writer's digest

There Are No Rules: My Time Writing for Writer's Digest


A few years back I worked for Writer's Digest, serving as an editor in both their book and magazine divisions, and one thing I loved to do was write for their advice blog, “There Are No Rules.” Not that I’m some bestseller rife with literary wisdom, but I always felt we each have our own writing insights, tricks, and habits that are helpful to us and might be helpful to others. Besides, what writer doesn’t like writing about writing from time to time? A lot of my old blog posts are about breaking out of writing slumps, self-editing and revision, how watching Star Wars or Hitchcock’s Rear Window can help your writing, the best books to read during Halloween, advice on self publishing (a bit dated but still useful), and there’s interviews with writers, editors, and much more. Enjoy!

My Top 3: Writer's Digest Books

My Top 3: Writer's Digest Books

During my time as a Writer’s Digest book editor, I had the pleasure of shepherding a tall stack of books into the world, and each taught me valuable lessons about writing (it’s hard not to pick up some cues when you’re neck deep in writing advice night and day), and some were a lot of fun to edit, too. The following books were especially enjoyable, written by talented, fun, whip-smart people who really cared about helping other writers write better (and sometimes just to write). All these books are definitely worth picking up, and that’s coming from a guy who doesn’t even work there anymore, so you know it’s not some PR smoke and mirrors act. Enjoy!

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Writing on the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

I write on trains. A lot. It's not always pretty (shabby interiors, crying kids, cell-phone talkers) but when you get a quiet car, a seat to yourself, and a gorgeous view, you can have a lot of fun. I discuss my tips for making the most of your railway adventures while still trying to work on that novel of yours over at the Writer's Digest website. Take a look, and good luck writing the next time you hop trains cross-country! 

The Five W's (and One H) of Soliciting Feedback for Your Novels, Short Stories, Poetry, and More

My newest advice column at Writer's Digest's blog is now live. It examines the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of soliciting feedback for your novels, stories, poems, etc.

On a related note, I also recently wrote about how writers can become publishers by creating DIY literary anthologies in my interview with author/publisher Bud Smith

For all of my articles at the "There Are No Rules" blog, click HERE. Thanks!

My Roundtable Interview in Writer's Digest

The newest issue of Writer's Digest magazine (March/April 2014) contains my roundtable interview with some of the top literary magazine editors who are making great things happen out there in the writing community, including Dave Housley (Barrelhouse), David Lynn (The Kenyon Review), Emily Nemens (The Southern Review), Todd Simmons (Wolverine Farm Publishing/Matter Journal), and Rob Spillman (Tin House). We discuss what editors are looking for, what will make them reject a submission, common misconceptions about literary magazines, and a lot more. It was fun to write, they're all amazingly dedicated and passionate people, and I can't wait for you to read it! 

6 Writing Lessons From Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window'


It's often said that the book is better than the movie, but sometimes a movie can help you write a book, especially if that movie is directed by cinema legend Alfred Hitchcock! Granted, he was working with some exceptional material, with a dynamite screenplay by John Michael Hayes, based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich - something I forgot to mention in the article I wrote over at the Writer's Digest blog, "There Are No Rules," where I offer six lessons a writer can take away from the classic film Rear Window. Enjoy!

Should I Self-Publish? (A Blog Trilogy)

I recently published a trilogy of blogs at the Writer’s Digest website offering advice on whether or not writers should self-publish (Part One), how to go about doing it if you choose to do so (Part Two), and what to do when you’re done creating your book and you're ready to sell it (Part Three). My general thoughts on whether or not self-publishing is a good idea is YES, you should give it a shot . . . but it does mean a certain amount of responsibility, hard work, and technical skill is needed to do it "right." Hopefully these blogs will help you along the way. 

7 Publishing Tips I Learned at Writer’s Digest Conference East 2013

7 Publishing Tips I Learned at Writer’s Digest Conference East 2013

I recently attended Writer’s Digest Conference East in New York City — my first writing conference in almost five years — and aside from the standard (though invaluable) advice on craft, career, and publishing options for writers, I picked up these seven tidbits of info that I found especially fascinating. You might too, so enjoy!

1. Bookmarks: Every reader needs them. Heck, I have about thirty around my apartment lying in wait and I still take more when I can. So think about creating some with your name and book title on them. They’re easy to make, inexpensive to print, and they can help spread the word about your book, name, website, or twitter handle long after someone has finished your book. It’s a great tip I picked up from Eric DelaBarre (former writer for Law & Order and author of the hit children’s novel Saltwater Taffy).

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