Monday, September 25, 2023

Make the Most of Having 15 Minutes to Write by Elizabeth S. Craig

As hard as it is to imagine, the holidays, beginning with Halloween next month, are fast approaching. Along with the whirl of activities come a change of routine and schedule, which may well mean that you have little, if any, time to write. This is totally understandable, considering there are family and friend commitments. Time-wise, you may be on a totally different schedule or even in or out of town.

I try to squeeze in some writing during the holidays as well as I can, while ensuring I'm still completely present for family time. It's often just fifteen minutes. I've found, though, that you can get a lot done in that amount of time. In fact, setting a timer and writing for 15 minutes is one of my favorite ways to work, regardless of how busy life is. That's because it's the perfect amount of time for me to really focus on my writing without getting distracted.

If you're dealing with fifteen-minute writing sessions, here are my tips for making the most of them:

Note where you left off the day before: At the end of your writing session, jot down a couple of notes so you can jump into where you left off the following day. This keeps you from re-reading what you wrote last time (which not only slows you down, but can put you in editing mode instead of creative mode).

Think about your story for a second before your session starts: On your way over to your laptop and while you’re booting up, think about where you want the session to go. What are you wanting to accomplish? Is this a scene with dialogue between characters? Is this going to be a transition scene? Are you developing the setting or adding description during the session?

Mute notifications: If you don't mute notifications, that 15-minute period is going to get hijacked by your phone. Minimizing distractions is the best way to focus during your short session.

Try to be flexible: If you're usually a morning writer, but your houseguests are taking naps after lunch, try writing in the afternoon. Or try to write for a few minutes before turning in at the end of the day. See if you can squeeze in a writing session in any sort of dead time . . . waiting for the kids to come out of basketball practice, waiting for your car to get its oil change, etc.

Make lists instead of doing traditional writing:  Maybe you don’t have a full fifteen minutes. Maybe you really only have five minutes. I’ve found that during my busiest days, making lists can help me make progress on my manuscript. Basically, you advance your story by thinking up 5 ways to describe your main character, 5 ways the character could grow, 10 possible subplots, 5 ways to describe the setting, etc.

Or maybe you’re in the revision process with your story. You could think up 5 ways to get out of the plot hole you’ve discovered. Or 5 possible endings for your book, if you’re not happy with the one you’ve penned.         

Something else I've found . . . these quick writing sessions work best if you can write each day for 5-15 minutes. It helps when your head is still in the story world.

Do you write in shorter writing sessions, or do you prefer longer ones? What does your holiday writing schedule usually look like?


Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, the Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. Her latest book is  Quilt Complex, which releases tomorrow. Follow her on Twitter where she shares writing links @elizabethscraig or at her blog where she offers tips for writers: .  She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and is the mother of two.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Do You Enjoy Serialized Fiction?

 Fiction subscriptions might be one way to go if you are an author. 

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Writers like Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott understood the potential of subscription fiction. They used it to lure a wildly fanatic fanbase. 

There are stories of fists fight breaking out when Charles Dickens' new stories came across the sea to America. Rabid readers could not wait to get their hands on it. It is not an exaggeration to say he built his fanbase one reader at a time through the subscription style stories. 

Authors thought that the power of subscription fiction was lost in the days of yore, but the internet provided a low-cost option, and subscription authors are currently making a comeback. . 


I am a voracious reader. And yes, I am addicted to series and serializations. I also binge watch Netflix, Hula, Disney, Paramount and so forth, lol. I love stories. I have learned to love story craft in an almost addictive way. 

Anyone who knows me has probably heard this story: my mother taught me to read before I started kindergarten. I have no memories of not reading. 

I was an only child, so stories were my playmates, my adventure, and a learning tool about the world, places, and, peoples. 

The point — I love book series and I enjoy serialized fiction in all its many forms. 

So what can writing serialized fiction do for you? The benefits are manifold.

Build Writing Skills

Active Hooks

Learning to write in a serialized way helps teach you about using active hooks in your stories. Active hooks are like cat nip to kitties. 

They tempt the reader to keep reading, while making them feel immersed in the action rather than just observing the character live out their story.

Word Choices

Serial scenes are often shorter than in a novel. It can help you learn to write shorter and tighter, to make careful and active word choices.

This helps you to convey your story's intention or actions with clarity and movement.


Hone the HOOK FACTOR. Learn to write active, engaging endings. Put your reader in the story with your character and keep them there. 

Learn to engineer suspense, wonder, surprise, shock, and the cliffhanger that keeps them flipping pages. 

Building Community

I guess one of the biggest reasons I am drawn to subscription fiction is the community building.

Market trends are changing and community is a viable way to build your readership. I’ve been recently reading “Belonging To Brands: Why Community is the Last Great Marketing Strategy” by Mark Schaeffer. 

He uses many of his own life examples of why the community is so powerful, and what it has meant for him on his journey. 

As people, we want to belong, to matter, to feel part of something, and contribute. You learn leadership and support skills when you are part of a community, but especially when building one. 

I signed up for Ream, a subscription platform, similar to Patreon, for authors created by authors for authors. (*Ream is an affiliate link)

Subscription For Authors Facebook Group. 

Ream supports this idea of building and owning your own author community. 

In building your fanbase and super fans the sense of belonging this creates for readers can be a powerful incentive for them, and skill building tool for the author. 

It is Ream’s community, along with all they offer to support authors, that kept me coming back and eventually joining Ream. I have learned so much since starting my subscription. 

Subscription Fiction

Most of you are probably familiar with subscription platform such as Patreon or Royal Road or Wattpad. These are places serial readers can go to, read freely, and enjoy the story. 

These are also places you can hone your storytelling skills in practice with an audience. 

Putting your writing out there can be scary. 

This is one way to face that fear and practice. These sites have paying and non paying options for authors.

Subscription fiction platforms have been around for a while, but it has changed and grown in the last year. It is new opportunities and a new *yet an old* market for authors. 

The reader's attention span has lessened, making short stories popular again. Serialized fiction is just another path that is opening up for many writers. 

I was recently invited to take part in a Ream’s Top Author meeting. Yes, for the moment, wahoo, I am one of the top authors on Ream. 

It's a new platform, just over a year old, but I believe it is here to stay. Starting my subscription and being part of the active community has brought a lot of joy, insight, and fun to my writing. 

Lessons Learned

  • Community Building.
  • Hone writing skills: tighter, focused fiction writing.
  • A sense of belonging — being part of a community, and taking part in something game changing for authors.
  • Networking skills where I can support others and vice versa.
  • All the interactions in the Ream community and the community I am building “make me feel” the way I did back when I discovered my first blogging group. I have made new friends. I am continually building working relationships — Is it work? Eh, a little, but so is blogging consistently and interacting with bloggers and commenters. 
The reason subscriptions work to build your audience so well is because it gives the audience a stake in your success. And by giving your fans a stake in your success, their support dramatically increases. 

In 2022 alone, there were four million books published

Subscriptions give Indie Authors a path to do what all writers want to do: get your work in front of active readers. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Shark Infested Waters

As writers we have two goals: write good books and tell people about them, so they can read what we write. In the olden days, getting the word out to the reading public often meant giving talks at libraries or bookstores, maybe making radio or TV appearances and snail-mailing publicity materials. 

As you well know, today, so much of getting the word out is done online, and while it’s efficient and potentially reaches a wider audience, this way of promoting books is fraught with a lot of dangers. The biggest ones are identity theft, and for us, book promotion scams. 

  • To reduce the danger of having your identity stolen, keep an eye on your accounts:

  • Check your credit card charges monthly. If there’s a charge for some tiny amount, alert the credit card company immediately. This is someone testing out your card. Unreported, the next charge from them could be a doozie. One month I found three charges from the same firm. The first charge was $1.00. The second was $5.00. The third was $350.00. Fortunately, the purchases were so obviously not part of my spending pattern, Visa had already flagged them. 

  • Get your free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This is the link to order a free credit report. ( Sorry, but I’m not up on how this is done outside the U.S.)

  • Make it a rule to never open an email or answer a phone call if you don’t recognize the name, the email address, or the phone number. Preview the email, but never click on any of the links. If you think it’s phishing, report it to whatever company is appropriate: PayPal has recently been getting a lot of forwards from me. I forward the entire message to, then I delete the message. For phone calls, if the caller is legitimate, they’ll leave a voice message, and you can get back to them.

When it comes to people offering to promote your book take some precautions before you hand over those dollars. 

  • Ask if others have had experience with the company-#IWSG, #WriterBeware are two good sources on Facebook.

  • Do a search of their online presence and pay close attention to the language on their website or in their emails. There are often telltale signs that these people aren’t professionals who are interested in books at all. 

  • Double check the name. I recently was contacted by a firm with Booksy in their name; however, they weren’t associated with the legitimate Freebooksy or BargainBooksy. 

  • There are a lot of websites that do scam detection, so you can enter the name of the company and see how they rate the one you’re considering. 

  • Or avoid all of this and rely on the network of writers you know and trust.

Writers wear a lot of hats, and protecting ourselves and our work from being taken advantage of is a very import and very big hat!