn.

In these examples there are many different types of adjectives used to describe and qualify the object in question. However, sometimes the list of adjectives can sound slightly off.

*It was a purple, British, brick, old, wall.

*It was a cotton, thin, striped, pretty shirt.

These examples aren’t technically grammatically incorrect, but they sound unnatural to the native speaker of English. This is because there is a natural flow to the ordering of adjectives that is considered acceptable to use.

There are a lot of different ways to describe this order. Several sources offer this order: Opinion, size, shape, condition, age, color, pattern/design, origin, material, purpose. Here is a helpful infographic made by

Other sites will state that you have to list your adjectives from more general descriptions to more specific. And still others point to the most intrinsic properties of the object being listed last, closest to the object.

This last suggestion is the one that I would like to draw your attention to. The reason that the classic example of “the big red barn” sounds right and “the red big barn” doesn’t isn’t because you can’t grammatically list the adjectives this way; it is because we associate barns with being red as a more natural state of being than we associate them with their size.

Linguistically, adjectives stack from the inside outward.

It was a [dirty, [old, [Italian, [silk dress]1]2]3]4.

In this example, the first adjective phrase is “silk dress”. You could take out the other adjectives and this would be the “simplest” description of the noun “dress”. Because of the order chosen, this descriptor can’t be separated from the dress to have it just be an “Italian dress” it has to be an “Italian silk dress”. But if the order was changed to: “dirty, old, silk, Italian dress” then it would be the Italian part of the dress which could not be separated from the noun as the adjectives stack.

Just like in the red barn example, most readers would be more familiar with a “silk dress” than an “Italian dress” so, if both these descriptions are listed, we tend to make the silk description be attached to the dress. I find this idea of the “intrinsic” properties of the object being listed closer to the word to be appealing. When listing your adjectives, break the object in question down to its most simple and natural state and work up from there. Which properties can’t be separated from the object without changing it into a completely different object? List those last.

Because of this, I am of the opinion that the order you choose to use for adjectives is more flexible than some would lead you to believe. “The silk, Italian dress” is not wrong. It just implies that the Italian nature of the dress is more intrinsic to the dress than its material. This can be used to stress certain properties of the noun you are describing. For example, “The British, old man” carries a slightly different connotation from “The old, British man.” It is a small difference, but it is there. One is an old man who is also British, whereas the other is a British man who also is old.

The placement of adjectives is can, and should, be very purposeful. Add the word “dirty” to the example above. “The dirty, old, British man” and “The old, dirty, British man” both, to me, imply that the man needs a shower. But, because of the commonly used colloquial phrase “dirty old man”, if you order the words as “The British, dirty, old man” the reader is likely to think that the old man is dirty minded.  

My suggestion: work from the inner most adjective outwards and make sure that you are happy with each iteration of the noun that exists.

Also, as a side note, the “acceptable” and most common order of adjectives may be different in languages other than English, so a writer should take this in to account if writing for a character that is not a native English speaker as the character may be inclined to ordering their adjectives in the way which is more familiar to their native language.

Sources:  (very helpful graphic on page 26)


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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How to Get a Book Cover


When you are looking to self-publish, you are in control of everything about your book, including the cover. Since traditional publishers usually have their own resources for creating the perfect cover for your book, it isn’t something everyone stops to think about until they are faced with the problem of acquiring their own.

There are a few options at your disposal. Firstly, you could do what the publishing companies do and pay someone to make a cover for you.

Upwork created a handy list of graphic designers, or you can also find tons of designers offering their services just by searching. Two that I ran across are Mayfly Design and 99designs.

Since these covers are personalized and tailored to your exact needs, this can be a pricey option so make sure you know what you would be paying. If there isn’t a payment plan outlined, ask for a free quote on your project.

There are also a few sites which offer pre-made covers for sale. These pre-made covers are usually separated by genre and contain a temporary title and author name placeholder so you can see what the cover will look like with the font included. Depending on the site, there may be one person responsible for creating the covers or a group of people and prices will vary.

For these sites, you need to only pick the cover you like, submit the information you want included on your cover, and pay. Then the cover is yours. However, you may want to double check and make sure that the site doesn’t sell the same cover to more than one author.

Here are some sites which state in their FAQ that they don’t resell covers:

Book Cover Zone

The Book Cover Designer

SelfPub Book Covers

The Cover Collection

Go On Write

Creative Paramita

But if none of these strike your fancy there are pages of Google results waiting for you to find your perfect cover. Some of these services also offer custom design options.  

Lastly, the author can choose to make their own cover. This option offers the most control. There are three basic components to a cover: image, edits, and text.


You can’t just use any old image you find on Google on the cover of your book. You could either take an image yourself, use an image which is licensed for commercial reuse, or purchase an image. You have a fair amount of freedom when you are using a self-taken image. But you should avoid brand names and images of people who haven’t given their consent to be on the cover of your book.

If you want to find an image which you can use commercially, try using the advanced search function on Google Images. Type in the phrase which you wish to search for in the box that says “all these words” and then make sure to change the “usage rights” to an option which includes the word “commercially.” I would recommend “free to use, share or modify, even commercially.” These images are legal to use for commercial reasons and it is also legal to edit or modify them before sale. You will likely need to edit them for your cover.

You can also try sites like: Pexels, iStock, pixbay, and Unsplash.

But keep in mind that only some of these sites offer their images for free.


There are a lot of websites and programs out there to edit and design your covers with.

One of the first ones to check out is Canva. This program is great for helping you design the cover of your dreams. It has a whole section specifically dedicated to designing book covers.

There are also a lot of other picture editors to look through, such as: Indesign, Desygner, and PicMonkey. There is even an app by Wattpad.

If you are looking for a more professional digital editing program, some of the big name ones are: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Gimp, and Inkscape.


You can pretty much use any font you would like for the writing on the cover of your book as long as it isn’t trademarked or patented. All of the fonts on your typical Microsoft Word program should be fine.

If you are looking to download a font, here are some places to look: 1001 Fonts, Font Squirrel, and this list article. Or, try making your own font from your own handwriting with Calligraphr.


Most importantly, make sure that your font is legible. No one will read your book if they can’t even read the title. 


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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Where to Submit Your Short Stories and Flash Fiction

You’ve written a short story. It’s amazing. It’s the best roughly 500 to 30,000 words ever put to page. You are the next Ernest Hemingway! But, first, you need to get published and have someone read your work.


Here are some places to consider submitting your short stories.



Sometimes different publishers, newspapers, journals, or magazines will hold contests for short story submissions.

There are ones held annually by Dzanc Books, TulipTree Publishing, University of Iowa Press, Bath Short Story Award, Carve Magazine, Gival Press, Gemini Magazine, and many, many more.

The awards for these contests vary but usually include some kind of cash prize. Some of these contests will publish the work of their winners in a collection or anthology.

The submission process can vary vastly from one contest to another unfortunately, so take care to check and see which contests are applicable for your story and make sure to follow their guidelines when submitting. Some contests are free to enter, while others require an entry fee.




Magazines, online zines, and journals are frequently open to submissions. Like traditional publishing, it is up to the magazine to decide what gets published, but it can worthwhile to go for submissions because it can sometimes be a bit easier to get an individual story published this way rather than a full collection with a traditional press, and then you can say that you’ve been published! You also will usually receive some kind of monetary compensation if you get printed.

Make sure you comply with submission guidelines, and make note that some places will not accept previously published works.

Here are some magazines, zines, and journals that accept submissions: American Short Fiction, The New Yorker, Cincinnati Review, Carve Magazine, Blackbird, One Story, Three Penny Review, and many, many, many, many more.


Publishing Companies:

There is, of course, always the option to self-publish your work, but if you wish to go the traditional publishing route then it is likely you will have more success trying to publish a collection of short stories. This is more marketable and more worth the publisher’s time and manufacturing costs to print. It would also go for a higher price on market because of the page count.

I was able to find a couple lists of publishing companies which are actively looking for short story collections here and here.


These are just the publishing companies who are focused on short stories, but you may also find luck elsewhere so don’t write any publisher off. Maybe consider seeking the help of an agent. 

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Who is Talking? - Managing Your Pronouns and Understanding the Structure of Your Sentence

You can only get away with so much he said, she said in your story until your readers are confused as to who is talking. This is even more true if the two characters use the same gendered (or gender-neutral) pronoun. But, on the other hand, it can be a little awkward to keep restating your characters’ names every single time they appear in a scene. So, how can an author know where the line is between too much and too little? I am of the opinion that the answer can be found in having a good understanding of the rules by which pronouns function in a sentence.


What is a Pronoun?

A pronoun stands in place for a noun or group of nouns. There are quite a few categories of pronouns.

Subject pronouns include: I, you, he, she, it, they, and we. These replace a noun or noun phrase which is the subject of a sentence.

Object pronouns include: me, you, him, her, it, us, and them. These replace a noun or noun phrase which is the object of a sentence.

Possessive pronouns include: mine, his, hers, its, ours, yours, their, and theirs. These replace a noun phrase which include a possessive adjective.

Reflective pronouns in include: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves, and (in case of singular gender-neutral use) themself. These are used to rename the subject of the sentence.

Demonstrative pronouns include: this, that, these, and those. These refer to nouns which are related by distance, either nearby or far away.

Relative pronouns include: who, whom, what, which, whose, whoever, whomever, whatever, whichever, and that. These correlate a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun phrase with another part of the sentence.

Indefinite pronouns include: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, neither, nobody, none, no one, nothing, one, several, some, somebody, someone, and something. These replace unspecified nouns or noun phrases.

Interrogative pronouns include: who, whom, what, which, whose, whoever, whomever, whatever, and whichever. They are used in the place of a noun in questions.


Breaking Down the Sentence

One of the best ways to understand a sentence is to break it down into its constituent parts and map the ways in which these parts connect to each other. To do this, you need to know parts of speech like nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Once you can identify these parts of speech, you can start to see how they connect to each other to build meaning within a sentence. The way that linguists typically show this is through something called a tree structure or syntax tree.

They look like this:

(Image from:

In this example, you can see that the top most label, or node, is the sentence. After this it continues to branch to noun phrase and verb phrase, and then to determiner and noun and verb and noun phrase, and finally it finished with another single noun. At the last level of a tree structure, every part of speech is labeled. There are a few different types of tree structures used depending on which theories you prefer, but this is a general constituency relation based tree and should do just fine for our purposes.

Here is a more complicated sentence with a more complex tree structure:

(Image from:

This tree structure features auxiliary verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and prepositional phrases, and there are even a couple possessive pronouns. 

Tree structures can be really helpful when a sentence is ambiguous. For an example of this, look at these two different tree structures for the same sentence:

(Images from:

In the first example, you can see that the noun phrase that includes “an elephant” is separate from the prepositional phrase “in my pajamas” and thus the pajamas are attached to the noun phrase “I” instead of “an elephant”. In the second example, the prepositional phrase in now under the umbrella of the noun phrase containing “an elephant.” In the first one, I am the one wearing my pajamas, whereas in the second one, the elephant is wearing my pajamas.


Indexing, Binding, and C-Commands

The part of tree structure theory that can really help you to understand pronouns is Binding Theory. Binding theory describes the structural relations between nouns. There are three types of nouns identified in binding theory: R-expressions, anaphors, and pronouns.

R-expressions are explicitly stated noun phrases that referred to a specific entity. They often include a determiner or are a proper name. Examples include: the orange cat, John Wayne, and a teddy bear.

Anaphors are noun phrases that must get their meaning from another noun phrase in the sentence. These include reflexive nouns like: myself, yourself, and himself.

Pronouns here are used to refer to the other types of pronouns, which can get their meaning through a few ways, including: from another word in the sentence, a noun previously mentioned, or by context.

Another term to know is Antecedent. This is the noun that gives meaning to a pronoun or anaphor (it is typically an R-expression type noun). We show which nouns are giving meaning to which pronoun by indexing the nouns in the sentence with letters and pairing the letters when the nouns and pronouns refer to the same thing.

For example: Fredi is impressed with himselfi.

Both “Fred” and “himself” refer to Fred, so they both get indexed with the letter “j”.

In this example,

Fredi asked whether Jimi mentioned himk/j.

The “him” can refer to either Fred or another person who has been identified outside the sentence, but it can’t refer to Jim.

This is because of the rules of binding. The rules of binding are that A binds B if and only if,

  1.           A c-commands B
  2.       A and B are co-indexed.


The unfamiliar word here is c-command.

C-commanding has to do with which parts of the tree (nodes) dominate others. The rules of c-commanding are that node c-commands node B if and only if:

  1.           A does not dominate B
  2.        B does not dominate A
  3.        The lowest branching node that dominates A also dominates B.

In this sample tree:

(Image from:

M doesn’t c-command any node, A c-commands B, C, D, E, F, and G, B c-commands A, C c-commands D, F, and G, D c-commands C and E, E c-commands D, F, and G, F c-commands G, and G c-commands F.

Very confusing! But once you trace it out with your finger a few times it makes a lot more sense. This is the rule that governs which pronouns can be used and where and to what they can refer. Additionally, these rules only apply within a binding domain. A binding domain is the immediate clause in which it is found.

Here are the rules for pronouns:

1: An anaphor must be bound in its binding domain.

2: A pronoun must not be bound in its binding domain.

3: An R-expression cannot be bound.

We’ll go through a few examples:

Kenk watched Markj hit himselfj.

In this sentence, the “himself” must refer to Mark because it is within the binding domain of Mark and not Ken. This is because the phrase “Mark hit himself” is complete sentence. This separates it from being within the binding domain of Ken.

(Image made using:

If we want the pronoun to refer to Ken we have to change it from being an anaphor.

Kenk watched Markj hit himk/i.

Now, since the rule is that the pronoun can’t be in the same binding domain as its antecedent, the pronoun can refer to Ken. However, it can also refer to any other masculine identified noun that has been mentioned recently such as in the following example:

Johni walked over to Markj and Kenk. Kenk watched Markj hit himk/i/m.

Now, context tells us that the “him” was most likely John and not Ken.

Another thing to watch out for is possessive pronouns which can exist both within or outside of a binding domain. For example,

Mayi thinks that Idaj dislikes heri/j/k husband.

In this example, the her could refer to either “May,” “Ida,” or to a different antecedent altogether.


The take away 

Understanding the rules of how pronouns can and can’t work in a sentence can help to keep a writer from accidentally using one incorrectly. Additionally, while breaking down every sentence isn’t feasible due to time constraints, being aware of the way that a sentence – especially a sentence with multiple clauses – is structured can help an author to keep track of where their pronouns and antecedents are in relation to each other. And lastly, even though looking at binding theory won’t always answer the question of who is talking, it can help an author to take note of possible places of confusion. When you notice such a place exists, just do you and your readers a favor and use the character’s name.




BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Writer’s Digest Annual Conference 2017 Recap

 This previous weekend, August 18-20th, I was lucky enough to attend the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York and represent BookHive as an exhibitor.

The conference itself ran for three days, Friday through Sunday, with a few early events taking place on Thursday, and featured many speakers, talks, tables, and pitch opportunities. I, unfortunately, was able to attend very few since I was manning the BookHive table.

Every attendee received a bag full of schedules, information, and exhibitor inserts which gave them an overview of the features of the conference.

Each day there were multiple talks available and each talk was organized into five different themes: Getting Published, Platform & Promotion, The Business of Being an Author, Craft, and Genre Studies. This helped to streamline the process of picking which talk to attend for the attendees.

There were three keynote speakers and their talks occurred at the end of each day. The opening keynote speaker was Lisa Scottline, the central keynote speaker was Richard Russo, and the closing keynote speaker was David Levithan (of whom I am personally a big fan). After each of these talks there was also a book signing!

Alongside the talks, on Saturday, there was also multiple opportunities to pitch your book at the “Pitch Slam!” which was sponsored by Book Pipeline. To attend these, an attendee had to sign up ahead of time and be assigned to a specific time slot. The lines for these were quite long but, despite this, several authors told me that they had had very successful pitch sessions.

On Saturday, there was also an optional cocktail reception in the evening designed to help a person to network and create new and helpful contacts. This conference, large as it was, was a great place for making new contacts. I was able to not only reconnect with an old friend, who was attending the conference to pitch their book, but I made many new friends and contacts as well. This was especially true among my fellow exhibitors.

The exhibitors at this year’s conference were: Date with the Muse, Dream of Travel Writing, Pronoun, Editorial Freelancers Association, Gatekeeper Press, Your Book is Your Hook, Sheridan, Historical Writers of America, Gotham Writers, Listen Up Indie Pub, National Writers Union, Inner Fire Outer Light, Lulu, PubSite, Round Table Companies, Wise Ink Creative Publishing, IngramSpark, NYU School of Professional Studies, and Showtime Publications. And, of course, BookHive!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get around to all the tables because I was busy taking care of my own, but the diversity of the tables was certainly impressive. Most of the exhibitors were focused on publishing of some kind, but there were also unions, groups, schools, and companies. There was even a group which was specifically focused on creating audiobooks. My table was situated by three publishing sites: Lulu, IngramSpark, and Wise Ink. By the end of the conference I had become rather familiar with their products and can comfortably say that all three are worth checking out if you have reached the publishing stage.

On top of that, almost all of the tables were giving out fun things like highlighter pens and notebooks. I also snagged this cool mug from Lulu.

I am drinking tea out of it as I write this article. Many of these exhibitors were also offering coupon codes!

Overall, I found this to be a really valuable conference to attend. Whether you are looking to attend as an exhibitor or as writer, I recommend giving it a shot. There is a lot there for everyone, no matter the stage of the writing process you have reached. If nothing else, it is a chance to exchange business cards and twitter handles.



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Writing Believable Child Dialogue Using Language Acquisition

If you aren’t living with a child or speaking to one regularly, you probably don’t know what one sounds like. You may have a vague concept, but with no direct source, unfortunately it’s impossible to know if this concept is accurate.

One of the best ways to make sure you aren’t misrepresenting the speech of a child is to consider Child Speech Acquisition. This describes the stages that a person takes to learn language natively as a child. This process typically happens naturally from birth to approximately age 4.

Phonemes and word formation:

Phonemes are the distinct units of sound that make up a language which distinguish one word from another. Some examples in English are: p and b. These sounds distinguish the words “pat” and “bat” from each other. The letters of our alphabet represent phonemes, but so do sounds like ch and dg in “chat” and “judge.”

Phonemes are some of the first things that children learn to replicate. As early as 10-30 weeks in age a child can make cooing and syllable-like vocalizations, especially vowel sounds. By 2 months they can start making distinct phoneme sounds. A study by McLeod & Belle from 2003 found that by 8 months they could make use of serval phonemes.

(Image source:

Soon, the child begins to grow teeth which makes it easier to articulate sounds. Moving in to the first year, the child will likely start speaking their first words and begin to gain a vocabulary. They are also prone to making up their own words which are referred to as “proto-words” or “phonetically consistent forms”. By the second year, words are common and their vocabulary grows.

As they learn to make words, they also are prone to several speech errors:

Final consonant deletion is when a speaker fails to voice the final sound of a word, so, “dad” becomes “da” and “cat” becomes “ca.”

Cluster reduction means that the speaker only pronounces one sound of a pair, for example, instead of saying “spit” they might say “sit” or “pit”. When I was a child I would call spoons “poons”.

Consonant assimilation is when one consonant influences another resulting in words like “beb” instead of “bed.”

Unstressed syllable deletion is when the unstressed syllable is left out of word such as “telvision" for “television” or “libary" for “library”.

Velar fronting is the act of swapping the phonemes k and g which are made near the back of the throat for consonants which are farther to the front of the mouth. The phonemes r and l are also typically replaced with a w as in “wun” for “run” and this is called gliding.

Epenthesis is when a vowel is misplaced or inserted in a word creating words like “balack” for “black.” Vocalization is when a consonant is replaced with a vowel.

Stopping is when fricative sounds are replaced by stops, like “toup” for “soup.” Voicing reversal can occur when a speaker switches a sound for the voiced or unvoiced version of it, such as, making “pat a dog” into “bat a tog.”

Of this list, cluster reduction, epenthesis, vocalization, gliding and stopping are still common after the age of three, while the others tend to drop off sooner.

By age three a speaker should be largely intelligible. If they are unable to get their point across it is likely because they are missing the vocabulary, rather than the ability to produce the sound.


Syntax and sentence formation:

As soon as a child begins to gather a vocabulary, they will begin to put them together and create sentences. The formation of these sentences is not random and follows a regular structure.

Between the ages of 1 to 2 years of age, children will largely only be able to form two-part sentences. These sentences take the following forms: action + agent, action + object, agent + object, action + location, entity + location, possessor + possession, entity + attribute, demonstrative + entity, nomination, recurrence, and various forms of negation. The following chart shows some examples of what these types of sentences look like:

(Image source:

Something to note is that, though missing large chunks of the sentence, the parts of the sentence that are present are located in the correct order to be syntactically correct. For example, while we don’t use the word “no” in the sentence “I don’t want more” it still represents the negation section of the sentence. When I was younger I used to say “Up me” when asking my father to pick me up. It seems like the “up” would be in the wrong place but as a child I was using the word up as a verb, the action of being picked up, and in the sentence “Pick me up” the “pick” part is the action and comes before the noun.

Moving in to the first half of age 2, children will begin using plural -s, the present progressive “ing” ending, and basic prepositions like “on” and “in.”

The second half of age two will bring the possessive “s”, some irregular past tense verbs, and the verb for “to be.”

By age 3 a child with begin using articles like “a” and “the,” will be using both regular and irregular past tense (though will still likely make frequent errors because conjugation is difficult), and will start using third person present tense conjugation. From the end of age 3 through age 4 a child will begin to be comfortable with more difficult grammar like: third person irregular, contractions, future tense, and auxiliary verbs. All of these skills will continue to grow and children will make less and less errors in their speech.


Speech errors:

Speech errors are common and occur frequently, even in adults. Speech errors by children are usually less random, they tend to be repeated and follow a regular pattern. For me, all words beginning with the letter s as a part of a consonant cluster, began with a p instead. This was true for all words of this type, not only some words, and remained true until I grew out of it. I have never made this particular speech error as an adult.

There are nine types of common speech errors that adults are likely to make: Addition, Anticipation, Blends, Deletion, Exchange, Misdeviation, Preservation, Shift, and Substitution.

Addition: This occurs when a speaker adds a phoneme to a word. An example is, “toptical illusion” for “optical illusion.”

Anticipations: Anticipation occurs when a sound which is meant to come later in the utterance appears earlier as well. This sound can be a consonant or a vowel. An example of consonant anticipation is, “leading list” for “reading list.” And, an example of vowel anticipation is, “ricket ship” for “rocket ship.”

Blends: A blend is when two words become blended together. For example, the words person and people can be accidentally combined to create “perple.”

Deletion: This is when a unit of speech is deleted. For an example, think back to consonant clusters and the error in which only one of the two sounds is spoken.

Exchange: Exchange occurs when two phonemes are swapped, this can be a consonant, consonant cluster, or a vowel. A single consonant can be swapped, even when it is in a cluster with another. An example is, “brake fluid” becoming “blake fruid,” Or, the whole cluster can move. Something my mother has been known to say is “humpled creap” for “crumpled heap.”

There is also word exchange, in which a whole word is swapped for another. An example is “turn to tend out” for “tend to turn out.”

Misdeviation: Misdeviation is when an incorrect speech unit is attached to a word. An example is, turning the word “intervening” into “intervenient.”

Preservation: This occurs when a phoneme is carried over to a later part of a sentence. For example, “annotated babliography” for “annotated bibliography” or “rule or rum” for “rule of thumb.”

Shift: A shift is when an affix changes its location in the sentence. For example, “he decides to eat it” becomes “he decide to eats it.”

Substitution: This one is the equivalent of just using the wrong word and occurs when a unit of speech or group of units are changed into a different unit of speech. For example, “go sit at the stool” instead of “go sit at the table.”

Most of these speech errors are infrequent in adults and children over the ages of four or five.


Speech Disorders:

Another thing to consider when writing dialogue, for adults and children, are speech disorders. There are many types of speech disorders that can be permanent/persist into adulthood, but frequently a child struggling with a speech disorder can get help through speech therapy to overcome certain types of speech disorders. Or, they may naturally outgrow them.

Childhood apraxia is when a child struggles with learning to speak due to a problem with their motor skills. This means that the link from their brain to their mouth in weaker and this makes it harder for them to form the sounds they need to make. The child knows and understands language but has difficulty in getting the words out.

Dysarthria is also a problem with motor skills, but on the physical side of it. The muscles needed to form words aren’t strong enough and words come out mumbled and difficult to understand. This can be caused by a stroke, for example.

Orofacial myofunctional disorder is caused by the tongue moving in exaggerated ways. This results in what many people would call a lisp. For example, a person may say “thumb” instead of “some.”

Stuttering is a disorder you are likely familiar with. It disrupts the fluency of speech. Stuttering can take many forms. Part-word repetition, as in, “w-w-w-where are you?” is one. Another is sound prolongation, like in, “Sssssave me a seat.” It can even show up as a series of inserted interjections like “um” and “you know” and “uh.”

Selective mutism occurs in childhood more frequently than in adulthood and is described as an individual’s choice not to speak at all, but typically in certain situations. For example, a child may not speak at school or to strangers but speak perfectly fine at home with family. This typically lasts about a month, but may persist longer.

A child may struggle with receptive language and/or expressive language. A person struggling with receptive language may have a hard time understanding gestures, following directions, answering questions, and the identification of objects. Someone struggling with expressive language may have difficulty with asking questions, forming sentences, memorization, using correct pronouns, and keeping conversation flowing. A child may also have difficulty with reading and writing or learning the alphabet.

Hopefully these facts about child speech can aid you as you write the dialogue of a child character. I feel that it is most important to remember that, while they can’t always express themselves fully, children are just as capable of complex thought as adults.




 BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Topics to Include in a Character Sketch


A character sketch isn’t a literal drawing of a character – though one may choose to do this as well – but a popular first step in building a character for your story. A character sketch can be helpful in making sure your characters are detailed and fully complex. Not everyone wants to do a character sketch before writing, but for those who do here are some features to consider including.


Physical attributes:

What does your character look like? Are they masculine, feminine, or androgynous? What color eyes or hair do they have? Do they even have hair? Maybe they have facial hair or a mole. How tall are they? Any other distinguishing features?

For this section, you want to include the things that another character will see when they encounter this character, as well as, what you want your reader to know about how this character looks.

You don’t have to include every detail in your story and you don’t have to simply list the characteristics for your reader like you do in your sketch. For example, instead of saying your character’s height, you can let the reader know that they are taller than another character.


Familial background:

You can go as in depth or as bare-bones as you’d like into your character’s family history, but it is a good idea to have some sort of family tree for them. Unless your character just poof-ed into existence one day, they have to have a family somewhere. Even if they are a robot, they have a creator. If you character never knew their parents, that is a form of family history; even if it never makes it into your story, it may be a good idea to know who their parents were anyway and how they got separated from them.

If there are absolutely no family to be talked about, consider knowing your character’s creation story at the very least. Again, even if none of it makes it in the final draft of the story, it is a good idea to know where your character comes from.


Personal background:

This is the history which is personal to the character in question. This includes facets of their life like: how they were raised, where they went to school, their first crush, their first heartbreak, the first time they traveled abroad, and any other salient memories which may have shaped your character into the person they are today.

This background is especially important if an occurrence in or aspect of their past is being used as motivation for their actions throughout to the course of the story.




These are the attributes, either physical, mental, or otherwise that your character brings to the table. These are their best features, everything about them that is helpful or lovable. Some possible strengths include: physical strength, quick thinking or critical thinking skills, specific knowledge of a specialized field of study, a kind heart and generous attitude, access to a wealth of resources, or courage. They may be traits that they have always had or ones that they grow into over the course of the story. The character may not know that they possess these traits, but – hopefully – your reader will.



These are the opposite of strengths. These are the traits which hold back your character from being the best they can be or from reaching their goals. These qualities could include: physical weakness, cowardice, egotism, or gullibility.  

Some of the strengths and weaknesses can be rooted in the same core trait but separated into different aspects. For example, a person who is kind-hearted may have strength in their empathy, but may also be a push over when trying to help others.


Likes, dislikes, and activities:

This can include hobbies, work, favorite books, and more. In order for a character to have a personality, they need to have things they both like and dislike, as well as things to do. It’s as simple as that.


Traits, speech patterns, habits, etc:

Slightly different than the previous category, these are things that a character does, usually, unintentionally. Some examples include: biting their lip, twirling their hair, crossing their legs, speaking with a stutter, and squinting their eyes, just to name a few.

These aren’t things that a person does every once in a while, everyone does the aforementioned actions once in a while, but things that the person does frequently to the point that they are noticeable to others.



Goals and motivation:

What does your character want? This can span from the immediate to the lifelong goals. What is your character going after throughout the course of the story? Make sure to also consider their motivation. What drives their actions? Why do they want the things they want? You need your character to have both. Even if the goal is as simple as surviving.


 BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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The Ins and Outs of Dialogue and Quotation

Dialogue is tricky. It is easy to mess it up. I don’t think anyone ever sat me down and taught me how to structure and punctuate quotations, so you shouldn’t be ashamed if you still struggle with it. It took me a long time to be confident. Presented to you here, to the best of my ability, are the rules of dialogue and quotation.  Scroll to the bottom of this article for information on non-fiction citation, as it is different from fiction dialogue.



Rule 1: If it is what someone said, put it in quotation marks.

This is a rule that hopefully everyone knows by now. If a character is speaking out loud, it needs to be in quotation marks.

Ex. “I am going to the store,” said Mark.


Rule 2: All punctuation goes inside the quotation marks.

No matter the punctuation used, if it is tied to the dialogue itself then it belongs inside the quotation marks.

Ex. “You tripped?” Susie asked Steve.


Rule 3: Punctuation changes based on what is around the quotation marks.

If your dialogue is followed by a phrase that notes by whom and how the quotation is spoke, such as he said, whispered Mark, or Julie choked out, you should use a comma. This is called a speaker tag.

Ex. “Let’s go,” he ordered.

If the speaker tag is before the dialogue or in the middle of it, put a comma after it which is outside the quotation marks.

Ex. “I don’t know,” Lily said, “what to do.”

Unless, the two parts are complete sentences (I forget this rule all the time!).

Ex. “I can’t go,” Marron answered. “I have to go to the store.”

The comma inside the quotation mark, can be replaced by a question or exclamation mark without affecting the phrase, even if the next part is uncapitalized.

Ex. “Will you help me?” she asked.

If the bit in between is an action, use periods.

Ex. “I don’t know.” Sam shrugged, looking at the ground. “But let’s go anyway.”

If the bit in between is both a speaker tag and an action, default to the rules for speaker tags.

Ex. “He kissed me,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, “but then I shoved him away.”

If the action breaks up the dialogue abruptly, use em-dashes outside of the quotation marks and no punctuation besides this.

Ex. “Why couldn’t he” Andrew kicked a nearby chair— “just tell me?”

If a speaker is interrupted by someone else, put one em-dash inside the quotation mark. This rule also works for a speaker stuttering and stopping one thought for another.

Ex. “I was going to

Ex. “I wasn’t going— I wouldn’t— I won’t hurt you.”

If the speaker trails off, failing to finish a thought, use an ellipsis inside the quotation marks.

Ex. “I said I was going to …”


Rule 4: When splitting dialogue around a speaker tag, only capitalize new sentences.

Ex. “Tell me,” he said, “that you know the answer.”

Ex. “You want some?” Kai asked, holding out a small tin. “It’s candy.”


Rule 5: New speaker, new paragraph.

Every time that a different individual begins speaking, you must make a new paragraph.

Ex. “I don’t want to go,” she said, complaining.

      “Why?” Mark asked.

      “Because, it is boring,” she explained.


Rule 5: You don’t always need a speaker tag.

You don’t always need a speaker tag, especially in a back and forth conversation. But if there is a new speaker interrupting them, they need to be identified.

Ex. “Did you go to the store?” Jae asked.

       “I went yesterday,” Mai answered.

        “What did you get?”

        “Orange juice.”

        “Wait! You only got orange juice?” Matt asked, confused.


Rule 6: If it is unclear who is talking, use their name.

It is all well and good to use “he said” and “she said” but it can get confusing, especially if two individuals of the same gender are speaking. The reader needs to know who is saying what. When in doubt, use their names (I find this rule applies to pronoun use in general).


Rule 7: You can break it up.

If your dialogue gets too long it is okay to make a new paragraph without ending the quote. To do so, don’t put a closing quotation mark, but do put an opening one.

Ex. “I went to the store the other day and bought cheese.

       “It wasn’t the first time that I have been to the store.”


Rule 7: You can front the speaker tag.

The speaker tag can come before the dialogue, just make sure to use a comma.

Ex. She said, “I want to go along.”


Rule 8: You can use a colon.

If the introduction or the quotation is an independent clause, you can use a colon instead of a comma.

Ex. She gave him some good advice: “Read the instructions first.”


Rule 9: You can quote someone else inside of quotation marks.

If you are having one character convey what another character has said, there are a few ways to do this. First, you can have the speaker paraphrase the statement. This method often uses the word “that” as a marker.

Ex. “She said that we should just go.”

Another place this exists frequently is when someone is questioning what someone has said, since they aren’t sure what has been said exactly.

Ex. “She told us to go, right?”

The other way is to have a quote within a quote. In this method, the inner quote should use single quotation marks. The punctuation goes inside both sets.

Ex. “She said, ‘Just go.’”




Rules for Non-Fiction Citation:


Rule 1: No speaker tag, no comma.

You don’t always need a speaker tag for quotations. Sometimes you can just insert the quotation into the paragraph. In these situation, you don’t need a comma.

Ex. Kondō married a woman named Otsuné, who was “endowed with measures of propriety and pluck more prevalent in the daughter of a samurai than in a woman of the common classes” (Hillsborough 46).


Rule 2: Punctuation goes outside the quotation mark.

As shown in the example from the previous rule, the period (or comma) is placed outside the quotation marks and after the in-text citation.

The exception to this rule is for question and exclamation marks that are present within the cited quotation, and block quotes. For the first exception, put the punctuation used inside the quote and then proceed with everything else.

Ex. “Wouldn’t you agree?” (56), the author asks us.

For block quotes, you don’t need quotation marks at all and the punctuation goes before the in-text citation. A block quote should follow a colon.

Ex. In Sonnet 19, Milton writes:

When I consider how my light is spent,

   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

   And that one Talent which is death to hide

   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present … (1-5)


Rule 3: More than four lines of text should be in a block quote.

This includes poetry or such similarly formatted pieces, like song lyrics. See above rule for an example of a block quote.


Rule 4: Use slashes for verse divisions.

In works like poetry, lyrics, and plays which contain line divisions, use forward slashes to indicate a break if not using a block quote.

Ex. What is a man, / If his chief good and market of his time / Be but to sleep and feed" (4.4.33-5), asks Hamlet.


Rule 5: How to edit the text.

If you need to alter the text you are citing or clarify something, there are ways to do this.

If there is a spelling or grammar error in the text you are citing, add the word “sic” in parenthesis next to the word in question.

Ex. “I wert (sic) there” (57), he wrote in his journal.

If you are omitting a word or phrase, use a spaced-out ellipsis of 3 dots. This should come after the period, if the break is after a full and completed sentence, resulting in there being 4 dots.

Ex. “He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept. . . telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. . . . Harry woke, sweating” (97).

For omitting one or more full lines of poetry from a block quote, space out several periods to fill the length of a line.

Ex. These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration . . . (22-24, 28-30)

If you are changing a word or phrase, be it to match tense or for clarity, demarcate the changed section in brackets.

Ex. “Mark wrote frequently about [his follow classmates] in his autobiography” (67), explains the author.



For those looking for more information on in-text citation, I find the Owl at Perdue to be an extremely helpful source. Especially since I have only given examples here for MLA format.



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Why Fanfiction Should Be Taken Seriously as a Medium

Why Fanfiction Should Be Taken Seriously as a Medium


There has been a lot of debate over whether or not fanfiction, also known as derivative fiction, is “real” writing. Some argue that, since it often borrows heavily on its source material, it is cheating or lazy writing. Additionally, since it is often based in fiction which is copyrighted, it can rarely be published unless it is for free, frequently with a disclaimer that the characters are the intellectual property of another. But, regardless, I posit that these restraints should not affect fanfiction’s classification as “real” literature, nor should it detract from the quality of the writing presented.


Fanfiction is Good:

No, really. I have read fanfiction that I would rank among some of my favorite literature. These are full-fledged novel-length stories with subplots, complex character development, and excellent writing. These stories make you think, make you question, make you wonder. These are the stories that I have read over and over again, that I pull out on a rainy day, and that I can’t stop thinking about weeks after I have read them.

Is every fanfiction a gem? No. But neither is every novel. Remember that the majority of fanfiction is published without the aid of a professional editor to help polish the work. Despite this, the quality of writing is frequently very high. And they are free!


Fanfiction is Useful:

Fanfiction is a good medium in which to practice your writing skills. There is an old adage that says, to be a writer, a person need write every day. Well, fanfiction is a great way to do this.

In many ways, it is easier to slip into a universe that you know and to write for characters that you are already familiar with. Here you can practice dialogue, conflict, subplots, descriptions, or anything you wish without having to start entirely from scratch every time. 

On the other hand, in many ways it is actually harder to try to enter into someone else’s universe. The way the characters act and interact, as well as, the physical setting have already been set. You suddenly have to try to write in character for characters that aren’t technically yours. And, unless you want to slap a “OOC: Out of Character” warning on your fic, you have to do some serious ground work and long term, plot-driven character development to justify why your version of these characters aren’t acting the way they are expected to. And, if you don’t, readers will call you out on it.

Which leads me to my next reason why fanfiction is good practice for writers; it is a great way to expose your writing to critique (both positive and negative). Because there is likely already a fan base for the franchise you are writing for, there is already an audience waiting to read you work. The typical fanfiction can easily get 100-1000 hits in a few months on sites like Archive of Our Own and And, a large number of these readers will leave a comment on the work.

Using my own work as an example, my most read fic has 10,051 hits and it has 78 comments as of today.  With a little rounding and reducing, that is roughly 1 review for every 125 hits which is about 0.8%. That is actually a really great ratio for getting free feedback on your work. How many readers of the typical novel go out of their way to leave a review of it on a site like Goodreads? Probably not that many.

These readers care about these franchises and will tell you, no holds barred, what they liked and didn’t like about your writing. It is a good way to learn how to deal with negative criticism, to learn what may need to be improved in your writing, and to learn what you are already doing well.


Fanfiction is Being Published:

The argument that literature has to be published to be “real” is a ridiculous one for many reasons. Regardless, there are a lot of way to get fanfiction publish in a more “official” way than just posted online. The first way is to simply change the character names and other copyrighted material. Often fanfictions only use characters and locations for the framework of the story the author wants to tell. There is even a category of fanfictions known as AUs (Alternate Universe fics) which don’t even take place in the local set up by the original material. Change the names, and the writing becomes virtually unrecognizable as a derivative and ready to be published as its own work. A popular published work of fanfiction is Go Your Own Way by Zane Riley which was published on Interlude Press. It started as fanfiction for the popular TV show, Glee, and has gained a following in both its fanfiction form and published form. For a more mainstream example, consider Fifty Shades of Gray which began life as Twilight fanfiction.

Another example of published derivative fiction is parody. There are tons of Twilight parodies out there, like Nightlight. These too, are often required to change the names of the characters, but these parodies don’t deviate that much from their source material. They want you to know what they are mocking. 

Official fan works are another type of published derivative fiction. It is rare, but sometimes fans will be hired on as official writers for a franchise to generate content. Star Wars and Doctor Who are two that pop to mind. There are a handful of books, TV show spin offs, radio shows, comics, and more for these shows which are not technically a part of the main canon material. Just because they were made official doesn’t mean they started out that way. Often, these content creators began as fans creating stories about an intellectual property which they enjoyed.

Lastly, there is a lot of already published fanfiction out there. Anything that is a derivative work of an intellectual property which has outlived its copyright can be published. For example, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Peter and the Star Catchers (it should be noted that Peter Pan’s copyright still holds in the UK). Or, how about the popular TV show Sherlock?


Fanfiction isn’t Harming the Author:

There has been a lot of drama in the past years about authors attempting to sue fanfiction authors for defamation of their intellectual property. And let me say this flat out, I hope this trend dies off. I think that too often people forget that fanfiction is written by the fans of a franchise because they genuinely love the franchise. Fanfiction, and other derivative works like fan art, are a labor of love. For an author to hear that their work is so loved by a fan that it inspired them to start writing (especially a young fan who may be just starting to consider the idea of being an author) and to turn around a sue them for defamation is insulting to their audience. It can also be devastating to that individual, discouraging them from writing all together. Thus, not only has the author lost a fan, but the world may have lost a potential author. Authors and artists should be encouraging each other to be creative, to mess around, and to have fun while they practice, not tearing down a fan because they want to write about how Spock and Kirk are in love. This brings me to my last point.


Fanfiction is Important:

A lot of the backlash against fanfiction is because of something called slash fiction. The slash refers to a pairing of a couple separated with a slash in the typical notation (e.g. Spock/Kirk) and is more frequently used to describe a pairing which is homosexual in nature. As these pairs are typically non-canon, they are more likely to exist only in fanfiction. Why is there a backlash against this? Homophobia most likely. The idea of “changing” a character’s sexuality to pair them in a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex is offensive to some, either because they don’t like the idea of the character being non-straight or because they don’t like the idea of changing a canon trait of a character. The problem is, characters are typically assumed to be heterosexual unless specifically stated as otherwise. The fans which are writing slash fiction argue that just because a character is shown flirting with a female doesn’t mean that they aren’t into guys too. Bisexuality exists.

This is why fanfiction is important. It is a chance for representation. An individual experiences a character in media and they interpret them in a certain way, whether or not it was the way the author intended, and then they write fanfiction using this interpretation. This interpretation may be as a member of the LGTBQIA+ community, or as autistic, or as someone who is struggling with depression or PTSD. Fanfiction is a place for these personal interpretations to flourish so that others may find them. This allows a person who is confused about their sexuality or their mental health can find comfort in the idea that their favorite character from their favorite book or TV show may be the same as them.


Lately there has been a small surge of canon non-heterosexual relationships in mainstream media (outside of the sitcom genre) such as the lesbian pair Clarke/Lexa from The 100 and Magnus/Alec from Shadow Hunters, but this is still a relatively small portion of relationships (especially since they killed off Lexa). With so little representation for these types of characters out in the public, fanfiction is a space to explore these connections and to find like-minded people who just think that the two main male characters of the show happen to have more chemistry than the canon heterosexual romantic couple. And that is great. 

BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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A Look At Alternate Writing Applications

Sometimes writing your novel takes a little more than a pen and paper or a blank word document. Luckily, there are many, many applications to help you get to the finish line. 


Organizational Apps:

There are other places to write than Microsoft word or Google docs. One of these options is Scrivener. Scrivener is a complete writing studio for research, organization, writing, editing, and more. It features a digital corkboard for organizing your notes by dragging and dropping index cards, a split screen mode for multi-taskers, and the ability to export your work to another processor or website for final formatting. Scrivener also gives the user access to templates for screenplays, non-fiction and fiction manuscripts, and ebooks.

Two other options, which are similar, are Q10 and Ulysses. Both offer personable writing environments and contain features like spellcheckers and statistic tracking. They also feature the option of typewriter sounds.  

For a simpler version, consider Hemingway. This site will keep track of things like your usage of adverbs and passive voice. It will also let you know your readability score and let you know if there are any phrases which are difficult to read. This application is also great for editing finished works by simply pasting them in.

Another application to consider for editing is ProWritingAid. This will double check for grammar mistakes, over used words, and clichés. It will also help to check for accidental plagiarism and look over your style and transitions. It can even help with alliteration.


Atmospheric Apps:

One of my favorite applications is Omnwriter. This application lets you pick your choice of calming background, ambient sounds, and color palettes as you write. It is beautiful to look at and leaves you feeling peaceful. My favorite feature is the rhythmic sounds attached to each letter you type. This application is most effective with the use of earphones/earbuds. You can save your work as a text document or Word document, as well as export it to PDF or email.



If you are looking to set a mood through the use of sound, there are many websites that provide ambient sounds. Asoftmurmur and Soundrown both allow the user to pick between a multitude of different ambient noises like rain, fire, and crickets. Rainymood has a website address, but also a phone application with more complex features is available for purchase. There is also a slew of similar phone apps available for free.

There are also full playlists of ambient sounds and soft background music available on Spotify. If you don’t want to shell out for Spotify Premium, you can use the advertisements as short breaks in between writing spurts.


Distraction Blocking Apps:

If you are writing on your personal computer, other tabs can be very detrimental to your focus. For those, like myself, who don’t have the self-discipline to stay off Facebook, there are quite a few applications that will force you to stay focused.

A good option is Cold Turkey. Cold Turkey can block you out of any websites you tell it to, or all websites except for the few you allow. It can even block you out of your whole computer if you want to remind yourself to get some fresh air or go read a book. You can schedule the times you want it to be active and it will keep track of your time. It also provides motivational quotes.

Another, perhaps slightly more intense, option is FocusMe. Similar to Cold Turkey, FocusMe will block websites and desktop applications, while allowing you to whitelist those you need. There is also the option to utilize the popular time management technique, the Pomodoro Technique. This application is serious about its job and cannot be circumvented by restarting your computer. You will be locked out until the time period of blocking has finished. You can even set FocusMe to protect itself from being uninstalled. Better be careful when you are setting your time limit.   

For Mac OS only, there is a similar application called SelfControl. This one, too, will not be swayed from its purpose if you restart or even delete the application. The skull on the logo is certainly ominous.    



For those who use Google Chrome there are many Chrome extensions which will provide a similar service. One of my favorites is StayFocused. Also, in most browsers it is possible to mute open tabs so that they can’t play alert sounds.


Word Count Encouraging Apps:


Sometimes you need a little push to get you to sit down and put some words on the page. Here are some of the applications I have come across that will encourage you to type, or else!

Write or Die is designed to either reward or punish, depending on if you are meeting your word count goals. There are a lot of different settings for this application and most have to do with a pairing of sounds and visuals. If you are writing quickly and reaching your goal then you are rewarded with positive calming sound and images like kittens purring and the ocean. You can even set a custom reward image so your reward can be your current celebrity crush. However, if you aren’t reaching your word count goal, you are punished by the screen turning a sickening red and filling with things like spiders, crying babies, and alarm bells. There is even an option called Kamikaze mode, which will start deleting your writing until you pick up the pace (yikes!).



A much more friendly word count based application is Written? Kitten! which will generate a picture of a kitten or similar animal for every 100 words written, because who doesn’t love small fluffy animals?

Another option is Fighter’s Block. This application is similar to an RPG styled flash game. You have to reach your chosen word count before your health bar drops to zero. When you win a round, you gain experience points and can eventually upgrade your fighter.



If none of these applications catch your eye, there are plenty more out there. Just ask around and do some searching until you find the one that works for you. 


BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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What's the Deal with Show Don't Tell


It’s a phrase you’ve heard before: “Show don’t tell”. In fact, you’ve probably heard it so many times that it has started to lose all meaning. You repeat the phrase in your head and try to apply it to your writing. You stare at the sentence you’ve just written in a numb state of confusion. Are you telling too much? Are you showing enough? Have you forgotten this golden standard? Did you ever really understand it in the first place?

We’ve all been there. There are many times when I’ve found myself questioning just how important it is to follow the rule of show don’t tell. And what even the difference is been showing and telling in writing to in the first place.

As far as I can tell, the rule of show don’t tell can be applied in two main ways: exposition and emotion.

For exposition, it is best to try to avoid info dumps. Try to integrate this into the story in a meaningful way instead. So, for example, if you find you have to explain the history of a fictional war, rather than simply listing what has happened so far, try to connect it to the plot that is naturally occurring as a part of your narrative. Maybe your character is on the run because they signed up with the rebellion. Make it personal and try to spread out the backstory through a longer period of action so the reader doesn’t get bored with a wall of text. Or, consider having the characters in the story discover the backstory along with the reader.

Perhaps things to avoid are characters who are introduced just to asked questions that the reader might have or characters who go on long monologues in which they tell their entire life story.

However, there are always exceptions to every rule and nearly the entire second scene of my favorite Shakespearean play, The Tempest, is character given exposition. The important thing is to ask yourself, am I boring or confusing my readers? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t beat yourself up over not adhering strictly to this rule.

The application of the show don’t tell rule for emotion in writing is a little bit more subtle. It has to do with not always straight out saying how a character is feeling, but instead, conveying it through description and actions. For example, rather than saying a character is upset, consider commenting on why they seem upset: they shuffle their feet or look at the floor, or how they close off their body protectively. These descriptions are more specific and concrete. Tangible actions are often more likely to resonate with the reader than abstract concepts like “upset”.

However, once again, there are always exceptions to this. Unless your character has a nervous habit of chewing their fingernails, you probably shouldn’t use this as a sign of nervousness every single time you want to convey that your character is nervous. It is okay to just say that they felt nervous. In fact, often, I find that you can both show and tell in the same sentence. For example: “She crumpled her napkin in her hand and looked about nervously.” The word “nervously” in this example is telling, while the rest is showing.

The best thing to do when it comes to the rule of show don’t tell is to not obsess over it, but to consider it more a helpful guideline.

It doesn’t hurt to consider it when writing because, in many cases, it can help you to fine tune your writing to the best version of itself. But, don’t force it just for the sake of following some kind of community imposed rule.

Still confused? Don’t worry. So is everyone else. Here are some more people talking about show don’t tell:


 BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.



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Ghostwriting: Not As Scary As It Sounds



Ghostwriters aren’t as scary or mysterious as their name makes them seem. Ghostwriters are hired to help with the production of a novel, articles, social media posts, or other pieces of writing. This can mean a few things:

        1.   The ghostwriter has been hired to take someone else’s ideas and write the work for them.

        2.   The ghostwriter has been hired to make significant changes to a rough draft beyond the level of a typical editor.

        3.   The ghostwriter has been hired by a company to produce a form letter, website, or similar piece.

        4.   The ghostwriter has been hired to write and publish their own ideas that will have someone else’s name on the work.

Ghostwriters are frequently hired to write the biographies of celebrities who do not have the ability to write their own work, be it due to skill level or time constraints. Due to the fact that their name is not credited as the author for their work, it is rare that a published work’s ghostwriter becomes known to the public. Additionally, often groups of ghostwriters work on one piece or one author’s collective work.

Some famous authors such as, Alexandre Dumas, Ian Fleming, R.L. Stine, Tom Clancy, L.J. Smith, Steven Spielberg, and many others, use ghostwriters. And many more are rumored to use or have used them, like Shakespeare and Stephen King. Sometimes, famous authors even do the ghostwriting themselves. For example, HP Lovecraft, author of Cthulhu, was a ghostwriter for magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.


If you want to be a ghostwriter:

There are a lot of ways to be a ghostwriter. One way is to be hired by an agency that specializes in ghostwriters, such as Arbor Services or Gotham Ghostwriters. There may also be a spot for you within a larger agency or publishing company. These companies will help to connect you to writers.

If you are looking to freelance ghostwrite, there are some sites where you can advertise yourself like Freelancer and Craigslist.

You can also seek out individuals who may be looking for ghostwriters in places like writer’s groups, Twitter and Facebook, and other social forums.


Pros and Cons:


·         You get experience in the field.

·         You get a chance to make connections in the field.

·         You get to know the “author” of the work really well. If they are famous they could be valuable!

·         You get paid for your work. Yay money!



·         It is easy to be taken advantage of, make sure you do your research on common prices for ghostwriting, which can vary widely. Consider asking for a royalty.

·         Despite it being your work, the “author” gets the final say on edits. Doesn’t seem fair, right?

·         You may get a small mention or you may get none. You won’t get credit for your work.

·         You will likely have to sign a nondisclosure agreement.


If you want to hire a ghostwriter:

There are a lot of reasons why you may wish to hire a ghostwriter, and needing to hire one is not something to be ashamed of. Lots of people use ghostwriters. If you want to find a ghostwriter, try some of the same links mentioned above for places that hire ghostwriters or advertise their services.

You could also see if you can find a literary agency or publisher that offers ghostwriting services or can connect you with a ghostwriter. You can put out your own ad on Facebook or Craigslist asking for a ghostwriter.  You can also just do a Google search to yield results.


Pros and Cons:


·         Great for a busy individual who has an idea they want to get out but no time to do it.

·         The ghostwriter is being paid to produce quality work, so you can trust that the writing will be good.

·         Ultimately, you get the final say on the drafts.



·         Ghostwriters can be expensive. If either you or your ghostwriter are high profile the price can be near to $200,000 a book.

·         You won’t get the experience of writing yourself nor learn how to for the future.

·         If you don’t credit your ghostwriter to begin with, and it comes out later that you used one, you can lose credibility with your audience. They can feel as though they have been lied to.



The use of a ghostwriter creates a strange partnership, one that is different for every author and writer. The culture around ghostwriters is always changing too, sometimes kept in the dark behind closed doors like a dirty secret, other times accepted wholeheartedly and given the credit due. Ultimately the connection between the two is a business partnership and, as such, ought to be treated fairly and honestly. Both parties should know what the other expects from them so no one gets cheated. 



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.


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Deciding on an Editor

So you’ve finished your manuscript, you’ve written and rewritten, you’ve had beta readers test it, you’ve made every member of your family read it, and then you’ve rewritten it some more, what is the next step? A next step would be to consider looking for a good editor.


Before you begin your search, you need to decide what type of editor you need. There are two basic types of editors: Developmental and Copy. 

Developmental editors provide a more thorough examination of your manuscript. Their edits range from word choice and phrasing to major plot holes. These are the heavy edits that can lead to a major rewrite. These editors will, hopefully, have both your intended goals and audience in mind as well as professional standards and industry expectations. Since there is a chance that the manuscript will go through an overhaul after this editing session, it would make more sense to make use of a developmental editor before turning to a copy editor.

Copy editors are there to polish your piece. They will help with sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation and all those important nit-picky rules that readers care about. Grammar is hard! But luckily Copy Editors are there to help! They will also help you with some of the crucial details that lead to clarity in your writing like transitions, subject-verb agreement, slang and vernacular language, accuracy of references and footnotes, and errors in continuity, just to name a few. Additionally, they will make sure that your manuscript is formatted correctly (including those tricky running headers). It is those tasks that make a copy editor different from a proof reader, who will stick strictly to grammar and spelling.


Try an editor finding service:

There are a lot of services out there dedicated to matching editors to authors. Most of them are paid services, but this option may be worth the cost. They are often tied to reputable editors, agencies, publishers, and companies.

Here is a list of just a few that I found:


Try one of these lists of resources and editors:



Ask around. Pick the minds of other authors you know or join a writers group online and ask them where they found their editors. Read the bios and interviews of your favorite authors and see who their editor was and if you can find out how they were connected to them. You can even ask on twitter; there are a lot of authors and editors on Twitter.


Try googling:

No seriously! Never underestimate the power of google, but don’t just choose the first result the search engine spits out. Make sure to check reviews and make sure you have all the information you need before you decide that an editor is for you.



Pricing is really individualized per editor or editing service. Some editors charge a few cents per word, or a few dollars per thousand words, others by page count or by the hour. Some editors will offer to edit a few free pages so that you can get a feel for their services, but don't expect or rely on this, especially from busy or high-demand editors. Many of the editing services offer an individualized quote per project. As with all industry, the more prestigious the editor or editing service, the pricier it will be. You just have to decide whether that is worth it for you or not. The price may be an indication that the editor is in fact top notch, but you may find that a more reasonably priced editor just perfect for you.


You should also look and see what genres a potential editor is comfortable working in and see if you can find out which authors they have worked with in the past. The most important thing is choosing an editor who will give your manuscript their full effort and make sure it comes out as the best version of itself. 



BookHive Corp. does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.

$699  for 8-10 beta readers, $1,099 for 16-18 beta readers.

The results are a 35+ page report full of quantitative and qualitative feedback. 



Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.

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