On Writing

R-every-place-has-a-story

Fiction writers know that place can be as important as character. Think:

  • Winterfell
  • Minas Tirith
  • Downton Abbey
  • Gotham City
  • Cabot Cove
  • King’s Landing
  • Hidalgo

For some reason, non-fiction writers tend to focus on events and people. However, place is just as important for those of us who write non-fiction as you fiction gurus.  In fact, every place has a story – and for me, it’s a (non-fiction) story waiting to be told. Those waiting include:

  • Pecos Ruins, New Mexico
  • Grattan Massacre Site (where a cow started a war)
  • Living Room (my local coffee house)
  • Don’s Pharmacy (Port Townsend, WA)
  • Mission San Diego de Alcala (pictured above)
  • The house around the corner with the orange door

What places do you know that have a story waiting to be told?

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nancy hendrickson's non fiction bootcamp for authors

I spend a lot of time alone but not alone. Cause there’s the cat, the hummingbirds and orioles outside my window, the herbs and flowers on the patio – all bursting with Nature’s own brand of energy. So being alone while I work doesn’t seem so bad. However, the question about being comfortable with silence is another matter.

When I’m writing a period piece, I play period music (think fiddle music of Lewis and Clark). When I’m really concentrating I play instrumental background music. When I’m really concentrating, though, I turn everything off. At that moment – when I’m deep into the words and the flow – I enter the Silence.

And you?

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I just released my latest book, How to Use Evernote® for Writing and Research. I think it’s one of the best books Evernote for writersI’ve ever written – and one that details exactly how I use Evernote and why every writer should use it too.

As I note in the book, I was slow to embrace Evernote. I downloaded the free software about two years ago but it wasn’t until last year that I really GOT how useful it is for writers – well, actually, anyone who does any kind of online research.

I included all of the basics about Evernote, as well as the WHY’s of using it. For me, personally, I’m now using Evernote to

  • outline books
  • keep research notes
  • save websites
  • stash images
  • stash screenshots
  • capture random thoughts (I have a lot of those!)
  • save audio and video clips
  • save receipts
  • storehouse my book drafts

I’m not sure how I managed before using Evernote - and in case you’ve never used it, I have to tell you it’s really easy and it keeps everything in uber-organized folders.

If you’re already using Evernote, let me know if there’s a use you’ve found that I didn’t mention. I’d love to include it in my next second edition.

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write a non-fiction book

Good non-fiction  revolves around a story. Even a cookbook, as evidenced by Lindsay Nixon’s Everyday Happy Herbivore: “Shortly after I finished my first cookbook . . . my husband and I were transferred to St. Maarten for a year. While the prospect of living in paradise was quite exciting, the realization that I’d have to cook three meals a day, everyday was daunting. . .”

Don’t you want to know how that year in paradise turned out and why it was daunting?

If you’ve already started writing your book, go back to see if you used the “once upon a time” magical story beginning. If you’re just beginning, what’s the story?

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Interview With a First-Time Kindle Author

When I received an email from Udey Johnson, thanking me for my How to Write for Kindle book, I was thrilled that I’d been able to help someone with the structure of their book. I asked Udey if I could interview him and he graciously accepted.  He’s a first-time Kindle author and his book is […]

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Structuring a Non-Fiction Book

From 30,000 feet No, this isn’t a post about writing while flying. Rather, it’s a post about the BIG PICTURE of a non-fiction book structure. How Many Topics Does Your Book Need? Once you’ve hit upon the basic idea for your book, break it down into topics. Think of the book’s structure in the same way […]

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What Do You Think About Images as Inspiration?

  If you read my book Writer’s Block: Vanquished!, you’ll know that I often use images as inspiration, a new perspective, or to kickstart an idea. Last week I made the rounds of three of the 21 California Missions – San Diego de Alcala, San Juan Capistrano, and San Luis Rey. While at each, I used […]

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