All posts by Michelle Isenhoff

About Michelle Isenhoff

MICHELLE ISENHOFF has been reader-nominated for a Cybils Award, the Great Michigan Read, and the Maine Student Book Award. She's also placed as a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review Book Awards and been named a finalist in the kid-judged Wishing Shelf Book Awards. A former teacher and current homeschooler, Michelle has been lauded by the education community for the literary quality of her work, which is regularly purchased for classroom use.

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Some Advice from my Friends

By: Cornell DeVille

When trying to come up with something of value for today’s post, I decided to ask some of my old writing friends about writing and see if they had any ideas or suggestions they could share. They actually had quite a bit to say. Quite a bit, on the various aspects of writing, that is far more valuable than anything I could come up with this morning.

C.S. Lewis shared this insight:

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

My dear friend, John Steinbeck, had this to say when we discussed the post about giving up:

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

Anne Sexton agreed and added this:

When I am writing I am doing the thing I was meant to do.

Ray Bradbury put it a little more graphically:

If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both – you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

I love the advice I received from my dear old friend, Ernest Hemingway:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you’re rewriting a novel you will never be stuck.

I like Philip Martin’s take on the whole writing thing:

In the end, writing skills are mostly absorbed, not learned. Like learning to speak as a native speaker, learning to write well is not just learning a set of rules or techniques. It’s a huge, messy body of deep language, inspired by bits of readings, conversations, incidents; it’s affected by how you were taught and where you live and who you want to become. For every convention, there is another way that may work better. For every rule, there are mavericks who succeed by flaunting it. There is no right or wrong way to write, no ten easy steps.

Anton Chekhov had some good advice on showing vs. telling:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

On giving up, George Orwell said:

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

And finally, Sinclair Lewis brought it all full circle when he said:

It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.

Pin it!

pinterestI’ve finally found a use for Pinterest. I’d heard several authors mention that they use the site for collecting images that inspire their writing or for organizing their ideas. Neither worked for me, so I wrote Pinterest off as a place to browse recipes.

Then I began research for a new YA historical fiction manuscript, Ella Wood.

ella wood kindle insertSuddenly my “Downloads” folder was being swamped with photos of historic people, old inventions, locations in antebellum Charleston, cover images to old books, artwork, Civil War battlefields, flags, charts, maps, and all sorts of other investigative debris. I finally smacked my palm against my forehead and uploaded them all to Pinterest.

Then I realized I could deposit facts along with my pictures. I began summarizing events, posting dates, and adding how a particular person or place was relevant to my plot. This cut down on a lot of checking back through digital note files, as so much of my important groundwork information was now easily accessible. I also linked images to the websites from which they were gleaned or to related ones, creating a quick file to further information, should I need it. The system worked fabulously!

Once my novel was finished, I publicized my board and posted the link at the front of the book. Now readers have a whole database of images and trivia to browse through to compliment the story. For someone like me, that adds real depth and richness to the plot and grounds it in actual history. As a reader, I’d be thrilled to be provided such a source!

Ella WoodI only wish I had started sooner. It took some time to really figure out how to make the best use of Pinterest’s format—and to remember to do so as I researched. I know plenty of great images got away from me early on simply because I didn’t want to download everything I found to my computer. As memory kicks in, I’ve been searching for a few of those escapees and adding them in.

The second book in my trilogy, Blood Moon, is currently underway. I’m only 15,000 words in and already my new board has nearly as many images as the first one. I will never write another historical fiction novel without Pinterest!


me3Michelle Isenhoff is currently biking to the moon and back. Between rides, she spends a good deal of time nosing stories out of dusty old tomes.



QR Codes

candle star QRTheCandleStar bookmarkI usually direct my posts to teachers and parents, but today I have a little trick especially for authors that fellow Emblazoner Lois Brown shared with me some time ago. I’ve made good use of it.

We all know the value of creating bookmarks and business cards. A powerful image, a microblurb, an author name, and a website. Those pretty little slips of paper are an effective and inexpensive way to tease would-be readers into checking out our books. And they’re inoffensive. People actually like getting them.

Adding a QR code makes these already great tools even better. You’ve seen them. Theyr’e the funky little black and white blocks that can be scanned by phones and tablets to access a website directly. I slapped one on the back of my business card and it takes viewers directly to my website. The ones on the back of my bookmarks take readers directly to that book’s listing on Amazon. I’ve even thought about putting one in the back pages of my paperbacks, just haven’t done it yet.

business card

business card backSo how do you do it? Super easy! There are many QR generator sites on the web. My favorite is a generic looking, simple-to-use site called “QR Code Generator“. (Clever, eh?) All you do is type the full URL for your landing page into the text box provided (for example,, and a QR code will automatically be generated. Click download and you’ve got an image you can add to anything you want. Make sure you label it and save it where you can find it again. The QR Code Generator website will not save it for later retrieval.

So now you have a new weapon in your marketing arsenal. Can you think of any other creative ways to wield it?


blog photoMichelle Isenhoff‘s life is a balance between responsibilities and children’s literature. She’s usually irresponsible.