Know Your Genre and Write in Series

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Today I’m posting another entry in my series ‘making life easier as a writer.’  With today’s post, I want to add a proviso: this advice is only if you do really want to make life easier. If you aren’t writing commercial fiction or if you’re really wanting to pursue a one-off book, that’s definitely what you should do.

Genre:  Especially if you’re just starting out (but even if you’re a veteran writer), it’s easiest to write a story that fits perfectly into a particular genre…especially a genre that you’re very well-read in and acquainted with.

For one thing, these stories have certain parameters and reader expectations.  Those help you keep your story on track.  For example, with cozy mysteries, readers are expecting an amateur sleuth, quirky recurring characters,  and a lack of blood, gore, and profanity.  Following a genre’s conventions can help you plan and execute your story.

But that’s not all it does.

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The 2019 Public Library Services Grants Are Here via @LibraryofMich

Planted money

By Karren Reish, Library Grants Coordinator, LM

This third year of the Public Library Services grant program has already been exciting. Ninety-two libraries have received grants to do summer programming related to technology, children or teens, or literacy. We approved more than 90% of the applications received and awarded $153,554 in funding.

The funded programs make for a wide range of creative ideas from libraries throughout the state:

  • At the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, teens can participate in an arts and ecology program on Rabbit Island;
  • Teens and tweens across the state will be able to learn coding with various types of robotics activities;
  • The Southfield Public Library offers a range of space science programming based on the 50thanniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  • Several other virtual-reality programs.

The individual grantees are listed on the Public Library Services section of the Library of Michigan Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) page –

Thank you to everyone who applied, reviewed, and helped us work through this grant program. We look forward to learning what the participating libraries achieve this year. If you have not applied for this grant before, look at the guidelines and consider it for 2020. The 2020 application will be available January 2020. If you have any questions about LM grant programs, please contact Karren Reish at or 517-241-0021.


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#writerslife: Does it Make the Cut? #motownwriters

Does it Make the Cut?

Does it Make the Cut?

When I’m drafting a novel, I tend to over-write during the first round. I have to get everything out on the page, including more detail than my readers probably want or need. Later, I can look at the whole story and improve the pacing, smooth out any awkward writing, and streamline. If this is how you work too, here are some tips on making the process of cutting down your manuscript less painful and more efficient.

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Five Things Public Libraries Should Know About Copyright* via @LibraryofMich


By Clare Membiela, Library Law Consultant, LM

Copyright law has an impact on libraries’ use of social media, digitization, and even the basic provision of library services. Below is a basic introduction to five fundamental concepts of copyright that every library should  know.

5) Copyright Notices

  1. A) Public Copiers, Public Printers (including 3d printers), and Public Computers (including tablets and other devices) should each bear a copyright notice per 17 USC 108(f)(1). An example of this language is found at
  2. B) “notice warning concerning copyright restrictions” signage in areas where Libraries make copies for patrons (including Document delivery and ILL). The following, regulatory notice should be posted in the area where such copies are requested or ordered (see 17 USC 108, and 34 CFR 201.14):

4) “First Sale” doctrine (17 USC 106(3),109) This principle differentiates between ownership a creator has of a “work” and the ownership of a copy of the physical embodiment of the “work.” For example. Stephen King owns the story and characters in his books, but the library owns their copies of individual novels (The “First Sale” doctrine forms the legal basis that enables libraries to purchase items and lend them out, as well as permit the rentals of movies and music).

3) “Fair Use” – as it applied to Public Libraries. See “Fair Use” is the doctrine that  the usage of copyrighted works without permission under certain circumstances.

2) “Educational Fair Use” –  17 USC 110 provides certain exemptions and “Fair Use” purposes for the use of copyrighted works in classroom and educational settings.  However, public libraries are not generally considered “Educational Institutions” for purposes of 12 USC 110.  Public libraries seeking to justify usage of works under 17 USC 110 should confer with their attorneys to ensure that the use is in compliance with  the  Statute. Educational purposes is one of the four factors to be considered when making a “Fair Use” evaluation under 17 USC 107, but it is NOT the only criteria. Just because the use is educational, may not mean it’s OK.

1) Online Images – Beware of taking images and graphics from the Internet for use in library promotion or website/social media. Photographs, images and art are covered by copyright and fines for infringement can be steep. Image publishers crawl the web looking for unauthorized use. “Fair Use” can be difficult to justify with images. Creative Commons or use of a stock image service is your best bet.

Additional resources:

*The research and resources above are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any Copyright issue or problem.

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Writing Rules: Should You Always “Write What You Know”? #motownwriters

How to avoid boring your readers following “what you know” writing rules by E. J. Runyon I just finished reading Anne’s March post about how you don’t always want to follow the rule that advises, ‘Write What You Know’. It made me wonder how many writers understand that it’s only a ‘Writing Rule’ for getting …

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Lawmakers push to require librarians in public schools via @citypulse #michiganreaders #motownwriters #michlit


LANSING, May 11 — Michigan is one of the worst in the nation for library access, ranking 47th for its student-to-school librarian ratio, according to the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest union of teachers and other school personnel. Experts say it’s no coincidence that the state also ranks fifth worst In the nation for literacy.

But that could change under legislation that would require all Michigan public schools to maintain a library and hire a certified.

The three bills — sponsored by Reps. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth; Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Township; and Kristy Pagan, D-Canton — would also require schools to have a supervisor to monitor students in the librarian’s absence. They mirror a package introduced in 2018 that never made it out of the House Education Reform Committee.

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How to get around the “we don’t review self-published books” roadblock

by  •


we don't review self-published books

How many times have you heard that mainstream media outlets don’t review self-published books?

That statement is both true and false.

It’s true that most mainstream media outlets aren’t interested in self-published books that:

  • Don’t meet traditional publishing standards
  • Use an obviously do-it-yourself cover
  • Name a commonly known self-publishing company or anything else that shouts “SELF-PUBLISHED!” on the copyright page

That doesn’t mean you can’t get your self-published book reviewed by the big guys, though. You just have to know what you’re doing, from beginning to end.

Here’s what you need to get around the “we don’t review self-published books” obstacle.

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Michigan Barber School to host reading program to increase literacy among black boys May 4

The Michigan Barber School knows the ability to read is essential to a child’s success today and in the future. So with that in mind on May 4 it will join Barbershop Books to promote literacy in its shop.

Michigan Barber School to host reading program to increase literacy among black boys May 4

Barbershop Books is a community-based program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers across the U.S. The goal is to help black boys ages 4-8 identify as readers by connecting books and reading to a male-centered space, and by involving black men in boys’ early reading experiences.

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10 Reasons Why You Should be Proud to be a Writer

Sometimes I compare my job as a writer to his and I wonder if I’m bringing enough value to the world and helping enough people. Genevieve Parker-Hill The above quote comes from a wonderful post called Write the Book, Save the World.

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2019 Goal: Enhance Your Online Presence by Lauren Ranalli @SCBWIMichigan ‏ #motownwriters #michlit

Don’t panic. It doesn’t have to be hard… and it can actually be very rewarding. As a self-published author, I knew I needed to create my own brand and find an audience for myself. Over the past year I have committed to intentionally enhancing my online presence. And it has REALLY made a difference! If you’re thinking of doing the same, here are the first few steps I took to get started:

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AUTHOR YOUR LIFE by Lara Zielin from The Mitten @SCBWIMichigan ‏#motownwriters #michlit

I first met Ann Arbor author Lara Zielin years ago when she was on a YA author panel at Nicola’s Books. Flash forward a few years and she had three published young adult novels with Penguin Random House and four contemporary romance novels written as Kim Amos. From the outside, she was living the writer’s dream, but behind the scenes she was struggling on a very bumpy path that many writers know all too well. Read on to learn more about how Lara navigated these challenges by “storyifying” her life. She’ll show you how you can do it too.

Writing Myself Into the Hero’s Journey: How approaching my life like a character on an adventure changed everything for the better

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Do You Ever Feel Like You’re Not Making Any Progress … At All?

Being able to say they’ve written a book is, if we’re being honest, what most aspiring writers really want. Which is understandable — the first time I ever finished writing something, I wanted to tell everyone I knew and didn’t know. And I probably did.

It’s not that writers don’t enjoy writing. They often just … don’t want to do the work. Or they do a bunch of work and don’t feel like they’re any closer to meeting their goals.

Writing a book isn’t just about having an idea and saying you’re going to do it. You actually have to take this thing one day at a time until you’ve actually done it. Which is, uh … difficult. But totally possible all the same.


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Scheduling for Writing Success: @ShannaSwendson

productivity, finding time to write

By Shanna Swendson, @ShannaSwendson

Part of The Writer’s Life Series 

JH: Finding time to write is a challenge many writers face–even when writing is their full-time job. Please help me welcome Shanna Swendson to the lecture hall today, to share a tip that helped her optimize her writing life. 

Shanna Swendson earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas but decided it was more fun to make up the people she wrote about and became a novelist. She’s written a number of fantasy novels for teens and adults, including the Enchanted, Inc. series and the Rebel Mechanics series. She devotes her spare time to reading, knitting, and music.

Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Take it away Shanna…

I’ve been on a kick lately of trying to optimize my writing life—improve my productivity, increase creativity, and find a better work/life balance. I’ve been reading books, listening to lectures, looking at what other writers do, and trying the new things I’ve learned. This year, I’ll be sharing some of my discoveries here at Fiction University.

Shanna Swendson
Shanna Swendson

Productivity has been a big emphasis for me because getting more writing done is key to my career goals. I have so many things I want to write, and that means finding the time to write them. I’ve found that scheduling is one of the best ways to find more writing time. This applies whether you’re trying to fit writing around a full-time job or writing full-time. No matter how much available time you have, stuff seems to fill that time, and it’s not always the stuff you want to focus on.

One way that making a schedule can help is by concentrating all your decisions into one session. Studies about willpower have shown that the more decisions you have to make, the lower your willpower.

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Writing: How to Find More Time to Write: @LouiseTondeur @IndieAuthorALLI

Writing: How to Find More Time to Write

headshot of Louise Tondeur, author of "Find Time to Write"

Louise Tondeur helps you find time to write

Wouldn’t all authors benefit from more writing time in their day? Open University Creative Writing tutor and author Louise Tondeur offer top tips to help you manage and expand your writing time, to boost your productivity and personal satisfaction with your writing life.


How to Find Time to Write

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How to Get Moving Again When You Feel Stuck

The post How to Get Moving Again When You Feel Stuck appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 158 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Do you ever feel stuck in your blogging or your business?

I think many of us can relate to feeling paralysed at times – not just with blogging or business, but in other areas of life as well.

You might feel stuck and unable to move forward because:

  • You’re a perfectionist, and can’t move on from one thing until you’re convinced it’s just right.
  • You’re caught up in ‘analysis paralysis’. You keep looking at the different options, but you can’t pick one and move forward.
  • You don’t have a clear idea of where you’re going. And you can’t make progress without knowing your destination.
  • You always feel you need to know or have something more (develop a particular skill or more confidence, meet more people, have more money, etc.) before taking a particular action.
  • You compare yourself with other people. It feels like everything you want to do has already been done, or that everyone else is doing it better.
  • You feel overwhelmed by all the advice out there, and don’t know what to do first.

I can certainly relate to a lot of things on that list. I can get stuck when I have so many ideas that I can’t decide what to do first. Fear is also a big one for me. I worry what other people will think of me, how I’ll sound, how I’ll come across, what might happen if I make a mistake, and so on.

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