Sept 1 — The Disappeared

StoryADay September 2015 Badge 440x220 pxWelcome to StoryADay September 2015!! Congratulations on making a fresh commitment to your writing.

This month we’ll be featuring writing prompts from writers within the StoryADay community, and myself. Let me tell you, from what I’ve seen already, there are some GREAT prompts coming your way.

Each prompt this month will set a scenario or scene for you to play with, or suggest elements of story that you can use. If you post your story on a blog, please do share a link in the comments so we can all see it. It’s fun to see what other people do with the same story elements!


The Prompt

Today, write a story that features people disappearing.


  • The story can be serious and traumatic or it can be fun and lighthearted.
  • Perhaps your main character is in a war zone or a dystopia and the people around them are being taken by hostile forces. What does this do to your main character? Are they under threat too?
  • Perhaps your main character is unhappy with their life and the mysterious, Twilight-Zone-like disappearance of the people around them is a blessing and a joy.
  • The disappearances can be literal or metaphorical. We’ve all had that friend who just drops us without another word, right?
  • Perhaps the main character is a pet who doesn’t understand where ‘his people’ go every day when they disappear. Perhaps he’s a dog, who forgets that they come back every day, and is equally thrilled every evening when they reappear.
  • Your story could feature a magician!
  • Maybe your main character is elderly, the last surviving member of a vast group of siblings.
  • Maybe your story is set in a limbo full of babies waiting to be born! Or in a foster home.
  • Maybe your main character is the one who is disappearing. Literally? Figuratively? On purpose?



Don’t forget to leave a comment, and come back tomorrow for more prompts!


If you want to receive prompts by email this month only, go here and make sure you select the box that says “StADa Sept 2015 – News and Daily Writing Prompts” (If you’re already on the list, enter your email address anyway and you should receive a prompt that lets you change your preferences)



StoryADay September 2015 – It’s ON!

May too busy for you? How’s your September?

StoryADay September 2015 Is Coming

Thanks to a bunch of lovely volunteers, StoryADay September 2015 is happening.

StoryADay September 2015 Badge 440x220 px

(right-click and save this graphic, then share it anywhere you like)


If you’re already on the mailing list, watch your inbox for instructions on how to make sure you get all the prompts for September (or avoid them if you’re not into the idea just now, but don’t want to unsubscribe altogether.

If you’re not already on the mailing list, go here and add your email address. Be sure to check the box that says “Sept 2015” and you’ll start receiving writing prompts every day next month.

(Once you’re on the mailing list, you can ALWAYS adjust your preferences. The list has a number of ‘groups’ you can join or leave, to control how often you hear from me. If you only want occasional news, you can opt for that. If you want All The Things, you can get that too.)

Then, start gathering Story Sparks and get ready for a month of intense creativity!


  1. You write and finish a story every day in September (it doesn’t have to be good, or long. It has to be finished.)
  2. You leave a comment at the blog, telling us you’ve done it.
  3. We cheer you on.
  4. You get a huge creativity boost and surprise yourself: who know how much you could actually write when the fear of ‘trying to write something good’ is removed in favor of ‘trying to write something today’?

That’s it.


Stay tuned!


2014 – A Smashing StoryADay Year

First: Thank you.


Thank you for being part of this wonderful community of writers: writing for the joy of being creative, writing for the love of the short story, writing because we just can’t help ourselves!

2014 was the fifth year of StoryADay and you helped make it a doozy.

StoryADay 2014 In Review


This time last year we were a pretty big writing army.

This year, there is a full 33% increase in the number of people who have joined our movement. Thank you and keep spreading the word. The bigger our tribe, the more peer pressure we have to stick to our goals! There are well over 1000 writers routinely hanging out and taking part in challenges at StoryADay now. Wow.


Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.15.58 PMYeah, Neil Gaiman gave us a writing prompt to kick off StoryADay May this year. Neil Gaiman.

Also: we had guest prompts from the lovely and talented:


After the party in May was over, people wanted to stay connected, to keep each other honest, to support each other, and I couldn’t have been happier. So, I launched the monthly (and sardonically-named) Serious Writers’ Group (SWAGr).

On the first of each month you’re invited to come to the blog, post your achievements for the past month, goals for the next, and support for your fellow writers. It helps. You should try it.


I was fortunate enough to be asked to talk about creativity and short stories at a number of venues this year (WANACon, DIYMFA‘s online conference, and the Main Line Writers Group).

I love getting together with writers and talking about what I’ve learned about creativity since I started writing a StoryADay In May back in 2010. Maybe I’ll turn up in your neck of the woods this year and we can hang out?

If you know of conferences or events you’d like to see me, drop me a line or, better yet, tell the organizers why you think I’d be a good guest.


Every Tuesday and Wednesday here at I bring you regular features:

Tuesday Reading Room, is a weekly review of a short story I’ve read and my thoughts about it, from a  writers’ point of view. Reading short stories is a wonderful way to warm up your brain and loosen up your creative muscles. The Tuesday Reading Room aims to provide you with a reading list of sorts, if you’re having trouble deciding where to start.

If you would like to submit a review of a short story for the Reading Room, submit it here.

Write On Wednesday is a weekly writing prompt, designed to keep you writing even when you don’t have a clue what to write about.

For extra credit, write the story within 24 hours, post it in the comments (understanding that doing so means your story has been ‘published’ and may not be eligible for publication elsewhere). This is a wonderful way to share your work with other writers. It’s not a contest, but an exercise in quick creativity.

If you’d like to submit a writing prompt, do so here.


I’m not going to lie to you, running StoryADay is not free. There’s hosting fees ($300 a year or so), domain registrations, technical support services for when the glitches get too much for me, fees for cloud storage, photo hosting etc etc etc. And my time.

So, although participation in StoryADay May will always remain free, I also offer courses and workbooks, the collected StoryADay May 2014 Writing Prompts ebook, and some consulting services. You’ll occasionally see emails from me about Things You Can Buy to support StoryADay, but if you ever feel I’m leaning too heavily on the commercial side, let me know. Just reply to any email from me and tell me what you need.

As I plan for 2015, and StoryADay continues to grow, I’m thinking about other options to keep the budget ticking over here. Ideas include sponsorship, partnering with larger organizations, taking donations, offering premium content for a fee (though I don’t love that idea), and developing new courses and workbooks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you would value/hate/love.


Don’t forget you can follow writing news and blogs by following StoryADay on Twitter @storyadaymay

I post quotes from writers and writing craft articles/books at Tumblr

Get short story recommendations from our sister site: (which is looking for volunteers to help update listings, gather review copies of upcoming short story collections, etc. Let me know if you’re interested!)


Apart from the Write on Wednesday challenges and the 2015 StoryADay May, what are you planning to write this coming year?

Lots and lots of short stories? A novel? Blogs?

If you could use the support of your community to keep you honest while you try to reach your goals, check back in tomorrow for the very first Serious Writers’ Group Check In of 2015.


 Happy New Year And All The Best For You And Your Writing In 2015!!!!


From Julie Duffy image

Julie Duffy



  1. Amazon links on this page are affiliate links

October 2014 Newsletter

In This Issue:

AnchorIt’s SWAGr Time

The Serious Writers’ Accountability Group is back, for its October Check-In.

How’s your writing going? Need to set some new goals to keep you on track?

Check out what other people have been up to and leave your own writing commitments in this month’s SWAGr comments section!

One big change: from November onwards, the SWAGr check-in date will move to the First of the Month (easier for us all to keep track of!).

That makes today the perfect time to try the SWAGr challenge:

AnchorNaNoWriMo Is Coming

I know, from previous years, that you lot love a challenge and a huge number of you will be plunging into National Novel Writers’ Month in November.

63% yes, 32 % no, 5% well...
Results of the 2013 survey

Some Unsolicited NaNo Advice

Outlining – Until I attempted novels, I was a dyed-in-the-wool ‘pantser’ (writing by the seat of your pants). Now, I’m more of a ‘write until I get stuck,  outline the next bit, write until I get stuck again’ kind of writer.

If you don’t have a clue about outlining (as I didn’t), I can’t recommend this book highly enough:

Million Dollar Outlines* by Dave Farland. And he actually does sell lots of novels, so his system works, at least for him. I like Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering* too, but it seemed to stall me, more than it helped me. Farland’s book was much better for my style of working. Take a look at them both and I hope one or other helps you. (*Amazon Affiliate links)

Mental Prep – Don’t forget about the free StoryADay Creative Challenge Workbook that you received when you first subscribed to this list. (Don’t know where it is? Get another copy here.)

It’s a kind of ‘guided meditation’ through the mental prep for a big challenge like NaNoWriMo. The workbook helps you:

  • Get excited about the challenge;
  • Think about practical ways to increase your odds of success/sticking to it;
  • Create a customized, personal ‘creative well’ that you can keep coming back to, throughout the challenge, to remind you about what you set out to do.

This is NOT an outlining tool, but rather a roadmap to your own creative goals (with your own personalized key to the pitfalls you want to avoid).

Training Runs – You wouldn’t run a marathon (or even a 5K) without doing a few training runs.

Sitting in a chair typing for 2000 words a day is more mentally and physically draining than you’d expect.

Naturally, I recommend short stories as a great way to warm up for a novel. You can write

  • Character studies,
  • Prequel events (that shape your characters/settings/mysteries),
  • Dialogues that explore the issues and characters in your novel-to-be.

Get writing NOW for November success!

If you’d like to get hold of a pre-made plan of how to get 10 short pieces written before Nov 1, AND support StoryADay at the same time, check out the Warm Up Your Writing Course in the StoryADay shop. It has three weeks’ worth of  writing assignments, audio lessons, workbooks, worksheets and handy checklists you can print and adorn with gold stars.

(If you’ve bought this in the past and have any problem accessing/finding your files, drop me a line and I’ll help you out.)

AnchorA Bit Of Fun

Even if you have no intention of writing a novel in November, you might enjoy this trip in to our blog archives in which I address writing, fear, and That Awkward Moment When I Met NaNoWriMo Founder Chris Baty


Well, that’s it from me, for now. I hope your October is delightful and filled with stories and Story Sparks. Don’t forget to check in at the Serious Writers’ Accountablity Group page and tell us what you’re up to (get your friends to come along and post too. There’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure!)
Tweet This:

I’m making a commitment to my writing this month. Dare to join me? #amwriting

Keep writing,
JulieJulie DuffyAnchorP.S. Writer’s Digest is taking nominations now for their 101 Best Websites for Writers.  If you’ve enjoyed the StoryADay challenge, the community or the articles here, and would like to help expand StoryADay’s reach would you do me a favor and send an email to with the subject line:”101 Best Websites”  and let them know what you love about They’re taking nominations until Dec 1. Thanks!


Short Story Reading Challenge

You know I love a challenge.

It’s going to be harder to write during the summer months, with boys underfoot and trips to here there and everywhere (bonjour, Bretagne!), so I’m going to spend my summer months feeding the creative monster.

I’ve been finding it hard to write recently, partly because my brain is begin pulled in fifteen different directions. I’m feeding it with information — about education, about fitness, about nutrition, about cognitive behavioural therapies, about music, about all kinds of practical stuff — but I’m not feeding it with the kinds of stories it needs to lift itself out of the everyday world and into the world of stories.

JulieReadingSo I’m going back to the Bradbury Method of creativity-boosting. I did this last summer and it worked like a charm: I read a new story every day (and an essay and a poem as often as I could manage that) and found myself drowning in ideas. I had a burning urge to write; I sketched out ideas for stories; I wrote some of them over the next six months and released them as Kindle ebooks that have sold actual copies and generated actual profits. I have others that are still in various stages of drafting. But more than all that I was happy.

Follow Along?

So that’s what I’m going to do: Read a short story a day during June, July, August. I’m logging my activity at my personal writing blog and you can follow along by pointing your RSS reader here: (I use Feedly on my iPad, phone and computer to keep up with the feeds of blogs I love. I highly recommend it. remember the old Livejournal friends view? It’s like that. Or the Facebook status update view without, you know, Facebook). Or you can Subscribe to Julie Duffy Reading (& stuff) by Emailand get a daily update of all my reading-related posts (some days it’ll just be the title of the story. Some days it’ll be a potted review, and frankly it might get kind of annoying, so use this method with caution). You might just want to bookmark my reading log and check it out for yourself (currently it’s mostly full of stuff I read last summer)

And feel free to join me. Leave comments, link to what you’re reading, start your own Reading challenge and blog…


[OK, I realize this badge is hopelessly Northern-Hemisphere elitist, and I apologize. I’ll make a change when I have a chance. Or you can use your Photoshop-Fu to put a white box over the ‘summer’ part…]

Your Own Reading Log

I’m using Google Docs to log my reading.

Here’s a copy of the form that you can use youself if you want to join in and you like Google Docs. Copy this form to your own Google Drive and rename it.

If you click on “Form / Go To Live Form” you’ll see a nice clean interface for entering your info. It’ll update the spreadsheet automatically (no silly little cells to click on).

If you’re an iPhone user, you can follow these steps to get a nice app-like link on your phone, to make logging your reading easier (I’m a big fan of ‘easy’)
Step 1:

Go to your form on in your browser (










Just make sure you save a copy of this document to your own Google Drive and don’t work on my copy, OK?


Nominate Stories for StoryFest 2014

StoryFest June 13-15, 2014 logo

What Is StoryFest?

StoryFest is a celebration of StoryADay May and all our hard work.

Nominate your own story (or someone else’s) and it’ll be featured on the front page of during my birthday weekend: June 14-15, 2014. (Here’s how it looked in 2010)

StoryFest is a chance for us to promote each other’s stories to the wider world by linking to them from Twitter, Facebook, blogs and anywhere else we can post. It takes place over one weekend only, in order to create some urgency, for people to come by and visit now, and not put it off.

How Can I Nominate My Own Story?

Use this form.

Stories aren’t judged by anyone, just featured, so edit up your best story and submit it for some free link-love.

What If I Want To Nominate Someone Else’s StoryADay May 2014 Story?

That’s great! If you read and loved a story by a fellow participant during this year’s challenge, find the link and use the second part of the nominations form to highlight it.

(If it was a story that was published behind a password wall — i.e. not public — you can still give the writer a shout-out, without providing a link to their story.)

How Can I Help Promote StoryFest?

  • Starting on Friday evening, June 13, start spreading the word about StoryFest to your story-loving friends.
  • You can use these graphics to promote it, or simply use links. (StoryFest will take over the front page of StoryADay May during this weekend and will later move to [permalink:]. )
  • Use the hashtag #storyfest to help us find your social media mentions.
  • Keep spreading the word all weekend.
  • Take the opportunity to blog about what you learned during StoryADay and encourage other writers to get creative, like you! Use #storyfest and, if I see your link, I’ll retweet/link to it.

Social Media Starters

Whether you’re posting in a blog, on Twitter, on Facebook or any of those other sharing sites out there, feel free to take any of these starter suggestions or make up your own. Customize them to link to your stories, other people’s stories or just the front of the site. Go wild!

#StoryFest: a celebration of the short story. This weekend, [DATES]. No admission fee:

[customize this next one for the genre and link to a specific story]
Need a little romance/mystery/time-travel/humor/suspense/sci-fi in your life? Try a short story today: [URL] #StoryFest

Short Stories: bit-sized brain food. Fine one that’s to your taste during #StoryFest:

Broaden your horizons with a day trip into someone-else’s world. Read a short story during #StoryFest:

Travel the world for free: Read a short story set in [insert location]: [link to specific story] #StoryFest

Ever wanted to time travel? Read a short story [link to a story set not in present day] #StoryFest

Don’t forget to nominate your story by Thursday, June 11, 2014


Celebrate StoryADay May 2014!!!

StoryFest June 13-15, 2014 logo

Coming to this site, June 14-15, 2014 (nominate your stories here!)

Today is the last day of StoryADay May 2014!!

Even if you haven’t written a single story yet this month why not write and finish a story today? Writing and finishing one story in a single day is quite an achievement. You’ll be proud, I promise.

To those who have been writing every day: wow! You are awesome and every other writer on the planet envies you.  Well done!

Things You Have Done This Month

Q: Can you improve as a writer by writing a lot? CLUE: There’s a reason this challenge is in a month named “May”…


Don’t forget to submit or nominate stories for StoryFest by June 10 (and yes, there will be more details, a link to a form and another reminder, in the next few days). Then start planning to tell the world to visit on June 1-15 for StoryFest!

(Seriously. This is your party. I don’t have email addresses for all the people you’d like to invite. You’ll have to do it!)


I’ll still be writing away, bring you interviews with writers, the Tuesday Reading Room, the Write On Wednesday writing prompt and regular Kick-In-The-Pants articles on Thursdays, with the newsletter serving as a regular digest of articles.

Take a moment today (or maybe tomorrow) to recap. Write an End of StoryADay report for yourself detailing any or all of the following:

  •    how you felt at the start,
  •    what you did,
  •    what you failed to do,
  •    how you kept going,
  •    what you learned,
  •    what you’re proud of
  •    how you plan to use the lessons learned this month to keep moving on your journey to literary superstardom (no wait, fulfillment. I meant to say ‘fulfillment’).

If you do write a recap and would like to share it, please post a link to it in the comments or simply send me a link in an email. I’d love to read about your experience.

Then get back to writing, polishing and submitting your short stories.

Further Reading

  • For help on developing the craft of writing, I suggest checking out
  • For accountability and camaraderie in the year-round world of writing and submitting short stories, I refer you to Write1Sub1.

(Both of these sites have been started by former StoryADay writers since their first StADa experiences. I’m so proud!)


Every Wednesday throughout the year I post a Write On Wednesday prompt. (If you are subscribed to the Daily Prompt email list you’ll receive these Wednesday prompts in your inbox).

The ‘rules’ for the Write on Wednesday prompt are: write a rough and ready story to the prompt within  24 hours, post it IN THE COMMENTS and comment on someone else’s. You don’t have to write it on Wednesday, but you’ll probably get the most feedback if you do.

Don’t miss out. Subscribe now!


Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has talked about StoryADay, taken part, read stories, left comments, sent me an email, or written in secret. It is an absolute honor to have been your ringmaster again this year and I will be bereft … until we do it all again next time!!


Ready, Set…StoryADay May Is Almost Here!

It’s Almost Here! The 5th Annual StoryADay May starts tomorrow, with a writing prompt from award-winning novelist Neil Gaiman.

In the the last few hours before the challenge lots of people hear about it, lots of people sign up, and lots of people start giggling nervously and thinking “what have I done?”. Here are some reassuring words before we get started:

You can do this.

Nobody dies if you don’t write 31 fabulous stories next month.

(But really, you can do this.)

Now for some practical words on Writing During The Challenge and Planning Ahead (yes, even after May starts, you’ll still have planning to do).

Writing During The Challenge

Here’s some news and some answers to the most frequently asked questions by new recruits (welcome!):

  • Writing Prompts – I provide optional writing prompts every day. You can use them or ignore them, whatever suits your style. If you want to get emails every morning with that day’s writing prompt, make sure you are on this list.
  • Guest Prompts – On days when a celebrity guest provides a writing prompt, you’ll still see a prompt from me, too. You can write to either prompt (or none).
  • Who are the Guest Prompters? Guest writing prompt providers this year include: Neil Gaiman; Heidi Durrow; Therese Walsh; Mary Robinette Kowal; Debbie Ridpath Ohi; Angela Ackerman; Elizabeth S. Craig; Becca Puglisi (and possibly more as I check my inbox. These professional writer types, it turns out, are generous and supportive! We like them! Sadly, there’s no guarantee that any of them will have time to come and hang out and read our stories. They have their own writing to work on!)
  • Where do my stories go? If you want to post them on your own blog or Tumblr or whatever, you can share a link in the community (maybe in The Victory Dance) BEWARE: if you post a story online some people consider that ‘first publication’ and that piece may not be eligible for submission to certain markets or publications, even if you revise it substantially. If you think you’re going to want to use your StoryADay pieces for contests or other publications, you probably shouldn’t post them online. You can, however, post excerpts and invite fellow StoryADay folks to come and comment on them.

Have more questions? Check out the FAQ and resource sections.

Planning For The Month

Here are some tips from a veteran (me!) on how to get through this month of extreme creativity:

  • Pledge to collect Story Sparks every day, wherever you are (Story Sparks are not outlines, but rather things that pique your interest as you go through your day; things that make you go “Oo, I might be able to use that in a story!”)
    Even if you’re using my prompts, most of them are intentionally vague, allowing you to customize them to your own interests. Why not sit down today and write some lists: people who annoy you, things that scare you, places you wish you’d been, things you wish you were brave enough to try; memories that stick with you… Mine these for ideas.
  • Plan ahead — Use the Creative Challenge Workbook to work through where how and what you’re going to write this month. If you’re having trouble making time to write, consider picking up the Time To Write workshop.
    I strongly recommend that you spend some time thinking about what kinds of characters, settings or themes you might look at for the first few days. Having a list of ‘possible things to write about’ makes it much easier to get to work each day, than simply sitting down and waiting for inspiration to strike. Make an appointment with yourself (put it on your calendar!) to sit down each week of the challenge and brainstorm 7-10 Story Sparks that you might use.
  • Watch The New ‘How To’ Videos on how to navigate (and get the most out of) the StoryADay online community. There are some very lovely volunteers hanging out in the community who will help make you feel at home. I’ll be introducing them soon!
  • 2014stadabadge150x69bSpread The Word – The more people who take part, and the more people you tell about StoryADay, the more effective the peer pressure! Take some time today to post this image on your social media network of choice, and tell people you’re taking part in StoryADay. If you know anyone who’s always saying they wished they wrote more, challenge them to join you. Spread the word. Use #StoryADay. (And no, I don’t get rich if you do, it’s just that this is one of those times when the adage “the more the merrier” really does apply!)
  • Set Your Own Rules – you may know right now that you’re only going to be able write six days out of every seven…and that’s fine. Set your own rules now — just make sure they seem on the challenging side of ‘manageable’.
  • Eat well and get as much sleep and exercise as you can. It’s amazing what sleep, exercise and eating-your-veggies can do for the creative brain. (Your grandmother was right!)
  • Do a little warm-up writing today. Check out today’s writing prompt: Fear!

I’m SO glad you’re coming along on this crazy adventure. You’re going to be amazed at how much you write next month and how creatively free you become. Sure there will be bad days, but you’ll be immensely proud of yourself if you just keep turning up. And you will definitely write some stories that we can all be proud of!



Big News and New Things

I have BIG NEWS.

Celebrity Guest Prompters

Firstly — and I have to put this first because otherwise my head will explode — our first Guest Prompter for the month of May is none other than rock star author NEIL GAIMAN!!!

He’s providing the writing prompt for May 1, so don’t be late! (You can sign up to getPrompts By Email, if you haven’t already).

There are lots of other published authors and writing teachers lined up to share writing prompts during this Fifth Anniversary StoryADay May, so don’t miss out.

A Month Of Prompts…Today!

 New this year, I’m offering you the chance to plan ahead, with the brand new Month Of Writing Prompts ebook for 2014!

The idea of sitting down to write a new story everyday, cold, is pretty terrifying. But it’s less terrifying with a bit of forward planning.

For the past few StoryADay challenges, participants have told me that it’s really useful to be able to peek ahead at the upcoming writing prompts. Last May and September I supplied a week’s worth of prompts at a time to people on thePrompt By Email list.

This time, however, you can get the whole month worth of prompts today. Use them this coming May, or at any time in future.

(If you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a free reading app for your favorite gadget, here. Also, the ebook will not have the celebrity guest prompts, only the 31 written by yours truly. You’ll have to come to the site for the guest prompts.)

To celebrate the launch of this new ebook, it’s going on sale today at $0.99. The price will  slowly creep back up to its list price of $6.99 by April 30, (this is an Amazon Countdown Deal, if you’re interested in that kind of thing), so get your copy sooner rather than later.

Are You Ready?

Now, before you let your nerves get the better of you, remember that YOU SET THE RULES for yourself. If you think five days a week, or one story a week is what you can manage, that’s fine. Come along for the ride anyway. Take advantage of the community (I’ll open up the site for new registrations on April 25. Mark your calendars!) and tell your friends, because peer pressure is a wonderful thing!

Don’t forget to grab your graphics to let people know you’re taking part and browse the resource section for inspiration.

Need to Warm Up?

If you’ve bought the Warm Up Course Home Study version before, now’s the time to dust off your copy. Or if you’d like your own copy, there is a 10-day accelerated version too, perfect for warming up before May 2014. I’ve opened a new group in the community for anyone who wants to go through the course now. Let me know if you need access and don’t have a username yet (

Here’s what the course does for you:

  • Start writing in small, manageable chunks that will boost your confidence,
  • Generate 45 Story Sparks that you can turn into short stories,
  • Learn to carve out time for your writing, and break through your fear and block, by writing straight away,

When the course is over you will have:

  • 10 completed stories,
  • More story ideas than you can use during the StoryADay challenge, so you never sit down to a blank page,
  • The confidence to know you can make writing an on-going part of your life,
  • Practice  and discovery of your best working habits.
Get access now

In the mean time, I apologize for the extreme fan-girling at the start of this email (but I’d do it again) and:
Keep writing,

Julie Duffy
P.S. Remember that all these tools (including the daily prompts) are optional. Access to the site and the community remain free, forever. StoryADay May exists to encourage you to give yourself permission to tell your stories!


A Month Of Writing Prompts – The eBook!


A Month Of Writing Prompts 2014

Writing a story a day for a month is a crazy endeavour, but one that hundreds of writers have signed up for every May since 2010. During month of courageous creativity, writers learn how to write every day (not ‘someday’), how to craft a story, how to write in different forms, how to fail and dust themselves off, and write again.
Are you ready to join them?
The StoryADay Month of Writing Prompts book shares the daily writing prompts for StoryADay May 2014: 31 writing prompts, meditations, lessons and pep talks to accompany on your journey to becoming a more prolific, creative and fulfilled writer.
Use these prompts during the StoryADay challenge, or any time you need a creativity boost.


Win A Trip To WANACon 2014

WANACon (run behind the minds behind the We Are Not Alone Tribe for writers) is coming!

The World Wide Writers Conference You Can Attend In Your PJs runs  February 21-22, 2014 and it is going to be great.

I say this, in all modesty, as one of the speakers :) I’ll be speaking with Gabriela Pereira of on “A Simple System To Rock Your Revisions” that works for novels AND short stories.

You can WIN a FREE pass to the conference here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Publish Your Own Short Story Collection

Around here we’re all about creativity. I don’t talk much about publishing because:
a, there’s plenty of material online about how to publish/get published and
b, Worrying about the publishing part before the writing part seems like putting the cart before the horse.

However, many of you have come along on the StoryADay May creativity binge a few times now and are starting to wonder “What Next?”

I strongly advocate trying many different things to get your work into the hands of readers, from submitting to traditionally-published magazines, publishing online, and yes, even self-publishing.

This summer and autumn I focused on putting together batches of stories that could be packaged together and sold as ebooks. Then I published them myself.

I’ve never felt more inspired, so I wanted to share the steps with you.

Why Write & Publish A Short Story Collection eBook?

  • It imposes deadlines and a finite end to each project
  • It can inspired you to finish and polish your stories
  • Setting my own them and writing my own ‘themed anthology’ helped me focus on what to do every time I scheduled a writing session.
  • Because I was sick of only writing to someone else’s specifications and then spending weeks waiting to hear back to hear that I hadn’t quite hit what they needed 1. I wanted to feel like I was spending more time writing than researching markets.
  • To build an audience of readers, not just other writers (much as I love my online writing buddies, we all need readers!).
  • To build a track record of publications with reviews and feedback.

Was It A Success?

A resounding success.

My experiment is still a bit of a work in progress as I have only released a few things, and my marketing is designed to produce results over the long haul. But I can tell you that I have never been more inspired or productive in my writing life. Just the thought of taking control, seeking feedback from trusted writing friends, polishing and releasing these stories, has filled me with drive and broken through any number of writing blocks in the past few months.

Because my marketing plan isn’t fully in place yet (and relies on more collections being released over the next year), I’m not going to talk about sales figures yet.

Short Story ebook blueprintGet The Blueprint – Free!

I am, however, going to share how I got the books out into the world, created mechanisms for gathering reader feedback and began to share my stories with the world.

If you’re already on the StoryADay mailing list you should have received a copy of the lesson I put together, sharing what I did (check your email).


It contains everything from:

  • How (And Why) To Write & Polish a Themed Batch Of Stories
  • My Timeline For Putting Together An eBook
  • Preparing for Publishing (including preparing the text and cover, and what you must include to ensure readers connect with you)
  • Working with Amazon to Create A Kindle Edition (including a walk-through of the publishing process)
  • Working With Smashwords To Create Other eBook Formats (including technical details and tips on how to use Smashwords to increase your book’s reach)
  • What I Did To “Release” The Book (includes how I sought reviews, spread the word and gathered feedback)
  • What Next? (Includes tips for ongoing marketing, and planning the next collection)
  • Your Turn (A pep-talk on the three most important steps you must take if you’re going to try this)
  • Resources (includes links to all the services I use for publication and promotion.

If you’re not on the mailing list you can add yourself now and receive your free copy of my detailed guide to Publishing Your Own Short Story Ebook Collection

  1. I won’t stop submitting to magazines and online publications. I just needed another outlet too!

[Write On Wednesday] Word List Stories

It’s back: the ever-popular (no really, it is!) exercise where we all write stories using the same list of words.
It’s silly, it’s low-stress, it is, frankly, ridiculous and it makes for a great way to break blocks or take a break after a longer or more serious project.

So here goes:

The Prompt

Write a story containing the following words



StoryADay September Update

I’ve decided not to host an official StoryADay September here, but don’t despair!

Starting on Tuesday (Sept 3) I’m going to bring you prompts five days a week and will be inviting you to check in here at the site on any days that you’re inspired to write (or determined to). We’ll be here with congratulations, encouragement and, of course, more prompts.

Here’s a quick summary of the first week’s prompts:

Prompt 1 – Word Challenge
This writing prompt — a list of words to incorporate into your story — is an extremely silly one, designed to help you take your writing not-too-seriously and get back into the swing of writing for the joy of itPrompt 2 – The Fair
This prompt provides a scene and a suggested formula for writing a story set at a country fair. Bet you no two stories turn out alike though!

Prompt 3 – Little Old Lady
An opportunity to examine (or reinvent) the stereotype of the little old lady…

Prompt 4 – The Locked Room
Four people in a locked room with a frightening thunderous noise outside? What the heck is going on?

Prompt 5 – Inciting Incident
This prompt takes a look at one of the elements of story structure writing teachers are always banging on about: the inciting incident.

Keep writing,
JulieJulie Duffy

P.S. Everyone who comments this month will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the StoryADay Time To Write Workshop.



Best of the Web for Short Story Writers Aug 23, 2013

I do a lot of reading about writing, sifting through the fluff and the downright wrong, so you don’t have to. Here’s what I’ve found in the past month or so that you should find pretty inspiring. Dive in.

Forever Young

Stop Trying To Go Viral – by Dan Blank

Start reading websites for writers and you’ll inevitably find a whole bunch of articles about how you *must* be developing a ‘platform’ so that readers will flock to your books. Dan’s article introduces a little sanity into the debate.

And on that note, I particularly enjoy Chuck Wendig’s quote on the topic of platform: “Here’s the thing: a writer without a platform can still get published if he has a kick-ass book, but a writer with a great platform isn’t likely to get published if his book is better off being dragged out behind the barn and shot in the head.”

Along the same lines, you might want to pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs of Seth Godin’s short blog post: You Could Just Make Something Awesome Instead.

Simplify: Let Go Of Your Crutches by Leo Babauta

Not directly about writing, but if you’re looking for some motivation to help you stop stalling on your next (or current) story, take a deep, cleansing breath and go and read Leo’s article.

Mindy King’s Rules for Writing In A Voice from The Happiness Project

A short article about how a TV writer reminds herself to write characters who are more than cardboard cutouts. Really useful. (Your list may vary from Mindy’s but it’s an exercise you might want to try.)

Related: Elizabeth S. Craig’s recent post about voice. She give a great piece of advice about how to hold onto a character’s voice once you’ve found it and then gives you a rabbit-hole of further reading links to fall down. Go, enjoy!

Jealousing Is The New Writing Exercise bt Liz Argall

This is an exercise I have long advocated (It’s part of the Copycat Writing class in the StoryADay Warm Up Course). Liz’s writes about it in a way that will make you want to try it! (This page loaded oddly in my browser. You may need to scroll down.)

10 Ways For an ADD Writer to be OOH! SHINY! by Kristen Lamb

Because we’re all a little bit ADD…

And along the same lines:

What Do You Focus On by Charlotte Rains Dixon

“What you put your attention on, grows”. Seems simple when she puts it like that, huh? Tips and tricks for turning your writing habit into something you focus on and relish.

The Single Largest Cause of Writer’s Block Might Not Be What You Believe by Kristen Lamb

Kristen’s on fire this month! This is well worth a read.

Top Ten Pieces of Writing Advice gathered by Flash Fiction Chronicles

You may have seen some of these quotes from great authors littered abour the Web, but here are ten of the best in one place.

The Encyclopaedid of Ethical Failures by the US Department of Defense (Downloads as a .doc file)

Looking for a plot or a crisis ripped from, well, not the headlines but a Department of Defense list of its own cock-ups? Read through this instructional manual produced by the DOD and I defy you not to get a story idea or two!

BONUS (about reading, not writing)

How school reading lists have changed over the past 100 years from GalleyCat.
(I’m all for kids reading modern writers but I’m a big sad to see that nothing on the 2012 snapshot was published earlier than 1953. What say you? — Ed)