How does this site work?
This site exists to support my Storyworld Shorts YouTube videos and to host the podcast versions. You can see all the videos or listen to the podcast episodes by scrolling through the blog posts.
Do I have to start from the beginning?
Nope! You can click around or scroll to the bottom of the website and use the categories or search box to look for specific topics. If you want to watch or listen from the beginning, click on “Archives” in the menu. Another way to listen to the podcast in order is to look it up on iTunes, where it should be listed with Episode 1 first.
Do I need permission to use these videos in my classroom or writing event?
Permission granted! I created this website and the videos for everyone to learn. Please feel free to use them wherever you have need.
Is the podcast different from the videos?
Not really. The only differences is that I read out each episode title, and I also read next week's episode title at the end of each podcast. And if I am doing something zany and silent on camera, you can't see that on the podcast, so I'll either replace it with a different example or skip over it. The information will always be the same, though.
Can I ask you a writing question?
Of course! Click on "Contact Jill" in the menu to email me. And if you want to ask a question to be answered in a video, be sure and click the button for “Q&A Live.”
Do you do freelance editing?
I do not at this time do freelance editing, but I do have a list of recommendations. Back before I was published, I paid for freelance editing on my book, The New Recruit from Rebecca LuElla Miller. She is an excellent freelance editor, and worth every cent! Click here to see Becky's editing blog.
Here is a list of freelance editors I recommend.
- Rebecca LuElla Miller
- Lindsay Franklin
- Rachelle Rea Cobb
- Nadine Brandes
- Aaron D. Gansky
- Lissa Halls Johnson
- Pam Halter
- Susan May Warren
- The Fiction Fix-It Shop, Meredith Efken
- Alexandria K. Mintah
Where can I find your free writing worksheets for download?
Right here. For you visual learners, here are some writing tools to help you brainstorm.
COMING UP WITH AN IDEA
Speculative Fiction Sub-Genres
Novel Brainstorming Chart
Examples of Premise- Combine Two Unrelated Things
Examples of Premise- The “What if?” Question
Examples of Characters (and their motivations)
Examples of Plot
Examples of Theme
Short Story Plotting Chart
Where can I find your sample query letters and book proposals?
I’m a visual learner. I could read about something for a week and still be confused. Show me what it looks like, however, and BAM! I get it.
In case some of you might be that way, too, here is a handful of examples of things that have to do with the publishing industry. You’ve got to learn how to do this stuff if you want to succeed.
Note: Manuscript format is always 1” margins all the way around, double spaced, aligned left—do not justify your text. Only in a query letter, cover letter, or synopsis do you get to single space your writing. Click on the actual articles to see an example of how to format your manuscript.
-Sample NonFiction Query Letter
-Cover letter for a magazine article (sold to Brio & Beyond in 2006)
-Same cover letter for a magazine article, formatted for email
-Actual magazine article that sold to Brio & Beyond
-Final layout of article in Brio & Beyond (My first published article!)
One Sheets for Novels
-One Sheet for YA novel The New Recruit
-Trilogy one Sheet for what became Replication: The Jason Experiment (sold to Zonderkidz in 2010)
-Works Cited page to accompany non fiction submission
What writing books do you recommend?
Here is a list of writing books that have taught me some amazing things about writing fiction. (Or books I've written to help others.) You can check many of them out at your local library or click on the cover to see them on Amazon.com..
Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy
No one person has given me more "Ah ha!" moments as I learned to write fiction than Randy Ingermanson. I took his Fiction 101 and Fiction 201 audio courses and learned so much. Now he has taken most of that wisdom and put it in this book. If you are a begining writer and can only afford one book, start with this one.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
This book was the one I felt taught me the most about how to rewrite my first draft. I found it early on in my writing journey and learned a lot from it. Chapter titles include:
Show and Tell
Characterization and Exposition
Point of View
The authors do an excellent job of explaining what you might be doing wrong, and they give great examples of how to fix it.
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
Novelist, editor, and teacher, Sol Stein, offers a book filled with wisdom. He starts out by explaining that what a writer's job is all about. Then he heads right into a chapter on first sentences and paragraphs. This book covers everything and it's easy to read and apply. He covers fiction and nonfiction, so I devoured the fiction section and skimmed the nonfiction section. But there is some great advice in the nonfiction section that is good for a fiction writer to know.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
We all dream of writing a bestseller. A novel that will live on the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks, months, and maybe even years. Maass explains the elements that all breakout novels share and shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that has a good chance of succeeding in a crowded marketplace. They'll learn to: - Create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place - Develop larger-than-life characters - Sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish - Weave sub-plots into the main action - Explore universal themes that will interest a large audience.
On Writing by Stephen King
Speaking of bestselling authors, here is writing advice from one of the masters. Stephen King's On Writing is a combination autobiography and writing lessons for aspiring novelists. I loved hearing about the nail on the wall where he would hang rejection after rejection as a kid. I loved discovering that even Stephen King was insecure about his writing. His story is one that authors will relate to coming from a man who's been there. Reading this book was like I got to sit down with the best writing mentor and glean wisdom from his life. I'm so glad he write this book.
Storyworld First by Jill Williamson
This is a book for those of you creating a unique storyworld of your own. The question I hear most from beginners about building a fantasy storyworld is, “Where do I start?” Whether you're starting from scratch or are looking to add depth to a finished story, Storyworld First will get you thinking..
Medieval Swordsmanship by John Clements.
This is a great book if you are writing medieval fight scenes. It teaches you to use a medieval short sword and shield, and a medieval long sword—not a rapier, which is a later Renaissance weapon.
And for grammar and punctuation, I recommend:
The Chicago Manual of Style
This is the book that the publishing industry uses for fiction novels. This is a book of punctuation and grammar rules. Need to know if the question mark goes before or after the quotes? What's an em dash, anyway? And do you capitalize mom and dad or not? This book--at over 1000 pages--will give you all the answers. It's been an invaluable took for me..
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
If you're wanting a reference guide for writing that isn't over 1000 pages, this is a great one to have handy. It's only a little over 100 pages, and is filled with the most common topics of language style and usage.
Also, if you've written your first draft and don't know what to do next, consider taking a look at the book I co-wrote with my blogging partner Stephanie Morrill. Click here to see the entire Table of Contents and read the first chapter on Amazon.com.
Every writer’s journey is different, yet as we've reflected on our experiences and those of the writers around us, we've seen time and time again that those who are successful are the ones who had the patience and endurance to stick with this writing thing. They didn't look for shortcuts (at least, not for long), nor did they quit after five, ten, or one hundred rejections.
We can’t make the process easy for you, but it’s our hope that this book will be a tool you can turn to time and time again when you’re thinking, “Okay … what’s next?”
Includes tips for:
-Finding the right agent
-Weaving in theme
-Dealing with people who don't get your writing
What other writing blogs do you recommend?
Go Teen Writers - This is the blog I contribute to along with authors Stephanie Morrill and Shannon Dittemore. We blog for teen writers. We offer contests. We have lots of giveaways. We have a lot of fun. Come check us out.
Helping Writers Become Authors - Author K. M. Weiland has written hundreds of blog how-to blog posts and several writing books, all with the goal of helping writers learn how to write strong novels.
Jane Friedman - Jane is a former publisher with more than fifteen years experience. She is a wealth of information on the publishing industry.
The Steve Laube Agency - Steve Laube and his co-agents take turns blogging about anything and everything related to the publishing industry. This is a great place for new writers to learn from the mouths of literary agents.
Rachelle Gardner - This is another blog of a literary agent. Rachelle gives publishing advice based on her many years in the publishing industry. Lots of wisdom here.
Writing Excuses - This is a podcast from speculative fiction writers Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. They talk about writing and have been doing so for ten years. You could start at the beginning and learn tons.
Goins Writer – This is the blog of Jeff Goins, where he talks about writing and marketing.
Grammar Girl - If you ever have a grammar pr punctuation question, this is where you go for answers.
National Novel Writing Month - A fun place to learn to write fast. Every November participants attempt to write a novel in one month.
And you can always check out Writer's Digest's back issues. Each year them put out a 101 Best Websites for Writers list.
What writing conferences do you recommend?
There are all kinds of writers conferences. Google is the best way of finding them. Be sure to look for conferences that are right for your book. Don’t sign up for the Romance Writers of America conference if you’re writing a middle grade historical novel.
If you’ve never been to a writers conference, pick a small, local one for your first time, even if the right editors or agents won’t be attending. You’ll learn a lot. But if you’re ready to pitch your book, look for conferences that have the right editors and agents there. The conference website will list the editors and agents under faculty and staff. You can often find small conference by Googling the name of your city or state and the words "writers conference."
You can also look for writing organizations that you’re part of to see if they’re having a conference. Organizations like RWA (Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) have their own conferences and so do many other organizations.
About Professional Organizations
A great way to meet other writers is to join a professional organization for writers. There are hundreds, and you don’t have to join them all. I’m a member of three: two national and one state. Here’s a short list of national organizations that I recommend, but be sure and look for ones in your state as well, since that will help you find other writers that live near you.
Academy of American Poets: www.poets.org
American Christian Fiction Writers: www.acfw.com
American Crime Writers League: www.acwl.org
American Society of Journalists and Authors: http://asja.org
Association of Christian Writers in the UK: www.christianwriters.org.uk
Australian Society of Authors: www.asauthors.org
The Author's Guild: https://www.authorsguild.org
British Crime Writers’ Association: www.thecwa.co.uk
Canadian Authors Association: www.canauthors.org
Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers: www.canscaip.org
Christian Writers Guild: www.christianwritersguild.com
Crime Writers of Canada: www.crimewriterscanada.com
Fellowship of Australian Writers: www.writers.asn.au
Fiction Writers Connection: www.fictionwriters.com
Historical Novel Society: historicalnovelsociety.org
Horror Writers Association: www.horror.org
Military Writers Society of America: www.mwsadispatches.com
Mystery Writers of America: www.mysterywriters.org
Poets & Writers: www.pw.org
Poetry Society of America: www.poetrysociety.org
Romance Writers of America: www.rwa.org
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America: www.sfwa.org
Sisters in Crime: www.sistersincrime.org
Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators: www.scbwi.org
Western Writers of America: westernwriters.org
Willamette Writers: http://willamettewriters.org (Near Portland, Oregon)
The Writer's Guild of America: http://www.wga.org