FAQs: Asked and Answered
questions from viewers
Below are the questions from visitors to my site. If you have any additional questions, please email me. As time permits, I will post answers to viewers' questions.
My Writing  / Puzzle Development & Consulting  / Advice for Writers  / Web Site Consulting


My Writing

Do You Write On Paper or Computer?

I dread writing anything by hand as my handwriting is horrible and my hand too slow to get the thoughts down fast enough for my brain. I usually write directly into the computer, but I often need a break from the screen, the chair, and the room. I usually take hard copies to other rooms or outside and lounge as I read through looking for major problems. I may make corrections right then and there if the answer jumps into my head, but I usually make editorial marks, showing me what I have to fix later.



How Do You Write With Children Around?

Ear plugs help. No, seriously, I can sneak in some writing when they're busy playing, but usually I write when they're asleep or at school. But writing is more than typing into the keyboard. I'm constantly thinking through plots, character background, motivation and dialogue as I'm driving or doing chores. One of my greatest character revelations came to me during a blizzard on I-80 in New Jersey while my car was skidding from side to side. The process for copywriting is essentially the same. I sit at my computer, research the topic/industry, then write what pops into my head. That first draft often doesn't resemble the finished product, but it is still an essential part of the process.


What Are Your Favorite Books From Childhood?

Early childhood: A Fish out of Water and Charlotte's Web
Teen Years: The Odyssey (granted, I don't remember much of it, but I remember being fascinated and outlining everything as I read, just trying to keep it all straight!)



What Do You Do In Your Spare Time?

Spare time? That's a good one. I have three kids, my spare time is spent writing. Beyond that, if I'm really motivated, I'll tackle the weeding and try to outsmart the local groundhog. I used to enter (and win!) a lot of sweepstakes, but that's another story.


Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Sometimes ideas pop into my head. Sometimes they evolve from something I've seen or heard. Often, I use logic, trying to fill a need in the market by working my way backwards. There are many approaches, but once you get started, the ideas keep coming, sometimes too many at once. I keep an ideas file and jot down whatever notes will help me later on when I want to start a new project.


What Was Your First Sale?

My first acceptance was a customized Hidden Word Crossword puzzle to AppleSeeds magazine. See my list of publications for the details.


How Long Does It Take To Write A Book?

How long it takes to write a book differs from author to author. Factors are how much time one has to write each day, how many revisions the book goes through, and "resting" time. Each manuscript, article and book requires time to rest, perhaps for days or months, giving the writer distance and a chance to forget some of the details and nuances. Yes, forget the details. The more time between readings, the closer the writer will come to being a "new" reader. Our minds tend to gloss over mistakes and fill in the gaps when we're too close to our creations. Time allows us the vision to see clearly again, and ultimately the ability to improve our creations.

Of all my novels, my favorite took the least time, about 8 months, working a few hours each night after the kids went to sleep. Those 8 months only included the first few rounds of revisions. All in all, from start to finish, including time for others to read and critique, my average is about 1 1/2 years.



Isn't It Better To Write For Children Or Adults, But Not Both?

You should write about what you love. Many authors write in more than one field or genre. Writing for children has its own unique challenges and rewards while writing for adults allows another type of exploration and freedom of expression. I love both. And I alternate between the two, following where my passions take me at any given moment.

Puzzle Development & Consulting


How Did You Get Started Creating Puzzles?

I've always loved doing puzzles and math, even before I learned to love reading. Puzzles require logic and challenge a person to think in new ways. I view creating puzzle as another type of writing. I didn't read any "how to" books on creating puzzles, I just started playing with facts, figures, symbols, anything that could be shaped into a challenge.
What is a Puzzle Consultant?

A Puzzle Consultant is like any other consultant, except the focus is on puzzles. My article "Puzzle Consulting: Is there Really Such a Need?" answers this question best.


What type of Puzzles do you like to Develop?

I love to develop puzzle that are different. Sure, I've developed my share of crossword puzzles and word searches, but the challenge of creating something new, something that hasn't been done before, is what I consider fun. Even if a client wants "just" a word search or crossword puzzle, if their parameters allow, I incorporate a twist. The unexpected, or the puzzle within a puzzle, usually thrills the client and his/her readers/customers.


Advice for Writers

What Advice Do You Give New Writers?

There are two main keys to becoming great writers: Writing and Reading, constantly! Writing is a skill like any sport or hobby... we learn through our mistakes and our achievements. Reading is just as essential, as we learn from others. From reading, we learn rhythm, a sense of plot, character, dialogue, suspense, and the nuances of language. Most of this will be done on a subconscious level, but reading is an ongoing and never-ending part of writing.


What Is Your Revision Process?

Read. Revise. Read. Revise. Let it rest. Read again. Revise again. Read again. Revise again. Let it rest again... and so on until I feel it's as prefect as it can be. For me personally, I know when a piece is done. Basically, there can't be a single "uneasy" feeling that something isn't right. If there is, I have to keep pouring over it, trying to identify what's bothering me. Sometimes having another person read it will shed light on the problem, but generally speaking, my instincts tell me when there's a problem.


If You Could Go Back and Change One Thing About Your Writing Career, What Would It Be?

I would have read more and started writing earlier. Then again, I didn't plan on being a writer. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I'm just lucky I figured it out as early as I did, instead of ten years from now!

Web Site Consulting

Why Do You Do Web Site Consulting If You're a Writer?

Writer's often have an expertise in an area, be it medicine, finance or technology. This stems mainly from the fact that writing is not a lucrative career, unless you're Stephen King, Nora Roberts or one of the "big" names. Most writers write on the side because they love to write, not because they expect to support themselves from their writing.

I worked in web site development for many years (see my résumé) and enjoyed it, though I missed writing short stories and novels. Now that I'm working for myself, I'm combining the best of both worlds, writing and web site consulting. And despite appearances, they are a natural fit. Just look at all the content on the web, and all the opportunities to write...

Home /  Bio /  Résumé  /  Writing Services /  Puzzles /  Web Site Consulting  /  Contact      
Copyright © 2005 by Julie K. Cohen
All rights reserved
Site Designed & Developed by: Julie K. Cohen