Writing Groups-Create-Join-Benefit by Cindy Tomamichel

Today’s post is from author Cindy Tomamichel.

Cindy Tomamichel is a writer of action adventure romance novels, spanning time travel, sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, and sword and sorcery genres. They all have something in common – swordfights! The heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.

She has poetry and a short story in the recent anthologies of Rhetoric Askew. More of her published work is on her website.

Her book – Druid’s Portal – is due for release on May 17th with Soul Mate Publishing. It is a time travel romance, set in Roman Britain around Hadrian’s Wall. Action and adventure with plenty of fighting, ancient goddesses and druids. It’s not your typical romance, but it will set your heart racing!

Cindy’s contacts are below if you would like to share this adventure.
Website: www.cindytomamichel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyTomamichelAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/…/16194822.Cindy_Tomamichel

Writing Groups-Create-Join-Benefit

Writing can be a solitary activity. Often for hours it is you and the screen, perhaps with a cat or dog camped at your feet or on your lap. Sure, there are many, many writers groups and forums you can join on facebook, and indeed they can be very useful. I personally have shared ideas and inspiration from people in parts of the world I know I will never see. The internet can be a wonderful thing, particularly if you write in obscure niche areas. There is no doubt a Facebook group for everyone.

writing groupsHowever, before the internet, writers actually met and spoke with each other! This curious habit seemed to give them great pleasure, so it is worth exploring. Some famous writers groups include The Algonquin Roundtable, which boasted the sharp wits of Dorothy Parker and Groucho Marx. Famous writers such as Tolkien, Lewis and Hemingway all belonged to writing groups. Writers have been getting together for a long time – I suspect Plato and Socrates discussed writers block in their writing group.

Sometimes writers groups can be hard to find locally, advertising and marketing not generally being a strong point with writers. Checking the libraries, your local council, google and your state or national Writers association will help to track one down. Another place to check is a local university or college notice board. Get a phone number or an email and take a deep breath and get in contact with them.

Even in quite populated areas writers groups may not exist. In this case you may need to start one yourself. This is easier than it sounds, trust me. Do up a flyer, including a contact number or email, and stick it up in libraries and community notice boards. Local papers often accept community announcements for free. If you get some interest, then sort out a place and time to meet. A first meeting may be at a café, then try to get a regular time at a library or community centre. Also be aware of safety issues, taking precautions with sharing personal information until you feel comfortable. Don’t plan the first meeting at home for instance.

Timing and interest can be problems for groups. For instance, daytime meetings vs night meetings attract different age and interest groups. Interest is another key point. Many writers groups have a particular focus, and in my experience the older age groups are mainly focused on writing personal histories. It may take some effort and a few tries to winkle out the creative fiction writers locally. If you do find an established group, tread warily for the first few meetings to see if they are people you can comfortably share writing.

For a start up group, it is worth the effort to decide on rules and boundaries for criticism and topics, as well as reading lengths. Save topics such as politics etc for a mid-meeting tea break. Now is the time to get a feel for the scope of the group. Will they be happy discussing fantasy and sci fi as well as romance or historical?  

Activities for writers groups can be found by a quick google, but in general I find some homework and reading it out for discussion is worthwhile. Using random word prompts is a useful way to develop some flash fiction. Writing to a topic in a group is also fun. Once the group is established, getting in a speaker or even publishing a small book of stories and poems or running a contest are all popular group activities. Another useful area is researching things such as plot, themes, setting, conflict or characters or marketing and publishing for discussion. These can be great learning sessions.

The benefits of meeting other writers are many. The simple act of talking about writing with someone that shares your passion is amazing. If you come in with a writing problem, a few people can spark ideas off each other and suddenly you have a solution. Even reading your work out loud to others is a great thing, pointing out all sorts of dialogue and sentence rhythm issues.

#writing groups are great ways to improve your #writing. #writingtips #writerslife #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

So while facebook groups such as Our Write Side are a great way to interact, actually meeting other writers face to face is a great way to improve your writing. Quite often you find you have made lasting friendships that cross over from just writing, and that is a very good thing indeed. Good enough for a story.

Author Shakyra Dunn

Name: Shakyra Dunn
Latest Release: The One Left Behind: Magic (Book 1)
Genre: Fantasy; YA
Email: shakyradunn.author@yahoo.com

Shakyra Dunn can’t stray away from the impression that there is always an adventure around every corner! When she isn’t playing the role of the Creator, she is marching through the worlds of her favorite video game characters or taking drives around her city to see the sights. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, striving to experience more than the little town. Read Reviews done by Shakyra here.

CONNECT: Facebook | Twitter | Website


  1. How long have you been writing?

-I have been writing since I was about seven years old, and funny enough, I mostly started off with fanfiction before I knew what fanfiction was! When I turned fourteen and started high school, I went back through these older travesties and decided “Hey, I’m probably a lot better now, I think I’ll try again.” In total, I’ve been writing with the mindset of an author for eight years now!

  1. What kind(s) of writing do you do?

-I try to write whatever I can, but I gear towards fantasy novels and short stories. I’ve also been dabbling in psychological and supernatural stories lately.

  1. What are your goals as a writer, both small and large?

-My goal as a writer has always been to inspire someone else to follow their dreams. As a child, my original goal was medicine, but writing was a talent I had always possessed. As previously stated, when I was a teenager, I looked back at my old works and decided to try again. Plain to say, my mother wasn’t happy when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. But after convincing her, I took the plunge into this messy and amazing field. Through that strive and goal, I feel that no matter what stands before you, you shouldn’t abandon your dreams at any cost. It makes it all worthwhile.

  1. What inspires you?

-I take inspiration from a lot of different places, but I’d have to say that my biggest inspirations come from my experiences. I always try to implement a part of myself in every story that I create.

  1. Have you ever fallen in love with a character? Tell us about this romance.

-Ummm, this is going to be a fun topic… *Giggles* Well, fictional characters that AREN’T mine, I’m madly in love with Zack Fair from Final Fantasy VII. I could make a list on the reasons why, but plain to say… after playing Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII at age sixteen, I was so inspired by his struggle, and his cheerful personality throughout his entire saga. That, and Tetsuya Nomura makes a lot of insanely unrealistically attractive guys, and Zack is definitely one of them. And that game is still one of the only ones to this day that I have played that will never fail to tear out my heartstrings, rearrange them, and then put them in backwards.

-Characters that ARE mine, I’m not certain that I have romantic feelings for any of them, but of all of the characters that I have created, my biggest support in a potential relationship has to go to Relek Paladere. He’s very calm, not nearly as sensitive as his best friend Frayle, but there’s more about him that you’d want to know as you get to understand him. And that’s what makes him so appealing to other people.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

-I work the graveyard shift, so sometimes it’s hard to try and find the time to write, but a majority of the time I try to have a plan of when to write. I also spend my days off filling in the blanks of what I don’t have established yet.

  1. Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.

-I try to combine both logic and intuition, depending on the situation that I’m in. Usually my writing process these days begins with the voice of a character in my mind, and I jot down whatever spawns. I always have had the habit of creating my characters before the plot, and establishing where they fit into it all. Once the characters have a home, I find that I plan the plot and the sequence of events long before the writing can begin.

  1. Who would play you in your life story?

-Ooh, that’s an interesting question. I’ve never actually considered that. Maybe… Camren Bicondova? Her hair is about as curly as mine is.

  1. What projects are you working on at the moment?

-I’m currently planning out a story called “FML: The Final Lesson.” I’m thinking that it could be the start of a new saga of stories once Left Behind reaches its end.

  1. What process did you go through to get your work published?

-I self-published, so I didn’t have much trouble, but I did go into it pretty blind. The One Left Behind is my first published work, and with what information I had, I haven’t had much success as a whole, but now that I’ve gotten more research and assistance under my belt, I feel more prepared for what steps I can take for marketing my second book!

  1. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

-I would say the hardest part is keeping focus on my stories. I sometimes struggle with my thought process, especially if I’m writing from scratch.

#writing begins with the voice of a #character in my mind. #interview #author #writerslife… Click To Tweet
  1. What do you enjoy most about writing? Share your favorite work.

-The One Left Behind IS my favorite work; I put a lot of heart into crafting this series, and to this day, it is some of my best work. I think what I enjoyed most about creating it, and about writing in general, is giving my characters a voice. I strive for character development in everything that I create, and it is definitely my strongest asset in my work next to dialogue.

  1. If you could have any fictional character(s), living or dead, on your survival team after an apocalypse, who would you choose and why?

-Probably Master Chief from Halo. He could survive any apocalypse on his own.

  1. Which actors would you choose to play the main characters in your story?

I’ve always thought that “The One Left Behind” should be an animated series instead of a movie. I’ve had SOME thoughts for main characters on what I could imagine for a voice cast, and some that I really can’t think up.

-Frayle, for instance, is a hard voice to come up with. He has this slight Irish accent that paves the way whenever he’s nervous or angry, otherwise it’s well hidden, so I don’t know who could pull that off.

-Nova is a serious character in the first novel, even a bit bitchy to say the least, but she’s also regal in some aspects. The first voice I thought up for her, especially after playing Tales of Zestiria, would be Alexis Tipton. She did a phenomenal job as Alisha despite Alisha being kind of pushed to the back-burner as a character, and her role stood out so well.

-Relek, I imagine him to have a younger voice despite him being the more mature half of his duo with Frayle, and I’d have to pass that type of characterization to Michael Johnston, who, funny enough, was also in Tales of Zestiria as Mikleo and has an upcoming role as Ephemera in Kingdom Hearts 2.8, the X story.

-Recca, pretty easy to think of. Maybe it’s just the affinity of fire that he carries, but I ALWAYS hear him with a Travis Willingham tone. Particularly the easygoing voice that Travis can portray, because Recca is rarely ever angry, and kind of strays from the hotheaded type.

-Then there’s other major supporting characters like Curova and Freiya. Curova, I picture a sort of Justin Charles Cowden voice. It’s not too mature, and it seems to blend flawlessly with Curova’s very stoic and almost belittling nature.

  1. What is your favorite escape from day to day living?

-My favorite escape besides writing is definitely being able to curl up with a good book and listen to music. It’s always nice to drown things out.

  1. What are some ways in which you promote your writing? Do you find that these add or detract from your writing time?

-It’s actually difficult to promote your work with a slim following, and it’s even harder to make sales when not a lot of people really know about your book, even when you work with others, send off free e-books, etc. This is a part of why I think that self-publishing the way that I did was more damaging than useful, and it really does eat up a lot of time.

  1. Who are some of your favorite authors? What impact have they had on your writing?

-My biggest inspiration for getting me into writing is Lemony Snicket. It might sound silly, but when I was nine years old and read “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” I practically devoured each book until the series came to an end when I was thirteen. It wasn’t long after that that I wanted to pursue writing for myself. I also loved reading J.D Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” in high school–it is to this day one of my favorite novels.

  1. Do you know the secret to originality in writing? Would you share it?

-The secret to originality in writing is that there IS no originality in writing. There is always something that will relate to a component of another story. It is just a matter of making these components your own and weaving the threads to your own will.

  1. What are you currently reading? 

-I’m currently reading Carmine Warrior Queen by Alan Janney to prepare for a review of it. I am also reading Adelle Yeung’s “The Cycle of the Six Moons: An Eclipsing Autumn” to prepare for “The Last Winter Moon” coming out next month!

  1. What do you think is the future of reading/writing?

-It’s hard to tell. There’s ever-changing works when we enter this field. We just have to be prepared.

Thank you for your interview today! We wish you success in all your future writing endeavors.

The Top Editing Tools for Writers

Every writer knows the task of endless and disheartening task of editing. No matter if you are a website contributor or a novelist, editing is part of the job. After you let the creative juices flow and complete your first draft, you have to go back over your work, and many times end up deleting half of it. There is no way around it, and it can become a tedious task. We also get very attached to our work. It becomes difficult to criticize one self. Without the editing process though, there would be a lot of poorly written pieces out there. Don’t be discouraged by the editing process. There are tools out there to help. These tools do not replace the human eye, but are great places to start your editing process.

After the Deadline

This is such a useful tool. You will be able to check spelling errors, misused words as well as common writing errors. There is over 1500 misused words listed and will suggest alternative words while keeping your writing flow untouched. Passive phrasing is also picked up and you will receive a request to amend. One of my favourite features is that it picks up clichés or unnecessary phrases. There will be some teachable advice given to help you rewrite the sections suggested.


The creators behind Grammarly are geniuses. This tool checks spelling, grammar and punctuation and does a good job at it. Many established writers make use of Grammarly because of its effectiveness in picking up mistakes or suggesting good alternatives. You can use this tool as a Microsoft Word option or online, which is much like Google Docs. This tool will also help as a complex sentence generator and is probably the best paraphrasing tool out there. You have the option of a basic subscription and premium, which will pick up even more grammar mistakes. Honestly, I feel like the basic subscription is enough to edit your writing properly.

Ninja Essays

If only we had a fulltime editor at our back and call, life would be a little easier. Unfortunately, many new writers cannot afford the services of a professional editor so we revert to the use of online tools. Well, with Ninja Essays, you’ll feel like you have a professional editor working with you. This is because you are able to hire an editor through this website for a fraction of the cost. Just because you pay less does not mean you receive a mediocre service. You are able to communicate with your editor directly and discuss the feedback you receive and voice your opinion. It’s exactly like having a professional editor, accept the prices tag.

Smart Edit

Not many tools are specifically designed to work with novels and short stories because it becomes very detailed. There is no need to divide your text into a few pages at a time before processing. This is a great alternative to hiring an editor after your first draft. I believe novels require a professional editor at some point but if you can pick up all the little mistakes through software like Smart Edit, you will save yourself a lot of money down the line. Having access to grammar correctors, sentence generators, spell checkers is no longer needed when you have Smart Edit. It’s that good.

Slick Write

Many online editor tools do not adjust to your style of writing. We all have a unique way of communicate and it comes through when we write. Luckily, Slick Write sends you suggestions based on your specific writing style. It is one of the fastest grammar checkers online at the moment and it’s free of charge, which is always welcomed by struggling writers. You are able to refine your writing skills and learn as you go along.


This tool is easily one of the best for writers. Not only does it cover many aspects of your writing-from overused words to transitions, grammar and punctuation, even cliches and adverbs! In addition, it offers a free plan that you can use with Google Drive, Word, and more. This is definitely like having an editor right there with you. You’ll learn a lot that will improve your writing as well, making each new project easier to get through.


English is not the easiest language to perfect because there are a lot of rules you have to adhere to. Even professional writers with years of experience still need the help of a good editor. If you have an editor who charges by the hour, it might be a good idea to run your work through one of these tools before investing your money in a professional editor.



Melinda Harmon is a content manager and an amateur writer. She specialized on writing useful posts about writing, writing tools and how to improve writing skills. Melinda dreams of publishing her own book and help people to know more about writing.

Assignment: Crushed Sunlight

The Master Class has returned! Every week, I will introduce you to three prompts. Choose one, write about it, link up, and move to the head of the class like these authors: John and Tara. It’s that simple.

The rules:

  1. Read the prompts.
  2. Write a story answering the prompt. This can mean you use the prompt as your title, somewhere in your story, or as the idea.
  3. Please share the prompt you chose.
  4. Share the url to your story in the comments OR, if you don’t have your own blog, share your story in the comments. Either way, it will be promoted.
  5. Please keep your stories pg-13 or under since this is a public page. Add trigger warnings where necessary. Keep vulgarity to a minimum.
  6. Think outside the box. These prompts are meant to challenge you.
  7. Have FUN!

Your prompts for this week:


Master Class chalkboard-OWS 35

All assignments are due by Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 11:59 pm. How will your muse inspire you?

Move to the head of the class with one of these #writing #prompts. #amwriting #MCprompt Click To Tweet

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Title: Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Amazon rating: 4.4 stars

The Maze Runner

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

Reviewed by Stephanie Ayers

The Review:

This story starts off with a bang and doesn’t quit until the very last period. Dashner carries you along without telling you where you are going, yet putting you right in the scene, letting you experience everything as Thomas does. He moves through time effortlessly and keeps the reader in a trance. It was really hard to put this book down to sleep!

Why I didn’t give it 5 stars? I really like descriptions, a new spin on an old cliche, and there aren’t a whole lot in it. This doesn’t distract from the richness and enjoyment of the story, just something I noticed a lack of. There’s no shortage of action, however, and these are well written.

This is a story along the Hunger Games and Divergent lines. It is nothing like those stories, however, it is in the same class. Unlike the other two, where you can almost tell where the story is going, in The Maze Runner, as soon as you think you know what is happening, the story changes and leaves you guessing again, bringing you deeper and deeper into the Maze.

Keeps the reader in a trance. #amreading #bookreview @theauthorSAM #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

Assignment: Brazen Whispers

The Master Class has returned! Every week, I will introduce you to three prompts. Choose one, write about it, link up, and move to the head of the class like this author: John and again here. It’s that simple.

The rules:

  1. Read the prompts.
  2. Write a story answering the prompt. This can mean you use the prompt as your title, somewhere in your story, or as the idea.
  3. Please share the prompt you chose.
  4. Share the url to your story in the comments OR, if you don’t have your own blog, share your story in the comments. Either way, it will be promoted.
  5. Please keep your stories pg-13 or under since this is a public page. Add trigger warnings where necessary. Keep vulgarity to a minimum.
  6. Think outside the box. These prompts are meant to challenge you.
  7. Have FUN!

Your prompts for this week:


All assignments are due by Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm. How will your muse inspire you?

Move to the head of the class with one of these #writing #prompts. #amwriting #MCprompt Click To Tweet
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