The Best Writing Podcasts (Part 2)


Less than a year ago, I published a post about writing podcasts (all of which I still listen to a year later). I thought I’d add a follow-up to that post with three new writing podcasts that have my attention. They’re a mix of inspiration and invaluable industry knowledge.

Kobo Writing Life – You may know Kobo because it’s a book retailer, but the company’s also started a podcast which features great interviews with successful authors and industry professionals. It’s always interesting to compare the path to publication stories of newer versus older writers. The podcast features a mix of trad-pubbed authors, self-pubbed authors, and anyone whose ideas are changing the story industry. Favorites: “Amy Tannenbaum” and “Bella Andre”.

The Smarter Artist – Less of a writing industry podcast and more of a writing mindset podcast. The Sterling & Stone guys talk about writing routines, lifestyle changes they’ve made for their writing, and conquering self-doubt as a writer. Each podcast is between 5-10 minutes to cut out any fluff and leave solid advice for listeners. Favorites: “What To Do if You Have Only One Book” and “How to Define Your Goals as an Artist”.

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Virginia Woolf on Writing and Success

OCEANBUFFETIn junior high, I thought it would be a great idea to read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I’m not sure why, because the text went way over my head at the time. I think I set it down halfway through and picked up Ella Enchanted instead (still a great book, just not quite the same).

But as we all try to do with classics from time to time, I picked it up recently and read it again. This time, I couldn’t help notice the great observations Woolf makes about the craft of writing. Two of them stayed with me in particular: (1) our writing as an extension of ourselves, and (2) success as a process.

Writing as an extension of ourselves

Whatever the characters in Mrs. Dalloway want for themselves, they want for their writing. One character, Septimus Warren Smith, is a writer who faces shell shock during the novel.

At one point, when he anticipates a doctor finding him, he thinks: “Now for his writings…Universal love: the meaning of the world. Burn them!” Since he believes that the doctor will seek to remove him from his current life, he wants to remove himself first. (This is definitely one of the more morbid examples in the book – and spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t yet read it!)

When considering how to best leave, though, one of his first concerns is for his writings. His work has become a reflection of who he is, so much so that he needs the writings to be burned even if they contain ‘the meaning of the world’. Just as he wants to remain untouched by doctors, he wants his writings to remain untouched.

As writers, we pour an incredible amount of time and effort into perfecting each small word or turn of phrase. Because of this effort, Woolf points out the strong attachment we feel to what we create.

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Deconstruct Dialogue: Improve Your Story’s Dialogue

2-3pm - Friday - January 11,

One of my favorite scenes to write in any novel are the ones heavy in dialogue. What’s said is just as important as what’s left unsaid. Tension builds as voices rise. A relationship alters from a single beat of silence. There’s endless possibilities to create an additional layer of complexity to any story through speech.

How can we improve such an important part of our story? I’ve included below some tips I’ve collected in the past year about how to craft realistic and engaging dialogue, and hopefully these suggestions will help you create your next pivotal exchange between characters. Continue reading

These Famous Writers Don’t Want to See You Give Up

These Famous Writers Don't Want to See You Give Up

I’ve noticed a lot of great posts surface online recently about dealing with burnout, such as “5 Ways to Recover After a Writer’s Burnout” by Nichole Severn at She’s Novel. Everyone can start to feel overworked and simply overwhelmed after a while. And if you’re anything like me, your past few weeks have become nonstop working (and writing) day in and day out without pausing to take a moment for inspiration. But everyone needs motivation – even the hardest work ethic needs a push every now and then.

This Monday, I decided it would be best to create a “Monday Motivation” post of sorts and guide you to some of the best quotes I’ve found from successful writers about resilience. That’s right, even the most famous writers admit they sometimes struggle with work. Turn back to this post whenever you need a bit of motivation to get back into your routine, or read through these amazing quotes now to feel energized about starting your week’s projects.

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How Summer Travels Help Your Summer Writing

Summer Writing

I’ve had an incredible, adventurous, and exhausting time this past month exploring South Korea and Hong Kong. (Shout-out to every single cityscape in Seoul: the views were gorgeous.) To be honest, I haven’t done as much writing as I planned to accomplish during this trip. But there was potential writing inspiration in every photo I took, awareness of other customs I want to include in future works, and a general boost to my summer writing now that I’ve returned home.

Whether you’re flying halfway across the world, visiting the beach, or taking a road trip along the coast, I am a huge believer that all writers benefit from summer travels. All of my novels were inspired from past trips, and I know this past month’s study abroad program will probably result in Seoul being a future novel setting as well. Which brings us into the first point…

  • Fresh story settings. There’s nothing like experiencing a place for the first time. While we may be familiar with our hometown, when you get used to a place for too long you forget to notice the little details. What are the scents in the local market? How do people greet each other? What famous structure does the city hall building remind you of? You never know, a new story setting could inspire a new plot.
  • Take (lots of) pictures and keep them as writing prompts. My phone is currently filled with all kinds of random photos I snapped in Seoul – at cafes, with friends, of unique store window displays, and of course endless city skylines. What catches your eye while traveling will later invoke your imagination while writing. Every time my manuscript reaches that “soggy middle” stage or I feel a bit of writer’s block coming on, I look back to old vacation photos and feel inspired again.

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Writing Mistakes I Wish I’d Avoided


It’s been a year since I published The Innocent Assassins, and almost a year since I published One Last Letter. Even within the past year, I’ve noticed my writing improve. I sat down at my computer the other day to read a few old manuscripts I typed up (even pre-TIA) and I couldn’t help but cringe at some of the common writing mistakes I used to make. The following list of writing mistakes are ones I’m determined to avoid in future writing, and ones I wish I’d read about in the past!

(1) Adverb usage.

Most of the time, descriptive words can replace adverbs and make the sentence stronger. It all goes back to “show, don’t tell”. Why write she said it “tiredly” when you could write she “paused and rubbed the throbbing temples of her forehead”. When adverbs are avoided, visualization becomes much more vivid for the reader.

(2) Using the character’s title when I could be saying “he”, “she”, or “(Character’s Name)”.

This post from K. M. Weiland discusses what I’m talking about. This means saying “the lady”, “the man”, “his mother”. I’m pretty sure in One Last Letter I used “the cowboy” a bit too many times. I realized I was including “the” nouns as a way to remind myself of the character’s role in the story, but the reader already knows the character’s role. They don’t need to read about “the cowboy” instead of Jesse or “he”.

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Best Films About Writers


These are not only some of my favorite films about writers and writing, they’re also some of the best films for any movie junkie! As summer rolls around and you might need a writing break, I highly recommend watching these three.

Midnight in Paris

“No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.”

Why this movie? It’s always fun to recognize all the Jazz Age writers such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald, though fair warning: they’re complete stereotypes of how the media remembers them. The protagonist, Gil Pender, is a screenwriter who wants to work on a novel. While venturing through the streets of Paris after midnight, he’s swept back in time to the Jazz Age and immerses himself in the Parisian culture of the period. This movie not only captures the writing struggles of trying to break into a different medium, it also discusses what it’s like to seek inspiration from both the past and present.

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What College Taught Me About Writing and Publishing

OCEANBUFFET I’m typing this post after I’ve finished my last final during finals week – and what a relief it is for summer to finally be here! Sophomore year has definitely had its ups and downs. It’s crazy that I’m already halfway done with college, but the end of this year made me realize how much the past two years have taught me about both the writing process and how to approach publishing.

1) Failure is inevitable.

Just like good reviews and bad reviews, you’ll have amazing wonderful friends and then you’ll also have disappointed relationships. Not all stories will do as well as others and not all readers will love your writing. Sometimes you’ll put a story out there to the world or try a marketing technique and it won’t work. That’s fine.

College was the time when I started to realize that there may be tests you study an insane amount of time for and still don’t perform as well as you’d hoped. There will also be times when you have three midterms in one day and somehow you do well on all of them. There will be failures from your writing and promotion, just like there will be failures from your tests and friendships. There’s no such thing as a 100% success rate – and that’s normal! Continue reading

Revolutionary Hearts is LIVE!



Revolutionary Hearts is live!

Only $0.77 on Amazon, $0.99 at all other retailers!

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Parineeta Singh has always known her purpose in life: to help exact revenge on the invading British and free India. She becomes a maid for General Carton in order to supply information to her brother’s Indian revolutionary group. But when her employer is  exposed as an American spy, she agrees to help him escape the British Raj.

She did not agree to lose her heart.

To complete his mission, Carton—aka undercover operative Warren Khan—must hide both his true objective and his part-Indian heritage. But once he meets the captivating Parineeta, who holds the key to both his freedom and capturing her brother, a suspected anarchist, he finds the subterfuge more difficult than anticipated.

Navigating between the lavish social circles of the British elite and the dense jungles of 1920s India on the brink of the country’s revolution, the two must find a way to protect both their lives and their love.


“How do you know so much about the jungle, anyway?” He leaned against one side of the cave, and she watched his face slip into the shadows. “I thought your entire family worked for the previous general who lived in that house before me. Surely he didn’t send you out for tasks in the trees.”

The unbidden memories sent a fresh wave of pain straight to her heart. “When I was younger, I worked as a maid in the house. But the previous general was… He would instruct me to scrub the floors from dawn until sundown, when I would finally receive a break to eat a meal. All his servants were treated in such a manner.”


“I do not believe he saw us as people. We could be worked like dogs. I would often escape into the jungle, and eventually I no longer worked in the house at all.”

“I see.” Warren reached out to envelope both of her hands into his smooth ones. She flinched. Yet as her skin grew accustomed to the touch, she relaxed her hands in his. It alarmed her how much more at ease she was becoming around him. It was almost as if he provided a source of comfort, something she couldn’t quite name and didn’t care to. “I do not understand why anyone would be cruel to you, though.”

He rubbed his thumb in a circular motion over her hand. Shockwaves from his touch jolted up her arm.

Danger. She wrenched one of her hands from his hold and pivoted on her heel. But his right hand still gripped hers with firm pressure. Her torso twisted as she kept her face turned from his. “Then you do not know enough of the world.”

“I think I do.” His voice was low and husky. A chill ran up Parineeta’s spine and unfamiliar heat pooled in the pit of her stomach. “I’ve seen and known many women during my life. No agent’s or colonel’s daughter has ever been more courageous or intelligent than you.”

Parineeta spun her head around. She wanted—no, she needed—to believe this man. No one had ever said the honeyed words that left his mouth to her before. They were so sweet that she could almost taste her grandmother’s syrup. He squeezed her hand and brought her body ever so closer to his. His musky scent lingered in the air, and she would have sworn he could hear her heartbeat.

“You called me intelligent in the past. Am I?” She lifted her chin, reclaiming her pride and throwing off whatever feeling this man gave her. She would not buckle to her knees before him. “I am here to learn information from you and nothing more, yet you seem to draw me into dangerous situations.”

Warren lifted his thumb to graze the top of her cheekbone. She struggled to keep her breathing under control as she met his gaze. The brown hair she had grown accustomed to seeing so coiffed and slicked back had fallen from its former grace and hung loose over his forehead, the ends brushing the top of his eyes.

When he spoke, he sounded distant, as if in a trance. His eyes remained fixed on hers. “I wish every woman was like you.”

She felt her cheeks flush. No man had ever spoken to her with such boldness before. A heady rush swept through her body as he inched closer to her, removing the gap between them as he inclined his body toward hers. His stubble scratched the side of her cheek, and his scent bombarded her senses, removing all rational thought. It was only her and him, in this moment, free and alive and closer and closer….

His lips brushed against hers, softly at first, then more insistent. She clutched the collar of his kameez. Could he hear her heart pounding? His right hand threaded through her hair, combing through her waves and falling along the sides of her sari. His other hand pressed into the small of her back, molding her body against his.

Her body naturally reacted in the same way—hungry and yearning against his lips. She put everything she had into the kiss, all her years of rejection and feeling unwanted and being unable to marry due to her skin. Too dark for the British to view her as an equal, too light for the men in her village to forget who her father was. She’d never kissed a man before. And this one made her feel like a flame burning up from the tips of her toes to the top of her head.