Writing Tips


Ellen’s writing tips have appeared on She Writes.com, an online community of women writers, and on The Savvy Book Marketer.  Take a look:


[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Who Cares About Your Family Story? Ten Tips to Ensure Readers Will Care

Ten ways to keep readers engaged with the story that engages you.





Focus on the What:  Critiquing with Compassion and Rigor

What’s the best way to help fellow writers do their best work?




[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Hate Book Promotion?

Are you a writer who wishes you could just write–nothing else–and watch everything else just fall into place?





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: How to Fill an Empty Room

Unless you’re famous, even a bookstore (in fact, especially a bookstore) is just an empty room – and it’s your job to fill it.





walkercrop[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Stuck?  Go for a walk!

New research shows that walking boosts creative thinking.





How Many Readers Is Enough?

Does a writer’s satisfaction stem from the number of readers?  How do we measure success?





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: My Mother, the Writer

Having a writing mother, being a writing mother – both precious privileges.





walkamileinsmall[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Are You a World-Changer?

“I arise in the morning,” E.B. White wrote, “torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”  Explore the intersection between writing and activism.



photo-album-small[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Writing the Intimate

What I’ve learned about writing about painful memories





writing-tips-smile[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: What makes you smile – and why it matters

Transform your writing career by paying attention…





needleandthread[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Reuse, recycle!

Getting noticed as a writer means being seen, and seen again, in many different places. Give your work new life!





cyclist2[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Are you a writer?  Or a person who writes?

For you, is writing a means, an end, or some of both? Is it a craft? A calling?





flow[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Finding flow

“Once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again.”





littlefreelibrary2[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Positive Reinforcement in the ‘Hood? Rate your community

Does your community support you as a writer?  Use this checklist for some great ideas.




pagescr[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Are you sure you want to write a page-turner?

“I couldn’t put it down.”  Is that really the praise every author is looking for?  Should it be?





Mistakes, Missing Links, and Other Wonderful Problems

Every family story has gaps.  But those missing pieces may turn out to be exactly what makes your writing great.





lakeWhat Makes a Perfect Book Party?

A home-made podium, a dry run… and a lake.





childreadingWhat Makes a Winning Memoir?

Hint: try a “log-line.”





Turn your book talk into a multi-media presentation

…while avoiding “PowerPoint hell.”





applecakeSearching for a publisher: Seven tips and a slice of apple cake

Delicious suggestions for writers on the path to publication.





Are You a Scientist or a Writer – or Both?

Albert Einstein said the best scientists are artists.  But are artists also scientists?





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: The Kite, the Beach Ball, and the Stone: Six Ways to Set Your Own Pace After Publication

When your book is published, get the word out – at your own speed.





Up-close & Universal: Balancing Big and Small in Memoir-Writing

As the winner of the 2013 Grub Street National Book Prize, I lectured at the “Muse & the Marketplace” conference in Boston on the increasing importance of memoir, types of memoirs, and ten tips for writing a successful memoir.




[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Talking turkey

When is it time to admit that a writing project is a turkey and let go?  Questions I’ve learned to ask myself when I need to decide whether to go all-in…or walk away.




library[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: A Writer’s Best Resource – Right in Your Neighborhood

What’s the world’s best resource for writers?   The hands-down answers:  libraries!  Six ways to make use of this fantastic local treasure.




[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Four ways to share your work in progress – without showing the manuscript

I once heard about a woman (a mother, of course) who wrote an entire novel in secret – in the bathtub.  Most of us want to share along the way — but when, how, and with whom?




[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: “Inchy by inchy, Leonardo da Vinci.”

Wise – and surprising – words for writers to live by.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Ten Ingredients for a Successful Book Talk

Where should I speak?  How do I approach speaking venues?  What makes a great talk?





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Book Party: Five Steps to Success

Planning a book party?  Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: The Best Writers’ Group

How to find, or start, a writers’ group – and what makes it work.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Writer on vacation: five great tips

Taking a break doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your literary pursuits at home.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Your Family Story Toolbox

“Whether you write fiction or nonfiction,” says Ursula Le Guin, master of science fiction fantasy, “all storytellers work with the same box of tools.” So what’s in the toolbox?




[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: In which Hirsh Leib opens my eyes

Writing depends on taking notice.  How do we see–and keep on seeing?





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: A Writer Walks into a Conference

Even for a seasoned author, a writers’ conference can be daunting.  Top ways to get the most out of it.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Why I always read the acknowledgments first

Never thank a cat…and other idiosyncratic advice.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: Interviewing: Let Go of the Reins

I used to favor an aggressive interview style.  Not anymore.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: 5 Ways to be Book Promotion Buddies

Team up for help with book promotion.





[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: And the Award Goes To…Socially Engaged Fiction

Are you writing a novel about “the world as it is with an eye for how it could be”? If so, Barbara Kingsolver may have a prize for you.





Chloe Yelena Miller: A Writer and Writing Teacher’s Blog: Inside Hints

“Although memoirs and works of fiction are two different animals” I told Chloe ,“memoir writers need to make use of fiction techniques, including these three…”

Lisa Romeo Writes: On writing about the up close and personal – and the universal – in nonfiction.

My favorite memoirs balance the personal and the universal – an individual life rubbing up against the sweep of history.