Tag Archives: Writing Toolbox

Toolbox 27: Creating a Writer’s Nest

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


I was reading a book.

Okay, okay. Stop rolling your eyes.

I know we all do that

This book cut to the crux of an issue that I’ve read about, but never incorporated into my writing life.

Inspired from

Soul Between the Lines by Dorothy Randall Gray touched on how to create an inspirational work space.  She has a spiritual approach which isn’t for everyone, but some of her suggestions hit home.


I‘ve heard this before some people take the time to make a playlist to set the mood and mindset for their story. She suggested the music is simple and without lyrics.

I don’t use music often, but I’ve listened to crickets, rain, birdsong, thunderstorms, and crashing waves through YouTube.

It does help me focus.

Aroma therapy

Dorothy loved scented candles and I get that. I prefer a diffuser with essential oils. You may prefer incense, smudging or just an open window.

Hey, whatever works.

Objects that inspire.

I thought long and hard about this. When I worked in an office, almost everyone had pictures of their favorite people, places or things. I loved dragons and had some postcards sitting center stage.

Others had bobble heads or a little collection of McDonald’s toys which made me think of Yondu played by Michael Rooker. His little row of characters on his captain station.

Crazy! Right?

Not one workspace has the same thing. Something to consider. Add whatever touches your heart or awakes your muse.

Meditation or Yoga

We all start cold with a cursor waiting to move along the screen or a page waiting for some ink. Before you attempt to write a word…

Here comes some spiritual stuff.

…take a moment to let your thoughts slide through you. Don’t let any of them take root. Breathe. Stretch. Relax. Feel the energy in the room. Let it fill you up with pure white energy.

Release it through your skin.

Free Writing

First thought. Write it down. Same with the second. Third. The page isn’t so empty…

Now, on to your project.

I’ve read posts like this, so I get it if not all of it is for you.

I related to what Dorothy said. The more comfortable my working environment; the better I did.

The words came and the pages filled up.

How about you. Any other suggestions on building the perfect writing nest?

Toolbox 26: Some Advice on Writing for the Middle Grade Audience

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


The Basics

  • Overall Readership : 8 – 13 years old
  • Approximate Word Count 30,000 – 55,000 words
  • Main Character suggested ages : 9 – 14 years

The audience is broken into two.

Lower Middle Grade

Are aimed the younger readers ranging from 8 to 10 years old.

Upper Middle Grade

The older MG readers aged from 10 to 13 years old.

General Tips

Point of view: first person is the most popular right now.

Like books for all ages, there must be an outstanding first sentence and a hook. Humour is encouraged throughout the work to relieve the inevitable tension. Keep the story moving. Not all of it has to action, action, action. But if there is a quiet scene, best to be in the hero/heroine’s head working out emotions or planning their next move. Stakes are also important and must be made clear and age appropriate.

For example, if the hero sneaks out they will be grounded not shot.


All genres are welcome.


They are the same as young adult, however, when writing a mystery there are specific guidelines to consider:

  • No romance—puppy love and crushes on teacher—are fine
  • Crimes are kid’s size. For example: finding something that’s lost: doll, bike, pet, homework, treasure, parents, catching someone that is tagging and leaving graffiti, damaging property, following someone—a kid—that is sneaking around. Detective snoops around out of pure curiosity, etc.
  • With most children’s books the less the tech the better—it makes the story timeless and it can be discovered by children over and over again.

Things to avoid:

  • Not using a middle grade voice. Wondering what it is? Hang with some 10-13 year old kids.
  • Preaching, teaching or being uppity. Meaning the reader is young and reading for entertainment. Not to be talked down to or taught something.
  • No adults allowed. Meaning they can parent and make dinner, but mostly the kids are living the adventure without parental help.

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 25: Magic Realism

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


I’ve been looking at Magical Realism and how to write it. It is so much deeper than I realized. For me, it all started when I watched Bright. It was full of elves, orcs, fairies, and magic. I thought the movie was an example of Magical Realism, but I was wrong.

Yes there was magic, But Magical Realism is deeper.

Yes, discrimination was at the core of it, but this movie fell in to the fantasy category because there was too many magical elements and little real-world setting.

One definition of Magic Realism

[It] is a style of fiction that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements. It is sometimes called fabulism, in reference to the conventions of fables, myths, and allegory. “Magical realism”, perhaps the most common term, often refers to fiction and literature in particular,[1]:1–5 with magic or the supernatural presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting. It is considered a subgenre of fantasy.

Another definition:

“It’s about the roots of family, it’s about dealing with the history past and what was lost, and it’s a lot more about finding the meaning of history than it is about the elements of the fantastic.”

The essence of Magic Realism:

Magical Realism was originally rooted in Latin America religion, legends and myths. Stories that passed from generation to generation leaving a wonderful sense of family history and the magic of hope. It discussed what couldn’t be openly discussed by an oppressed society. And Mr Gabriel García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his efforts.

If you want to try it, you’ll need a world problem that has existed for generations. Set it in the real world—as horrible as that might be—and add one bit of magic that is your inciting incident. Like the subject of capital punishment in the Green Mile. Or the possible destitution of a family after the breadwinner dies in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I’d like to include Hearts in Atlantis which discusses sexual harassment in the work place, but this one may not land under Magical Realism.

Any thoughts? Please share. I’d love to read them.

Gleaned from:

Toolbox 24: Guest Posts

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


How it works

The most common guest post I’ve come across—and participated in—is the virtual book tour. The post theme is promotion and can be any one of these: Fabulous Five, Top Ten, Giveaways, Interview with Author or Character, Playlist for Writing, or a random blog post on any personal interest or how-to on writing.

But guest posts can be arranged between two like minded sites as well. Where one blogger will post as a guest on a host’s blog. If you’re approached and  don’t know the blogger well, I strongly suggest that you check them out before accepting. Be sure they are reputable and that the post will help reach more of your target audience.

If you’re the Host

To encourage more guests, add a form to your menu. List your expectations, and guidelines. The goal is to expand both readerships, so it’s important to only accept posts that will benefit your readers.

Help your guest if they ask for suggestions on what to post. Many times I’ll offer a list of ideas to get them started. I don’t expect them to choose only from the list. It’s just some ideas to get the gray cells firing.

Also suggest that the guest invite their followers to drop by and read their post—using links and subject matter to encourage a visit.

If you’re the Guest

Always look for red flags before agreeing to post. Visit their site. Do an internet search to discover who they are.

Once your satisfied and you’ve agreed to post, make sure you use your best content

Your niche is your attraction. Ask your host for some ideas on what to write about. If they don’t have any, take a look at other guest posts on their site and use them as a guide. Another choice is to parallel a post with something the host has written.

Respect that your host has a life so give them ample time to post your content. No last minute changes or additions. If it’s not ready a week before, that reflects badly on you. Disrespect burns bridges.

When closing, include a little something about who you are, what your blog is about, and the links to it and your social media. Keep it short. Think business card like the one below:


Elements of Emaginette:

A blog for New Writers

Twitter | WattPad | Amazon




Addition: Don’t forget to drop by and reply to the comments when your guest post goes live. This is where new relationships are built. 😉

If you’d like to reach beyond the bloggers you’re acquainted with, check out:

Links open to guest post applications.

And there is always the horse of a different color:

If you would like to get paid for your content—not that you’ll make much initially—you could try Upwork or another site for freelance writers, however, this would not be a guest post, but a hired job. They’d expect you to know about SEO, keywords and how it all works so your employer’s site shows up in an internet search.

Feel free to add more advice, I admit I only touched on the basics. 🙂

Toolbox 23: Are Playing Video Games and Reading Stories That Different?

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


The short answer IMO is no.

Long answer:

Last week, I was explaining why I found a particular game—Oxygen Not Included—so engaging. There were two main reasons. One, was that the challenges got harder as it progressed. And, two, I was the protagonist.

In both story and gaming, the protagonists confronted challenges and either succeeded or failed.

With each encounter, they would grow and see themselves differently.

I asked myself why time slipped away unnoticed when playing Oxygen Not Included?

Engagement on a grand scale.

I was so focused on my next task. Really, really focused that I thought of nothing else. This included all my personal problems.

If I didn’t know what to do in the game, I’d Google it. Once I succeeded, I’d look at what I accomplished and look for the consequences. If they were beyond repair, I’d start again.

It’s probably cheating.  Don’t care.

Here’s the thing: I may restart the world—they all have numbers—so I could start in the exact same spot.

Yet no two games are the same. When I played (enter number of tries here), my slightly different decisions cascaded into a brand new, never been here before, scenario.

I’ve never restarted frustrated or upset. I restarted because I thought of a new angle that might work better.

How this relates to Stories?

They—don’t ask me who—say all stories have been told already. Yet writers keep writing and readers keep reading.

So what’s the deal?

Now that I’ve played this game, I truly believe if I plotted the same general scenario once and wrote it out ten times, I would have ten completely different stories.

Think trope.

All readers have their own expectations. Some love specific plotlines: the friend to boyfriend trope, enemy to lover trope, retellings of fairy-tales, detective solves a murder and there are a million more.

As you can see I’m still wondering about engagement.

I think I’m getting closer.

Why did I start to play ONI? Because I lost interest in the game I was playing. I finished it and that was that.

But Oxygen Not Included is different.

I’m engaged.

My brain has been firing really, really well since. I feel great. No blues. No looking within and judging myself. I feel like I did before my depression hit. (But who knows if I’m remembering my past correctly. It has been over twenty years since it knocked my socks off.)

My emotional balance has lasted so long I’m wondering if I shed that black hole I called home.

Apparently engagement is not only—uhmm—engaging, it’s healing.

Today I smile. I know this wasn’t much of teaching post, but it is what it is. I hope you found something useful. 🙂

Have another opinion? Please share, all comments are welcome here.