Reminder of Danika’s New Site

Hello Writing to Support My Teaching Habit Fans and Subscribers!

This is just a reminder that if you were subscribed to my old blog (meaning this one), I have now fully moved over to my sparkly new blog at:

At some point over the summer, this old site will disappear and the url will be forwarded to my new site (if that’s possible, I’m actually not sure with free wordpress sites, lol).

If you would like to keep getting my writing workouts, creative essays, giveaway news, and various tidbits about writing/life, you can subscribe in the righthand sidebar of my new site. I do hope you’ll join me over there and share your own views.



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RenovaLaunch: Tuesday, April 15

Tomorrow’s the BIG DAY!
(and I’m not talking about your taxes)

Tomorrow, April 15, Book Three (Ondelle of Grioth) will officially launch and all the major renovations to my new website will be over.

I will be hosting a PARTY on my blog with entertainment, special guests, general merriment, and a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift certificate (you don’t even have to buy my book with the money). I may even give away some other things. I’m feeling grateful and generous.

I’m still vacuuming up over there and shoving things into closets, but who wants to postpone a party?

Oh, and if you want to be in the know about Party Happenings tomorrow (or future happenings), SUBSCRIBE to my new site. Once everything I need is moved over there, this one will be redirected.

Thanks for your love and support over the years. We’ve had some good times at Writing to Support my Teaching Habit.




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Weekly Workout: Creating Suspense

I’ve posted my first post on my new website here: We’re still tweaking that site, but it’s up and running.

I will eventually stop posting to this site.

If you want to keep getting my posts, and I hope you do, you’ll have to subscribe to THAT site.



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We’re Launching . . . and We’re Moving!


Ondelle hardcover copy

Exciting times around here as we launch BOOK THREE in the Faerie Tales from the White Forest series (April 15) AND rebrand with a spanking new website. Coming soon to

How can you help? So glad you asked!

REVIEWS! Yes, we love reviews. On blogs. On GoodReads. On Amazon. If you’d like to review an ebook copy of Book Three, contact me through my new CONTACT PAGE on my soon-so-be-fully-functional website. If you haven’t read the first two books, we can arrange for you to acquire them as well.

BLOG TOURS! If you have space on your blog this month for an interview, guest post, or giveaway, let me know through my CONTACT PAGE and I’d be happy to oblige. I love touring, virtual and otherwise.


For you: There’s something like 12 hours left to enter the GOODREADS giveaway for a FREE signed print book.

For your classroom/school/library: 

    Win a signed class set of ALL THREE books PLUS a White Forest MAP to hang in your classroom.

    How to play?

  • Invite your students to draw pictures of their favorite WINGED FANTASY CREATURES. Send Danika any of the photos you’d like and she, an artist, and her publisher will pick a winner.

    Open to grades 1-6.  DEADLINE: APRIL 15th.

    Send photos to info(at)danikadinsmore(dot)com with the SUBJECT LINE: Creature Contest

    The winner will be posted on her new blog at







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Rethinking Social Media Part Two


As mentioned in a previous post, I have been rethinking how I use social media to meet my my professional goals. To that end I am relaunching (and rebranding) this blog to match my other social media platforms.

I had a bout of the creeping crud and was down for the count for several days, so I’ve pushed my blog relaunch. I will send out official invitations next week. Wahoo.


hors d’ oeuvres, giveaways, special guests, party games


wooden hashtags brought to you by Pine Nuts


I was recently in a panel/roundtable discussion for CWILL BC about social media for writers. I was asked to type up some of my notes. A bit of what I shared is below, plus I’ve added a few things I’ve thought about since that discussion:


A few years ago I read Jeff Vandemeer’s excellent book Book Life: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer. One of the things I took away from it is that I DON’T have to do it all! When I streamlined my marketing and social media efforts to keep from getting overwhelmed, I asked myself, what few tools can I focus on and do WELL? I picked blogging and Tweeting. I’d rather have fun and use fewer tools than juggle so many that I can’t keep up. Find what works for you and do that.



Not so many years ago, THREE was the magic number when it came to how many blog posts to write per week. Everywhere I turned bloggers were telling me that if I wanted repeat readers, I had to post 3 times per week. But the blogway is over-congested these days and who can come up with that much interesting material? If you can write one good post per week, you’re keeping up.

I think one really interesting posts is worth 3 mediocre ones. I also think it’s more important to be consistent then to post frequently. As a friend pointed out, the really fun blog waitbutwhy says right in the header “posts every Tuesday.” Great! Now I know to come back every Tuesday for awesome new content. (If you’ve got the goods and can post several times per week, more power to you. But don’t panic if you can’t.)

Participate in blogging communities you enjoy. Don’t expect others to hang out on your blog if you don’t take the time to hang our in theirs. USE to aggregate and organize your blogs. In a matter of minutes you can cruise down an organized list of new articles in all your favourite blogs for tidbits of interest and the latest news. Feedly has brought the joy back into my blog reading.



During the last NaNoWriMo I finally discovered the joy of hashtags. I wrote with strangers during #nanosprints as we cheered each other on. Now, when I’m at a conference and hear a great piece of advice, I #hashtag the name of the conference (#AWP2014, #GeekGirlCon) and share the info (or photos!) with others. With hashtags, you can be part of a larger conversation. For example, searching #amwriting on Twitter is a great way to meet other writers.

Also, if you ever mention anyone else’s name on twitter, USE their @name Twitter handle. That way they know you’re acknowledging them. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. For example, if you tweet this blog post, you might tweet: @danika_dinsmore nails it with her post on social media – then add a truncated link (you can use to the post and the hashtag #socialmediaforwriters. It will alert me and make me smile.

Use Hootsuite (or something like it) to manage your tweets. Use Hootsuite’s widget “hootlet” to tweet the blog posts you read on feedly! (You can also manage other social media tools on hootsuite like Facebook and linked-in)


Writers! Take advantage of the GoodReads author page and widgets. THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE! THEY READ BOOKS AND TALK ABOUT THEM! Fill out your author profile, link your blog, link any other pertinent information about yourself, enter your book for giveaways, and use their widgets to promote your giveaway and your books on your blog. Take a look at my sidebar and you will see some GoodReads widgets. It’s all really simply and not much at all to maintain.

If you’re not sure how to use the author program, START HERE.


5) FACEBOOK. Many people are grumbling about the recent changes on facebook, especially how you now need to PAY to get your page posts seen by people who have ALREADY LIKED your page. I think the lesson for companies is this: don’t give people something for free, and then make them pay for the service later. They will grumble.

I use Facebook both personally and professionally. While some writers elect to keep one Facebook profile for all their “friends,” I chose to have a personal profile, an author page, and a white forest series page. In hindsight, I might have stuck with just a professional page because it’s a little too much upkeep, I think. But I would never merge my personal profile with my professional one. Yes, it has been pointed out to me that Facebook has made it so you can target who your posts are seen by, but I want my headers and graphics to reflect different things. I put images of my family on my personal profile and book or author related ones on my professional page.



The above is just a short list of social media tips I’ve picked up. There is no way to cover it all in one post, which is why many people blog about this sort of thing every week!

There’s an overwhelming amount of advice online about how to use social media tools efficiently and effectively. But if you only have time to read one blog about how to get social media right, I recommend Anne R. Allen‘s. This week, she really nailed it with this one:

What Most Writers are Getting Wrong – where she talks about the fallacy of follower numbers

and the week before:

How to Comment on a Blog – so that you’re actually a participant in this realm


If there are any blogs on social media for writers that you use frequently and want to recommend, please do in the comment section below.

Have a Great Week and Come Back for the Party!


***NOTE on Twittering: Resist the urge to set up an “auto respond” that sends new followers a link asking them to CHECK OUT your FREE ebook. The 3 marketing consultants I asked about it said, “Just don’t.” I liken it to introducing yourself to someone at a party and the first thing they do is hand you their book. It puts people off.


Filed under Social Media, Tips for Indie Authors, writing life

Weekly Writing Workout: Get Your Purpose Straight

How many times have you heard the phrase “I have to get my priorities straight”?

I worked off of that idea for years without consistent success. I had trouble discerning through the daze of “to do” what exactly my priorities should be, especially when it came to social media. I thought maybe if I only had more discipline I would be able to prioritize action items more effectively. I was the QUEEN of To Do Lists, but every action swam in front of me with no clear purpose attached.

I eventually realized that I can’t get my priorities straight if I don’t have my purpose straight first. How can I even make priorities without purpose? I learned that getting my purpose straight practically wrote my priorities for me, and that it was perfectly fine to drop actions that didn’t serve this purpose.

For instance, this idea of “rethinking social media” came from going back to what my purpose is around social media. If my purpose is to build an audience, then I need to think of actions to build that audience. Should I hang out in online forums? Many forums are great places to exchange information, but not really audience builders. Perhaps I should limit how much time I spend in them.

If my time is really limited, it would serve me better to simply find the one thing I can do that best serves this purpose and focus my energy on that one thing rather than using a scattershot approach.


by Gizem Vural

On a grander scale, I can create purpose for my entire life. My purpose on that scale might be: to be joyful in my creative endeavors or to share my creative expression with others. If that’s the case, perhaps I decide to spend less time on social media in general and more time expressing myself creatively, since that brings more joy into my life. Or, simply become more creative in my expression thru social media.

It doesn’t matter if my purpose is to “sell books” or “have fun.” It’s MY purpose. It’s just that my actions will look different accordingly, and I can prioritize by asking myself if that action serves my purpose. Whenever I go to a conference now, for instance, I create a purpose around it. I might decide my purpose is to have fun. I might decide it’s to have meaningful dialogue. I might decide it’s simply to sit back, listen, and learn.

In the book The One Thing by Gary Keller (with Jay Papasan) “The most productive people start with purpose and use it like a compass. They allow purpose to be the guiding force in determining the priority that drives their actions . . . The prescription for extraordinary results is knowing what matters to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it.”

“Purpose provides the ultimate glue that can help you stick to the path you’ve set.” ~Gary Keller, The One Thing

Note that doing something because you think it will make you happy is different than doing something because it serves your purpose, which, ironically, will help you find happiness.



Several weeks ago I wrote about what a character “needs” vs. what a character “wants.” On the other side of need is where the “better self” lies. I think the same thing goes for purpose.

When your character’s purpose becomes clear, it becomes a driving force. Through the trials and tribulations of your character doing what she “must” and going after what she “wants” her purpose eventually becomes clear.

At the beginning of your story, your character might think a specific thing will make her happy. But what she thinks will make her happy might not be what she needs to actually live a more fulfilled life. If along the way she finds purpose, this will lead to what she needs. It will also drive her actions. As her actions are thwarted and things get in her way, she reacts in order to stay on purpose.

And presto, your story moves forward.

1) SET YOUR TIMER for 7-10 minutes.

Start with the line: At the beginning of my story, My Character thinks she’ll only be happy once…

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

2) SET YOUR TIMER for 10-12 minutes.

Start with the line: My Character realizes her purpose on her life journey is really…

3) SET YOUR TIMER for 12-15 minutes.

Start with the line:  Driven by this purpose, she can now confront…

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

And have a great week!

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Twitter for Writers

And, along the theme of Rethinking Social Media, here’s a great post on how to effectively use Twitter. Which equals having more fun doing it.


A few folks have asked me about Twitter over the years and how such a terse medium can be helpful for writers. What content can one even get communicated in so few characters?

The answer is: a lot. If we stop thinking about Twitter as the site of traditional content that takes eight hundred or more words to convey, and start thinking of it as a touchpoint and springboard or longer form pieces, then the possibilities open up. There are scads of great posts out there on growing followers, how to identify good accounts to follow, and so on, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Here are a few of those, as introductory Twitterverse items.

The thing for writers (or anyone, really) to do to get started on Twitter is to set up a profile, find people…

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Rethinking Social Media & Relaunch


After spinning my wheels for the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not only time to rethink the way I “do” social media, it’s time to rethink the way I present myself to the world through it.

It can’t be just me who gets overwhelmed by it all and romanticizes the way it must have been for authors of yesteryear. Social media is sometimes demanding, cumbersome, time-consuming/wasting. I’ve heard it called a “necessary evil” for writers on several occasions. But I don’t want my social media to be a “necessary evil.” I want my social media to be as much fun as I want the rest of my life to be. I’m all about the fun, dammit.

But I wasn’t having much fun at it on a professional level, it didn’t feel like I’d mastered any of it (if there is a such thing!) or that I’d found my ideal community yet, though I’ve made plenty of friends along the way. Shouldn’t this all be more cohesive? Why does everyone else seem so much more organized about it than I do?

mug shot

With the help of people who know way more than I do about it, I’m renovating and relaunching with more purpose and under a cohesive brand. And I’m excited about it.  With a new book coming out (April 15!), the timing feels right. It also feels like someone has stopped that spinning wheel.

hors d’ oeuvres, giveaways, special guests, party games


What have my Social Media Renovation plans included?

-First, merge my site with this site: Why do I need a static “informational” blog ( and this “interactive” one? Why the extra upkeep? I am no longer simply the author of the White Forest series. My career extends beyond that, so my site should reflect the myriad me’s, rather than the individual books.

-Then, UPDATE the blog theme. This theme, while hot in 2010, has been replaced by a slicker set of theme options. Why not look like the professional I know I am and get with the times?

-Set up the blogs I love in an aggregator! I’ve just signed up with and it is such a relief for all my blog subscriptions to be in one place. Before I would get some subscriptions via email, check my wordpress reader, use comments on my blog to find people, etc, etc. Having them all in one place with a little “hootlet” to share snippets on Twitter is so much more enjoyable. And efficient! I love time-saving devices. Gimme.

-And speaking of Twitter… I used to detest Twitter until I figured out how to make it fun. It’s really about throwing things out to the universe and seeing who responds. And, unlike Facebook, anyone can respond in some way to what you share. I love the group tweeting and live tweeting aspects, sharing with that universe some piece of information or insight gained. If you are scratching your head over Twitter, do what I did and find someone who is really good at it. Whose eyes light up when they talk about it. Buy them a drink and have them teach you how to use it.

-My publisher and I invested in someone to create a graphic and logo that I can use across all my social media platforms in order to bring everything together visually. Brilliant! She worked collaboratively with me to build something that speaks to my personality as well as attracts the kind of people I want in my community.

Take a sneak peek at what we’ve come up with so far on my Twitter Profile. I’m really loving having graphics that are uniquely mine rather than cookie cutter images.

These are just the first steps. The branding will continue across Facebook, newsletters, and other media. There are also other resources I enjoy such as GoodReads and Pinterest. And I’ve made a promise to myself to at least give Google+ a chance.

As writers, we often turn to other writers to help hone our work and see what we can’t. If any other part of our writing career feels stagnant, perhaps it’s time to go outside of our own heads for professional assistance?

I think investing a little money in your writing career (if that’s what you want) can be a great boost. I always tell indie authors, “If you aren’t a graphic designer, do not create your own book cover. Pay a professional (or a talented art student) to do it for you.” I decided to take my own advice when it came to social media and branding.

~     ~     ~

What about you? What kinds of social media do you favour and have you been rethinking how you use it? Has anyone else been thinking about branding themselves? 


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Quick and Dirty (okay, mostly quick, but made you look) with a bonus repurposed writing workout

So, no new Writing Workout yesterday because I was here all weekend:


With people like this:



Doing things like this:

hair party












(photo credit to Sander Feinberg for all but hair shot)




And next weekend I’ll be HERE.

Doing things like this:

At the Book Signing

Going to panels like THIS.

And readings like THIS.

And parties like THIS.

So, in the meantime, here’s a recycled writing workout I think you’ll enjoy…


When you get to what I call the “sloggy” part of your story, when inspiration appears to have left the building and you are dragging yourself to the page, it’s time for some good old fashioned spontaneous writing.

(even if you’re not in the slog, you can still play along)

Pick whatever piece of writing you’re working on. See where you are and think about what comes next.

Step 1) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. At the top of your page, write the start: The scene that needs to be written is… because…

After you finish with that thought, write This scene needs to be written because… and start the next thought. Keep writing This scene needs to be written because… until you hit something, an idea, and then take off! At this point, no more punctuation. Just write in one long stream of consciousness. REMEMBER to write without stopping, without crossing out, without editing. If you get stuck, you can always start again with This scene needs to be written because


The scene that needs to be written is the scene where Mabbe confronts Croilus because it gets Mabbe outside of her burl. This scene needs to be written because it’s where Zhay learns that Brigitta was telling the truth. It needs to be written because it’s where Zhay loses it and all his anger about being abandoned by the Ancients bursts forth and he attacks Mabbe but she’s too strong for him and she strikes him down and when that happens the spell seed falls to the ground and they…

Step 2) Set your timer for 5-7 minutes. Pick one of the following as your start line:

In this scene my protagonist learns…
In this scene my protagonist reveals…
In this scene my protagonist proves…

You can also put in another character if that works better for you. In this scene my villain… my antagonist… my protagonist’s mother… feel free to make it work for you.

The important thing is that a character learns or reveals or proves something. This will help move your story forward.

Again, total stream of consciousness, no punctuation, no editing, no stopping. Allow yourself to write the first thing that comes out of your pen. It’s not permanent! We’re getting ideas


In this scene Brigitta proves that she can fight the force of the green zynthia and she believes it has to do with her having both air and water elements now and she discovers that she is more powerful than before and the extra element has made it easier to manipulate her environment and there is no way to give it back and maybe it was her first true element…

Step 3) Set your timer for 3-5 Minutes. It’s time for a “What if” wild flow! By wild I mean don’t discount any thought or idea. Let the What Ifs fall where they may. This is a list that you write as fast as you can. You can simply start with What if… on each line, or use any of the following prompts:

During this scene, what if…
After this scene, what if…
After my protagonist reveals ____, what if…
After my protagonist learns ____, what if…
After my protagonist proves _____, what if…


After Brigitta reveals that she can overpower the zythia…
what if Croilus realizes the prophesy is coming true?
What if Devin and Ferris attack Zhay?
What if Brigitta thinks Croilus is going to attack the White Forest?
What if Zhay tries to kill Croilus?

Usually at least one lightbulb goes on during this exercise. Just let go and allow the ideas to flow. Write as fast as you can, keeping pen on the page. Afterwards, you can go back and mark items that you like.

You should now be sufficiently pumped to write the next scene. I know I always am.

Have a great weekend!

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A Better Beta Read: Guest Post by Ev Maroon!

Since today is my birthday, I’m taking my Weekly Writing Workout day off. Everett Maroon has stepped up to put a post in my place.

I had the pleasure of working on Ev’s book The Unintentional Time Traveler, which is set to be released at the end of this month. It’s the story of an epileptic boy who begins to travel through time via his seizures, only to find himself in a completely different body—a girl, Jacqueline, who “defies the expectations of her era.” There’s some serious trouble brewing, and when he, as Jacqueline, falls unexpectedly in love with a boy in that past, Jack/Jacqueline is caught between two lives and epochs.


I really enjoyed working with Ev on his book and invited him to post in my absence. Have a great week!  

~   ~   ~

A Better Beta Read by Everett Maroon

There’s a moment in every long form writing project of mine when words transform into vines, twirling around my thoughts like malevolent beanstalks. They obscure everything in the manuscript except the tiniest of details. Suddenly all I can take on is “How does this sentence sound? This syllable? Is this paragraph conveying the tension between these two characters?”

Although we must immerse ourselves in the universes we’ve built, as we drop further and further into our own creations we may stop asking the bigger questions that readers will ultimately require we answer as writers. While we’re parsing through the various nuances of using “threadbare,” “frayed,” or “worn,” and wondering how each conveys its own sense of mood and narration, the reader may be ready for the next plot point and frustrated that we’re dwelling on someone’s dress quality.

Beta readers are great for keeping us honest. If writing is about providing enough detail to sustain interest and leaving enough in the way of gaps for readers to fill in with their active imaginations, then beta reading helps ensure balance. Whatever grand plan we have for the Next Amazing Novel, if we’re losing our audience on the level of readability, none of our intelligence matters, nor the innovative characters, fresh word choice, nor witty banter between characters. Beta reading can tell us if the protagonist is likeable enough, even the flawed protagonist with an Achilles heel the size of Atlanta. Outside readers, at specific points in the revision process, can give us a 30,000-foot reaction to our work.

Framing what we need from them as writers of not-yet-completed manuscripts helps readers give us targeted feedback. I ask beta readers a series of questions that are of particular concern to me, but other authors may have their own preferences for these:

•    Was it interesting? Did you like the voice, the characters, the plot?

•    Does it slow down or move too fast?

•    Did any part of it kick you out of the book—awkward language, a scene you didn’t like, a character who wasn’t believable?

•    Did it have you on the edge of your seat at any point? Did you care about anyone in particular in the story?

•    Did it start fast enough? Did you like the ending, and if so/not, why/why not? Did it resolve enough details in the story for you?

•    Did it ever sound preachy?

•    Did it remind you of anything else you read, and if so, did it live up to that other book?

•    What would you tell me to work on and improve?

Reviews can be framed in any number of ways, but I use a question format because I find that they open up discussion rather than close down what kind of feedback beta readers can provide. They also hint at the writer’s priorities—it’s okay to know one’s strengths and weaknesses, writers—and where one thinks they could use the most help. Beta readers are happy to get a chance to roll these diamonds in the rough between their fingers, but they’re also combing through manuscripts because they’re interested in giving useful advice and responses. Helping readers hone in on what aspects of feedback to provide will help them have a good experience, and get writers the best content in response.

Other things to remember:

•    Give beta readers a reminder, about a week beforehand, when you’ll be sending out the manuscript for review. Don’t get fancy with the font or styles—keep it easy to read and in a format everyone is familiar with.

•    Keep a long window—like a month or so—for them to get back with their feedback. Life happens, and people are busy. Don’t expect to hear back in five hours or a week.

•    Don’t pester them while they’re reading. First, it’s annoying, and second, you don’t want to negatively bias your readers. Also remember that reading to give advice is a slower process than just reading, so they need more time than usual.

•    Thank the beta readers profusely for their time and attention. It’s a great service they’re providing.

Beta readers will likely come back with different, sometimes conflicting advice. If that’s the case, check out this post of mine for filtering through all of the responses.

~   ~   ~

5759590Everett Maroon is a memoirist, pop culture commentator, and speculative fiction writer. His first book, Bumbling into Body Hair (Booktrope Editions), is a “comical memoir about a klutz’s sex change” and was a finalist in the 2010 PNWA literary contest for memoir. Everett has written for Bitch Magazine,, RH RealityCheck, Original Plumbing, and Remedy Quarterly. He has had short stories published by SPLIT Quarterly and Twisted Dreams Magazine, and has a short story, “Cursed” in The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, from Topside Press. You can find him at trans/plant/portation.



Filed under behind the scenes, on my bookshelf, Rewriting, Science Fiction