How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Friday, May 3, 2019

Plot Summary of Stargate

A 1994 Sci-Fi Adventure Movie

Even though I’m not a huge sci-fi nerd, I did watch Stargate a couple of times. Once when it came out. And once a few days ago.

Here’s the basic plot summary:

“In modern-day Egypt, professor Daniel Jackson teams up with retired Army Col. Jack O'Neil to unlock the code of an interstellar gateway to an ancient Egypt-like world. They arrive on a planet ruled by the despotic Ra, who holds the key to the Earth travelers' safe return. Now, in order to escape from their intergalactic purgatory, Jackson and O'Neil must convince the planet's people that Ra must be overthrown.”


A professor and a retired Army Colonel unlock a galactic gate to an ancient Egypt-like world where they become stranded and in order to get back home, they must convince the people that their dictatorial leader must be overthrown.


To turn this summary into a one-sentence logline, it might look like this.

A professor and a retired Army Colonel unlock a galactic gate to an ancient Egypt-like world where they become stranded and in order to get back home, they must convince the people that their dictatorial leader must be overthrown.

This simple plot summary of the Stargate movie can be further analyzed with the following breakdown into the 5 main plot points.

The Signup


Daniel Jackson, an Egyptologist and linguist, is invited to a military base to help solve the coordinates of a hieroglyphic “stargate”. If he was never invited, they stargate would never have gotten solved, and thus the story would never have happened.

The Gunshot


Jackson solves the puzzle and opens a wormhole where he and several military members travel to a distant planet. There’s no turning back now. The “race” has begun!

The Halfway Point


One night, Ra’s ship lands atop the pyramid structure and a large-scale battle ensues. Jackson dies, but Ra puts him in a tomb-like healing contraption so that he can heal.

The Wall


Jackson’s love interest, Sha’uri, is killed. He is emotionally at his lowest.

The Finish Line


The people of the planet Abydos learn the true identity of Ra’s soldiers and revolt against the “kingship”. When they join forces with Jackson and his military soldier comrades in the war against Ra, they are able to defeat Ra and win the battle so that the humans can return to Earth.

There are a lot of things that happen, obviously, in between these five main plot points, but this is Stargate stripped down to its essence.

Even if you’re like me, and you’re not a sci-fi nerd, what’s your favorite book or movie in the genre?? Share your comment here.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Plot Summary of My Girl 2


When I watched this movie with my two kiddos, I knew I had to include it in the Plot Arc Library.

My Girl is a story of a spunky 11-year-old hypochondriac tomboy who isn’t afraid of death, but when her best friend and neighbor dies saving a ring she had lost, she experiences death first hand.

Fast forward a couple years to My Girl 2, and Vada Sultenfuss is a maturing young lady vying for her own independence. When her teacher assigns a report, she decides it’s time to learn more about her mother who died during childbirth.

In My Girl 2, Vada Sultenfuss is a maturing young lady vying for her own independence. When her teacher assigns a report, she decides it’s time to learn more about her mother who died during childbirth.

The Signup


Vada Sultenfuss is assigned a class project to write a paper about someone she has never met, but still admires. This gets her thinking about her late mother.

The Gunshot


Vada buys a plane ticket to California, where her mother graduated high school, and she plans to stay with her uncle Phil during spring break.

The Halfway Point


Once in California, Vada learns that the high school her mother attended burned down. But eventually she and Phil’s soon-to-be step-son, Nick, are able to track down an old yearbook.

The Wall


After visiting several people that knew her mother, Vada learns that she might have a different dad and feels betrayed, lost, and like she doesn’t belong anywhere in the world.

The Finish Line


She tracks down the man she thinks might be her dad and gets to see old home movies of her mother and learns a song she used to sing.

Of course, there are lots of other things that happen, even after the Finish Line, but this gives you the gist of the 5 main plot points.

If you'd like to see more plot summaries, you can read Wonder Woman, Jurassic Park, or Shrek.

What’s the last movie you watched or a book you recently read? Share your comment here.



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Monday, April 1, 2019

How to Write a One-Sentence Pitch


When people find out that you’re writing a book, they’ll ask you what it’s about. Having a short one-sentence summary (aka logline) as your go-to resource will help you quickly share what your novel is all about. It’ll save you the frustration of floundering around for the right words so you don’t have to tell the backstory of your secondary character and explain why something important happened 10 years ago, blah, blah, blah.

You’ve likely been in that situation before, whether as the writer telling what your book is about or as the listener feeling sorry for the writer struggling to share the plot succinctly. This list of 10 examples comes from a mix of movies and Newberry Award winning novels.

When people find out that you’re writing a book, they’ll ask you what it’s about. Having a short one-sentence summary (aka logline) as your go-to resource will help you quickly share what your novel is all about. It’ll save you the frustration of floundering around for the right words so you don’t have to tell the backstory of your secondary character and explain why something important happened 10 years ago, blah, blah, blah. You’ve likely been in that situation before, whether as the writer telling what your book is about or as the listener feeling sorry for the writer struggling to share the plot succinctly. This list of 10 examples comes from a mix of movies and Newberry Award winning novels.

Using a Logline Generator to Help You Write Your Own Loglines


A logline is a one or two sentence description that condenses your book’s dramatic narrative into the essence of your story’s plot. As you read through these examples of short novel pitches, you’ll begin to see a pattern. But before you dive in, I’ll go ahead and share the formulas with you so they’ll be more recognizable. The first variation applies to the first four examples. Replace the ALL CAPS with your own words. The second variation (among others) can be applied as well.

Quick Pitch Formula


Variation 1: When CHARACTER ACTION (ie. finds, is thrown back, recruits), he/she ACTION (uses, must make sure, discovers), STAKES (but, or, before).

Variation 2: CHARACTER must ____ STAKES, but ____.

Tips to Remember When Writing a Novel Pitch

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Avoid using names.
  3. Include the main character, the conflict, the goal, and the stakes.

Elevator Pitch Examples for Authors


  1. Aladdin: When a street urchin finds a lamp with a genie inside, he uses the lamp to turn himself into a prince in order to win the heart of a beautiful princess, but an evil vizier is after the lamp too.
  2. Back to the Future: When a 1980s small-town California teen is thrown back into the '50s during an experiment that goes awry, he must make sure his parents fall in love or he'll cease to exist.
  3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: When a sixth-grade girl recruits her 9-year-old brother to run away with her to a museum, they discover a mystery they must solve before returning home.
  4. The Phantom Tollbooth: When a bored ten-year-old comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room, he drives through the tollbooth's gates and begins a memorable journey, meeting all kinds of interesting characters.
  5. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: A widowed field mouse with four small children must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death, but her youngest son has pneumonia and must not be moved unless someone can come up with a solution.
  6. Holes: Stanley Yelnats, a very unlucky boy, gets shipped off to Camp Green Lake to serve a sentence he doesn’t deserve: digging holes all day, but when he discovers a secret, he tries to expose the truth to lift his family’s curse.
  7. Where the Red Fern Grows: Billy and his two coonhound pups roam the Ozarks trying to catch the elusive raccoon and win the gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia: A 5th-grade boy befriends the new kid in school (a girl) and they work together to oust the school bullies, stand up to parents, and face their fears.
  9. Aquaman: The human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land.
  10. Black Panther: Faced with treachery and danger, the young king of the African nation of Wakanda must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

You might also like "How a Book Pitch Changes with Each Revision".

If you would like to see more writing related "how-to" guides, you can read How to Get Published, How to Personalize a Query Letter, or How to Overcome Writer's Block.


Now try to write your own novel’s logline with a one-sentence summary using this simple pitch formula. Share your comment here.



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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

How to Plot Your Novel with a Movie Soundtrack


We’ve been talking a lot about plot lately. A lot of writers use music to help them find the mood of the novel they’re working on. Or they might crank up their favorite tunes to help them write the most words per writing session. Today’s idea is to help you break down the plot structure of a movie you’d like to analyze. One thing you can do to break down the plot of any movie you watch is to use the soundtrack.

The classic 1992 movie, Far and Away, directed by Ron Howard, is the movie we’ll analyze today. The basic plot is that two Irish immigrants seek their fortune in 1890s America, eventually taking part in the Oklahoma Territory Land Run of 1893.

Far and Away Soundtrack


The classic 1992 movie, Far and Away, directed by Ron Howard, is the movie we’ll analyze today. The basic plot is that two Irish immigrants seek their fortune in 1890s America, eventually taking part in the Oklahoma Territory Land Run of 1893.

The two immigrants, Joseph Donnelly and Shannon Christie, are played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, respectively. If you have never watched the movie, that’s okay. Take a look at the Soundtrack. It highlights the most important scenes. You can guess where the plot points happen. But I won’t make you do that. I’ll lay it out for you below.

  1. "County Galway, June 1892"
  2. "The Fighting Donnellys"
  3. "Joe Sr.'s Passing/The Duel Scene"
  4. "Leaving Home"
  5. "Burning the Manor House"
  6. "Blowing Off Steam"
  7. "Fighting for Dough"
  8. "Am I Beautiful?"
  9. "The Big Match"
  10. "Inside the Mansion"
  11. "Shannon is Shot"
  12. "Joseph's Dream"
  13. "The Reunion"
  14. "Oklahoma Territory"
  15. "The Land Race"
  16. "Settling with Steven/The Race to the River"
  17. "Joseph and Shannon"
  18. "Book of Days"
  19. "End Credits"

Plot Summary of Far and Away


In the sections below, I’ve laid out the entire plot of this movie and how all the songs from the soundtrack overlap and perfectly match the plot. This is especially helpful if you find a movie that seems difficult to deconstruct. Try it! Easy peasy! Who knows? You might even crank up the tunes and start dancing!

Pre-Race Life (exposition)


"County Galway, June 1892"

It’s 1892. Shannon wants to run away from her Ireland home and claim some free land in America. Joseph is suddenly homeless (his house was burned to the ground) and he promises his dying father that he would run his own land someday. Shannon is upper class and Joseph is lower class. Shannon loves to ride horses. Joseph fights in pubs.

The Signup (Plot Point 1: inciting incident)


"The Fighting Donnellys"

The Signup is when Joseph Donnelly’s house is burned to the ground. If it hadn’t, he never would have gone out looking to kill his landlord. And he never would have met Shannon. He never would have made it to America. The Signup is the ARRIVAL of the landlord’s men with torches (and the subsequent burning down of the house).

Second Thoughts (refusal of the call)


"Joe Sr.'s Passing/The Duel Scene"

Shannon rescues Joseph from a duel. Even still, he is reluctant to trust her.

The Gunshot (Plot Point 2: point of no return)


"Leaving Home"

On a ship bound for America, Shannon tells Joseph all about the race to the free land in Oklahoma. He is still reluctant to believe or trust her. Regardless, he feels a little hopeful for the prospect of some land to call his own.

Pit Stops (rising action part 1)


"Burning the Manor House"
"Blowing Off Steam"
"Fighting for Dough"
"Am I Beautiful?"

They get a job in a factory to earn money to make it to Oklahoma, but then Joseph starts fighting for money. Even though they are rooming together while pretending to be siblings, they start to feel attracted to each other.

The Halfway Point (Plot Point 3: midpoint)


"The Big Match"

The big fight puts a lot on the line as far as being able to earn enough money for the chance to get their own land. Plus, the romantic subplot adds depth to the storyline.

Runner’s High (rising action part 2)


"Inside the Mansion"
"Shannon is Shot"
"Joseph's Dream"

Shannon’s family has left Ireland to look for her. Inside an empty mansion, Joseph and Shannon share a first kiss. Soon after, Shannon is shot and when Joseph looks for help, he finds her family. They still shun him.

The Wall (Plot Point 4: rock bottom)


"The Reunion"

Shannon is reunited with her old love, Stephen Chase. Joseph feels all is lost. No hope for land and no hope for love. He joins the railroad company laying track.

Final Sprint (the final push)


"Oklahoma Territory"

Joseph realizes the wagon train parallel to the tracks and runs across the fields to join up with the land seekers, hope renewed.

The Finish Line (Plot Point 5: climax)


"The Land Race"

Joseph and all the others race on horses and wagons to claim their land. He and Shannon join hands when planting their stake into the lot of land.

After Party (falling action/resolution


"Settling with Steven/The Race to the River"
"Joseph and Shannon"
"Book of Days"
"End Credits"

Shannon finally rejects Stephen, once and for all. Joseph and Shannon kiss on their own new piece of land. ...and that’s all folks!


For more plot summaries, you can check out Wonder Woman, Comes A Wind, or My Girl 2.


What's YOUR favorite movie? Share your comment here.



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Friday, March 22, 2019

The Shape of a Story


Kurt Vonnegut is famous for his rejected master’s thesis on the shape of a story. He proposed that there are six distinct story shapes that can be applied to any story. These six shapes are the emotional arc of three types of stories (and their opposites). Two additional shapes have also been added, for a total of eight different emotional arcs for stories. Vonnegut’s thesis has since been scientifically proven.

  1. Man in Hole
  2. Boy Meets Girl
  3. From Bad to Worse
  4. Which Way is Up?
  5. Creation Story
  6. Old Testament
  7. New Testament
  8. Cinderella

While I’m not going to dive into Vonnegut’s story shapes today, I propose a different kind of story shape.

Kurt Vonnegut is famous for his rejected master’s thesis on the shape of a story. He proposed that there are six distinct story shapes that can be applied to any story. These six shapes are the emotional arc.

Story vs. Plot


The story shapes Vonnegut observed were based on emotional arcs. But story is much more than an emotional arc. Story must include characters, conflict, plot, and theme. Working together, these elements allow someone to feel emotion in the first place.

So what’s the difference between story and plot? Story is the bigger picture. To tell a story, you have to have those four main elements: character, conflict, plot, and theme. Technically, you can tell a story without theme, but no one would care. Theme is what elevates your story to make it better so that people care. It’s what someone gets out of your story and how they apply that emotion to their own lives.

Plot, on the other hand, is merely another element of story. Plot is what happens in the story, the chronological sequence of events, even if you’re dealing with flashbacks and foreshadowing. Plot is action. And plot has a very specific shape - applicable to all stories, no matter what emotional shape it takes on.

The Shape of a Plot Diagram


While there are actually several different plot diagrams, there is basically one overarching simplistic shape of a story’s plot: the witch’s hat.

The left brim is the exposition. The left slope up to the peak is the rising action. The right slope down to the right brim is the falling action. And the right brim is the resolution. But if you read my last post, What Are the Parts of a Story Arc?, then you’ll know how I feel about the simplistic witch’s hat model of story narrative.

The squashed witch’s hat is more like a beret. Kind of. The left brim and slope are the same, but the right slope and brim get merged and shortened.

To give you a better understanding of this plot diagram, I’m going to share with you three different stories to help solidify the shape.

Plot Structure of a Novel


The three examples I’m giving (aside from the already given witch’s hat imagery) to help shape plot diagram are roller coaster, road trip, and marathon. I’m saving the best for last. The marathon method is nearly a one-for-one match. Hold on tight.

Remember, the falling action includes the resolution. I’m adding in another plot point in addition to the climax. The inciting incident is the first plot point and the climax is the fifth and final plot point. There are others, but I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible.

Roller Coaster Plot Example


Exposition = standing in line
Inciting Incident = getting on the roller coaster
Rising Action = climbing to the top of the roller coaster
Climax = the initial free fall and fast-paced exhilaration
Falling Action = coming to the end of the ride and dismounting the car

Road Trip (or Vacation) Plot Example


Exposition = planning to go on a trip and getting packed
Inciting Incident = gassing up the car
Rising Action = driving to your destination (the other three plot points in the middle are stopping at the gas station)
Climax = arriving to your destination
Falling Action = enjoying your time once there

Marathon Plot Example


Exposition = living a healthy life as a runner
Inciting Incident = signing up for a marathon
Rising Action = running the race
Climax = crossing the finish line
Falling Action = enjoying the after party

I know this is a simplistic view of plot, but I hope it helped you to understand the shape of a story, or the shape of the more accurate squashed witch’s hat plot diagram. So the next time you pick up your pen (or keyboard) to write, remember to don your beret and cackle with the best of ‘em.

What do you think about a story shape being compared to a witch's hat? Share your comment here.



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Monday, March 18, 2019

What Are the Parts of a Story Arc?


What is a story arc, you ask? It’s also known as a narrative arc. The story arc is the pattern, or flow, of how the story unfolds. It’s the structure and shape of a story. A story arc is a tool used to help study literature, as well as to help you map out a story’s plot. Without the shape and structure that a story arc provides, your story will fall flat and become unsatisfying. The purpose of the narrative arc in a story is to give the characters (and the writer) a plan of chronological events to follow. There are lots of different types of story archetypes, or specific plans for different types of storylines: romance, mystery, suspense, etc. But a basic story arc will work for any plot line.

This plot diagram looks more like a flattened witch’s hat, worn like a beret. Kind of. Anyway, the blue circles represent the 5 main plot points. They are POINTS (not acts). Act one is from the very beginning up to plot point #2. Act 2 begins at plot point #2 and goes to plot point #4. Act 3, the end, begins at plot point #4 and goes to the very end, of course. So where do these 5 parts of a story arc fall on this new world view of a story shape? The diagram above still includes the exposition. Yes, that’s the beginning. It still includes the rising action. That’s the middle, the longest part of a story. It still has the climax, of course. But the ending is where I propose a new world order.


The Four-Act Story Structure?


You may have heard of the three-act structure, the five-point plot plan, the eight-point arc, the 10-point, and even the 12-point story structure. On the most basic level, you have to have 3 parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. But, there is definitely more to a story arc than just the beginning, the middle, and the end. The story arc that I use is based on the five-point plot plan. It really helps me write my novels. And it can help you too. Many teachers (and writers) explain the five parts like this.

  1. Exposition
  2. Rising action
  3. Climax
  4. Falling action
  5. Resolution

Take a look at this image of a SUPER BASIC PLOT ARC.

simple diagram of a basic plot arc structure

The exposition, or stasis, is the beginning. It sets the stage for the coming action. The rising action is the middle. The climax is the height of the action. The falling action wraps up the plot. And finally, the resolution is the ending. In essence, it’s really a 4-act story structure because the climax isn’t considered an ACT.
  1. Exposition
  2. Rising action
  3. Falling action
  4. Resolution
This image (of a witch’s hat) represents these five parts of a plot arc, but it makes it look like the climax happens in the middle of the story. That’s never the case. So it’s an inaccurate depiction of the shape of a story. I had a discussion with my 9th-grade son about story and plot. He said, “How could the state of North Carolina be wrong? All the teachers teach it that way because the state tells them to.” I mean, it’s all fine and good, but YOU try writing a novel with that structure and see what happens. You can analyze all day long and squeeze things into those areas, but I guess it’s a lot like a map that isn’t drawn to scale. I explained this to my son and he said it didn’t matter if it was drawn to scale. You can still get the gist of it. He said the rising action has like 8 or 9 major things that happen, but the falling action might only have 3 or 4. My point is this: DRAW THE MAP TO SCALE.

A More Accurate Picture of the Narrative Arc


The problem is that the climax is actually a POINT. The rest are more in-depth. If you want to keep using the basic story diagram of a witch’s hat, by all means, go right ahead. But if you begin to shift it, the story diagram starts to take on a more accurate reflection of the narrative arc. Hello to the map drawn to scale!

HERO’S JOURNEY ARCHPLOT STRUCTURE



This plot diagram looks more like a flattened witch’s hat, worn like a beret. Kind of. Anyway, the blue circles represent the 5 main plot points. They are POINTS (not acts). Act one is from the very beginning up to plot point #2. Act 2 begins at plot point #2 and goes to plot point #4. Act 3, the end, begins at plot point #4 and goes to the very end, of course. So where do these 5 parts of a story arc fall on this new world view of a story shape? The diagram above still includes the exposition. Yes, that’s the beginning. It still includes the rising action. That’s the middle, the longest part of a story. It still has the climax, of course. But the ending is where I propose a new world order.

Do You Really Need Both Falling Action and a Resolution?


Yes, and no. “No” because the resolution is not a separate part of the story arc. But “yes” because the resolution is part of the falling action. The climax, the falling action, and the resolution are actually all included as part of the ending. The falling action is not an equivalent length to the rising action. Therefore, the witch’s hat needed to be squashed. The falling action and the resolution are really one and the same. The falling action leads to a satisfying ending that resolves all the conflict and ties up any loose ends. But it’s not necessarily a separate act, or point, or component of the story. The resolution is basically the final scene in the story. It’s PART OF the falling action. And all the witch’s hat diagrams of the story arc are misleading because they aren’t drawn to scale. SQUASH. The rising action (plot point 1 to plot point 5) take up close to 70% of the story, so therefore it is impossible for the falling action to take up 50% of the story! When the diagram of a narrative arc is drawn to scale, it helps you keep the story arc in perspective. And when you can tell your story with this perspective in mind, it will less likely drag on forever. Chances are, you’ll reach a satisfying ending more quickly.

What other plot maps, diagrams, or story arcs have you tried and liked (or disliked)? Share your comment here.



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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How to Get Published


A few weeks ago, one of my friends asked me, “So, Christie, how do I get a book published?” By the way, that’s the number one question I get asked as a writer.

Well, there are several steps to getting a book published.
  1. Write something good.
  2. Decide how you want to publish it.
  3. Research your options.
  4. Start submitting.
Seems simple, but it’s much more detailed than that, so I’m going to break it down for you.

How do you get a book published? You have to have a great book, make an important decision, do lots of research, and be very, very patient.

Write Something Good


Having a good idea is not enough. It has to be well written too. Make sure it’s been critiqued, revised, and edited a LOT.

If you don’t have a critique group, look for resources online in forums or Facebook groups. If you write for children, check out the Verla Kay Blue Boards.

It’s important to write well before seeking publication because if your first book is terrible, you’ll likely never sell a second one.

What’s Your Publishing Route?


There are basically two paths to publication, or rather, two different publishing options. One option is to seek traditional publication. The other option is to self publish.

Both are great options, but not necessarily for every book. Most books will see greater results with one of the options. Some books have a better chance for success with a traditional publisher, while other books really fit the self publishing model. A few rare gems will see great success no matter which route you choose.

Traditional publishing is harder to get into. You have to find an agent, or an editor. But there are more people on your team.

Self publishing is a huge endeavor; it’s not a task for the lighthearted to take on. You either have to do everything yourself, or hire a lot of contractors: editors, cover designers, copy editors, and so much more.

Research Your Publishing Options


Once you decide whether you want to go traditional or self publish, let the research commence.

If you’re going to self publish, you need to decide who will print it. Will you go with a print-on-demand service? Will you order boxes and boxes of books and then sell them later. Or will you go digital and publish on Amazon? Honestly, the latter is the current trend. Research all the how to articles you can find and learn the ins and outs of how to publish online through Amazon.

If you’re going traditional, then keep a reading journal. Make a list of books you read (and like) and list the title, author, publisher, and date. Over time, you will see a trend of which publishers you think will be a good fit for your book. Begin to compile a list of potential publishers to approach.

Submit Your Manuscript


When you have a polished manuscript, a well-written query letter, and a list of publishers to submit to, take a leap of faith and start submitting. Be sure to keep track of where you send the manuscript, when you sent it, the required wait time, the date you hear back, and the final answer.

Waiting to hear back from an editor can feel like forever. But if you’re busy writing the next book, you’ll hardly notice after 8 months go by. These days, many guidelines will tell you that if you don’t hear back by a certain time frame (maybe 3-6 months, depending), then it’s a pass.

Once you finally get a yes - and you only need one - the last thing you need to do is sign a contract. Technically, signing the contract will begin the next leg of your publication journey. But this is how you get started with getting your book published.

Happy writing - and submitting!

Will you pursue self publishing, traditional publishing, or both? Share your comment here.



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Monday, January 28, 2019

10 Best Races of 2019 that Support Literacy


5K Races that Support Your Favorite Causes


There are nearly 50,000 races in the United States. That's a mix of road races, trail runs, relays, stair climbs, and track meets of varying distances. When you narrow that to 5k road runs, it brings the number closer to 30,000 according to my calculations from Running in the USA's database.

Some races are big, some are small. Some are for profit, some are nonprofit. Of all the nonprofit charity runs out there, you can find hundreds of causes to run and raise funds for. There are dozens of races with a health bent for a charity: cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, colon cancer, Parkinson's, diabetes, autism, AIDS, dyslexia, and so many more. There are races for girls, clean water, adoption, the military, poverty, and a bunch I've never even heard of.

But the one type of charity race I'd like to focus on is literacy. I have compiled 10 popular road races that support literacy. #runtoread #writerswhorun If you know of more, just leave a comment and I'll update the list!

There are two races in Georgia, two in New York, and two in Wisconsin. There is also one literacy race in these four states: California, Florida, Illinois, and Virginia. All ten races for literacy offer a 5k distance. Two also offer a 10k distance. One is a half marathon. Three of these races offer a one-mile fun run. And one offers a bike ride component.

10 Best Races of 2019 that Support Literacy

Writers Who Run 5K & 10K Race For Literacy


​The Writers Who Run 10k & 5k Race For Literacy is a one-of-a-kind run that appeals to writers who run and runners who write. Walkers are also welcome! We write and run for a cause. We have a passion for reading, writing, and contributing to worldwide literacy. We are trying to build this event as a community book drive in addition to a charity run through collections of new and gently used children’s books as well as monetary donations. "With famous, inspirational quotes throughout the course, it's better than having your own personal cheering section in a marathon." #writerswhorun #runtoread

  • Location: Dillard, GA
  • Date: Saturday, June 22, 2019
  • Distance: 5k, 10k
  • Charity: Ferst Readers and Rabun County Schools
  • Contact: Christie Wild; authorcwild @ gmail.com
  • Website: Writers Who Run

Cougar Literacy Run


The Cougar Literacy Run is a community 5K and one mile kids' run (for Manassas Park students) to promote literacy and wellness for our students. This is the largest campus fundraiser-in the last 4 years combined we've raised over $60,000! The proceeds go to purchasing technology to support literacy for our K-5 campus.

  • Location: Manassas Park, VA
  • Date: Saturday, May 4th, 2019
  • Distance: 5k, 1-mile fun run
  • Charity: Manassas Park Elementary School and Cougar Elementary School
  • Contact: Race Director: Cheyenne Hartman; Email: literacyrun@mpark.net
  • Website: Elementary School Racing Page

G.L.O.W. 5K Run


The Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy, under the Naperville Education Foundation, supports grants to individual educators, or entire schools, in an effort to promote a deeper understanding and teaching of literacy, to enrich instructional programs, to provide opportunities to link literacy between the home and the school, and to lay foundations that will develop lifelong readers.

  • Location: Naperville, IL
  • Date: Saturday, May 18, 2019
  • Distance: 5k
  • Charity: Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Literacy Fund
  • Contact: Event Director: Tracey Nelson; Email: info@nicaricoliteracyfund.org
  • Website: Nicarico Literacy Fund

The Brooke Jackman Race for Literacy


The Brooke Jackman Foundation is a non-profit organization created in response to the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, that claimed the life of Brooke Jackman, age 23. The Foundation's mission is to honor Brooke's legacy - a deep love of reading and a profound interest in helping children - by helping to create and support programs enhancing the literacy and self esteem of children. Proceeds from the Brooke Jackman Race for Literacy will directly support Brooke Packs, Project Brooke, and Brooke's Books projects offered to children in diverse city, agency, and school programs.


LOOP for Literacy Walk Run Bike


The Literacy Coalition is a nonprofit committed to ensuring that every resident of Palm Beach County, Florida is able to read. Our philosophy is best expressed by Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations: “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope… (it is) the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” The mission of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County is to improve the quality of life in our community by promoting and achieving literacy. Nearly half of all third graders in our county are not reading on grade level. One in seven adults in Palm Beach County is unable to read and understand information found in books, newspapers and manuals. Our goal is to ensure that every child and every adult in Palm Beach County can read.

  • Location: Lake Worth, FL
  • Date: Saturday, February 16, 2019
  • Distance: 5k, 24-mile bike
  • Charity: Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County
  • Contact: Please email questions to: Communications@LiteracyPBC.org or call 561-767-3370.
  • Website: Registration Page

The Run for Literacy


The 27th Annual Run for Literacy was on Saturday, October 13, 2018. The race features a 5K run and walk route beginning and ending at Literacy Network’s learning center in beautiful South Madison. All funds raised during this event go directly to support adults in Dane County who struggle with low literacy. 55,000 Dane County residents struggle with low literacy. Let’s change that.


BOOK IT! 5K Run/Walk & 1K Fun Run


Ethan & Choco’s Book Club (ECBC) was founded by Leukemia warrior Ethan after he noticed that books and reading were missing from the hospital experience of patients at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange County. ECBC is working on building a library and reading program at CHOC, with the goal to make access to books and reading part of patients’ everyday care. ECBC recognizes that literacy support for children fighting cancer and other life-threatening conditions can help promote cognitive development and social connections that are part of thriving through treatment and beyond. As a community book drive, we accept on-site book donations are welcome and greatly appreciated. Books can be purchased at the event from several authors as well as Scholastic, and all donors that put a new book into the ECBC Book Donation Box will receive a voucher for a free pancake breakfast.


Book’n It Run


The Book’n It Run for Literacy is a family-focused event consisting of four runs and a walk for all ages and abilities. The 2018 Book’n It Run had more than 400 runners and walkers and raised more than $36,000 through sponsorships, donations, and race entries to support the Sun Prairie Public Library. This event is organized by the Sun Prairie Public Library Foundation and all money raised goes to sponsor all the things that make the Sun Prairie Public Library so incredible, like the digital book collection and many other learning tools for all ages.


Read & Run Half Marathon and 5K


We’re bringing together two of United Way’s fundamental pillars–health and education–in a unique combination, that will allow all ages and athletic abilities to come together to help improve lives in Hall County.


Smith Point Bridge 5K Run for Literacy


We’re bringing together two of United Way’s fundamental pillars–health and education–in a unique combination, that will allow all ages and athletic abilities to come together to help improve lives in Hall County.


Know another race that supports literacy? Share in the comments!



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