Guest Visitor
Jeff Elkins: Bbp Participant, Editor, Becoming Writer, Winter Writing Contest 2016, 100 Day Book
Member since August 13, 2013

Jeff Elkins is a writer who lives Baltimore with his wife and five kids. If you enjoy his writing, he'd be honored if you would subscribe to his free monthly newsletter. All subscribers receive a free copy of Jeff's urban fantasy novella "The Window Washing Boy."


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You Should Read More. Here’s How

My father died over twenty years ago. One of my strongest memories of him is of him reading.

He was a surgeon and a teacher. Most nights, after dinner, he would sit down at the end of the table with a stack of medical journals on his right. He would then read through them one at a time. When he finished one, he would stack it on his left.

He was a brilliant man who invented surgical techniques, wrote articles, and published a few books; yet still, every night he was reading. As writers we spend so much time with words, we forget how important it is that we are also reading and learning.

Jan 15
3 Tricks for Getting Unstuck During the Holidays

In order to succeed, one thing writers need is stress-free time to work and think, which is why the holidays can be hard for us. With all the added parties and present buying and family events, it can be easy to feel stuck and unable to write.

Yes, writing can be particularly challenging during the holidays. But that’s no reason to quit trying altogether. Instead of giving up and not writing for a month, try these writing tricks to get through the craziness of the holidays.

Dec 18
General Powell’s Motivational Quotes for Writers During the Holidays

December can be a difficult time for creatives. With holiday parties, additional family responsibilities, and decorations to hang, it is hard to keep up the discipline of writing. Sometimes what we need is someone in our ear, giving us advice and spurring us onward, with motivational quotes for writers.

It would be helpful if this inner coach was a model of leadership and discipline. So let’s embrace some of the motivational quotes of retired four-star general in the United States Army Colin Powell.

Dec 6
Writing Prompt: The Holiday Writing Challenge

It can be difficult to find the motivation to write during the holidays. With family around us and added responsibilities, the last thing we can think

Nov 20
6 Things to Expect From Writing Sprints Like NaNoWriMo

Expectations are important. If you are craving yogurt and you walk into a bakery, you are likely to be disappointed. If you go into your boss’s office thinking you are going to get a raise but all you receive is a pat on the back, you will probably be frustrated. If you think your date is taking you to see a ballet and you end up at a monster truck rally instead, you are likely to be confused, irritated, and overdressed.

Having appropriate expectations when it comes to writing sprints like NaNoWriMo are equally important. Sprints can be wonderful teachers; but it’s important to understand what we should expect from them.

Nov 6
3 Inspiring Writing Prompts to Find Your Character’s Voice

Great characters feel real. They talk, act, and respond to stress in ways we recognize, with their own personal character voice. We can relate to them because they seem human.

To write a character that leaps off the page, we need to know her deeply. We need to understand her thoughts and feelings. If our audience is going to empathize with her, we have to first.

Oct 23
How to Prepare for Writing a Book: 4 Steps

You’ve been thinking about it for months, promising yourself that when it arrives you are finally going to knuckle down and get it done. You’ve been telling yourself all you need is the extra push; you just need a deadline because you work best under pressure. You need a race, something that will help you compete against yourself.

You’ve decided to finally write your book. The question is, how do you prepare for writing a book?

Oct 9
How to Handle Rejection: 4 Things NOT to Do and 3 Things to Do After You’re Rejected by a Publisher

Rejection may be one of the hardest parts of writing. After pouring our lives into our manuscripts, it feels personal when someone tells our work isn’t good enough. Even if we know in our minds how to handle rejection, our hurt and disappointment can make us want to lash out.

Additionally, when we are submitting something the size of a novel, we are offering up something that represents years of our lives. To have it dismissed with a form email may make you question if you’ve been wasting your time.

When we are feeling rejected, we may be tempted to lash out. But that’s not a healthy way to process rejection. Here’s what to do (and what not to do) instead.

Sept 25
Writing Prompt: The Random Title Challenge

Sometimes the best stories come to us when we are challenged to leave our comfort zone and write something we wouldn’t usually try. In that spirit, to give our writing a boost, let’s make a game out of using a writing prompt.

Sept 11
Motivation to Write: The 7 Fundamental Needs of Writers And How to Leverage Their Motivational Power

If you write long enough, at some point you are going to experience a lag in productivity. Whether you call it “writer’s block” or “resistance” or just “a slump,” the moment will come when you struggle to put words on the page, and you just can’t find motivation to write through the struggle.

One way to overcome that lag is to lean into what motivates you. Do you know why you write?

Aug 13
How to Sell Books Without a Publisher

One of the great benefits a traditional publisher brings to the relationship is a network of agents and bookstores designed for the purpose of selling books. Like sailing a small boat into the ocean, without that pre-established network, self-publishing is scary. When we are first drifting into open waters, there is so much we don’t know.

Here is the good news: It is possible to sell books without a publisher. You just have to learn how.

Jul 30
How to Write and Publish a Book for Free

We live in an amazing time. If you have a story to tell or an idea to share, you can write a book and publish it for free, making it accessible to billions of people. This moment is unique to human history, and I think everyone who has a story to tell should take advantage of it. To help get you started, in this post I’m going to give you ten simple steps on how to write and publish a book yourself.

Jul 2
How to Write a Book Series Without Messing Things Up

Writing series are all the rage right now in fiction. Everyone is fighting for readers’ attention. Once you have it, a great way to keep it is to send the reader to a second, third, and fourth book. But do you know how to write a book series?

Jun 4
3 Writing Prompts to Tap Into Your Creative Well

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is coming up with the initial story idea. Once the spark of creativity is lit, the story will flow. All it takes to get moving is a strong title, inspiring image, or moving concept.

Creativity is like a muscle. If you haven’t used it in a while, it can become stiff and sore when you try to work it out. With the holidays in full force, between my full-time job, my children’s activities, and the various family get-togethers finding time to write can become difficult. I’ll get a thirty-minute window to write, sit down to type out a story, and waste all my time trying to figure out what to say.

Writing prompts are wonderful tools to get the words flowing. Today we are going to look at three tools you can use to get your creative juices going.

May 21
How to Write a Book While Working Full-Time

I dream of a day when I can wake up, sip my coffee, write some morning pages, and then work on my latest novel until dinner. Unfortunately for me, and for many of you, that day is not today.

I’ve got kids and a house and bills, so I have to work full-time. Even so, over the past four years, I’ve published five novels, three novellas, and countless short stories.

How do I write books while working full-time? There are five things I’ve had to do to make this a reality.

May 7
The Truth About Book Publishing: 3 Stories All Writers Need to Hear

The stories we tell ourselves are like glasses through which we understand the world. They define the field we play on and guide the decisions we make, whether about book publishing or any other area of our lives.

Unfortunately, in the world of writing and publishing, there are a lot of false narratives floating around that create a romantic idea about the life of an author that can end in self-doubt, frustration, and stagnation. To avoid falling into the trap of bad stories, it’s important we pause and consider the world we exist in.

Apr 23
Get Inspired by This Story Grid Writing Challenge

When our creative tap feels like it has run dry, sometimes all we need to get our creative juices flowing again is a fun writing challenge. That’s why today’s post is a writing prompt based on the Story Grid.

Apr 9
Writer’s Block: 3 Tips to Keep Writing Even When You’re Discouraged

In the movies, inspiration strikes the writer, and then a montage of the writer banging away on his or her chosen instrument flashes by, ending with a completed masterpiece that shares the writer’s soul with the world. Sadly, the reality is not like the movies. Sometimes the stories rip through your fingers like your hands are possessed; but more often, putting a story into words feels like yanking your teeth out of your head. It’s all too easy to get stuck in writer’s block.

When that happens, there’s nothing more we want to do than give up on the story and start over. But we can’t. We have to push through and finish it.

Mar 26
Writing Sequels: 5 Sequel-Writing Secrets From Jessica Jones

Writing sequels is difficult. The Marvel Cinematic Universe currently consists of nineteen feature films, four network television weekly TV shows, and eight online streaming shows. Writing sequels to a genre-stretching side story that exists in a massive universe beloved by fans must be near impossible.

This weekend Jessica Jones season two dropped on Netflix. Whether you enjoy the show or not, there is a lot it can teach us about storytelling.

Mar 12
Crowdsourcing for Writers: The Secret to Connect With Your Readers and Find Your Best Ideas

We think of authors as loners. Locked in dark caves with nothing but their type-writers and a candles, they painstakingly pound out one word after another, bleeding on the page to create a story they hope the world will accept. This image couldn’t be further from the truth.

As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” One way you can feel more like part of the main is by utilizing the tool of crowdsourcing.

Feb 12