What Kind of Writer Are You?


The Oxford dictionary defines the term writer as a person who has written a particular text. It clarifies the definition by adding a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.

But there are so many types of writers that could fit this definition. What about bloggers, for example, who put their writing out there for free? Are they still writers? Yes, they are!

On January 2, 2012, I made the decision to become a full-time writer. In the time since I’ve worked in a wide range of jobs that all used the word “writer” in the title. Some of the duties of the jobs were similar, even hen the jobs themselves were a different as night and day.

Here’s a list of four types of writers and a brief explanation of each. I’ve also included points to help you know if each stage is where you are now or where you’d like to be with your writing.

Hobby Writer – This is where many of us start. Some may still be at the hobby writer stage, and that’s okay! You may be a hobby writer if you…

  • write for fun with no plans for publishing or profiting from your work
  • write when inspiration strikes but put your writing aside for other pursuits
  • are happy with the end result of your writing without having it professionally edited

Freelance Writer – When I freelanced, I spent a lot of time sitting around in my PJs drinking coffee while researching or writing articles for my clients. Freelance writing isn’t for everyone, though. Freelancing may be for you if you…

  • enjoy working with people from all over the world from the comfort of your home
  • like researching and writing about unfamiliar topics you may never have heard of before
  • are comfortable with networking on social media sites like LinkedIn to find clients

Ghostwriter – I’ve ghostwritten two major projects – a memoir and a non-fiction health book. What it taught me is that if I’m going to put that much work into something, I want my name on the end result. You might enjoy ghostwriting, however, if you…

  • are okay with putting a lot of work into writing copy for a one-time payment
  • can negotiate a fee for a percentage of the royalties if the book could be a bestseller
  • have experience with write-for-hire jobs and knowledge of types of works (story, novella, novel, etc.)

Published Author – There are three types of published authors; traditional, self (or indie), and hybrid.

  • A traditional publisher has an agent who negotiates deals with publishing houses who get their books into the hands of readers.
  • Self-published authors, on the other hand, are in charge of every stage of publishing their book including writing it, hiring an editor and cover designer, and deciding where and for what price the book will be available to the public.
  • Hybrid authors may have some books traditionally published while self-publishing others. One reason is that the author may be associated with one genre and write another under a pen name. Another is that the author might co-author a book, series, or anthology that is easier and quicker to self-publish.

Becoming a published author may be for you if you…

  • want to get things you’ve written into the hands of readers
  • dream of making a profit from the things you’ve written
  • aspire to win major awards or join the ranks of national and international bestselling authors

So what kind of writer are you? Are you ready to connect with other writers? One way you can do this is through NaNoWriMo. If there is no regional chapter near you, contact your local library to inquire about writing groups in the area. If there are none, then there is nothing stopping you from starting one or joining an online community on social media. Put notices in your local coffee shop. The most important thing is to give it time.


At the time of this blog post, our writing group is celebrating three years together. From the time we first started, we’ve since culled our members, dismissing anyone who had missed six months’ worth of meetings, and capped membership at ten writers total for focused support.

We also stress that members should either be published or have a goal of being published. Published does not have to mean having full-length novels in print. It can be a personal blog, a freelance or ghostwriting gig, or any other ongoing writing project that is available to the general public, regardless if earns royalties.

We’d love to hear about your experiences, group, or anything else related to writing! Leave a comment below to tell us all about it.



February’s Flash Fiction Winner

To start we want to thank all the contributors for entering our flash fiction. The submissions were highly clever and entertaining. We invite all entrants to share their unique and entertaining entries in the comments on this post for everyone to enjoy.

The prompt was a little tough, but we enjoyed and appreciated the courage all participants had to tackle it.

To refresh, the prompt was:

A disastrous love story wherein the word “cooper” is included.
And the winner goes to…
 TMS Flash 2018 feb winner
Because the final tally was so close, we wanted to also give a shout out to our honorable mention, Jacqueline Ridge!
Thanks again for contributing and for making this a fun event.  See our Flash Fiction menu item above for future events.  Cheers!

Our 2017 Anthology Experiment

Beginners! Ever wonder what the self-publishing experience is like?

As a group this year we decided to get our members published. In the effort to reach that 2017 goal we started the journey of putting together an anthology for Halloween.  We created short stories with the generalized focus on Halloween, the scary stuff.

All submissions were due at the end of August, giving us one more month to title, edit, order, format, cover, and do the publishing work by the beginning of October. We’ve had a couple members drop from the entry and a couple members added.

Regarding the timeline, we didn’t quite make our draft deadline in August and didn’t get the story published until October 25th.

We did opt to sprinkle in some quotes from classic authors who have come before us in order to give the anthology a style of its own.

We determine to start our book off for the rest of October and into November at the .99 cent price. Then in December, we bumped it up to the $2.99 price.  Amazon gives us a 35% return at the higher price.

We also published on other retailers using Draft2Digital. You can see the full list of retailers here: https://www.books2read.com/lastwrites.

At first, we watch as it reached some awesome numbers on Amazon. We did a little self-promotion by having all members share or post on social media sights. But come December 15th this anthology is just hanging around while we work towards our next one to be released mid-2018.

Here is the Table of Content (For member details):

1 – Halloween Blessing by Zack Clopton
2 – Even by Agnes Jayne
3 – Gloria Gossip by Becky Muth
4 – Always With Me by Anthony Marchese
5 – When I Wake from Dreaming by M.T. Decker
6 – Alyce Busby and Church of the Living Waters by Joyce Hampton
7 – The Genuine Article by Anthony Marchese
8 – Family Is a Pain in the Ass by Becky Muth
9 – Song of the Muse by M.T. Decker
10 – The Hunter’s Moon by Agnes Jayne
11 – Mr. Health Conscious by Anthony Marchese
12 – All Hallow Evenings by Zack Clopton

With editing done by J. McCoard.

On November 24th, we received our first review and it was wonderfully positive. To this day we have earned less than 15$, but it’s enough to buy our members a celebration pizza or some takeaway gift–to be determined.

Creating this anthology also helped get our members author names out there. Several folks were able to create an Amazon author page, which has been a big motivation to encourage us to continue writing.

Congratulations to our group! We did it, we are now published authors!  And we reached one of our goals for 2017!

Show Your Beta Readers Some Love: Tried-and-True Tips

Hello, fellow writer! The members of the Mountain Scribes created this list of pro tips that you can use before submitting your work to your ever loving and supportive critique group members, beta readers, or even for contests or publishing.

These are not listed in any particular order and gain nothing from listing the products and services mentioned. If you have additional tips, products, or services to share that aren’t noted below, please use the comments to tell us about them.

  1. Hemingway App

    The Hemingway App is free to use online or you can purchase a desktop app ($19.99 US) for when you are writing offline in an attempt to avoid the distracting internet.

  2. Copyscape

    Of course, you don’t plagiarize, but others may have stolen your big ideas before you or stolen excerpts that you’ve shared as teasers on social media in anticipation of either traditional or self-publishing.

  3. ProWritingAid

    This editor tool has a lot of useful features such as style improvement suggestions to enhance readability, finding spelling and grammar errors and tools like thesaurus or word exploring. It teaches you to be a better writer.

    P.S. Be sure to check out their plugin for Google Docs, which is one of the best parts.

  4. Reading Out Loud

    This helps you find those moments that just don’t make sense and the really bad typo. If you can’t find or don’t want to read in front of a human listener, our members can attest that pets listen without judgment – except some cats but what can you do? They’re cats.

    You can also have your computer or phone read your work back to you. Sometimes listening to a non-human voice drone on in a technological monotone can help you find mistakes you’d have otherwise missed.

  5. Review Common Mistakes

    Keep a list of your common mistakes and after every revision go over your prose with this list and eliminate what you can. Maybe you overuse certain words like “just” or “that”, or you fail to break up your dialogue with action tags.

  6. Grammarly

    This tool attaches to several applications to help monitor your grammar and to provide improvement advice. It has plugins to work in Chrome and Firefox browsers along with ones that work in Microsoft Office products.

    Although it doesn’t work for Google Drive, you can download your document from Google Drive and upload into the Grammarly editor with the free Grammarly app for Windows.

  7. Thesaurus

    Use thesaurus.com to help spice up your writing and substitute synonyms for some of those repeating words.

  8. Delay Review (rest)

    Give your writing a rest. Walk away from it for a while, days or weeks even, with respect to any pending deadlines.  Come back to it with fresh eyes and you will be able to find issues much easier.

Do you have a favorite editing resource? We’d love to hear about that and any feedback you have about the items in the above list. Use the comments so we can discuss them together.

10 Common Writing Mistakes

During a recent meeting, a critique of one member’s work segued into common writing mistakes we spot or make. Problems with grammar, punctuation, and spelling have the power to distract readers from the best of storylines.

Here are ten common writing mistakes. Are you guilty of any of them?

  1. Spacing After End Punctuation

    Is it one or two spaces after a period? We often find that the old habit of adding two spaces after an end punctuation still comes through in our submissions to the group. While one space is standard for digital writing, the APA Manual of Style recommends two for printed drafts to aid readability.

  2. Tense Changes

    Writers generally use one tense throughout the story. There are exceptions for using a different tense, like when including flashbacks or some other temporary scenario. The OWL at Purdue warns that unnecessary or inconsistent tense shifts can confuse readers. The best way to avoid this is to ask yourself: Did the time frame for this scene change? If the time frame is the same, then keep the tense the same, too.

  3. Pronouns as Sentence Starters

    Pronouns are a natural part of storytelling. Use too many pronouns and you risk ruining the story for your reader. One popular writing mistake is starting too many sentences with pronouns. Check out why this is a problem in the examples below.

    In the first-person point of view, the risk is boredom. I went to the store. I returned home. I checked my email. I watched Netflix. I took a nap. A better option would be: I went to the store. After returning home and checking my email, a Netflix movie lulled me into an afternoon nap. Your reader should be tempted to yawn from the imagery of the afternoon nap, not your overuse of pronouns.

    In the third-person point of view, the risk is confusion. Sally and Jane are friends. They went to the store. She returned home. She checked her email. She took a nap. Wait, who did what? Pronouns confuse which character is doing what. A better option is: After the two friends returned home from the store, Sally checked her email and Jane took a nap. With a quick edit, it’s now clear which character performed what action.

  4. Head-hopping

    Head-hopping occurs when the writer switches from one character’s PoV to another. By limiting the point of view, you give your readers a richer emotional experience because you allow them to get close to the main character. If you must head-hop, cue the reader with clear transitions to it’s not jarring. (Better yet, just don’t do it!)

    On a final note, Randy Ingermanson of The Snowflake Method cautions, “This is not the same as the omniscient point-of-view, which would allow your narrator to know things that none of the characters know.”

  5. Passive Voice and Zombies

    There are two types of voice – passive and active. Passive voice sentences often use the state of being verbs – is being, has been, were being, etc. Not all sentences that have is, was, or were are passive, however.

    An example of an active voice is: I wrote the book. As you can see, “I” is the subject. “Book” is the object being acted upon.

    But if you flip this around, then it promotes the object before the verb, which makes it passive: The book was written by me.

    Some writers assume you can get by with dropping the “by me” and using The book was written. This doesn’t work because of the zombies. If you can inject “by zombies” into a sentence after the verb and it makes sense, then the sentence is probably passive.

    Grammar Girl reminds, “A passive voice sentence must have an object. Here’s an active sentence with no object: We ran. There’s no way to make that passive without adding something.”

    Another easy way to check is to paste your writing into the Hemingway App. It’s a free, web-based editor that checks for adverbs, passive voice, complex phrases, and more.

  6. Show Versus Tell

    Every writer has heard someone say: Show, don’t tell. But what does that mean? Check out this explanation from Hugo and Nebula winning author Robert J. Sawyer:

    Well, “telling” is the reliance on simple exposition: Mary was an old woman. “Showing,” on the other hand, is the use of evocative description: Mary moved slowly across the room, her hunched form supported by a polished wooden cane gripped in a gnarled, swollen-jointed hand that was covered by translucent, liver-spotted skin.

    Another way to look at it is this: showing is active while telling is passive. (Except there are no zombies to help you this time.) Showing gives your readers a mental image which helps immerse them into your story. It forces the reader to figure out details (i.e. Mary is old) for themselves from the description. Telling robs your readers of this opportunity to participate in your story.

    So how do you find places in your writing where you’re guilty of showing versus telling? Join a writing critique group. If you aren’t sure where to start, then check out NaNoWriMo – aka National Novel Writing Month – where you can find other writers in your region. If you’d rather participate in an online setting, then check out social media groups like Sprints and Spirits on Facebook.

  7. Purple Prose

    Purple prose is another term for elaborate writing that takes away from the story. It’s important to describe things in ways that show versus tell things to your reader. If you over-describe to the point of ad nauseam, then you may have patches of purple prose in your writing.

    The Roman poet Horace (65-68 BC) coined the term (via the Latin phrase purpureus pannus) when he compared flowery writing to sewing patches of purple fabric on clothing. At that time, purple dye was so expensive only the most opulent of the pretentious upper crust could afford it.

    While you will often find purple prose in romance novels, every genre is susceptible to this writing style. Successful uses of purple prose include  Terry Pratchett’s early Discworld novels, Robert Anton Wilson’s Nature’s God: The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, Vol. III, and almost anything H.P. Lovecraft wrote. (Cthulu, anyone?)

    The novel Paul Clifford by author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, however, contains what is perhaps the most popular example of purple prose known to writers and readers alike:

    “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”


  8. Beige Prose

    The term beige prose means the opposite of purple prose. Where purple prose is flowery and opulent, using beige prose produces writing that is just kind of there. The writing uses brief descriptions with plain words and simple sentence structure with few figures of speech.

    When used correctly, it creates a sharp wit. Otherwise, you will find that beige prose is boring. Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Issac Asimov, Cormac McCarthy, and even children’s author R.L. Stine all used beige prose with great results. Here’s an example from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea:

    “In the night sharks hit the carcass as someone might pick up crumbs from the table. The old man paid no attention to them and did not pay any attention to anything except steering. He only noticed how lightly and bow well the skiff sailed now there was no great weight beside her.”


  9. Word Repetition

    Sometimes repeating words creates a certain effect. More often than not, it makes for awkward writing that bogs down your story and slows down your readers. Here are some tricks for dealing with word repetition in your writing:

    If you find yourself repeating proper names, replace some of them with pronouns.
    Example: Mr. and Mrs. Jones lived in Paris. Mrs. Jones called it the city of love. Mr. Jones called it the city of love to spend money on shoes.
    How to Fix It: Mr. and Mrs. Jones lived in Paris. She called it the city of love, but her husband called it the city of love to spend money on shoes.

    If you find yourself searching for synonyms to replace repeated uses of objects, try removing a couple of the objects.
    Example: Susan finished reading the book. She put the book back on the bookshelf. Then she selected another book. She went outside and sat on the porch to read the other book.
    How to Fix It: Sudan finished reading the book and returned it to the shelf. She selected another and went outside to the porch to read it.

    Brian Klems from Writer’s Digest offers this bit of advice:

    “The key is using repetition deliberately, consciously, and strategically. If you don’t think it can be effective, imagine if Shakespeare had had Macbeth say: ‘Tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that, creeps in this petty pace from one twenty-four-hour period to another.'”


  10. Continuity Errors

    Continuity errors happen when an author makes between-scenes changes that are inconsistent with the storyline. The changes aren’t intentional. They’re oversights that compromise your credibility as an author.

    Novels have so many elements – characters, settings, objects – it’s easy to forget the small details. Your readers, however, find it all too easy to spot them.
    but your blue-eyed hero’s eyes were green in book one.
    how did they go from the diner to their apartment in a single paragraph?
    the main character’s pet was a dog in chapter one but now it’s a cat?

    Fortunately, there are easy ways to combat this all-too-common mistake. Here are five frequently used methods:
     Create a data file of detailed notes on each character and place.
     Write an autobiography page with a headshot for each character. You can find headshots on Google Images or Pixabay.
    Use index cards to create a cheat sheet for each character that includes important details about their physical description.
    Print out a blank calendar and fill in the timeline of your story.
    When you’re finished writing the first draft, read your manuscript aloud.

    Reading aloud is an easy way to catch mistakes. If you can’t find any humans who will listen to you read, then read to a pet. They’re just as attentive, but often less judgemental.

And there you have it – The Mountain Scribes’ 10 Common Writing Mistakes. Do you find any of these in novels? Are you a writer who is guilty of making the mistakes listed here? Let’s chat about it in the comments!

Goals for 2017

We are optimistic for a better 2017 than 2016 (with exceptions around the presidential leaders).  We thought to document our hoped milestones in order to inspire us to keep on them.

  • Finish editing of NaNoWriMo novels or other WIP by end of the year.
  • Publish some short stories and other prose on Amazon for Kindle.
  • Bring in income from writing.

We also have a group writing goal:

  • Focus higher on reviewing pieces during meet-ups by assigning pieces to an event.

Goodbye 2016

2016 held a lot of awesomeness for our writing group. Here are some of the highlights:


  • Jarod joined the group. He is our youngest writer yet with his creative house specializing in fantasy, including urban fantasy.
  • MK’s dead mermaid knows something about a stolen weapon. If only we could figure out what that is.
  • Those of us who freelanced through Elance gnashed our way through the transition to Upwork.
  • We found a better way to organize our pieces in need of critiquing with a tracking spreadsheet.
  • MK suggested we watch the Jim Butcher author talk at Kiama Library video.


  • We got 40+ inches of snow!
  • Tracy joined the group.
  • We learned that disgruntled is the opposite of gruntled.
  • Jamie’s really honed her editing skills!
  • Did we mention it snowed?



“Writers are cannibals,” Nora Ephron told Charlie Rose in a long-ago interview. “They really are. They are predators, and if you are friends with them, and if you say anything funny at dinner, or if anything good happens to you, you are in big trouble.”


This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.― from “On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft”


  • Some of us tried Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • We explored potential new meeting venues.
  • Audrey showed us a way to outline using scene titles.
  • Anthony was maybe the first person in 2016 to catch up on critiques!
  • Julie challenged us to use the word “psithurism” into our WIPs.



  • One of Anthony’s short stories appeared in the magazine Devolution Z!
  • We spent a lot of time at Panera (our default location).
  • MK discovered Alicia has a really cool Tumblr.
  • Julie freaked Alicia out with a story about a copperhead snake in a tree who bit a Lowe’s employee.
  • Jarod shared a YouTube channel that has awesome tips for writers.


  • Summer got off to a slow start.
  • We shared info about the MAFWI conference on our social media pages.
  • Audrey created a marketing group for writers called Sprints and Spirits.
  • We did plenty of parking at Panera to write.
  • Julie reminded us that Ernest Hemingway said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
  • Becky discovered a living demonic doorknocker in her funeral home story.



  • Our cover photo reminded us that we should be writing.
  • Becky was quoted in the SleuthSayers blog.
  • We wrote at Panera and Martins.
  • We were sad to learn the MAWFI conference was canceled.
  • Becky and Laura entered Pitch Wars.


  • We had “Visitor Day” at a meeting.
  • Our WordPress site was born.
  • Anthony introduced us to Phantaxis, a sci-fi and fantasy literature magazine.
  • Alicia was asked to speak at a writing conference next spring.
  • Becky was rejected in the nicest possible way by a horror anthology.
  • We worked on perfecting our bios.
  • Laura, Joyce, and Zack joined the group!






  • Julie used Tess Gerritsen‘s “what if” scenario (discussed at MAFWI’s 2015 conference) to develop her plot and pulled an all-nighter to write it on Scrivener.
  • Becky won the Leon B. Burstein/Mystery Writers of America New York Scholarship for Mystery Writing, which she will use to attend Bouchercon 2017.
  • Alicia wrote a poem.
  • Steven joined the group!
  • Becky, Mary, Laura, and Anthony won at NaNoWriMo.


  • Did you know you can purchase djinn/personal spirit assistants via eBay?
  • We found a new venue which we’re excited to explore in 2017.
  • We pushed our holiday party to the week after Christmas, where we set some goals for 2017 (coming later).
  • Anthony was published in Phantaxis magazine December Issue #2!
  • Mary joined the group!
  • We’re really looking forward to 2017!