PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

Episode 87 Writing Tips for First Time Writers & StoryBilder with Tanya Gough

Tanya Gough, a multifaceted talent with experience in a range of fields, including ESL teaching, retail store ownership, and digital marketing, has now established herself as the founder of Story Builder, a creative writing platform designed for new and aspiring writers. With a passion for middle-grade fantasy fiction and science-infused fantasy short stories for adults, Tanya's diverse background showcases her expertise in various industries. As a guest on the PublishHer Podcast, she shares invaluable writing tips for first-time fiction writers, encouraging them to embrace the importance of play in the writing process and to accept that the first draft will not be perfect.

Through her journey with writing, Tanya Gough has not only developed a platform to help emerging writers, but has also uncovered a powerful approach to storytelling – one that encourages play, exploration, and breaking the rules. Little did she know, this new approach would revolutionize her writing process, transforming her stories and spurring her to inspire a new generation of authors.


Lean into your first draft not being great. Use it as an opportunity to play and experiment, and figure out what your story actually is. – Tanya Gough

This is Tanya Gough's story:

Tanya Gough's journey with storytelling began at a young age when she discovered her passion for writing. She quickly learned that the process of writing fiction was vastly different from nonfiction, and that it required a unique approach to structure and character development. Her determination to understand the art of storytelling led her to create StoryBilder, a platform designed to help emerging writers embark on their creative journey. By focusing on structure and embracing the freedom to break things and experiment, Tanya found a way to connect with her stories on a personal level, allowing her to enjoy the process and truly engage with her characters.


In this episode, you will learn how to:

1. Establish solid foundations by generating clear ideas and direction for your stories.

2. Infuse an element of playfulness into your creative writing process.

3. Tackle the anxiety of producing imperfect first drafts and focus on progress.

4. Optimize StoryBilder for a well-structured story development.

5. Leverage the power of short stories to sharpen your writing abilities.


Starting Your Novel

When beginning a novel, first-time writers should focus on having a clear vision of the story's main idea. This serves as a foundation for the plot, character development, and overall structure of the novel, helping the writer stay on track and avoid getting lost in the creative process. Knowing the direction of the story also allows the writer to maintain consistency and create a coherent narrative that engages readers. In the conversation with Tanya Gough, she emphasized that a strong concept is essential when starting to write a novel. Tanya suggested that writers should have a clear sense of the story's big picture, whether it's the plot, a character, or a particular theme. Having a guiding idea not only helps with story development but also keeps the writer focused and motivated during the writing process.

Key Takeaways

  • Check out StoryBilder, a creative writing platform for new and aspiring writers, founded by Tanya Gough.
  • Embrace the fact that your first draft will be terrible and use it as an opportunity to experiment and play with your story.
  • Use a working outline or structure to guide your writing process and keep you on track.
  • Be open to changing and breaking things in your story to see what happens and to find interesting narrative details.
  • Consider using specific software tools, such as Scrivener, to help you organize and manage your writing process.
  • Join writing groups or communities to connect with other writers and gain support and feedback on your writing.
  • Attend writing conferences or workshops to learn new skills and network with industry professionals.
  • Use social media and other online platforms to promote your writing and connect with readers.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for reviews, feedback, or support from friends, family, or other writers in your network.
  • Always include specific CTAs, such as links to your book, website, or social media profiles, in your writing and marketing materials.

Memorable Moments:

00:14:16 – About StoryBilder, Tanya Gough introduces StoryBilder, a writing platform she built for newer and emerging writers. It includes a story engine for world-building, character building, and a writing area for creating the story from start to finish. There's also a toolbox, education pieces, and a public library full of characters and maps from classic literature that writers can borrow and adapt.

00:19:03 – How Short Stories Help Writers, Tanya Gough discusses the importance of writing short stories for novelists. She explains that writing a tight short story helps writers hone their skills in story arc and language. Writing short stories also helps writers develop story ideas that they can expand into novels later.

00:22:51 – Short Story Contest, Tanya Gough announces a short story contest hosted by StoryBilder with over $4,000 in cash prizes. The theme is fear, and writers are encouraged to submit stories about spooky or scary experiences or stories about overcoming fear. There are three age groups and a grand prize of $1,000 for adult writers.

00:25:48 – Free Trial Offer, Tanya Gough offers a free one-month trial to writers who want to try out StoryBilder. Interested writers can go to and use the coupon code WIP to start their free trial.

Learn more at:

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 76

Episode 76 – LGBTQ+ representation in fiction books with Christine Svendsen

Christine Svendsen is a busy author and full-time publisher of LGBTQ+ books. We discussed representation for the LGBTQ+ community in publishing, as well as her press, what authors they are looking for, how to submit, and a bunch of other great tips for authors!

In this episode we discussed:
  • Christine's journey and process
  • Time management tips for managing to write all of her own books and build a thriving publishing house
  • Submission process to Christine's Press, Sapphire Publishing, and what they're looking for
  • The importance of following submission guidelines
  • Treating your author journey as a business
Congrats to Isabella for winning three Indie Book award for Faithful Valor and Cigar Barons. Isabella is an award winning author for Sapphire Books. She lives on the central coast of California with her wife. she teaches at a local college and has three wonderful son and rides motorcycles when she's not writing or remodeling a cabin in the Sierra foothills.

Isabella has written sixteen novels and just finished, Dusty Road Home, a stand alone in the strong women  Series. If you want to read her current work, check out her newest release, Blood Honor, or Cigar Barons, a complete divergence from her usual romance, you can find them below or on any book vendor website.

She shares her love of writing through her own Podcast with McGee Mathews called 2 Chicks Talk Writing and through seminars and masters classes. She's taught several Master level classes on how to mind-map your novel, series arcs, working with editors and how to power up your writing. Isabella is a member of the Mystery Writers of American, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and the Gold Crown Literary Society.

Her novels include – the Faithful Series. Always Faithful based loosely on being a former officer's wife and the adventures of living on a military base. Forever Faithful revisits Nic and Claire as they navigate the waters of deployment, injury and role reversals. Isabella is working on the third book in the series, Faithful Valor, out in Dec 2019.

Uniform Series – Broken Shield covers the topics of spousal abuse and how it can lay hidden in a relationship, even when the abused is a cop. Broken Shield also looks at how the death of a spouse can be so overwhelming for the survivor that she actually considers suicide to ease her pain.

In American Yakuza I, II, III and IV, where she develops complex character arcs with a multicultural character who tackles the male dominated world of the Japanese mafia. Razor's Edge, the third in the Yakuza Series was an honorable mention in the Readers' Favorite award in the cultural genre.

The Executive series includes Executive Disclosure and Surviving Reagan, about Chad Morgan, an executive protection specialist and Reagan Reynolds, a daughter ready to take the reins of her father's company, until her plans get derailed by her own misguided determination.

Jett Abbott – Writing under the pen name, Jett Abbott, she's written two books in the Scarlet series – Scarlet Masquerade and Scarlet Assassin.

Short stories abound as she released the erotic short – Last Train, The Tinderella Chronicles.

Her new novel, Dusty Road Home – is due out in Spring of 2022.

Learn more at:

find all of her books at:

Amazon page with Isabella's books.

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 75

Episode 75 – From Paris with Love

In this 75th episode of the PublishHer Podcast, Alexa Bigwarfe dives into the details of her writing trip to Paris, why she went, lessons learned on writing her first fiction novel, beta readers, marketing, and more.

Writing a novel is a big undertaking! Alexa Bigwarfe, host of the PublishHer Podcast and the Women in Publishing Summit, digs into her experiences in shifting from a nonfiction writer to writing her first novel.

In this episode Alexa covers:

  • Her process to write her first novel, 4 Days in Paris, by Lexi Haddock (pen name) – including editing, revisions
  • The Beta reader process
  • Why she went to Paris to finish the book and what she learned in that experience
  • Realistic expectations as a first-time novelist
  • Realistic timelines and making sure to plan accordingly – and why she pushed her publishing date back
  • Marketing tips – when to start, what to do, and when
  • The importance of social media in launching a book and tools you can use to make it easier
  • Author collaborations and the important role this can play in a book launch
If you're a new fiction writer or thinking about writing a fiction book, you'll want to check out this episode!
PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 74

Episode 74 – Creating great stories & connections to grow your platform with Adriana Alvarez

Adriana Alvarez runs a female owned publishing house and is a huge proponent of helping other women start their own publishing endeavors. She shares her tips on why you should use storytelling to grow your platform, how you can gain exposure by writing for major publications, and why women should take the world by storm with their books.

In this episode we talked about:
  • The importance of storytelling when marketing your book
  • How storytelling can help you with social media
  • Writing for major publications to grow your audience and gain exposure
  • How to get connections with editors at major publications
  • How the publishing world is changing
  • Why giving yourself “space” is so important to your creativity.
Imagine a world without gatekeepers and censorship. This is what inspired Adriana Monique Alvarez to start AMA Publishing and train a global network of female owned publishing houses. She’s a USA Today bestselling author and has been seen in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, International Living, America Daily Post, London Daily Post, and Grit Daily. She is currently living in the middle of nowhere Colorado where she is renovating her grandparents´ home and learning how to homestead with her husband Derek, and two sons, Sam and Grant.

Learn more here:

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 73

Episode 73 – Developing your Author BRAND with DP Knudten

DP Knudten is a master at working with companies on branding. How much have you thought about the BRAND you're creating as an author. In this really interesting interview, we dig into what a personal brand is for an author and how you develop your own brand.

Want to support the podcast? You can now leave tips at Buy Me a Ko-Fi. We sure appreciate your help in supporting the time and investment that goes into creating, producing, and sharing this podcast!

In today's episode – all about personal brands!

How much have you thought about the BRAND you're creating as an author. In this really interesting interview, we dig into what a personal brand is for an author and how you develop your own brand.

We covered:

  • What is personal branding, and why is it so important NOW!
  • What's the difference between fictional branding and NonFiction Branding?
  • How do new authors create their brand?
  • Why should I be creating and codifying my personal brand?
  • How to differentiate yourself from others in the same space.
  • I hate social media. Why should I use it?
  • What do you mean when you say if you're not a brand, you're a commodity?
  • What are the easiest ways to begin building a personal brand right away?
DP Knudten, Chief Collaborator, COLLABORATOR creative

DP’s worked on some of the biggest brands in the business including Coca-Cola®, The Athlete’s Foot®, and ClosetMaid® during tenures at DDB Needham (Chicago), McCann Erickson (Atlanta) and creative shops in Denver, Sarasota, and Madison, WI. He is the author of NONFICTION BRAND—Discover, craft and communicate the ‘completely true / completely you’ brand you already are,” and co-author of ROTOMA—The ROI of Social Media ‘Top of Mind/’ and the creator-host of the popular podcasts, The ROTOMA Podcast and NONFICTION BRAND.  He is also a keynote speaker and clinician in branding, social media, creativity and culture for groups throughout the United States.

Learn more here:
Get DP's book:

PublishHER Podcast Episode 87: Writing Tips for First Time Writers

PublishHER Podcast Episode 72

Episode 72 – Following Your Writing Dreams – 2nd Career with Reyna Marder Gentin

Reyna Marder Gentin was a practicing lawyer when she decided she did not feel fulfilled. She wasn't happy in her career and knew she wanted something else. After taking a writing class, she realized what she wanted more than anything was to be a novelist. So she set off to do so. In this episode, we discuss her writing and publishing journey.

Reyna left a career in the law and discovered her passion for writing. She was fortunate to fall into several classes and writing workshops that were supportive and fostered a sense that she could write and put herself out there in a positive way.

In this show we talked about:

  • following your dreams to be a writer and writing her first novel at age 50
  • trying to find an agent (unsuccessfully) and pursuing other options
  • hybrid presses and why this might be a great fit for you
  • traditionally publishing with a small press and the pros and cons of publishing with a small press
  • Struggling with promoting her books
  • Whether paying for a publicist is worth it.
  • How much she loves interacting with readers
Reyna Marder Gentin grew up in Great Neck, New York. She attended college and law school at Yale. For many years, she practiced as an appellate attorney with a public defender's office before turning to writing full time. Reyna has studied at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and her work has been published widely online and in print. Her debut novel, a romantic legal thriller entitled UNREASONABLE DOUBTS, was named a finalist for the Women's Fiction Writers Association Star Award in 2019. Her first novel for children, MY NAME IS LAYLA, (TouchPoint Press, January, 2021) is the story of a young teen with undiagnosed dyslexia. Reyna's latest novel, BOTH ARE TRUE, is contemporary fiction set in New York City, was released by Moonshine Cove Press in October, 2021. Reyna lives with her family in Scarsdale, New York. To learn more, please visit

Learn more about Reyna here: