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                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 14:11          13,873 subscribers              June 5, 2014
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: Protecting Yourself, Writer-Style, 
by Moira Allen 
FEATURE: Create a Website that Works for You, 
by Barbara Florio Graham
by Victoria Grossack 
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
FREE STUFF FOR WRITERS: Free Image Editors (Part I), 
by Aline Lechaye
Who Stumbled on the Secret of Making 6-Figures from Home as a
Writer! Click Here for Free Video
* FEEDBACK. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* CONTESTS. Over 50 contests are always open and free to enter.
* FUN! Get feedback, enter writing contests, and learn.
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Protecting Yourself, Writer-Style
If you're an eBay user, you've probably received notice by now that
one of eBay's databases was hacked, and masses of personal data
about eBay users are now, presumably, "in the wrong hands."  While
the database did not contain financial data, it did include users'
personal data, including users' encrypted passwords.

The key word is "encrypted.'  So far, there is no indication that
these passwords have been decrypted, or used in any fraudulent
activity.  (The hack occurred in February or March, but was only
confirmed in mid-May.)  However, eBay has asked all its users to
change their passwords.

The problem can go far beyond eBay, however.  Many of us use the
same, or similar, passwords on multiple accounts.  I know, I know,
we're told not to, but... basically, what we ARE advised to do is
pretty much impossible:

1) Use a password that is impossible to guess -- e.g.,
2) By definition, therefore, use a password that is impossible 
   to remember...
3) Use different, equally impossible passwords for every online
   account (yes, all 500 of them)
4) Change them regularly to other, equally impossible-to-remember
   passwords, and
5) Never write them down!

Now, I don't know about you, but in my world, that's not going to
happen.  I'm savvy enough not to (a) use the name of my favorite
pet and (b) post lengthy stories about that pet, by name, on
Facebook.  I'm savvy enough not to use my initials and/or
birthdate.  My password is a bit better than "Password" or the
numerical string "123456" (yes, lots of people use both).  But... I
refuse to resort to incomprehensible gibberish that can't be
recalled - not when I may have to recall it four or five times a

So what's a writer to do?  Well, as writers, we actually have an
edge.  We have, stored in our memory, the seeds of a virtually
limitless, and relatively unguessable, array of passwords.  As
writers, we have the names of a host of characters in our memory
who are as real to us as our own children (more so if, like me, you
don't HAVE children), but whose names will never appear on Facebook
or Twitter.  As readers, we have even more options: character
names, book titles, even favorite phrases that are perfect for

Nearly all my passwords are based on characters from the first
novel I ever completed, more than 20 years ago -- a novel that has
been read only by my husband and will probably never see the
outside of my sock drawer.  (If it ever does, I'll either have to
change all my passwords or change all the character names in the
novel!)  Your own unpublished or in-progress works are a great
place to start.  Look for character names that you'll never forget,
but that no one else knows.  Be sure that the work hasn't been
shared publicly, e.g., in a critique group or through excerpts
posted on your website or blog.

Then, tweak them.  We're told that the safest passwords contain
mixes of upper- and lower-case letters and numbers.  (Most programs
won't accept symbols, though some will accept hyphens.)  So if your
best-beloved character from that novel you wrote in college was,
say, Dagmar Dillinger, consider starting with "DagmarDi11ing3r." 
Work from there to add a date, or a code for each site where you
use the password (e.g., DagmarEbayDi11ing3r or

If you don't have any characters from your own writings that you'd
like to use (or if those names are a bit too mundane, like "John
Smith" and "Nancy Jones"), consider approaching the problem from
the standpoint of the reader.  Try "H3rm1on3Grang3r," "J3anVa1j3an"
or "Fr0d08agg1n5."  Names like these won't be found in any
dictionary (and apparently hackers have already programmed entire
dictionaries into their de-encryption routines).  

Experts say that longer passwords, such as phrases, are more
effective than short passwords, no matter how "mixed."  A password
such as "WindintheWillows" is apparently safer than "Wi110ws2014". 
It becomes safer still if you replace all the "i's" with ones. 
(Better yet, be creative, and replace them with something less
obvious!) Or, use an easily remembered phrase, such as
"Itwasthebestoftimes" or "Marleywasdead."  Or, again, choose a line
that you can easily remember -- and only you would know -- from one
of your own works.  (Please avoid "memorable" lines that are known
to millions, such as "BeamMeUp" or "MaytheForceBeWithYou"!)

Now we get to the "memorable" issue.  The biggest flaw in any
password scheme is the difficulty in remembering passwords (along
with the advice never to write them down).  We "know better" than
to use EXACTLY the same password wherever we go, but these days,
the number we're required to juggle is proliferating endlessly.  We
need them everywhere we shop, everywhere we do business, for every
e-mail and social media account - we may even need them to get into
our cell phones!  It's a bit of a challenge to remember that you're
"Va1Jean42" on Facebook and "Va1Jean64" on Twitter.

So... write them down!  That's right, you heard me, write them
down.  But... here's the key.  If you've made your passwords
sufficiently memorable (to you), you can write them in a code that
no one else can crack.  

Say, for example, you have three basic sets of passwords:
"HermioneGranger," "JeanValjean," and "WindintheWillows."  You use
one set for financial sites, such as banking and PayPal; one for
social media sites; and one for shopping (e.g., Amazon and eBay). 
On each site, you add a special "tweak," perhaps by adding numbers,
swapping letters for numbers, or adding some other code.  To keep
them all straight, set up a master password file.  (Please DON'T
title it "Master Password File!")  List the location of the account
(e.g., Amazon), the username (if it's your e-mail, just note
"e-mail"), and any other necessary account information (some
accounts require your account number).  For your password, use the
minimum amount of coding needed to remind you of the basic password
root (J-V-J), and then the "twist."  If you use "JeanValjean2014,"
just note "JVJ--14."  No one else is likely to ever figure out what
"JVJ" stands for, but you'll always remember -- just as you'll
always be able to determine that "JVJ--14" is your eBay password
while "J-AZ-2014-VJ" is your Amazon password.

Make sure that your passwords can't be easily associated with you. 
Obviously, if you've published a book, you won't want to use
character names from that book, or its title (though a key phrase
would probably be safe enough).  If you've informed your Facebook
friends of the name of your favorite novel, or told them all about
a book you've just read and loved, use a different book that you
haven't told the world about.  Consider one that you loved in
childhood but probably haven't talked about lately.  Changing
passwords becomes simple as well -- as simple as reading another

With this method, even if someone hacks your computer and accesses
your list, it will be worthless without your personal "code" -- and
that's the part that you keep in the safest memory location of all:
Your own. 

Here's a good site with other ideas for creating a strong password:


This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained. (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here:


A WRITER'S YEAR is the ONLY 365-day planner designed specifically
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hours, organize your tasks, keep track of important deadlines and
due-dates, and track your progress and achievements!  Each week
brings an inspirational writing quote. Best of all, it's F*R*E*E.
To download an electronic version in PDF or Excel, or information
on how to order a hardcopy (this year in two formats!), visit



UK Curriculum Drops US, International Titles
Britain's education minister, Michael Gove, has launched a
revamping of UK reading curriculum that aims to "make the school
curriculum more rigorous" by requiring pupils to study "high
quality, intellectually challenging, and substantial" works. 
Critics of the revamp claim that Gove's changes are designed to
restrict students' reading to British works, excluding the classic
literature of other countries, including works by US, African and
Asian authors.  Works such as "Of Mice and Men" and "To Kill a
Mockingbird," which have been part of the UK curriculum for
decades, are no longer on the required reading list; Gove claims,
however, that the list is not meant to be "restrictive" and that
students are still encouraged to read widely and study "seminal"
world literature.  For more on the controversy, visit 

WeNeedDiverseBooks Plans Diversity Festival
The grassroots "WeNeedDiverseBooks" campaign, which began as a
social media effort, announced that it plans to develop the first
Children's Literature Diversity Festival, to be held in Washington,
DC, in the summer of 2016.  Spokesperson and YA author Ellen Oh
says that "This will be a celebration of diverse authors and
authors who write diversely... a festival where every panel, every
event will celebrate diversity in all of its glory."  For more
details, visit http://tinyurl.com/pspoau4 or follow the campaign on
Twitter at "#WeNeedDiverseBooks

If Klingon Isn't For You...
If you'd like to speak a fantasy language, but don't care for
Klingon, now you have an opportunity to learn Dothraki, a language
from George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" series.  Living
Language has partnered with HBO Global Licensing to launch a
language course for Dothraki, the first-ever fictional
living-language course.  For more details, visit 

Books-a-Million opens Hatchette Portal
No doubt as a move to counter (or capitalize upon) Amazon's ongoing
fray with the Hachette Book Group, Books-a-Million has announced
that it has opened a dedicated site on its website to feature
Hachette titles, often at discounts of 30% to 40%.  Readers can
purchase existing titles and pre-order upcoming titles at 


WritingCareer.com is a free online resource to find paying markets
for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report
on current needs of editors and publishers who are open for
submissions, pay competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees.


FEATURE:   Create a Website that Works for You
By Barbara Florio Graham


Publishers and agents emphasize that every writer needs a platform,
a combination of efforts that makes your name and your book visible
among the thousands of other authors and titles clamoring for
attention. That begins with a strong web presence, and having your
own website is key. People are not going to find your book on
Amazon unless they know your name or the title of your book. If
either one is too similar to another author or another book, you're
out of luck.

Joan Stewart, who publishes the popular "Publicity Hound"
newsletter, reports an alarming trend. Authors are putting their
best writing and promotional materials "on somebody else's asset,
or an environment that you can't control," such as Facebook,
YouTube, or other social media.

Facebook, LinkedIn, GooglePlus and Twitter are useful parts of a
successful platform, but only if they  drive people to your
website.   Another myth is that people will find your blog and
follow it. Most blogs are followed only by a select group of
friends and family. A blog is not going to sell books unless it's
carefully positioned and linked to a website that gets lots of

Mark Levine, author of the highly-acclaimed "Fine Print of
Self-Publishing," says, "The key to doing anything online is having
a solid, well written, optimized website."

Authors often hire someone else to create and manage their
websites. This presents a myriad of problems. You have to pay this
person, wait for him/her to find time to make the changes you
request, and run the risk of having to start over if your website
manager quits the business for any reason. Unfortunately, the
person who created your website may also be listed as the owner of
the domain, and if you lose that person, you lose the entire site.
When you are the creator and owner, you can put a copyright
statement on your home page (and any other pages with original
content), and protect it from infringement. 

Two Key Points
So it's essential to remember two key points. One is to create your
own site. There are many free programs to choose from, but check
them out carefully. Some of these want to host your site, and even
if you use your own domain name, you'll need to register your
domain and pay an annual fee to a reputable company (like
EasyHosting) to keep it active.

This is one of several companies that will also help you create
your website, but you can also buy a web-creation program yourself.
Consider hiring a student to help you create your site and teach
you how to update it yourself. I purchased WebExpress on the
recommendation of a software expert, and worked with my long-time
ISP, Storm, to solve problems and host the site. 

I found the program very easy to use, and in the dozen years since
I created my site, WebExpress has developed far more tools and
templates, great online support, and even a forum for users.
There are other programs as well. Search the web, ask friends, or
enlist the help of a local teacher whose students are learning
these skills.  

The second key point is to select a domain name that is uniquely
yours. You should then link your email account to that domain. This
is why I don't recommend using WordPress.  You want a domain name
that doesn't take visitors anywhere else.

By using your own domain to host your email, you reinforce your
site with every email you send. This is much better than a generic
gmail or yahoo account, or using the domain of your local ISP,
which might change over time.  You can keep a gmail account to use
for newsletters and online shopping sites, while reserving your
domain email for personal and professional use.

When you have your own domain, you can create a number of aliases.
In addition to BFG@SimonTeakettle.com, my mail can come in to
Terzo@SimonTeakettle.com and other addresses I post on my site,
such as Info@ SimonTeakettle.com. This allows you to sort incoming
email easily.

Your Domain Name
Use your own given name or the name of your company, as long as
it's not easily confused with someone else. I selected Simon
Teakettle Ink for my business name, and SimonTeakettle.com for my
website, because my cat, Simon Teakettle, was already famous. He
was on CBC radio once a week, and his name had high recognition.
Those who know that Simon is a cat will find his blog and lots of
cat information there, but others who search for my books or
services will see them prominently featured on the home page. And
anyone who puts my name into any search engine will come up with

But my reasons were dictated by timing. I created my site in 2001,
to promote "Mewsings/Musings," the book of humor co-authored by me
and Simon Teakettle. I wanted to ensure that the site was ready
before the book was launched, and had 8000 bookmarks printed (with
the first run of 1000 copies of the book), containing the front and
back covers and the website URL. I was surprised at how easy it
was. I did have some help from a friend and from the support team
at Storm. They were so helpful that I delivered a box of chocolates
and a copy of the book to them  to say thanks. 

This was before "social media" and before most authors had their
own sites. I decided against using Barbara Graham for my domain,
because there's a site with that name for a notorious American
criminal and convicted murderer. And inserting Florio doesn't work,
as it's so often misspelled. If I were doing this today, I'd use my
full name, because URLs are now "clickable" and one doesn't have to
worry about typos that might lead someone astray.  

Still, be careful if your name is too common or difficult to spell
correctly. And check to see that it hasn't already been taken by
someone else. Use a search engine to check any URL you're
considering. I have a client whose name is so common, she has had
to use her title to distinguish her from everyone else with the
same name. She's used "Dr. Helen Douglas" on her Facebook page as
well. She would have been better off to create a business name and
use that for her website.

Don't succumb to the temptation to call your website "Creative
Communications," or, even worse, the title of your book. Nobody is
ever going to find you that way.

Do mix upper and lowercase letters in the URL, because it makes it
easier to remember, and to type, although on the web, it will
actually "translate" into all lowercase. 

Try to obtain a .com domain. That's still the most common
extension. You don't reveal your country of origin, as you would
with .ca or .fr, while .org and .net extensions tend to be
associated with organizations or groups. 

Designing Your Site 
Keep your website simple, at least at first, and place your site
navigation links either across the top of the home page or down the
left side. We read from left to right, and those viewing websites
on small screens (such as tablets and cell phones) often lose the
right side of the page.  

Eventually, you can create framed sections, as I have on my home
page. Each section can have its own color, and web pages can have
different backgrounds as well. Don't get too creative with these,
however! Keep in mind that the easiest text to read is black print
on a pale background. Use a simple, open font, like Arial Black,
Times New Roman, or Verdana. You want a serif font, except for
occasional headlines. For variety, I use Comic Sans on the cat

Long passages can be in 12pt type, but keep paragraphs short.
Important items should be in  14pt with larger fonts used
sparingly. On my Facts pages, I change colors from black to dark
green to navy to maroon when I change subject matter. That makes it
easier to skim the pages to read what interests you. 

Be sure your text can be read against your background! There's
nothing more annoying than faint text passages on a colored or busy
background! Don't try to overlay photos with text. You're not
designing a book cover or poster. Websites have to be easy to read
and to navigate.

Avoid italics except for books, films, and other titles, or for
short headlines. Italics slow down the reading process, and you
want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to your site to
absorb what you're offering.  

Navigation Links 
Each navigation (or menu) link should connect to a separate page.
There should be one for your bio (with a photo), one for each of
your books (with cover image, blurb, reviews and ordering info),
one for any services you offer, one with key elements of your
resume (education, background, publishing credits), and one for
contact info. I suggest you not put a contact form on the site.
These are annoying, and it's much better just to list your email.
In order to avoid trolling spammers, write it as BFG (at)
SimonTeakettle.com. Visitors to your site will know to substitute @
for (at). [Editor's note: You can also reduce spam by creating an
e-mail link that displays just your name, while unicoding the
actual e-mail link.  You can obtain a unicode for your e-mail here:
http://infinetdesign.com/temp/unicode/.  The code will create a
series of numerical ASCII codes so that your actual e-mail cannot
be easily "harvested" by spam robots.]

You may not want to include your phone number, and need to think
carefully about whether or not to include your mailing address. You
can always suggest that anyone wanting to order a book from you
contact you via email to place the order and obtain your address. 

The great thing about websites is that there's no set page length
or format. Your contact page can be very short, your credit list
very long. And you can always divide pages into different sections
or create links to other pages, as I've done on my Resources pages. 

Making Your Website Work for You
One you have a website, everything else builds on that. If you have
a blog, link it to your site, use the URL in your email signature,
link to various pages on your site from posts on social media, and
make your site useful by adding lots of free information. A good
way to do this is to share quotations (with full attribution),
excerpts from articles you've written (indicating where and when
the piece was published), snippets from your book(s) that relate to
current events or holidays, or other tidbits from your website and
use these as social media posts. 

For example, leading up to the holidays, I mentioned on my Facebook
page that my website had a section of Christmas facts on the
Interesting Facts page. And often when I receive a new testimonial
from a recent client, I post it on LinkedIn, mentioning that there
is a page of Testimonials on my website. 

Consider a Media Room, where you can post press releases, publicity
you've received, links to broadcast interviews, and other news that
adds to your platform. Whenever you announce a small achievement on
social media, copy this to your Media Room. 

If your site has many links and sub-links, create a Site Map.
Visitors find these a great way to find what they're looking for,
without having to explore every link on the home page. 

Creating your own website can be lots of fun. If you have the
freedom to change it whenever you wish, it becomes a delightful
outlet to showcase your flair for color and design. Add photos,
links to colleagues, references you've found useful, anything else
you want to share. 

Then use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media to
drive traffic to your site. Tell your friends, announce it to
organizations you belong to, put it on your business cards.  

But don't put it off; it's the base of your platform. 


Copyright 2014 Barbara Florio Graham 

Barbara Florio Graham is a publishing consultant and author with a
popular website full of free information, at 
http://SimonTeakettle.com. Use the Site Map to navigate the site,
and don't miss Terzo's blog and his Fan Club! Bobbi is a popular
speaker and a frequent contributor to many writers' newsletters.
She has written for hundreds of newspapers and magazines and
contributed to 38 anthologies in five countries.

For more advice on building an author website, visit:

This article may not be reprinted without the author's written

Link to this article here:


EVERY WRITER NEEDS A HOLIDAY!  Moira Allen's new "The Writer's
Guide to Holidays, Observances and Awareness Dates" offers 1800 of
them for instant inspiration on those days when you can't think of
a thing to write about!  Holiday topics are a perennial favorite of
magazine editors around the world -- so fuel your inspiration and
jumpstart your articles today!  Available in print and Kindle
editions; visit http://www.writing-world.com/year/holidays.shtml



Tandem Region Times
The Tandem Region Times (http://www.tandemregiontimes.com)is a
horror-themed newspaper about a fictional municipality called
Tandem Region. Stories are written as news reports, classified
entries, editorials, etc.  We are a new site, but we are open for
submissions at any time. We update bi-weekly. We have a mandate to
work with every writer that contacts us, and get every story
published in one form or another. We try to get writers as much
exposure as possible. "Anyone can submit a story to the Editors,
which must adhere to conventional journalistic format. You can play
it pretty loose, but you need to pick a concept and describe it
from the outside as if it actually happened. Contact the Editors
for more information and help us build up this world."

Triptych Tales
We publish stories that take place in our here and now, or
something very close to it. We like mainstream, fantasy and science
fiction, but we don't want space operas or high fantasy. Think The
Twilight Zone or Flowers for Algernon or Robert Sawyer's The
Terminal Experiment or the Newford stories of Charles De Lint,
rather than Isaac Asimov's Foundation series or The Lord of the
Rings trilogy. 

Stories do not have to be speculative but they should contain
elements common to speculative fiction. That said, we're open to
ideas that haven't occurred to us, as long as you don't take us
off-planet. If you have to write about dragons, make us believe we
could see them when we walk out our door. And please, no fan
fiction, excessive sex or gore.

Triptych Tales publishes one story a month on its website, plus an
annual ebook anthology. Our target for launch is mid-July. The
submissions page is up now and we are accepting submissions. If you
have any questions, please contact Melanie Fogel, editor --
preferably at this address: ai279@ncf.ca as I'll probably get back
to you quicker, but editor@triptychtales.net is, I believe,
currently valid. 

Brief guidelines:
Word count: 2000-6000 words, query if longer.
Accepts most genres.
Payment: $100 flat fee for original submissions, $50 for reprints
e-submissions only: submissions@triptychtales.net

Full guidelines at: http://triptychtales.net/submissions.html

The Font – A Literary Journal for Language Teachers (and learners)

The Font welcomes submissions of high quality short stories,
articles, essays, anecdotes, poems, cartoons and other forms of
creative writing or visual art which provide insight, reflection,
humour, and inspiration on the theme of language teaching or
learning, particularly abroad. In other words, the theme must be in
some way related to language teaching or learning or of interest to
those connected to this profession. Submissions are invited for the
Fall 2014 Issue, which will be published in September (deadline is
August 30). 
More information, and some excellent reading can be found at
http://www.thefontjournal.com  See 
http://thefontjournal.com/submissions/ for full guidelines.
Kind regards,
James Crocker, Editor


Hanging on Cliffs

According to Wikipedia, a cliffhanger "is a plot device leaving a
character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with
a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized
fiction." Cliffhangers are created to ensure the audience will wait
to see how the characters resolve the dilemma. 

History of Cliffhangers
The literary device known as the cliffhanger goes way back in
storytelling history. One of the oldest instances known to us is in
Homer's "The Odyssey." Telemachus, the son of Odysseus and one of
the main characters, is attacked by bandits. Homer, instead of
immediately resolving the scene and letting us know what happens to
Telemachus, breaks to another character, leaving the fate of
Telemachus in suspense. 

Cliffhangers became very important in stories that were serialized,
in which the storytellers wanted the audience to return later for
more. Examples include the installments by Wilkie Collins and the
film series known as "The Perils of Pauline." The term probably
comes from the serialized version of a Thomas Hardy novel, "A Pair
of Blue Eyes," published in 1873, in which the protagonist was
literally hanging off a cliff. 

Construction of Cliffhangers
When writing fiction, a cliffhanger typically takes place at the
end of a scene, chapter, section or even a novel -- or in TV at the
end of a season, leaving viewers waiting all summer. The goal is to
make your audience want to come back for more. The question then
becomes: what will create this yearning in your audience? 

Exactly how you approach this problem depends a lot on your story
and the possibilities you have set up. It depends, too, on your
genre. If your characters are involved in life-or-death situations,
then generally there will be a threat to their lives. If the core
story involves, say, romance, a cliffhanger may be best created by
having the hero seem about to propose. If you are writing in a
genre that involves supernatural, you have many options available.
You should consider, too, which emotion you are trying to produce
in your readers. Despair? Hope? Anticipation? Dread? Surprise?

Furthermore, cliffhangers create expectations that are either
positive or negative in your audience. By negative, I mean that the
readers are expecting something terrible to happen to the
protagonists, and they don't know how the protagonists will cope.
By positive, I mean that your readers have reason to believe that
something wonderful is about to happen -- something the characters
have longed for, striven for, possibly for chapters or even volumes
-- and the readers can't wait to see it happen on the page. These
are suggestions and guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. A positive
event could be totally unexpected rather than something that has
been anticipated for many pages. 

Here are some ideas that can be used as cliffhangers:
• Someone important dies (at least apparently; writers are
amazingly resourceful with respect to resuscitation and
• The will is read, and the fortune belongs to someone else and our
protagonists are suddenly poor 
• The will is read, and the fortune belongs to the hero -- but only
if he marries a woman he considers his enemy (this may sound
far-fetched, but was fairly standard in the Ptolemaic dynasty - and
many modern romance novels) 
• The car's brakes fail and the audience knows that the bridge is
• The protagonist has been bitten by a rattlesnake 
• The lovers realize there is an intruder in the house 
• A teenager appears at the door, claiming to be the natural child
of the heroine's new husband 
• A bomb is discovered 
• The doctor calls and reports that the test has revealed that the
hero has cancer 
• The pregnancy stick is positive for the unwed teenager 
• A meteor strikes 
• A gas leak leads to an explosion 

Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen? Or even,
what are the worst things as in plural catastrophes? Don't be
afraid to pile it on. Your protagonists can be set upon by more
than one trouble. Consider the end of "The Fellowship of the Ring."
By this time Gandalf has (apparently) died; the fellowship has
mostly fallen apart, with Frodo's mission being challenged by one
of his own compatriots; then they are also set upon by orcs, and
Merry and Pippin are captured. 

Recap After the Cliffhanger
What you do after the cliffhanger depends on the format of your
storytelling. If the cliffhanger is at the end of a chapter or a
scene, your readers will not have forgotten the events as they turn
the page, so reminding them of what just happened in the story is
not needed. If you are creating a series of novels or film, and
could reasonably expect that some time has gone by since your
readers/viewers were last in your story (and some may have missed
previous episodes entirely) you may want to recapitulate events for
your audience. 

Constructing a recap is a delicate business, because you want to
remind and bring up to speed those who need it without boring the
rest of your audience. In movies and films I am sure that the
editors sweat as they pick out which scene snippets to include.
There are many ways you can do this in literature. You could simply
summarize the previous novel(s) in a section titled, "Summary of
Previous Novel(s)." You could assume that your fan-base is so
devoted that nothing is required. You could retell the events from
another point of view. My co-author and I used this technique in
"Antigone & Creon." In the first chapter we recap the events of
"Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus," because without
understanding the basic plot of "Jocasta," readers will not have
enough to appreciate "Antigone & Creon." However, we retell the
events from the point of view of Jocasta's brother Creon, who has a
completely different take on the events of "Jocasta" and who knows
a few things that his sister did not. Because of his unique
perspective, we hope that readers who have read and who remember
"Jocasta" will be entertained. 

Leave Them Hanging?
So, after you have created a cliffhanger and ratcheted up the
tension, what comes next? There are several options. 

One frequently used device is to leave the readers (and perhaps the
characters) hanging and to skip to another thread in your story (as
Homer did in "The Odyssey"). This approach is an artificial but
effective way to ratchet up the tension by forcing your readers to
wait to learn what happens. On the one hand, it may also use up
some of the good will you have created with your audience as
beginnings can be difficult. On the other hand, you should strive
to have the new thread become so interesting that, when you switch
back to the original thread, your readers leave the new thread with

Climbing Off Cliffs
Eventually you will need to return to the characters and their
cliffs and continue the story. How do you do this? Mostly this is
up to your imagination and where you want the story to go, but here
are some considerations. 

One alternative is to have simply misled the readers. It could be
what happened in the last scene is actually different than it first
appeared. Perhaps the police arrived and announced that they are
here to arrest Mr. Smith. In the continuation we discover that they
are referring to another Mr. Smith. In my opinion this literary
device should not be used at the end of a major break in your story
-- such as the end of a novel or a season of TV -- but it can be a
lot of fun at the end of chapter or a scene. For major story
breaks, however, this approach may be considered a cheat. 

Besides this, you can develop the story any number of ways, either
making the situation better (from the perspective of the
characters) or worse (again from the perspective of the
characters). If the situation improves, how does it improve? Is it
through the efforts of the protagonist, or does assistance arrive
from a likely -- or better yet, an unlikely -- source? 

If the situation gets worse, how much worse are you going to make
it? If you have killed off a main character, does that main
character remain dead and compel the other characters to cope? Or
will you find a means of resuscitation, resurrection, or haunting? 
Perhaps the situation's growing worse -- as when Harry, Hermione
and Ron are captured and taken to Malfoy Manor in "Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows" -- is what provides the information, albeit in
an unexpected and unpleasant manner, for the heroes to complete
their quest. 

Perhaps the cliffhanger, at the end of a chapter, is simply a
change for the character and life never does get better. In "Roots"
by Alex Haley, when Kunta Kinte is taken into slavery, that's it.
He never lives life as a free man again, and several generations
will pass before his descendants experience liberty. 

If you are writing historical fiction, such as Haley's "Roots,"
then you may have less flexibility with respect to your resolution
of cliffhangers. If you are writing in most other genres, you can
frequently do much more with your imagination to treat your readers
to an unexpected resolution. 

Occasionally the whole chapter or even the volume of the series is
devoted to dealing with the very serious problem that fell on the
heads of the protagonists at the end of the previous chapter/book,
only to have the action pause again on another exciting point. 

The use of cliffhangers is an extremely effective technique to get
your readers to turn to the next page or to buy the next volume.
They are frequently manipulative, but they can also be enormous


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
Victoria is co-author with Alice Underwood of the Tapestry of
Bronze series (Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes;
Arrow of Artemis; and Antigone & Creon), based on Greek myths and
set in the late Bronze Age. On her own she has written The Highbury
Murders, in which she channeled the spirits and styles of Jane
Austen and Agatha Christie.  Her newest novel is Academic
Assassination (A Zofia Martin Mystery) - available now on Kindle
and coming soon in print.  Besides all this, Victoria is married
with kids, and (though American) spends much of her time in Europe.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bird-watching and tutoring
mathematics. Visit her website at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com,
or contact her at tapestry (at) tapestryofbronze (dot) com 

Copyright 2014 Victoria Grossack. 

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author.

Link to this article here: 

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Victoria now
offers one-on-one writing classes; find out more at: 


A publishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.



Magazine Discount Center
You might ask what this magazine subscription site has to do with
writing!  In fact, it could be a very useful tool for market
research, as it enables you to locate magazines in a wide range of
subject areas.  It also indicates the most popular magazines in
each subject.  It's still up to you to locate guidelines and
submission information, but this is a useful place to start!

So You Want to Use Song Lyrics in Your Novel? 
This is another question we hear often, and this post does an
admirable job of presenting the facts and the problems - including
just how much it can COST to obtain permission to quote even a line
or two from a famous song.

A Writer's Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy 
We get so many questions about how to write a memoir without
getting sued by the people one might be writing about that I
thought it would be worthwhile to refer back to this 2010 article
on how to maintain the balance between telling one's story and
invading the privacy of others.


Free Image Editors (Part I)


We're writers, and thus, we tend to work with words more than we do
pictures. However, in this modern fast-paced world of social media
and mobile technology, sometimes images are needed to draw people's

This month, we'll be looking at some free, easy-to-use image
editors. These are all web-based editors, so there's no need to
install anything. 

If you want to make simple edits to an image, such as adding a line
of text or resizing the image, it's likely that you'll want to work
with an image editor that's quick and easy to use, and doesn't
require searching for hours and hours just to find the button for
changing font sizes. Quick Picture Tools 
(http://www.quickpicturetools.com/en/) is an online image editor
that features 12 editing tools, which allow you to add frames, blur
edges, add text, crop pictures, combine multiple images, and more.
All you have to do is click on the function you want, load the
image you want to edit, and then use the toolbox below your
workspace to fine-tune your image before using the "Generate Image"
button in the bottom right corner to save your edited image to your
computer (images can be saved as either jpeg or png files). There's
no need to register for an account or sign in to the site, so this
tool is perfect for on-the-go editing. The one drawback of Quick
Picture Tools is that if you want to make different types of edits
(like adding text and cropping images), you'll need to do them

Quick Picture Tools is good for really simple image editing, but
sometimes you're looking for something a little more sophisticated.
I like the layout of PicMonkey (http://www.picmonkey.com/), with
its breathtaking and dizzying array of editing tools that can help
you with special effects, touch-ups, clipart, frames, and more.
There is no need to register or sign in to use the site, and you
can load and edit images from your computer, Dropbox, Facebook, or
Flickr. The PicMonkey blog (http://www.picmonkey.com/blog/) has a
bunch of video tutorials that you can check out if you need help,
or even if you're simply looking for some inspiration to get you
started. PicMonkey seems to lag a little if you're on a slow
Internet connection, and some of the features shown in the editor
are only available if you pay for an upgrade, but other than that
it's great for slightly more advanced image editing needs. 

If you’re looking to make a collage or a digital scrapbook, fotor
(http://www.fotor.com/) has some great collage templates that make
it super easy to organize your photos and add text and clipart.
Apart from collages, fotor can also help you edit photos, and make
greeting cards. They even have a cover photo editor for your
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+ cover photos. fotor runs on
multiple platforms (iPhones, Android phones, PCs, Windows 8 tablets
and phones, and Macs, as well as editors and extensions for
Facebook and Google Chrome), so if you like the editor you can
download it for free directly from the fotor site. 


Copyright 2014 Aline Lechaye 

Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye at gmail.com

This article may be reprinted without the author's permission.


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Copyright 2014 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
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