Author Archives: Jessica Strawser

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Answers to Your Novel Writing Questions

I’ve interviewed enough authors over the years to know this: Even the most successful among them can remember with vivid clarity the tentative tingling of first sitting down to write a novel and feeling as if they had no idea what they were doing. In fact, some of them still experience that odd mingling...

Page Proofs

What No One Tells You About Page Proofs, Blurb Requests and More

We’ve all heard the middle of a manuscript referred to as “the muddle in the middle”—a nod to the challenge in sustaining momentum between the opening hook and the exciting conclusion. What you don’t hear as often is that the “muddle in the middle” applies just as aptly to the publishing process itself. For the past year I’ve...

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Debbie Macomber on Writing Romance: “I’ve never felt alone”

Warm and uplifting, yet undeniably real; comforting and familiar, yet surprisingly fresh; relatable and entertaining, yet comically self-deprecating; generous and humble, yet unabashedly successful: If Debbie Macomber herself seems like a living, breathing extension of the heartwarming romance and feel-good women’s fiction titles that have become her trademark, it’s no accident. And in an...

Jodi Picoult on writing

4 Great Essays From Jodi Picoult on Writing

Yesterday, I took a detour north of our Cincinnati office to see Jodi Picoult speak at a luncheon event hosted by Thurber House literary center in Columbus. I’ve long been a fan of Picoult’s work, and her latest, Small Great Things, just debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestsellers list. I...

Robert Crais

4 Free Extras From the New Writer’s Digest

Did you know every single issue of Writer’s Digest includes bonus online exclusives? And they’re not just for subscribers—they’re for everyone! We must have been feeling extra inspired when we put together the November/December 2016 Writer’s Digest, because we rounded up even more extras than usual. Learn what really drives Robert Crais to the...

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Why EVERY Writer Is a “Writer for Hire”

I’m in the midst of potty-training my toddler, so when I awoke this morning, in the dark dawn before my alarm, to the sound of her screaming “POO!”—well, needless to say I jumped out of bed a smidge faster than I usually do. “POO!” she screeched as my fingers scrambled across the nightstand for...

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Preparing for Unknowns in Your Agent Search

If you’re on the cusp of trying to get a literary agent, or you’re trying to decide if you need one at all, or you’re right in the thick of your queries, or you have an agent but aren’t making forward progress together, enter our latest “Get an Agent” issue, the October 2016 Writer’s Digest. We...

5 Steps to Surviving Your Copy Edit

You might think that editors who are also writers aren’t at all bothered by being edited. The truth? We understand the importance of being edited probably more than some other writers. We also know going in how key it is to choose our battles, and might feel more comfortable deferring to an edit or, conversely,...

Writing tips and writing techniques

4 Tips to Improve Your Writing Instantly

If the “Pro Tips & Techniques” theme of the September 2016 Writer’s Digest sounds a little vague, I’ll fess up: That’s by design. Our most reliable contributors have a way of occasionally pitching outstanding articles that just don’t happen to fit with any of our issue themes. And as I was reviewing a batch...

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Write a Standout Chapter 1

We all know the importance of starting our stories strong: Without a beginning that draws the readers in (whether those readers are agents, editors or bookstore browsers), they may never make it to the middle. Enter the July/August 2016 Writer’s Digest: An entire issue devoted to helping you make your Chapter 1 shine. When...

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A Writer’s Guide to the Web

The May/June 2016 Writer’s Digest is your guide to making the most of the Web—and avoiding the worst of it. Most writers I know have a love/hate relationship with the Internet—and all that comes with it. Some days, we marvel at the capability to connect with writers and readers the world over, to publish without a middleman,...

MommyCanWrite

Look! Mommy Can Write! A Look Back at Women in Writing

Before our office moved further north of the city, we used to get visits by the most delightful retiree, a former Writer’s Digest editor who would occasionally come by to dig a clip out of the archives, tell us she enjoyed a recent issue, or just say hi. Her name? Well, on the masthead,...

How a Fiction Anthology Is Made

I’m an avid reader of Writer Unboxed, which has been one of our 101 Best Websites for Writers for several years running now—and when I had the pleasure of moderating the WU panel at last year’s Writer’s Digest Conference, one of my personal highlights was the chance to chat at length afterward with regular...

Rejection in Writer's Digest

A Proper Sendoff for “Reject a Hit”

It’s always hard to say goodbye to a dear friend. Even when you know it’s time for them to go. I first had the idea for what became WD’s Reject a Hit column back in 2010. We’d been combing through the crumbly, leather-bound Writer’s Digest magazine archives, which date back to 1920, in preparation for a...

Writing for Kids and Teens

The Best Tips on Writing for Kids and Teens

  What are the most common problems in picture book submissions? What are the most important differences between middle-grade and young adult stories? What makes for standout writing for young readers? Top literary agents who represent writing for kids and teens delve deeply into their best craft tips and industry insights to answer all of these questions...

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10 Lessons Learned Behind the Scenes of a Book Deal (Part 2)

A few short months ago, I wrote about my path to getting an agent and a publisher, and promised to share my experiences leading up to the publication of my debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, due out in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press. You might think that as the editor of Writer’s Digest magazine—and given my earlier years...

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10 Lessons Learned Behind the Scenes of a Book Deal

A few short months ago, I wrote about my path to getting an agent and a publisher, and promised to share my experiences leading up to the publication of my debut novel, ALMOST MISSED YOU, due out in 2017 from St. Martin’s Press. You might think that as the editor of Writer’s Digest magazine—and...

What You Can Do Now to Master the Business of Writing

Even without knowing you (yes, you! hello there), I can say that we put together the “Master the Business of Writing” package for the February 2016 Writer’s Digest with you in mind. Because whether you’re an aspiring author, a midlist novelist or a freelancer looking for bigger paychecks, this issue will meet you where...

In Novel Writing, Practice Makes Perfect

“Every time I start a book, I think, I have no idea how I did this the last time,” bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes told me in our interview for the January 2016 Writer’s Digest. “No idea.” At first, knowing that the struggle “happens to the best of us,” as they say, might seem discouraging—especially...

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Jojo Moyes: Bonus Interview Outtakes

In adapting her smash hit Me Before You for the big screen, Jojo Moyes delved headfirst into what she calls “a much more technical craft.” Find out what went on behind the scenes, what’s up next for the versatile author, and more of her secrets to success in our exclusive interview outtakes.

When It Comes to Your Writing, It’s NEVER Too Late!

Let’s get one thing out of the way: The idea of feeling like it might be “too late” to do something doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with age. I remember vividly the first time I was overcome with the unsettling sensation that certain ships had sailed. I was a new college graduate folding...