Feedback Please! How Are We Doing?

Hi everyone! Just a quickie post today, asking for a bit of feedback. It’s been over six months since we transferred hosting sites and became Writers Helping Writers, so I wanted to do a check in:

How are we doing?

WHW blog buttonOur goal is to build a space that offers writers help, information and tools that can’t be found elsewhere. Becca and I want to support all writers, both with bettering their craft, and helping them navigate the marketing and the business end of being an author.

To do this right, we need your help.

If you don’t mind, take a minute to let us know what you really need to help you succeed as a writer or author. Is there a tool you’d like to see, a Thesaurus Collection you wish we’d create, or topics you want us to cover? If so, please tell us!

Also, don’t be afraid to make suggestions on how we can improve our website, and our current writerly offerings. We appreciate the time you spend with us, and want to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. Becca and I are all about learning and improvement, so if there’s something we can be doing better, just shout it out. 🙂

UPDATE: More Books Releasing in Spring 2015

One of the most common questions we get via email is: what’s next? 

Here’s the scoop:  Becca and I are hard at work creating two new volumes that will encompass The Setting Thesaurus Collection. While we’ve posted quite a few setting choices here, we know there are a lot of “holes” in the range of locations available. And while we can’t create an entry for every type of setting, we’d like to double or triple our current location choices to give you all a really good selection of Contemporary Settings to choose from. Setting is incredibly important, and choosing the right one adds deeper meaning to the story through symbolism and motifs, pulls readers in through sensory detail and creates great opportunities to actively characterize your hero. We are super excited to be writing these books!

Becca and I may also release a third volume that will tackle Speculative Fiction Settings (think Horror, Paranormal, Sci-fi, Fantasy…that sort of thing) if we feel there is enough interest. As you can imagine, the research and time needed to write these books is pretty intense, so we want to make sure we’re focused on a topic that serves a broad audience. (So if you would be interested in a setting book for these genres, let us know!)

TIPPY-TIP: If you’d like to be on an email notification list for when we have a solid date for book releases, just fill this email request form out if you haven’t already! Don’t worry, we won’t spam you…that’s not how we roll.

So…onward to the comment section!

  • How can we better help you succeed as writers and authors?
  • What would you like to see here at Writers Helping Writers?
  • What types of tools/articles/webinar topics would you like to see us tackle?
  • What are your biggest writing or marketing struggles?
  • And most importantly, is Writers Helping Writers living up to its name?

We’d love to hear from you!

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Heather Hayden
Heather Hayden
6 years ago

My input may be a little late, but… I only just found your site and haven’t even picked up a copy of your already released thesauruses (although I plan to do so soon); however, I can say with certainty that a volume devoted to Speculative Fiction settings would be wonderful!

BECCA PUGLISI
Admin
6 years ago
Reply to  Heather Hayden

Thanks, Heather!

BECCA PUGLISI
Admin
6 years ago

I’d like to pop in and say thank you to everyone for giving us such great feedback on our site and for letting us know what you’d like to see in the future. For some reason, I wasn’t receiving notifications of new comments for awhile, and with the craziness that is my summer, I missed all of these messages. It looks like Angela has responded to everyone, but I wanted to say Thank You for the kind words, and for taking the time to leave your helpful notes!

Kimbra Wilder Gish
Kimbra Wilder Gish
6 years ago

I would LOVE both a Setting Thesaurus and a Speculative Fiction Setting Thesaurus. If these are anything like the Emotion and Trait Thesauri in quality, style, depth, and price, I’d happily buy them both. I’m a speculative fiction writer and setting is something that’s always a challenge for me. I would hope you would include not just setting lists, but details for how to describe them effectively. 🙂

I’m still thinking what other thesauri I’d like to see. I think I’d like to see one for physical traits as well…but that would have to be executed very well to be different from other, less effective, books of this type. I’m not interested in seeing lists without comprehension of the items’ significance…there’s one book that lists “mental disorders” without any evidence of understanding how those work or their complexity. Ugh.

I’ll post more as I think of ideas, but I’d definitely want to see those two setting titles. 🙂

Thanks,
K.W. Gish 🙂

Kathryn
Kathryn
6 years ago

Your site has helped me tremendously! It has not only made me think outside the box but think outside of my comfort zone. I bought several of your books that make me think of images and ideas that I didn’t realize that I could come of with. You’re doing great, keep up the great work (I know I need your help and appreciate all of it).

Jenni Gate
Jenni Gate
6 years ago

Your sites (both of them) have been incredibly helpful. I agree with Robert, above, about the truncated messages for new posts. I loved that the full post came through on the other site.

Any chance of doing a Plot Thesaurus? I read somewhere that there are actually only 20 plots that are used over and over in different ways. I would love to know what plot devices to avoid as cliche, what plot basics can be built on to craft our own, tailored plot, how to plot for different genres, etc. This may not be something you have any interest in tackling. Or maybe it even makes plotting a little too formulaic. I would love it though. 🙂

Christine
Christine
6 years ago

I would love to see the Fantasy/Sci-Fi type settings thesaurus, as that’s predominantly what I write. I have almost no use for contemporary settings at this point, and when I do, I can usually do my research in person. In Fantasy/Sci-Fi, it’s all up to my imagination, which sometimes could use a little prodding.

I’d love to see more on physical descriptions of characters too. I always love it when an author picks something unusual to comment on or compare to other than the usual color of their hair/eyes. What thrills me are the descriptions of people’s posture, gait, or that hairy mole that draws your eye and won’t let you look at anything else.

You both have done a fantastic job, and your thesauri have a place of honor within reach of my writing desk. I know whatever you tackle next will be great!

Adora
Adora
6 years ago

I love the new site. I think a speculative fiction setting book would be a wonderful idea. I belong to a speculative fiction writing group and I’m sure they would all be interested as well (I introduced them to your other 3 books and they received quite the round of oohs and ahhs).

P.S. Josh
6 years ago

I think the speculative setting book would be great. I’m also wondering if it would be possible to write a book of local slang, adjectives, or terms used in different locations in the U.S. such as the south or New England for instance. I once wrote the word “dang” and another writer commented that it sounded more southern than something someone would say in New England. She happened to be from New England.

Judith Ring
6 years ago

Writers Helping Writers is the best site I’ve found. I keep saving pages to my desktop, so I can find them in a hurry. My “folder” for you is getting so big I’ve made a bunch of subfolders.

As for your thesauri, I’ve bought three. As far as I know that’s all you’ve written so far, but if I’m wrong please let me know and I’ll buy the others. I have both ebooks and print books. I also use all your thesauri on the site. Wonderful! Wonderful!

The settings you’ve mentioned in this post would be extremely helpful. And for those of us who write historicals, something to tell us what specific illnesses were called in the past if their names are different from what we use today (i.e., dropsy for edema, etc.) and what was used as medication for those illnesses – especially herbal medicines. How did they treat blood poisoning, for example.

Also, perhaps references as to where to find this type of information – I’m apparently not too good at Google – and to find information on occupations available during specific periods. My current novel is set in 1869 Southern California and I’m not finding as much as I’d like about jobs open for women in that period, or even what men would do in a small town – I know men can be cowboys, lawyers, doctors, bankers, storekeepers, sheriff, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

Perhaps these last things could also be contributed by readers who know the history of their area.

In the meantime, thank you for the wonderful site you have and please keep up the good work!

:Donna Marie
6 years ago
Reply to  Judith Ring

I’d just like to mention two reference books I have, though mine are more than 2 decades old. I’m thinking there may be updated editions. I know we rely on the internet for so much, but printed books are still incredibly valuable (and my preference if I have them). I purchased these through either book clubs or maybe through Writer’s Digest. Can’t remember, but I’ve yet to put any of them to good use just yet, but hope to even though they ARE outdated editions!

The Timetables of History – Bernard Grun

The New York Public Library Desk Reference – Prentice Hall

Research & Writing: A Complete Guide & Handbook – Shah Mahmoud

CHRIS BERYL
CHRIS BERYL
6 years ago

YES! I live in Canada and read every newsletter. As a new writer, I like the variety of information. Maybe you have addressed this topic before, but I am interested in self e-publishing. I am just reading the free Kindle app about preparing a book for that format. I wonder if anyone would like to do a best formatting article, perhaps they have published an ebook. I am attempting to write a novel. There seems to be so many on-line publishing companies. I would like to know about editing, formatting, pricing, etc.,.Thanks so much for such a great resource.
Chris Beryl, British Columbia.

chirs beryl
chirs beryl
6 years ago

Thanks so much Angela. I downloaded the Kindle edition of Susan Kaye Quinn’s book. Should give me a great handle on how to do the end product!

Best regards, chris

Traci Kenworth
6 years ago

YES on the speculative setting info!! Obviously, I think you two are TOPS with the info you share on here now, but these would be my interests: more internal and how to get across your character’s personality more. How to describe them without resorting to a mirror trick. Description is a big thing for me because I want to expose the reader to the right details and leave out the boring or uninteresting things. I’ve always been told I had a screenwriter’s vision and that my description needs to pour onto the page more in fictional writing. I guess if I could marry the poet side of me to my fiction, all would be well, lol. Seriously, I love the interviews you have with different creative people as well as the business side of things. I’m always interested in learning more 3rd person pov tips. It would be fun if you could bring some historical info into play too.

Diane Turner
Diane Turner
6 years ago

You two are doing a fanrtastic job! I have all your books and eagerly await the Settings Thesaurus. I am back and forth on your site all the time. Navigation is easy, subjects well presented, and material is relevant. Can’t get much better than that. Thanks so uch for your efforts.

Diane J.
Diane J.
6 years ago

How can we better help you succeed as writers and authors?
– I think you are both doing a fine job right now. I love seeing new entries in my email. especially the Skills and Talents.

What would you like to see here at Writers Helping Writers?
– I don’t know if this would be possible, but a state-by-state breakdown of plants, rocks, people, food, etc. that are indigenous to each area. Here in Western Washington we have a lot of moss and mildew…and slugs (we pressure wash our walkway three times a year and I still have family that live in drier areas and think moss and mildew take years to grow). When I was growing up in Montana I never saw a slug. Even though I grew up in the Western part of Montana with all the trees and mountains, it’s completely different than here. Obviously. 🙂 I went home and I had forgotten how dry and airy the dirt is in the summer, the reddish hue of the rock, the smell of dry pastures. The subtle differences that can really make a scene. In Montana we ate bison burgers and deer summer sausage and of course, regular beef burgers. Out here, it’s mainly beef burgers and veggie burgers and “what is summer sausage?” Apparently, the beef in Iowa is super tender (so a man visiting once told us – I can’t remember what kind of feed he insisted made it better).
Even the difference of car care: Obviously, we aren’t washing our trucks in December in Montana. But in Washington, yeah, we do.
When I go to the mountains in Washington people are dressed in fluffy down ski coats, fancy snow boots. Montana, a Carhartt work jacket suffices just fine for ten below. Most men are wearing their Pendleton shirts without jackets for daily errands. If they are going hunting, they dress warmer, but still you can find them wearing their work boots as their all-around shoe.
I know when I visited Tennessee it was the first time I had ever seen pig snout in a grocery store.
Such small details, but they leave huge impacts. within our writing.
Hope that made sense. I would love to get glimpses into rural and urban areas in different states. Yeah, Google Earth can take me there, but only a human can tell me what’s common and uncommon.

What are your biggest writing or marketing struggles?
-My biggest writing struggle is self-doubt. One day the novel seems great. Two weeks later it sucks. Just keep pushing past those doubts and trudging along. Sometimes, I will step away from my novel for a whole month when I feel I’ve gone really astray. Then I have to give myself a pep talk, followed by tough love and get back at it.

And most importantly, is Writers Helping Writers living up to its name?
Absolutely! I thoroughly enjoy every post and the archives. Thank you for all the hard work and I look forward to your new book releases!

:Donna Marie
6 years ago

EXcellent idea about a site on which writers from all states—even countries—could pitch in with those kind of details.

Christina Hawthorne
6 years ago

You’re doing a great job. I already have every book you’ve put out and welcome any new ones because I know the quality will be the best possible. As a fantasy writer I’d gladly welcome a Speculative Fiction thesaurus. Absolutely! I saw above a thesaurus based on sounds mentioned and would second that.

Further, I’d love to see a thesaurus delving into smells, the most underutilized writer sense and the most difficult to research. There are the obvious smells that we all recognize, of course, but there are also those associated with every tree, flower, region, kitchen around the globe. A typical kitchen in Italy will differ greatly from one in New Orleans or Delhi. Even in this country what invades your nose while walking down a street in the northwest would differ from the Deep South or Rockies. If you could pull that off you’d produce an invaluable thesaurus with no competition (that I know of). Often writers don’t forget the sense of smell, but ignore it because it’s difficult to move beyond the obvious and over used.

There you go! Now you have enough work to keep you busy for the next 20 years. 🙂

:Donna Marie
6 years ago

…and with some things, we still need to do our own research, I think 🙂

:Donna Marie
6 years ago

How about just one “Thesaurus of Senses”?

Tori
Tori
6 years ago

I think you are doing a great job and I already use the setting collection you have online, often utilising a few to help create a setting not detailed.

I would definitely buy both a setting and speculative fiction setting thesaurus.

Keep up the great work !

Evelyn Puerto
6 years ago

I think you guys are doing a great job! I love the Emotion Thesaurus and your other resources. As a fantasy writer, I’d love to see setting thesaurus for speculative fiction. Keep up the great work!

Rosi Hollinbeck
6 years ago

I love the format and look forward to hearing from you, even if I don’t always get to read you in a timely manner. I have no interest in speculative fiction. Don’t read it or write it. But I’ll bet there are a lot of people who love it. Good luck with that. It’s an interesting idea.

Christina Li
6 years ago

How can we better help you succeed as writers and authors? I think you guys are doing a GREAT job. I love your articles and books. I’ve used them heavily in my writing, especially the Emotion Thesaurus. Keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂
What types of tools/articles/webinar topics would you like to see us tackle? For your ‘Talents and Skills’ entries, I’d like to see ‘computer hacker’ or ‘cyber detective’ or something like that.
What are your biggest writing or marketing struggles? Marketing and ‘showing versus telling’.
And most importantly, is Writers Helping Writers living up to its name? Absolutely, YES!!!!!

Annie
6 years ago

As a speculative fiction author, I would LOVE to see a spec-fic settings thesaurus! It’s great to hear that you’re planning to expand the setting choices you currently have, in any case. If you’re looking for ideas for the types of settings to add, I think it would be great to have a way readers could suggest certain ones that they think would be the most helpful to have.

Thanks so much for all you do! Your site has been really helpful to me!

Sara L.
6 years ago

Ooooh, I’d definitely pick up a copy of the Speculative Fiction Settings Thesaurus if you wrote it!

To be honest, I can’t think of anything at WHW that needs improvement. I pop in here every time a new article is posted, and many of those pieces have been incredibly helpful. They’ve answered questions I’d been asking myself about my WIP or caused me to consider things I hadn’t considered before. So, I think your site is on the right path.

The only question I have is… Have you given any thought to doing a thesaurus or article series on themes, and how themes could be incorporated into stories?

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

I have been very pleased with what you are offering on the new site. When I needed an editor to go over my manuscript your website was my first thought for finding someone that would be good and who I could trust. And I was right. I can’t think of anything else I’m looking for right now but you always come up with things I never thought of before. Keep up the good work.

Nancy J Nicholson
6 years ago

Since finding your site in the last six months I’ve been very pleased. I really like the books I’ve already purchased, and look forward to the future volumes. I enjoy the blog posts that remind us what can and shouldn’t be included in our writing that go along with the themes of the site.

Thanks,
Nancy

Julie Musil
6 years ago

You guys are the best. Seriously. You are doing an amazing job already. Your posts are a nice blend of thesaurus entries and other writing tips. A thesaurus for settings is a great idea. I write contemporary, so I’m of no help when it comes to the speculative question. I’m sure there are plenty of authors who would like that.

I’d be interested in seeing more posts/information about indie publishing. Maybe how-to’s? What works for you? What doesn’t? New ideas you’re exploring?

Keep up the good work, Angela and Becca. You two are treasures <3

Debbie Erickson
6 years ago

Hi guys! First, I want you to know you’ve created a “gold mine.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used your website. And since I write fantasy, I think it would be great to have a thesaurus on fantasy/scifi: universe, galaxies, nebulae, etc, which I’ve had to do research on.

And since I write fantasy, there is a category that I thought would be really helpful, and that is, how to “write” certain animal sounds, such as birds, for example. I can hear them out my window, but spelling the sound out is difficult, at least for me. We all know common animal sounds: pigs oink, dogs growl/bark, horses whinny. But sometimes I feel that these are boring descriptions of sounds. But how to actually spell the sound patterns of some critters, such as, an osprey, a hawk, a wren? Some authors do a marvelous job with the sound patterns of their little creatures, but even when I hear the sounds I have a hard time describing the pattern. It’d be great to have a thesaurus of particular animal “sounds and/or patterns of their sounds”. I have my horse character growling a few times because I discovered on a website that horses can growl. But someone who read my story commented that “horses don’t growl.” Well, they can and do, if excited.

Or, how do certain animals act and move? A description, possibly? This would be so helpful, too.

Just a few suggestions. Your website is such a great help for writers and greatly appreciated! And, of course, you guys are awesome! Keep up the great work!
Debbie

Debbie Erickson
6 years ago

That’s true, it would be intensive, that’s why I suggested it! 🙂 You guys have helped in so many ways! I wish you even more success!

Cathryn Cade
6 years ago

Have your books, subscribe to your column and love the tips and hints on characterization! Keep up the great work, please.

Elizabeth Genovese
6 years ago

Funny you should mention … speculative fiction settings. Yes! Bring it on. Also, verb/verb phrase info would be so appreciated. There are several verb lists on the internet–but that’s all they are–lists. A few lists match verbs with emotions, but not many and when you do locate them, there’s only a few on the list. I’ve been trying to hunt a book of this nature down for years but no soap. Thank-you for querying. You ladies are a Godsend!

Stina Lindenblatt
6 years ago

I CAN’T wait!!! Your first three thesauri are currently sitting on the kitchen table, waiting for me to get off the internet and start working on my newest project. Love. Those. Books.

:Donna Marie
6 years ago

Girls, I think you already know how I feel about the quality of your posts and what you offer your followers. I sincerely find it all STUNNING! I’m only following you since last year and must’ve jumped on board your new site right after you switched over so wouldn’t know what came before! lol

Since I’m not in true “writing mode” yet, I’m not sure what tools I’ll need in addition to what I already have (which includes 3 of your books…so far!) and what I’ll be struggling with. My biggest issue is TIME—so little of it and way too much to do. I’m getting there though—I hope and pray.

I’m excited about your Settings Thesauruses and, off the top of my head, can’t think of anything you have probably offered in the past (I haven’t yet made full use of all the info on this site, but plan to) and what you continue to put up. It’s addictive! I sincerely wish I could be of more help with suggestions, but I’m sure others will give you much better feedback in that area.

Thank you for all you do, and you most DEFINITELY are WRITERS HELPING WRITERS!!! 🙂

Roland Clarke
6 years ago

Look forward to Settings as always try to find the one that matches the mood and action.

Biggest struggle is trying to get my head around editing – never sure if I’m chipping away my creation’s nose (or worse). Or maybe the struggle it Time – time to switch off from writing and onto improvement.

Site is definitely living up to its name. Many thanks.

Leila Wilson
Leila Wilson
6 years ago

Just wanted to leave a comment for you both to tell you that over the past year I have deleted various blogs which have claimed to help writers or aspiring writers. The reason for these actions has been that all they want is to sell their books.
I now have two sites I still subscribe to and one of them is yours. Thank you both so much for the enormous help you give so generously to people like me. I have your books on my Kindle too. Five stars to you both!!!!