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From the archives: In August 2014, I was interviewed by Michelle Murrain on my views on world building in fantasy for the monthly Broad Universe podcasts.

We discussed the philosophy of world building for fantasy, examples of world building, discussions of settings for stories, and tips and tools for fantasy world-builders everywhere.

Enjoy the interview on world building here:
World Building in Fantasy, a Podcast Interview with Beth Barany - SoundCloud
(1480 secs long, 3 plays)Play in SoundCloud

Be sure to also check out my article on world building. (More novel planning tips here.)

BTW, I’m a proud member of Broad Universe, an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.

A list of more writing organizations here: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/writing-associations/.



Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

She is the award-winning author of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer and the acclaimed paranormal romance author of the Touchstone series. She’s currently at work on a science fiction mystery series.

Also a Master NLP Practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany runs Barany School of Fiction, a full suite of courses designed to help genre fiction writers experience clarity and get writing, so they can revise and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

She’s also the author of books for writers, including Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, cowritten with her husband, thriller writer Ezra Barany.

Connect with Beth via her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone.  Twitter: @Beth_Barany. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethbarany. Instagram: https://instagram.com/bethbarany/

The post World Building in Fantasy, Interview with Beth Barany (Podcast) appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Welcome back to contemporary romance writer, MJ Post, as she talks about “Love and War in a Restaurant: Setting Stories in the Culinary World,” a common setting for stories about food. Enjoy!


Welcome to episode 4 of my series on writing fiction about food! This one is about restaurants as the settings for stories. A restaurant can be the location for all sorts of fascinating conflict. I’ll explain.

Or, rather, I’ll start with what I’m not focused upon, and that is your standard fictional restaurant scene, which features a couple either advancing their relationship (getting to know each other, discussing marriage) or ending their relationship (breaking up tearfully in a public place).

If you watch Hallmark movies — and I watch two or three of them in a single week sometimes — you have gotten used to these scenes. Every other Hallmark movie starts with the heroine meeting her boyfriend for dinner and getting dumped because he has a promotion that forces him to move out of town, or it just isn’t working out because he’s a thoughtless jerk or a spineless coward.

The heroine subsequently winds up sharing a working lunch or dinner or coffee with the hero without yet realizing that they have chemistry (although WE already know that).

So, no, I’m not talking about standard, generic restaurant scenes. Those scenes could actually happen somewhere else, too, like in the street or in a hotel lobby or in the blackened ruins of Notre Dame (SOB!). They are part of the storyteller’s toolbox.

Drama in the Restaurant: The Players 

Instead, my goal is to address how the lives of people in a restaurant can create drama.

Last time around I analyzed the personalities of chefs, so I can recap that here just a little.

Chefs are driven, passionate, sometimes business-minded; they often struggle to have proper family life; and if they feel bad, they screw up. A head chef (executive chef, chef de cuisine), male or female, is a natural protagonist or antagonist for a story.

Your story can follow the chef’s struggles to overcome daily problems; you can also focus on massive ongoing problems like a failed relationship or a threat of business failure or a foolish owner or a need to rediscover herself or himself through food.

Also your story can have as its center someone in a relationship with the chef who is trying to make that tough relationship work.

Alternately, your story can use the head chef as a villain because the head chef mistreats or neglects people or competes unfairly.

A junior chef can fit into a lot of the storylines above, and as a protagonist, can also struggle with the head chef for respect or career advancement or recognition.

A villainous junior chef is trying to derail the success of the heroic head chef, possibly to take over the restaurant or steal its secrets for her future endeavors or for a rival.

Moving on from chefs — really anyone working in the restaurant can be interesting. I recently read a short novel from the point of view of a restaurant’s accountant.

I’ll go with one example: servers. Servers can have their own plot lines, such as work rivalries with other servers; efforts to stop being a server and do something more fulfilling (better culinary jobs, acting, singing, medicine, law, social justice); or romance (good sex, getting married, gold-digging.)

A restaurant is a place where people constantly come and go.

A restaurant is a place where people constantly come and go. Any restaurant patron can turn into a source of drama or romance for someone who works there.

In the movie As Good as It Gets, a crowded city diner is the starting place for the unlikely romance between server Helen Hunt and emotionally awkward writer Jack Nicholson.

(I just accidentally typed As Good as IT Gets. Yeah, IT gets really good, doesn’t it? Maybe I should write a novel about that. Late at night, the IT guy logs in with your password and uses your work account to sell pirated romance novels…)

The Restaurant Scene in The Godfather and What If…

Here’s another example of a story based on people who come into a restaurant. In the famous scene from The Godfather in which Michael rubs out Sollozzo and the police captain in a Bronx bistro, imagine a story focused not on the criminals but on the waiter. Could the story be about how the waiter deals with the situation — how he reacts during the shooting, how he deals with the police, his fear of retribution if he talks, his reluctance to share with loved ones?

Let’s not forget restaurant critics.

A few more examples, you say? No problem. Let’s not forget restaurant critics.

Probably in real life they aren’t as make-or-break as your typical dramatic presentation would have it, but they can help or hurt business a lot, and often they come incognito and without warning.

Other People Associated with the Restaurant

And then there are health inspectors, spies and scouts from competing restaurants, food delivery staff, cleaning staff, the catering crew, designers, decorators, front of house managers, even the occasional celebrity who brings a signed picture for the wall…

And of course, as soon as I send this article along to its venue, I’ll think of more people I should have included.

Other Genres Set in the Restaurant

As you know, good ol’ MJ (that’s me!) is a writer of contemporary romance, but other genres can work in a restaurant also.

Crime drama — restaurant as a front for organized crime, or being squeezed in a protection scheme, or being robbed like in Pulp Fiction.

Thriller — which one of the ten people in this dining room is really the foreign spy?

Adventure — who will escape the rooftop restaurant with the lower floors of the tower on fire?

As always, I encourage you to start a chat with me in social media about this or any other article in my series!

Thanks for reading, and please consider checking out my longer work or connecting with me using the links in my bio below.




MJ Post (pseudonym) is a Brooklyn high school teacher and writer from Queens, NY. Educated in the South with an attitude straight out of Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, MJ writes contemporary new adult romance and romantic comedy with a multi-regional flavor. MJ is happily married.

MJ’s work includes five romance novellas with Mysti Parker, one solo romance novel, and under her real name, five novels and two nonfiction books as well as miscellaneous other collections.

MJ’s novel Chef Showdown: A Romance, two young chefs fall in love while competing on a reality TV cooking show under the watchful eye of the toughest judge imaginable. It will make you hungry for some love and some great food.

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/MJ-Post/e/B074HX7TJK/
Facebook Readers’ group and street team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/432743907149227/
Facebook Author page:  https://www.facebook.com/MJ-Post-Author-302156203319243/
Newsletter signup:  http://eepurl.com/dyVqqz
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/MJPostAuthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MJPostAuthor

The post Love and War in a Restaurant: Setting Stories in the Culinary World by MJ Post appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Welcome to our new book review series. This review is written by Mary Van Everbroeck, student at Barany School of Fiction who writes women’s fiction and nonfiction.


In The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, the author’s explanation and use of dialectics (understanding change through movement within dialogue) by analyzing characters in plays, provided me with a dazzling learning experience.

I was front and center with popcorn in hand, leaning back in my seat nice and cozy enjoying a great performance.

Beginning with the Foreword of The Art of Dramatic Writing, and ending with the last page, in which Egri presents a final synopsis of the play, Idiot’s Delight by Robert Sherwood I stood alongside the characters.

Together we experienced both successful and unsuccessful storytelling based on whether the dialectical approach to understanding change had been followed.

My Experience

The experience of reading of The Art of Dramatic Writing helped me to understand what enables plays, books, movies, and teaching to be great and what skills I needed to develop in order to write great stories.

I listened to the audio version and read the book. Listening offered me the opportunity to visualize the scenes he discussed, while reading helped me to focus on the detailed meaning of his words.

As a result of my creativity and intellect being stimulated through listening to both the audio and book, I experienced an intense synergistic learning experience.

Who This Book is For

This book is for playwrights, authors, screenwriters, and writing teachers who yearn to fulfill the expectations of audiences through their plays, books, movies and teaching.

The entire book is filled with examples from plays. To my surprise, after listening to the audio I had an urge that wouldn’t be quelled to read A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, along with several of the other plays Egri discusses. I am currently reading A Doll’s House. I suspect that many writers have had a similar experience after reading The Art of Dramatic Writing.

My appreciation for writing has intensified from being exposed to Egri’s analysis of plays throughout this book. I found his use of the play as a format to teach what is and is not successful writing intriguing. Without a doubt, Egri has motivated me to continue to explore and learn the skills associated with the Dialectical Approach to writing.



Mary Van Everbroeck is a student at Barany School of Fiction and writes women’s fiction and nonfiction. You can connect with her on Twitter @MVanEverbroeck.


Would you like to write a book review for Writer’s Fun Zone? If so, check out our guidelines by clicking this link: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/guest-columnists-welcome/#bookreviews.

The post The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri (Book review) appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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I want to talk about vocation or avocation.

In a previous blog post here https://writersfunzone.com/blog/2019/05/02/write-to-market-by-beth-barany/, I shared about my rumination on writing to market or not.

I don’t think it’s wrong or bad to write to market. I just don’t do it as a top motivator.

I’ve heard from several of you on your point of view on this issue — thank you so much — and so I wanted to flush out another way of looking at writing fiction.

Some of you said that it was more a hobby than a profession.

What is a Vocation?

I want to honor how seriously you take your hobby. It is more like a vocation, a calling, a way of being in the world, a way of expressing who you are to yourself, to others, and to the next generations to come.

A vocation it’s not something we talk about much in our culture, but my father talked about it with us.

He had many vocations (technically “avocations,” but I’ll get to that in a moment). My father studied philosophy, the meaning of life stuff, did weaving, loved and served his own gourmet cooking, and played the Japanese bamboo flute. He also loved gathering herbs and wild crafting. He made us home remedies from what he gathered (rose hip tea!) when we were sick from the time I was little.

My father passed away last January 2018, but I think a lot about his vocations. He pursued these things because he loved them. He would even give gifts of his weaving and gift his time and energy with his cooking.

Not that we need to gift and give away our writing. That was his choice.

And yes, I wish he could have modeled the business side of one’s vocation (but he didn’t know how, and that’s okay), but I am really glad that he modeled passion and the pursuit of something because he loved it.

Definitions of Vocation

According to Grammarist, “A vocation is a calling, an occupation, or a large undertaking for which one is especially suited. It can be roughly synonymous with career or profession, though vocation connotes a seriousness or a commitment that these words don’t always bear. An avocation is something done in addition to one’s vocation—usually a hobby.”

Yet, Merriam-Webster Dictionary makes “avocation” synonymous with “vocation.” Go figure.

Whether you pursue writing fiction as an avocation or vocation, a hobby or profession, or something in between (or yes — all of the above!), I celebrate your passion and your love of the art and craft.

Until next time!

Yes, please, share your thoughts with me on these topics. I love hearing from you and I respond to every and comment I get, though it may take me a few days.


Want to get started with your novel? Check out our book, Plan Your Novel Like A Pro here: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/plan-your-novel-like-a-pro-and-have-fun-doing-it/.



Award-winning fantasy novelist, Master NLP Practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany runs Barany School of Fiction, a full suite of courses designed to help genre fiction writers experience clarity and get writing, so they can revise and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

She’s also the author of books for writers, including Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, cowritten with her husband, thriller writer Ezra Barany.

Connect with Beth via her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone.  Twitter: @Beth_Barany. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethbarany. Instagram: https://instagram.com/bethbarany/

The post Writing as a Vocation? by Beth Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Let’s welcome back monthly columnist, Tinthia Clemant as she shares with us “GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict — The ABCs of Writing.” Enjoy!


GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict

In 1996 Debra Dixon published her book, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict; The Building Blocks of Good Fiction, but even before Ms. Dixon brought together the pieces that make a novel worth reading, successful authors already knew the secret formula to writing compelling stories—Give your characters goals.

What is a character’s goal?

According to Dixon, a goal is a desired result; a purpose or an objective.

Goals come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For example a goal can be a character planning on destroying the Infinity Gauntlet (I put that in to see if you’re paying attention).

Caps plans of destroying the Infinity Gauntlet is a worthy goal for a hero.

Goals versus Desires

Wanting something is a desire; working to obtain that something is the goal. For example, let’s return to Captain America. His wanting to avenge the destruction of half all living organisms on the planet is a desire, and a pretty strong one at that. Deciding to reverse Thanos’ original snap is Cap’s goal.

This photo is here for no other reason than to show America’s ass. Sigh.

External and Internal Goals

Goals come in two flavors: External, which are tangible things that can be smelled, tasted, touched, etc; and internal goals, which are feelings. Many writing coaches claim that internal goals are one and the same as the character’s desires, but I disagree. A true goal comes with a plan while a desire is a want. Let’s say we have Mary who’s unhappy with her life. She wants to be happy. That’s her desire.

Her internal goal might be to find love because she believes the tingly giddiness she’ll feel when she’s in love is the same as true happiness. So, she devises a plan to find love. Maybe she joins a dating service or hangs around the local saloon. Maybe she believe sex and love go together and she decides to get laid, her external goal.

Think of desires as the destination, and the character’s goal as the road map to get there.

Internal and external goals are always joined at the hip. Mary’s quest for joy might bring her to the decision that she’ll find happiness by owning a diamond tennis bracelet. Obtaining the bracelet becomes Mary’s external goal. Her internal goal is the feeling she’s expecting when she owns the bracelet.

Remember: Desires are wants, and goals are plans to fulfill that want.

How do you incorporate a character’s goal into your story?

Once you’ve decided on your character’s goal, think about what she’ll do to achieve that goal. Nothing is too ridiculous during this brainstorming session. Get your ideas on paper and then cross out the outlandish ones, unless they fit with your character’s personality. Remember, to have a story where the character is believable we need to make sure the character acts consistently with her values.

This is a key point. Let’s get back to Mary and her bracelet. She’s a member of her local church, and, therefore, we can rule out having her knock an old lady down a flight of stairs so she can rob the old woman. Mary would never do that.

Once you have your list, remove any ideas that don’t fit the character, and arrange the rest into a timeline. This become your basic outline for your story. You’ll also have a character who is constantly moving forward, heading towards her ultimate goal while acting in line with her core values.


Feel free to give your character multiple mini-goals, but just make sure your mini-goals work towards the character’s primary goal, or you’ll find yourself wrestling with a book going in separate directions. Mary’s major goal of obtaining her tennis bracelet could involve her meeting Fred, a local jeweler.

Mini-goals of how she’ll go about getting Fred’s attention are perfectly fine because they bring Mary closer to her main goal of owning the bracelet. Having Mary take a course in Mandarin isn’t, unless Fred is Asian. If your character’s goal is the road map that will bring them their desire, mini-goals are the streets she’ll travel.

No goal?

New writers often ask: What if my story doesn’t call for my character to have a goal? My response: If you have a character who desires something, that desire will lead to a goal, but you have to do some digging.

Here are some questions I ask my characters to help determine their goals.
  1. If you had three wishes, what would they be (no wishing for a fourth wish)?
  2. What do you believe will bring you true joy?
  3. What steps are you willing to take to find that joy?
  4. What would it take to kick start your quest for that joy? (The response to this question becomes my inciting incident).

My next post in this series will address motivation, the force behind a character’s goal. Until then, get out there and give your character a goal. Your readers will thank you. Happy writing.

Blessed be :}



Author of The Summer of Annah seriesTinthia Clemant lives in a secluded spot on the Concord River in Massachusetts. Her companions include a black Labrador/Coonhound named Harlee; Shadow, an elderly black cat who still rocks at catching mice that have wandered into the house; a few hundred wild Mallards; assorted turtles, songbirds, snakes; and hawks, two Great Blue herons, and an American bald eagle.

Besides writing, she enjoys baking, gardening, reading (of course), painting and photography, laughing, and movies (the more explosions the better). Tinthia is an ice cream aficionado and insists that Ben and Jerry are the most perfect men ever created. She inherited my father’s temper and her mother’s view on life: It’s meant to be lived, embraced, savored, inhaled, and not given back until every last drop of wonder is claimed.  If you visit Tinthia, make sure you bring a bottle of bourbon and, of course, ice cream. Her favorite flavor is Chunky Monkey.

The post GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict — The ABCs of Writing by Tinthia Clemant appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Veronika Magali-Marosy as she shares with us “A Counterintuitive Step for Finishing Your Story.” Enjoy!


What do you do, when the pieces of your story are there, but they just won’t fall into place and anything you do to help it, seems to backfire?

It’s a place of agony and despair, as whatever you do seems to do nothing but mess things up even more. The good news is, you’re probably closer to finishing your story than you think.

Enter the spy guy

If you’d write a comedy version of a spy story, it’d include a scene, where the main character, a.k.a. spy guy arrives at the most important part of the mission, but he’s in trouble. He’s stuck in one place, because if he picks up his right leg, the alarms will go off and he’s caught. But he needs to get going, because it’s almost time for the bad guys to come back to their base. What is he to do?

The information spy guy needs to sabotage the evil plan of the bad guys is right in front of him. He needs to get it, disarm the bomb and sneak back out to report to the special units, but it’s just not happening. He’s trapped and he’s panicking.

Likely, when you finish writing your story, everything is there. You have a storyline, the main character, the conflict, the resolution. But somehow, it seems like it’s just a big messy blob of words. You may be panicking.

The mess gets bigger

In our “Mission Impossible” comedy, the spy guy would become extremely clumsy when he’s nervous. Every breath he takes makes him sink even deeper into trouble. Every move he makes, only makes his situation worse.

This is how it feels when your story is there, the pieces are there, but it hasn’t come together just right. And whatever edits you make, it seems to mess things up even worse.

Finishing Your Story: Is there a way out?

What does the spy guy need to do in this situation? The moment our spy guy realizes where he stands, he stops. He probably gets distracted by a rat running away with a sandwich he was eyeing on the desk, but then…. Magic happens!

He suddenly sees the plan. He sees the blueprint of the enemy base, remembers all the alarms and potential traps, and sees where he can disarm the bomb and steal the critical information.

It all shows up when he slows down.

Similarly, whenever you feel like your story is chaotic, whenever you feel like you don’t see the forest from the trees, it’s time to let it rest.

Take a rest from writing. Your story is there, but it needs clarity to emerge in its most amazing form.

Getting away, but not like you thought

A great and easy-to-access way to take a rest and really recharge your creative energy is to meditate with a transcendence meditation.

These are the meditations, where you go beyond what you can perceive with your senses. You clean the slates, so to speak, like sniffing the aroma of coffee in between smelling different perfumes.

In these types of meditations, you seek the silence in between the repetitions of a mantra or word.

This is how to do it:

  1. Choose a short mantra or a word. The meaning is not important for the meditation, it’s the resonance, that counts. Choose something that feels refreshing if you feel tired of working on your story or calming if you feel panicky.
  2. Sit down in a comfortable position. It’s not important to sit in perfect lotus. Choose a position, where you can relax and won’t be bothered by aches and pains. It’s all about the ease!
  3. Say the mantra silently in your mind. You don’t need to move your lips or tongue, let the mantra come to you effortlessly, like any other thought.
  4. Whenever you notice you get distracted, repeat the mantra and look for the silence that comes just after you repeat it.

If you’d like to be led through a mantra meditation, you can meditate with me here.

The fertile emptiness

When you let your senses rest, you create space for integration. This is why deep sleep is so important. We need it, so we can “digest” all the information and experience we gather during the day and wake up refreshed and a little wiser every day.

That is why when the elements of your story are there, you need to create the space for integration, letting each part find its own place.

Here’s to your creative success!



Veronika is a mother, former illustrator, meditation teacher and a recovering master procrastinator. She helps creative entrepreneurs, freelancers and working parents, who are dedicated to make a difference in the world, but who struggle with staying productive.

Website: www.nosywitty.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/nosywitty
Insight Timer: www.insighttimer.com/VeronikaMaMa

The post A Counterintuitive Step for Finishing Your Story by Veronika Magali-Marosy appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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I was part of the Writer Imperfect Show recently and chatted with the host and two other writers about writing novels and the writing process. A good time was had by all.

We talked about how we start our novels, how we handle controversies, and about naming our books. Also, we talked movies and Blockbuster.

I talked about Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, my YA fantasy trilogy, and Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, our latest books for writers.

More about the Writer Imperfect Show and the host Joshua Robertson here: https://robertsonwrites.com/writer-imperfect/.

Watch future shows live here: https://www.twitch.tv/robertsonwrites

My Fellow Writer Imperfect guests

AJ Mullican on Amazon, Facebook, and Website

Joe Compton on Amazon, Facebook and GoIndieNow

(Trey McIntosh couldn’t make it.)

Check out the YouTube replay here
Writer Imperfect | Episode 56 | 8 PM EST May 17, 2019 - YouTube

On iTunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/writer-imperfect/id1451638522. Our episode will air in about 6 weeks.



Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

She is the award-winning author of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer (free excerpt here) and the acclaimed paranormal romance author of the Touchstone series. She’s currently at work on a science fiction mystery series.

And — when not writing or playing — Beth runs her own company helping novelists as a book coach, speaker, and teacher to help them write, market, and publish their books to the delight of their readers. More resources here: http://author.bethbarany.com/bio-beth-barany/resources-for-authors/.

The post Writer Imperfect Show: Chat about talk about books, publishing, and writing appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Today we welcome guest writer Jordan Rosenfeld to Writer’s Fun Zone, who is stopping by to chat about “Write with Page Turning Tension.” Enjoy!


My sixth writing guide, How to Write a Page Turner: How to Craft a Story Your Readers Can’t Put Down will be published on Tuesday, March 19th. It’s available. I’m so excited about sharing this book with you. Every year, through reading, editing, and my own writing, I learn deeper nuances about the writing process. This book contains tips to infuse page-turning tension into every aspect of your story or novel and even memoir.

In the meantime, I’m giving you a little preview of what’s to come:

“Tension in novels, stories, and even memoirs is like the connective tissue that allows muscles to attach to bones, and thus flex their might. It’s the heart of conflict, the backbone of uncertainty, the hallmark of danger. It keeps readers guessing, and characters on their toes. When it’s working, stories leave readers breathless and wanting more. When it’s missing, scenes feel inconsequential, the plot drags, characters meander.” – From How to Write a Page Turner.

Tension must exist:

  • In the inner life of your character
  • Between characters as they interact
  • In the way plot events play out
  • How your characters react to/are tested by them;
  • How you balance scene elements
  • In every sentence
Here are four key elements of creating tension:

DANGER: Danger is a primal experience we’re all hard wired for. You can elicit it when characters are in some form of peril. Two main kinds:

          CONFLICT: The art offorces opposing your protagonist & allies. Conflict can exist between:

          UNCERTAINTY: Use this crucial form of tension and suspense as follows:

WITHHOLDING: Withholding is not giving someone something they want, or not in the time they want it. It creates complex feelings within characters.


Tension is often about what you leave out as much as what you leave in.

You can cut:

  • “Stage directions”—Actions that are not character or plot significant.
  • Mundane dialogue/pleasantries that don’t drive plot or character
  • Info dump style of plot-revelations (in dialogue or narrative summary), villains monologuing, etc.
  • Characters doing quotidian things to create a simulation of reality.
  • “Architectural Digest” descriptions of settings.

For more: Check out this post I did on Jane Friedman’s blog: 8 Mundane Elements to Cut From Your Story.




Jordan Rosenfeld’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, GOOD, The Daily Beast, Mental Floss, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Pacific Standard, The Rumpus, Salon, Scientific American, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest magazine and more.

More about Jordan, her books, workshops, and her new online school, here: http://jordanrosenfeld.net/.

The post Write with Page Turning Tension by Jordan Rosenfeld appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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A down and dirty way to use Amazon Ads

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Keri Kruspe as she shares with us “How to Play the (M)ad Game: Amazon Ads.” Enjoy!


As I stated in my previous article, I promised to instruct you how to put Amazon Ads in place.

Before I do, here are resources I recommend that can give you more in-depth instructions:

Additionally, if you use your favorite search engine and type in “how to do amazon ads” you’ll come up with a plethora of courses and resources to choose from. I only put the above 2 links in here since they are the ones I’ve used and refer to.

Some Pros and Cons of Doing Amazon Ads Pros
  • No need to create a picture. The cover of your book is all you need.
  • You are reaching people looking to buy a book.
  • You pay for clicks and not impressions (think of the thousands of times people have seen your book and you didn’t have to pay for it!)
  • Some people don’t like to shop on Amazon, so you’re leaving out the rest of the world.
  • You are competing with literally millions of titles.
  • Be careful your book cover doesn’t trigger their intervention system. (See next paragraph.)
Compliance Warnings

Amazon is particular about the images and words used.  Amazon Marketing Services (AMS for short) won’t advertise erotic products or glorify the use of illicit drugs, content seen as obscene, defamatory, lifeless, illegal, invasive of another’s privacy or contains hate speech.

Be careful of suggestive images. Refer to Amazon’s guidelines and policies.

Ad Copy

We’ve only got so many words we can use (about 150 characters) so treat your words like gold. No obscene verbiage or swear words. Remember, children will see your ads!

Also, they are particular when you use reviews, even if it’s properly sourced (i.e. stating 15 five star reviews.) Leave out exclamation points in forcible pricing messages, like “Don’t miss out!”

About Keywords and Categories

Get ‘em.

AMS allows you up to 1,000 keywords in your ad. I did this by doing three things:

  1. My personal library. If you’re like me, an avid reader, I have hundreds of books I’ve read both in book and ebook form. Because I like to do things the hard way, I created a spreadsheet years ago to list my books. I copied and pasted them all to use in my ad.
  2. Amazon’s bestseller list. A great resource to get names and see who is topping the charts in your genre to “piggyback” on. The Barany School of Fiction “Branding for Novelists” course is a great resource in how to do this.
  3. Buy KDP Rocket (now called Publisher Rocket). It does all the hard work in looking for viable keywords and categories for you. I did and it saves me a ton of time.
Okay, Let’s Get Started with Amazon Ads:

Go to your KDP account and your bookshelf.

Click on the ellipse for your book (right-hand size) and you’ll see the choice, “promote and advertise.”

Sign in.

Here it’s asking you to choose your campaign type. We’re covering “Sponsored Products.” Click to continue.

Now you’re in “Create Campaign.”

Name your campaign to whatever makes sense to you.

You can have a start and stop date; however if you leave the end date off, you can pause or stop your campaign anytime.

Daily budget: I recommend you start small, maybe $5.00 a day. You can always increase if you’d like later.

Targeting: I do my own manual targeting. That’s where the keywords and categories I use come into play.

Next: Ad Format

I use the custom text so I can use my own words.

Choose Your Product

The next panel asks you which product you want to promote. I have two books out, so it gives me four choices: ebook or print. You can only do one at a time.

An interesting side note: I was worried my paperback wasn’t selling, so I used the same ad to promote both books — the only difference was the form the book came in.

My ebook ad took off while my print book didn’t do a thing. Needless to say, I cancelled my book ad. Still don’t know why that ad failed.

Next: Bidding

These are kinda new. If you’ll notice after the first one, it states any campaign before April 22 used this, which I did. I haven’t tested the other two, so I have no experience to share with you.

Default bid

Put in whatever amount you feel comfortable with. The reason I say this is I like to go in and individually adjust each keyword I’ve put in. Yes, that’s a pain in the-you-know-what and can take some time.

This is new. Click on the “Learn more” button to see “Default bid” this interests you.


I don’t use product targeting; I use keywords.


Here’s where those keywords come in.

You can see where Amazon gave me some keywords to use (most are lame.) A couple I’ll add, but I will click “enter keywords” to put in my own.

After inputting my list, I hit “add keywords” and go down to the next panel.

You’ll see where those keywords you’ve added are.

Now you can determine how much each word is worth. Where it states “suggested bid,” I’ll consider where I want my keyword bid.

For the first one, I’d probably change it to somewhere between the suggestion of $0.34 and $0.69. Here’s where knowing your genre comes in handy.

If this author is someone I like and know is popular, I’d up the bid.

According to these suggested bids, I would lower both from $0.75 to something else. I go through all of my keywords and analyze each one.

Next comes the optional negative words:

I suggest putting in any words that don’t represent your genre and that you don’t want to waste money on.

Examples for me: children’s books, teen, free, ya, or clean and wholesome.

Amazon Ad Custom Text

And last, but not least…here’s where you put in your ad custom text.

Nice thing about this screen is you can see what your ad will look like.

Once you are happy with your text, just hit the Launch Campaign button and wait for Amazon to let you know if your ad has been approved or not. (Editor’s note: this takes about 24 hours.)

Check Your Ad A Few Times A Week

One parting piece of advice: Do not set your ad and forget about it. Check it a couple of times a week to see if it’s working for you.

Make adjustments

Make adjustments (i.e. add or delete keywords) or increase/decrease your bids. It takes some analyzing to see if what you put out there is getting the results you want.

Keep in mind… it’s a (m)ad world out there… and you’ve gotta work it!

Let us know how it goes in the comments.



Keri Kruspe has been an author since the age of twelve and has always been fascinated with otherworldly stories that end in Happily Ever After. Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures, Keri’s first series is An Alien Exchange trilogy. An Alien Exchange is the first book in the arousing Alien Exchange sci-fi romance series. If you like sexy aliens, feisty heroines, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Keri Kruspe’s steamy space adventure.

Keri now resides with her family in the wilds of Northwestern Michigan. An avid reader, Keri enjoys good wine, good food, and watching action/adventure movies. You can find her most days immersed in her fantasy world of writing or traveling with her hubby in their RV, discovering intelligent life here on Earth. For goodies, news of upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter at www.kerikruspe.com.

The post How to Play the (M)ad Game: Amazon Ads by Keri Kruspe appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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You can market your novel from your Core Values. Read on for some ideas on how.


To effectively market your novels, it’s important to know what kind of books you write and what core value you express in your books. I touched upon this topic in a previous article.

For Romance Authors: What Type of Romance Are Your Writing?
To recap that article, readers like to know what kind of books you write.

That description will go beyond just romance. For example, you could tell your readers that you write:

Here’s a few more examples:

Core Values

The core values you may be expressing in your book could look something like this:

  • One must do the honorable thing for love and country.
  • Family above all.
  • Home is wherever my beloved is.
  • Do the right thing even at great cost.
  • It’s okay to love again.
  • Love must be obeyed above all.
  • Love always finds a way.

Many other values could be expressed. What’s yours?

Your Story’s Themes

Now focus on the themes of your books and the images or icons readers say they like. This can be a secondary character or a pet or the setting.

When I look at my work, I can pull out these themes (over three different genres!)

  • The Earth from space (for my science fiction mystery series, forthcoming)
  • A woman with a sword (for my YA fantasy series)
  • Full pink roses and labyrinths (for one of my paranormal romance titles)
  • An elf hat (for my Christmas Elf romances)

I plan to share the above images on social media. I’ll combine each image with one of the following: a personal reflection, a question, a quote or an excerpt of a book review. I’ll load up the messages into a scheduler tool (I use Hootsuite) to broadcast to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on a regular basis. I’ll probably do one message a day per series.

How do we know if the effort we’re putting out with our marketing is having any effect?

First of all, we need to know what effect we hope to produce with our actions. What impact do you want your marketing to have?

You could track:

  • Sales
  • Engagement via comments or likes
  • Newsletter or blog sign-ups
  • Something else?

What’s important to me is engagement and newsletter sign-ups, so I’ll be tracking that.

What do you want to track?

Why Market Your Books (And the Cost of Not Marketing Your Books)

Marketing is an activity designed to introduce your books (or any other product of service) to an audience that doesn’t already know about them.

I see marketing and promoting our books as an act of gifting, an act of creating an experience, and a way to share our gifts with the world.

Marketing also creates an opportunity to reach readers hungry for their next wonderful read.

Most writers I know write to be read, so don’t you owe it to yourself to spread the word about your books in a way that’s right for you?

The Marriage of Creativity and Your Core Values and Your Capabilities

Use your creativity to marry your values with your capabilities to share about your book. If you’re not sure what you’re able to do, then try different activities until you find the one (or ones) you like.

The Long Game

Marketing is a long game. Not a one-and-done activity. You can develop systems to spread the word, but eventually you’ll need to tweak and update or change altogether how you go about marketing and promoting your books.

More Marketing Activities: What’s Right for You

Let’s get to some more practical, useful ways you could marry your values with your creativity to market one book or series, or many.

Some activities include:

  • Writing short blog posts or Q&As on your blog or as a guest blogger. Topics could be aspects of your book’s core value. Find book bloggers who share the same or similar values to connect with and post your work.
  • Sharing images with quotes. Find an image (and a handful of images) to convey the value and add a quote to it. The quote can be from your books or from pithy quotes that you can find at places like BrainyQuotes.com. To make your images, you can use Canva.com. Lots of free for commercial use images can be found at Pixabay.com or Unsplash.com, to name a few resources.
  • Writing little stories about your life that connect to your books and sharing those on your blog and/or social media and other people’s blogs.
  • What other fun and manageable activities could you come up with that marry your creativity, values, and capabilities?
Why Do You Want People To Read Your Books?

I write my novels to have a big impact on my readers. I want them to escape into the worlds I create and love the experience. I want them to think about my characters long after they’ve closed the book. I want them reading everything I’ve written and waiting with impatience for the next book.

What’s your why? Why do you want readers? What do you want them to experience by reading your books?

When you know your why, you have rocket fuel to help you surmount any challenge you face with marketing.

If you’re scared to market because you say you don’t like it, I’d ask, “What have you tried? Have you let your creativity connect with your why and be brave and experiment with something you haven’t yet tried?”

You’ll never know what works, and what doesn’t, unless you take action.

I’m curious what action you take. Comment below, drop me a note on social media or via . I’d love to hear!

c. 2019 Beth Barany

The Promotion Posse is a monthly column in Heart of the Bay newsletter, spotlighting promotional strategies for authors, written by members of San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America chapter with a knack for PR. Award-winning novelist, creativity coach for writers, and Master NLP Practitioner, Beth Barany, shares tips and tools about crafting fiction, the creative life, and the business of being an artist at www.writersfunzone.com/blog and via her online school of fiction writers, BaranySchoolofFiction.com. Her latest book for writers is Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It!.


Core Values in Action

Want to explore putting your Core Values into action for your book marketing? Then consider our suite of book marketing courses here.



Award-winning fantasy novelist, Master NLP Practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany runs Barany School of Fiction, a full suite of courses designed to help genre fiction writers experience clarity and get writing, so they can revise and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

She’s also the author of books for writers, including Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, cowritten with her husband, thriller writer Ezra Barany.

Connect with Beth via her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone.

Twitter: @Beth_Barany.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethbarany.

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bethbarany/


Image credit: Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

The post Market Your Novel From Your Core Values by Beth Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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