Fiendish Friday: Esoteric

I don’t talk about religion. My views on religion and God and personal responsibility tend to confuse people and someone ends up with hurt feelings. But I noticed something lately that made me willing to post this.

I was in a very depressed, stressed out, creatively empty place for the last four months. It was not good. I was not me. I was a shell that used to be me but the inner beauty that is me had moved out. I can’t really blame that inner me, my life had become a very inhospitable place.

I stopped writing. I lost the desire to write as well. The two are different and the lack of desire is by far the sadder one. I had to really work at it to even be funny in my blogs anymore. Oh the horror…

But slowly over the last few weeks, I’ve come back. And my muse has returned. I penned some new words on a new novel. I’m happy again. I feel whole. If a bit pressed for time. But several times recently, God, yes I said the G word, has demonstrated he’s clearing the decks for me to focus on what really matters.

A new treasurer for the board popped up out of the blue and I am going to be able to resign at the end of the year. Little happy dance!

A writing teacher I have been filling in for, emailed to say she is ready to take back over the SnoValley Writes classes at the library, allowing me the choice to continue Nano to Publish or not as I WANT. Choices are so awesome.

Things keep popping up for the coop, which I am devoting more time to, and each time they do, people step up to help. I almost need to say it twice. People step up to help out and make it work. And that leaves me feeling energized and like I am spending my time for that board wisely and on a population that appreciates it.

And I found myself giving advice that I needed to hear. And I could actually process that I needed to hear that advice and take it myself.

To me, these are gifts from a power higher than myself. They are things I could not have produced on my own, no matter how hard I tried.

Let’s not have a discussion of religion. Please. But I would love to hear any gifts you’ve gotten recently.


Weekend Workshop: Summary

Last weekend in my Nano to Publish update I mentioned I would write a summary for a book that you would send to an editor or agent. This is NOT the back of the book summary, which is really teaser.

So in a three paragraph format, which ties to a three act play if you like tying your novels to movies in your head ( I see everything I read or write as film showing in the world’s smallest movie theater, but at least it has great surround sound).

Elizabeth is the second oldest in a family of five daughters. She is long on intelligence and humor, and enjoys the world around her a result. Her oldest sister, Jane, is her closest companion and confidant. They live in a small village where their acquaintance limit their options for marriageable men.  When a rich man moves into their small neighborhood, he immediately becomes the object of their mother’s obsession as a husband for Jane. Jane obligingly falls in love with the young man. Unfortunately, his friend, Mr. Darcy schemes to separate the two, insulting Elizabeth and the rest of her family along the way.

A distant cousin arrives determined to marry one of the daughters as he will inherit the estate after Elizabeth’s father’s death. He proposes to Elizabeth but she declines. Her close friend marries the cousin to the shock of the family. Elizabeth travels to stay with the married friend and her cousin after their marriage. She encounters Mr Darcy, who proposes. Elizabeth declines him severely, citing his wretched behavior. Mr. Darcy writes a letter of some heart felt persuasion defending himself against her charges. Elizabeth is forced to consider the counter accusations Mr. Darcy supplies. 

Elizabeth encounters Mr. Darcy for a third time while on a vacation with her Aunt and Uncle. He is much changed in behavior and she finds herself softening towards him. Their time together is cut short however by the news that her youngest sister has eloped. Elizabeth blurts out her troubles to Mr Darcy before rushing off with her Aunt and Uncle to assist in the search for the sister. Initially unbeknown to Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy finds the young love birds, pays off the man in question to marry the sister, and saves Elizabeth’s reputation. Elizabeth is eventually brought to know these good acts and it seals her change of opinion of him. Mr Darcy brings his friend back to the neighborhood so the friend might woo Jane and succeeds in wooing Elizabeth himself. Elizabeth and Jane are married much to their mother’s pleasure.  

I think you know what book this is. It’s not a perfect summary, I only spent about a week on it. I didn’t cover every plot point. In a three paragraph set up you can’t. You have to pick and choose what presents a total picture to the reader. In this case the agent/editor you are trying to catch. I advise you work at your summary until it feels exciting to you. Expand it when the submission instruction allow for expansion. Contract it when they say otherwise. Follow the instructions. LOL.


Nano to Publish

Mid June we had our usual Nano to Publish meeting. It was a couple of weekends back, I’ve been a bit snowed under with stuff, my apologies.

We got a new participant. Better late than never, right? And someone stepped up right away to be his critique partner. So that worked out. We’ll get him rolling on things.

I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about how to get a publisher. I know the workshop was originally conceived to help people self publish, but not every wants to go that way and it’s a bad teacher/leader who doesn’t tailor her information to the needs of the people. So publishing….

  • Follow the instructions on their website. Seriously they all have them. Pick up a book you like. Go to the page where they list the publishing information, now google the publisher. Right there at the top will be a link for submissions. It might be called authors or contact but less than fifteen seconds will get you there.
  • Follow the instructions on their website. The instructions will be specific and they do vary considerably between publishers, from NO unsolicited manuscripts we shred them to send the first three paragraphs of your novel, and only the first three paragraphs.
  •  Yes I just gave you two bullet point for following instructions, it was the number one complaint I have heard from agents and editors. Follow instructions.
  • Be professional. This is not the time to whip out your humor, sarcasm, or witticisms. This is a business letter you are writing. This was the second biggest complaint from agents and editors.
  • Pick the right person. Some small-medium publishers will even tell you which of their editors are looking for what kind of book and give you direct contact email for those editors.
  • Investigate carefully. Some “publishers” are looking to do no work on your behalf, they just want to run it through and collect their percentage. If you want that, Amazon is way cheaper.

And that was pretty much it. I took them through the examples I had looked up in about ten minutes of thumbing through my fave books and then clicking about online.

I talked some about conferences. You want to go to the bigger industry ones when you can take full advantage, when you’re fully prepared. That means, when you register early and can get slots for face to face time with editors and agents. And when you have a finished product. Sitting down with the editor of your dreams and then saying I have this idea for a book will be a cold wake up call. Sitting down with the editor of your dreams and saying, “I have a completed 85 K new adult mystery that focuses on the transition between college and a working life in the career the protag thought she wanted but people keep dying instead. She finds herself investigating these murders and loving that a lot more than accounting. I have outlines for three additional book in the series and am currently writing the second one.” Which one do you think an editor is most likely to say, “Here’s my card, I’d like to see that.” Yeah, me too.

We also talked about cover design. I can sum it up for you but spend an hour going to Amazon and poling around. In general covers are simpler now, with stark contrast that looks good in a one inch by two inch rectangle. LOL. Look at the best sellers in general, then drill down into the categories that will apply to your book. What are people doing there? I personally toss out any big names. Because their name sells the book as much as the cover or story.

One thing that seemed to surprise people, when you write a summary for a perspective agent or editor, you tell the whole story. This is not a back of the book teaser, they want the whole enchilada with chips and guacamole, bring me another beer please. The full arc should be there in it abbreviated form. I’ll write up a sample for next week.

In the mean time we’re doing more first page idol and expanding to titles, tag lines, back of the book copy, and summaries for editors/agents. If you’re working along at home, send me any of these things which I will read to the group and send you back the feedback.


Wednesday Writer’s Update 6/29

I decided to stop calling this Writer’s Cafe since my chances of making it regularly this summer are slim. The work around for the no Wednesday sitter issue will be to go after my husband gets home from work I think. But since some weeks he’s home by 640, which would make me an hour late-not too bad, and some weeks he’s home at 815-LOL. Yeah. It’s hard for me to have things be so up in the air. I am a planner. That’s how I handle all that I do, by having a plan.

Which now that I write that, makes me laugh as I am a huge panster when it comes to my writing. LOL. Maybe that’s all the spontaneity my life can accept. hrm…file that under things to mull over when I have the spare time. cough. right….moving on…

I usually tell a funny story that happened at Cafe but since I don’t have any of those right now….Monday morning my hubs shaved his goatee off. My son told him it was weird. Then later in the car I was explaining an idea to my son and he says, “That’s weird mom. Not like dad without his goatee weird, but weird.” bwahahahahha

I’ve decided to report on my stated 2016 goals each Wednesday for a little prod of accountability.

– Participate in one flash fiction challenge per month.

√ Negatory. And June is almost over. Sigh. Well, no one is perfect. And Friday is another month. LOL

– Prepare and teach “Nano to Publish”.

√ Yup. I’m super proud of this little group that’s ripped the band-aid off and are moving forward. It takes guts to put your work out there to be critiqued, then beta’d, then to publish or seek a publisher, but they’re doing it.

– Any time I am not actively working on my 2015 Nano Novel, write 2500 words per week on my spy novel until it is done. (After four years, it’s time to put this mess to bed.)

√ So first draft is done and out to Beta. I have four readers this first go round and a couple of people already asking to be in the second one. I’m breaking it down, first go round is for other writers who want to give me writerly feedback instead of reader feedback. Second go round is for the reader experience. If you want in, let me know.

Non writing goals

– Prepare and teach two classes at the coop for the 2016-2017 school year.

√ Actually working on this, reading a non fiction book which may or may not be applicable. Have to wait til I’m done. LOL

– Take better care of my body, ie. stop compulsively painting, crocheting, and writing until my back or shoulder is so tore I can barely use either.

√ Sadly I have had almost no time to compulsively do anything this week. The Club. Oh, the Club. LOL

– yoga daily.

√ No way, not even close. Right now I’m at some sort of three times a week 2 1/2 hour work out situation, which is so not ideal but what I can get on the schedule right now. I keep thinking another couple of weeks and the club will be all reasonable and manageable again. Another couple of weeks and I can spend 30 minutes a day on club business instead of what I’m averaging now which is four hours. Yes, FOUR A DAY. Bleh.

Weekend Workshop – Nano to Publish

Last weekend was Nano to Publish at the North Bend library again. We are really getting somewhere as a group. I am so excited about this. And the breath of genres and styles…I’m already planning some events next year to show case these new authors.

We spent the entire 90 minute session playing First Page Idol. I read everyone’s First Page for them, out loud, and we parsed it as a group. What worked for us? What didn’t and why? What is a stylistic choice and what’s bad grammar or some other form of mistake. I am struck yet again by the sharp devisions in what people like as readers. Things that bother me, others find charming and vice versa. You really have to know your audience.

This of course forced me to consider just who I am writing my spy novel for. And it’s a smart reading audience. One who wants to think while reading not just be entertained. It’s the first time I’ve ever really understood who my audience for this book should be. And now I’m wondering if I am writing for too small an audience. LOL.

If you’re following along at home, your beta reviews should be back by now, or almost all back by now. Try to read your first page to as many people as possible. Those words are what sells your book or doesn’t.

Wednesday No Writer’s Cafe Again 5/25

Seriously, I should just stop calling the Wednesday post Writer’s Cafe because I never get there anymore. Feels like months. Waves at the pizza crowd. Miss you!

Ok so why am I not there? Yeah, emergency executive meeting of the club board. Yes, again they are derailing my life for more drama. I think since I returned from Hawaii last Monday I have seen about 300 emails. Way too much of it backstabbing, half truthing, bull shit. (pardon my language)

Several members may or may not be resigning tonight, including me. I won’t go on like this. Either people commit to putting on their big boy/girl pants and acting like the adults we are supposed to be, or I’m done. I can’t carry the emotional burden of this crap for a pool. It’s not that important.

Since I have returned, I have not written a single word on my spy novel that is practically at the finish line. I haven’t spent a single minute on the novel I am developmentally editing. I’ve barely been able to get my blog posts up and half of those were done ahead of time. Speaking of I’m leaving on Saturday for a road trip with my kiddo and I haven’t preposted for those ten days yet.

All of my spare time has been sucked up my the drama and drama fall out or the emotional hang over of dealing with the former. Enough. Done. I’m out. Drops the microphone.

I’ve decided to report on my stated 2016 goals each Wednesday at cafe for a little prod of accountability.


– Participate in one flash fiction challenge per month.

√ I think I missed May. And it ain’t gonna happen between now and Saturday. LOL. I did do a couple in April. Short ones. Single liners on a topic and the like. It was fun.

– Prepare and teach “Nano to Publish”.

√ Rolling right along. I think we will have 8 new books out of this class by the end of the year. I’m so excited by that. A year’s worth of work and it will be worth something.


– Any time I am not actively working on my 2015 Nano Novel(trashed), write 2500 words per week on my spy novel until it is done. (After four years, it’s time to put this mess to bed.)

√ Not a word this week. I wrote a lot on the cruise though. It’s really cleaned up. I need to write one more bridging scene and then finish the big action blow out on the ship.

Non writing goals

– Prepare and teach two classes at the coop for the 2016-2017 school year.

√ Yep. People have actually signed up for both my classes, Nano and Geography. One family actually joined the coop just so their daughter could take my Nano class. LOL.

– Take better care of my body, ie. stop compulsively painting, crocheting, and writing until my back or shoulder is so tore I can barely use either.

√ Been doing good on this although the kiddo did buy me a new paint by number for Mother’s Day. LOL. It’s half done in the last week. LOL. I find it very soothing and with all the club drama, I needed to be soothed.

– yoga daily.

√ Yeah. Actually this is happening, although some days are still only 15 minutes.

Weekend Workshop – Nano To Publish

The Nano to Publish workshop happened in April even though I was busy posting for the A to Z Challenge. We talked mostly about how to find beta readers and what kind of readers we should be looking for.

First thing to consider, writers will give you write it better feedback. They might even give you feedback that focuses on how they would have written the novel. This is marginally beneficial. Another set of eyes is always good but don’t get all writer feedback on your beta, that’s what your critique partner is for.

Get readers for your beta. Ie, People who READ. In a perfect world you’d have two who read your genre and at least one who doesn’t. Readers tell you how they as a reader experienced your novel and that’s ultimately your focus.

You also need at least one eagle eyed, anal retentive line editor to catch every oops. Every double space, wrong punctuation, misspelling, incorrect word choice, etc.

I also spent a bit of time talking about your mom. Your Spouse. Your best friend.

They all love you. Ergo their feedback is less useful. Why? Because they will like your book because you wrote it. And even if they honestly think its the best thing ever, will you believe them, give the whole love thing? And if they do hate it, and they’re honest, how will that effect the relationship long term? Think carefully before using this avenue.

So where to find these bastions of honest virtue? Well if you have a blog, you can try asking for readers there. Your followers already like your style. At least a couple of them might like to read something longer from you.

How much beta do you like as a writer? Do you use the same readers every time? Where do you find them? Inquiring minds want to know.

Nano to Publish March Workshop

I had this grand idea about the March workshop where I would move about my hard working cohorts helping them get their novels ready for beta with wit and compassion. Are you rolling on the floor laughing yet? I am.

In reality, every one has it already. They are either moving forward on making their first pass critique changes at a solid clip or they are done. No one needed me. No one.

What ended up happening was all these fabulous conversations occurred. We talked about blogging, about pen names, the greater nature of art, ways to handle multiple books in multiple genres.  The group convinced me it was OK to abandon my murder mystery. Guess they had that compassion I was envisioning.

I helped one guy a little with his blog. I heartily suggested people jump on the A to Z blogging challenge as a way to get their blog rolling with a bang and to get a quick readership. As you may have noticed I am participating in the A to Z blogging challenge this year. For the month of April I will be posting what I learned at norwescon (I’m there right now), in the A to Z challenge format. My normal posts will be suspended for this daily challenge in the month of April.

If you’re at Norwescon, stop by the Clockwork Dragon table (#37 in the vendor room) and check out the incredible indie authors, including my novel Scripting the Truth.

Wednesday Writer’s Cafe 3/23

Tonight’s post will be full of shock and awe, are you ready? Are you sitting down? Do you have your coffee?

A) I am actually at write in! Woot! laughing. It’s been a rough month but here I am planning for Norwescon which starts tomorrow. Not that I am really going Thursday. I plan to drop a friend off, get my badge, drop my books off to the Indie writers table I am hawking my wares at (quick shout out to Jeff from Clockwork Dragon), and give the kiddo a tour of where mommy will be spending the weekend.

B) I have jettisoned my murder mystery. The facts, just the fact. I hate it. I hated writing it during nano. I had a miserable time doing Nano last year and that misery has clung to the draft like the stench of rotten sushi clings to the interior of your car when your kiddo drops a couple of salmon rolls under the seat and doesn’t tell you. I was continuing to work on it because I felt I owed it to the Nano to Publish folks to stay on the same time line I was asking them to meet. However Sheri reminded me that I published on this schedule last year, so I’m not really asking them to do anything I haven’t done. So it’s over. I stuck a fork in it.

C) My spy novel is on like donkey kong.

I’ve decided to report on my stated 2016 goals each Wednesday at cafe for a little prod of accountability. The goals have been adjusted to reflect those I have completed and those I have dropped as not worthy at this time. LOL

– Participate in one flash fiction challenge per month.

√ Er, March is almost over and I haven’t done jack all for this. And really I am not going to before the end of the month. I am off to Norwescon, then to Lego land. Maybe just maybe I’ll be inspired somewhere along that mess but it’s doubtful.

– Prepare and teach “Nano to Publish”.

√ Going swimmingly. March was awesome and you can read all about that this weekend.

– Any time I am not actively working on my 2015 Nano Novel, write 2500 words per week on my spy novel until it is done. (After four years, it’s time to put this mess to bed.)

√ I’m working on it. I’m actually working on it.

Non writing goals

– Prepare and teach two classes at the coop for the 2016-2017 school year.

√ um, this is very up in the air. There’s some stuff going on. More when I can.

– Take better care of my body, ie. stop compulsively painting, crocheting, and writing until my back or shoulder is so tore I can barely use either.

√ I kind of got into a little painting obsession but I have not caused myself any pain. LOL

– yoga daily.

√ More or less.

Weekend Workshop

This barely qualifies as a weekend workshop worthy book, but since I skipped a weekend or two and have nothing for the upcoming weekend, I’ll post it. LOL.

I picked up Write Your Own Mystery Story by Tish Farrell when it caught my eye while I was picking up a different book on writing from the shelf next to it. I thought I might find some useful tid bits for the kids version of Nano to Piblish which I may or may not teach at the coop next year.

As I have found with out “junior” how to books, it’s a little insulting to kids. This one calls it a burger joint rather than the Malt Shop but it’s still out of date and vaguely condescending. “Write” takes a youngster through a generalized plan, develop, write, edit, and publish run down. Guess no one needs my class after all. LOL. But it’s really, really general. Really general. Although it does say not to use the word really or very for that matter and to edit out all extraneous adverbs. (Is there anyone who hasn’t been influenced by King on adverbs and the road to hell?)

The book leans heavily on plot. On working it all out ahead of time. Plotting each scene. Fully knowing your characters before you start. And I maintain you need to leave room. Room for your characters to develop as you write, for the characters to grow. You can’t plan their growth arc. Anymore than I can plan my six year old’s growth arc. And you need to leave room for story to find it’s own way, for your characters who are growing and changing to show you the cool stuff that matters.

I did make note of some suggested writing exercises and then modify them for my class notes for next year. I’ll tell you about one here. I took a book suggestion and decided I would have my class invent a character and provide a short sketch of the character, just three lines. Then I would throw those into a hat. Each student would randomly select a character. Then I would have another hat of situations I had created and the students would randomly select one of those. Each student would explain either how the character got into the situation or how they are going to get out of it. I think it will be fun.