The Odd Writer

Love this positive message about accepting your weird quirks. Go check out the blog post!

Keep smiling,

Priscilla Bettis

Image of black stoneware cup

I was 21, about to graduate from college and set up my own household, you know, with a sofa that didn’t come from the curb, ceramic plates instead of paper plates, and real cups instead of the plastic freebies with the school mascot on the side. Bring this cup back for a free fountain drink with purchase of any large pizza.

I wandered into a high-end home goods store. There was no Walmart in town at the time, or me and my mostly empty wallet would have gone there. I chose a black cup from a back corner display. Black dinnerware was not cool at a time when happy graduates picked happy colors or at least safe, porcelain florals. The sales woman (tailored slacks, hair pinned up, an older woman with an air about her as if she was the owner) waved off the black with a flick of her…

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Top 3 Things I Learned During My Writing Retreat


Last month, I created my DIY writing retreat for a weekend. I stayed at a wonderful Airbnb artist loft, which happened to be an attic. Once my curiosity balanced out (hello, I stayed by myself in an unfamiliar place. I was checking everything out, especially the interior design lol), I was able to focus on writing. I ended up working on a horror novella.

Fast forward to March—now most people are panicking over the coronavirus. Rightfully so. There’s been a confirmed positive case in Shepherdstown, which is only a town over from me. My job had already locked our lobby to keep the public out. We can only help our customers over the phone for now. Starting today, we all have new schedules. Some departments get to work from home. I didn’t get that lucky. However, since only two employees can be in each department at a time, I volunteered for the afternoon shift. I don’t have to go to work until one p.m. My mornings are free, and I plan on taking advantage of it. So, I’m recollecting what I learned during my writing retreat to help me make the most out of my mornings, until my old work schedule returns where I go in at eight a.m. Maybe focusing on my writing and art projects will help reduce my stress and anxiety over the fear of the coronavirus…

Here’s the top three things I learned from my DIY writing retreat:

1. So many times I’ve made the excuse of I can only work in a cafe or public place. Not anymore. I was very productive all by myself— morning, afternoon, and evening. I didn’t need the background noise of customers and baristas. I didn’t need to people-watch to get my creative juices flowing. If I could concentrate at the quiet artist loft, then I can concentrate at home.

2.  It was a good idea that I planned beforehand what stories I’d work on before heading to my writing retreat. I also see that I can be quite flexible with my plans changing without it taking a toll on my mood. I have OCD and am used to routine. My plan was to finish my escape room novella. I had also wanted to revise my urban legends novella but didn’t hear back from my beta-readers in time. Not sweating it, I only focused on writing my horror escape room story.  I also wrote some comic diary scripts but didn’t draw anything. My wrist was sore from all the writing.

3. Alec Longstreth is a genius! I follow his advice when it comes to drawing comics. Turned out, his advice of writing down your schedule for the day also works for writing projects. The list I created right after eating lunch or breakfast (depended on when I woke up lol) really helped me stay on track and focus on what I needed to do. The modify column helped keep pressure off. It’s okay if you can’t complete a goal in the time allotted—you can always save it for a different time slot.

***For anyone who has ever participated in a writing or artist retreat, what did you end up learning about yourself?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Tips On Writing Horror

So often when we write, we stick to our preferred and known genre, but I was challenged this week to write a spooky story for my writing group and I found it really enjoyable. It got me thinking about horror and other genres I don’t commonly write. So I thought we could explore tips for […]

via Tips for Writing Horror — hijinksblog

***I came across these awesome tips on writing horror from the hijinksblog and wanted to share. Enjoy***

Middle-Grade Students Love Horror Too, Just Ask Neil Gaiman

To celebrate Women’s Horror Month, please welcome my special guest Laura Emmons, author of The Queen of the Night series. She’s recently written a horror story for middle-grade readers and is shopping it around to agents and contests. Good luck!

Writing Horror Stories for Middle-Grade Readers
by Laura Emmons

Neil Gaiman once said in an interview that, “Kids are so much braver than adults, sometimes, and so much less easily disturbed. Kids will make their nightmares up out of anything, and the important thing in fiction, if you’re giving them nightmares, is to demonstrate that nightmares are beatable.” Perhaps that is why the horror/ghost category is such a fast growing genre in middle-grade fiction.

The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean is a perfect example. The story starts with a grisly murder, but morphs into a sweet story about a boy raised by ghosts, tutored by a werewolf and mentored by a vampire who decides he wants to experience life among the living. By combining the poignancy of a coming-of-age tale with the thrill of suspense, the novel delights readers of all ages. As a winner of the Newbery Medal and the Hugo Award, this is a perfect example of a middle-grade horror story.


Gaiman’s Coraline is another successful novel in the genre. When Coraline and her family move into a new house, Coraline finds a portal to an alternate world behind a locked door. She returns to her reality to find that her parents are missing and she must rescue them by herself.


Serafina and the Black Cloak written by Robert Beatty is a NY Times bestseller. It won the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize in 2016. Serafina lives with her father, a maintenance man, in the basement of the Biltmore estate. When children start disappearing, she and her new friend, Braedon Vanderbilt, must solve the mystery of the man in the black cloak and save the day.


Important factors in these books are the tenacity and courage of the main character. Although these characters are tweenagers, they are all heroes.

Middle-Grade readers are defined as aged 8-12. Books in this category are generally 30,000 to 50,000 words in length, although fantasy novels may be longer. As a rule, no profanity, graphic violence, sex or drugs should be involved in stories written for this age group. The focus of the novel should be on friends, family and the character’s changing relationship to the world around him. Some key guidelines to writing a great middle-grade horror novel are

  1. Start with a great hook. Although this is true for all novels, it is especially true for the attention span of tweenagers.
  2.  Keep the pace fast. Building suspense throughout the story is critical to keeping the young reader’s interest.
  3. Use humor to offset scary scenes. Children respond better to humor and may be more tolerant of terrifying action if they can relieve the tension with jokes.
  4. Make the protagonist a strong character. This is more important among middle-grade fiction, where the reader identifies closely with the main character.
  5. Have a happy ending. Children like to be scared, as long as everything works out in the end.

Good luck and happy writing!

IWSG Blog Hop–Writing Rule I Wish I’d Never Heard


Last month I joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group on Facebook after reconnecting with my writing buddy Meka. Even though writing is a lonely activity, it doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

IWSG also has a website, which hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. Writers get to discuss their doubts and fears they’ve conquered, their struggles and triumphs.

I’ve always joked that writers need a support group, and if I ever found one, then I’d join. Even though I’m a published author, I have fears and doubts and insecurities. After reading the Insecure Writer’s Support Group purpose on their website, I was hooked.

Their purpose–“to share and encourage writers. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.”

Showing vulnerability makes you strong. If you’d like to read more from bloggers who shared their personal experiences, then please click here.

Okay, here goes…

January’s question–What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

The writing rule I wish I’d never heard is don’t write in passive voice. Only use active voice. For example, it’s bad to say “the tree got chomped dwn by an axe.” The rule says you should use “the axe chomped down the tree.” I swear I don’t mind grammar. English was one of my favorite subjects in school, but man, always having to use active voice is intimidating. What if your character doesn’t speak like that? Isn’t it better to stay true to your character’s voice?

Unfortunately, I tend to speak and write in passive voice. If you read my blog posts, I’m sure passive sentences are used everywhere. I know it’s a bad habit, but I don’t know how to stop. How much do readers really mind passive voice? Writing a first draft, my main goal is to just get my words on paper. Editing comes later…but I stall tremendously. I think it’s all the pressure of every sentence, every word has to be perfect or you’ll lose the reader. I struggle with the revision stage, which is why I probably only publish one book a year. I wish I could just hire an editor to completely fix my manuscripts in the grammar sense.

Since it’s hard for me to follow the rule of ‘don’t use passive voice,’ I often think my writing sucks. If someone leaves me a good review or if a critique partner says I did a god job, I think they’re just being nice. Equivalent to a loved one being supportive just because they care about you.

I know this fear is something I’ll have to get over. I can’t keep losing confidence when I’m around other writers who know what they’re talking about, grammar wise. I need to tell myself that a story isn’t about perfect sentence structure, it’s about following the guidelines of your particular genre. I write horror and suspense. I have plot twists nailed haha. I need to learn how to take a compliment without thinking there’s a hidden meaning.

Thanks for listening.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

10 Minute Novelist

Hi. I’m proud to say that I’m a 10 minute novelist.

One day I was looking for inspiration. Believe it or not, no matter how many times I told myself I’d write every day, it didn’t happen! I came across this wonderful website called 10 Minute Novelists right before NaNo. How is it already December?

The founder, Katharine Grubb, says “I decided that my dreams were worth fighting for. I decided that doing something was better than doing nothing. And I decided that if I waited until I had the perfect conditions, I would never get that novel written.”

Besides finding the 10 Minute Novelists website, I also joined their Facebook group. Their three goals–tips, encouragement, and community.

So far, I’ve found motivation to write every day. Not necessarily always fiction, but writing nonetheless. I have to keep a steady blog schedule somehow. 🙂

I discovered that just finding 10 minutes out of my day to focus on writing has really, really helped. I’m writing about 400 words each session block. Hopefully, I can keep up this momentum.

Thinking in terms of 10 minutes has improved my goals in so many ways:

  • It takes the pressure off of me, not feeling guilty for not writing in long sessions
  • I get bursts of energy, feeling productive in these quick sessions
  • I found my balancing act with novellas, short stories, comics, reading, scripts, and editing/revising

For any inspiring writers out there, please know your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Just focus on getting your words down on paper; you can always edit later. And, you don’t have to commit hours upon hours a day to consider yourself a real writer. No siree. Everyone has their own schedule, their own pace. If you can commit to 10 minutes a day, then you’re good to go. At the end of the day, writers write. 🙂

Good luck!

For any writers out there, how do you find motivation to keep working on your fiction or other writing projects?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

5 Things I Learned From Mark McGuinness’s “Productivity for Creative People”

  1.  Don’t try to multi-task because there’s no such thing! That chapter truly blew my mind and explained why I wasn’t really accomplishing anything writing-related even though there was an illusion of doing something productive.
  2. Nothing is more important than doing the creative work that you want to do. This is where you find your motivation. If you keep starting your day by doing projects/assignments for other people, then your creative juices become drained.
  3. Use a monthly calendar to track your writing progress, only including word count days. Don’t include tasks like doing research, plotting, or character sketches. The key is to mark the month red. Color the days red when you wrote. Color the days blue when you relaxed or skipped writing.
  4. There’s four categories of work: ongoing, event, backlog, and asset-building. Ongoing work is something done every day like checking email, monthly reports, maintaining blogs and websites, and writing a column. Events are launching a new book, attending conferences, book signings, and major project deadlines. Backlog work is anything that you wished you’ve accomplished already but haven’t gotten around to it yet. And, asset-building is anything that helps you learn the craft of writing, something like investing in your author brand. Asset-building work includes taking classes, attending webinars, writing books, blogging or guest blogging, and growing your mailing list.
  5. For any day, a sustainable workload is ongoing work plus one event, backlog, or asset-building project at a time. That chapter also blew my mind and explained why my to-do lists always seemed pointless. It seemed like I was never marking anything off. My mistake was grouping all of my activities together instead of dividing them into four groups.

For all the writers out there, is there anything beneficial you’ve learned of staying productive during the day?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

The #1 Tip For Getting Started As a Fiction Writer

As a freelancer, I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to contribute to The Millionaire’s Digest. My first article posted today. 🙂

Here’s a snippet:

The #1 Tip For Getting Started As a Fiction Writer

Life is about creating memories. Do you agree?

Authors have the gift of capturing moments on the page. A great book has the reader forget that they’re reading. They get lost in the pages and follow the character’s journey as though they are in a fictional world.

How do authors capture these special moments on the page?

If this sounds interesting and you want to finish the article, then please click here.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby


Confessions of A Slow Writer…

I’m a slow writer. There. I said it. I’m a slow writer. (Just for extra measure.) You see, I used to think I was a fast writer. “I can write a manuscript in two months,” “I wrote that novella in a few days,” “That short story took me an hour.” Okay. So, I’ve never actually […]

via #MondayBlogs Confessions of a Slow Writer — Shannon A Thompson

3 Things I Learned From Libbie Hawker’s “Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books For Faster, Better Writing”

  1.  Successful stories that stay in readers’ minds have a character that wants something but an internal or external factor prevents the character from getting it, forcing him/her to struggle throughout the book. The character either succeeds or fails in getting what he wants at the very end.
  2. All successful stories begin with the main character’s big internal flaw in the first scene or chapter. This sets the hook and the readers become invested in the character’s journey.
  3. As a writer, knowing your main character’s flaw helps you plot your book because the events in the story “must provide a logical framework for your character’s arc.”

Libbie Hawker’s book helped me realize that writing a plot outline takes more than just focusing on the events of your story. You also have to seriously consider the character’s emotional journey. For all the writers out there, what have you learned about plot?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby