Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Announcing The Release Of "Write With Fey"

My last several weeks haven't been productive as far as writing is concerned.  Between my daughter's graduation, spring gardening, work related issues, and helping my wife with some of her projects, there just hasn't been any time left for writing. As a result, tomorrow's critique group meeting will be the second month in a row that I haven't submitted anything. (Hangs head in shame)

Fortunately, I do have some good news to report on the writing front. Chrys Fey has released her guide to publication and I'm pleased to announce that she is hosting a giveaway in honor of her accomplishment. So check out her book and be sure to enter the contest below.  

Good luck with the book, Chrys!


Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You’ll also discover how to write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.

•        Spark One: Being a Writer
•        Spark Two: Story Essentials
•        Spark Three: A Book’s Stepping Stones
•        Spark Four: How To
•        Spark Five: Character ER
•        Spark Six: Editing
•        Spark Seven: Publishing
•        Spark Eight: Marketing
•        Spark Nine: Writing About
•        Spark Ten: Final Inspiration

With so much information, you’ll take notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your writing journey.



 Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Fey realized she wanted to write by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes.
Chrys Fey’s Links:


Open to all from June 4th 2018 – July 6th 2018
Click here to enter or use the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Insecure Writer and Writing "The End"

Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I finally finished my very first story, the fan fiction I’ve been working on for the last ten years, and this means I’m entering unknown territory.

Before I go any further, I should mention that this is only the first draft. There’s still a lot of editing to be done, both structurally and line editing-wise, but even so, this is the first time I’ve been able to write “The End” on anything, so I’m pretty excited. Well, perhaps “relieved” would be a better word. Woo hoo!

Photo courtesy of VisualHunt

I’m sure most of you established writers out there will feel an urge to roll your eyes at a rough draft that required ten years to write, but a decade ago I knew nothing about writing fiction. I had to learn so much about writing it's almost scary.  The first half of my story has gone through so many revisions I scarcely recognize the chapters anymore. But every time I learned about showing versus telling, or the proper way to do dialogue, or deep POV, or anything related to telling a good story, I had no choice but to go back and apply what I’d learned. I wanted this story to be the best it could be. 

Oh, did I mention I’m a slow writer too?

Yep, that’s pretty much sums up my life as a writer.

On top of all that, my focus over the past several years has been on  my other story--you know, the urban fantasy I can actually publish. Still, every time I found myself with a little extra time, I’d sneak back to the fan fic and make a little more progress.

Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure, but this fan fic is what seduced me into becoming a writer in the first place, back when I thought writing wasn’t for mortals. It’s the story that kept me going whenever the writing turned hard, especially when I realized I needed to rewrite a chapter based on some aspect of writing I’d just learned. I fell in love with my characters and wanted to see how everything worked out for them. To be honest, as much as I’m looking forward to publishing my urban fantasy, if I could only finish one story in my lifetime, I would choose the fan fic. What can I say? You never forget your first story. 

So what’s next? As I said before, I’m entering uncharted territory. I’ll find some beta readers who will happily point out where all the problems are, I'll keep working on the story until I’m satisfied, and then I'll upload it to Wattpad and celebrate. 

Now all I need to do is write “The End” on my urban fantasy. 

This month's question is: "What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?"

Character names, definitely. Despite having worked on my fan fic for over ten years, several of my characters still have placeholder names. Oh, the shame!


Update: Based on the comments, I realize I failed to mention what my story my fan fic was based on, so here's a hint. Check out the title of the blog. :)  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Insecure Writer and Being Late With My Post

Today is May's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I completely forgot that today was the first Wednesday of the month.  Where are my priorities? 

To spare myself any further embarrassment, I'll jump right to this month's optional question. 

It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

It seems that every time the season changes, I'm inspired to write. The onset of fall is still my most productive time, but I get another little boost when winter starts. It's time to head indoors and the thought of working on my story with a cup of hot chocolate next to me is enough to keep me writing for a while. Spring is another great time to write, but as you can see from the title of this post, it can also lead to short attention spans.

 Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How Being A Writer Has Changed My Book Buying Habits

Photo Courtesy of Visual Hunt

I’ve noticed a trend in my ebook buying habits over the past year. My purchases tend to fall into one of two camps. Camp number one represents either a book by an author I love (and hence a no-brainer purchase) or the rare book that really catches my attention (interesting premise, great voice, etc.). Camp number two involves books that are merely okay, but which have a voice or style similar to mine. I buy these books because I want to learn from them, to see how to craft sentences that work—not because the story is great. In other words, I buy it to satisfy the writer in me, not the reader. 

Not that I can't learn from the first group of books, but their writing is usually so far above my station it’s difficult for me to pick out the nuances. What I learn from this group involves aspects of story structure. Where did the character arcs occur? How did the authors pull off that intricate subplot? Why did they choose one method over another? The high level stuff. 

The end result of all this is that I’ve become jaded in my book buying habits. If a book doesn’t grab me immediately, then I won’t buy it unless I think I’ll learn something from it. No more middle ground. No more fun little reads. I already have so many TBR and IKINR (I Know I’ll Never Read) books on my Kindle, there’s no incentive for me to do anything else. 

Is it just me? What are your book buying habits these days?


Friday, April 13, 2018

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 187

This Week's Writing Links
Photo Courtesy of Visual Hunt

After not being able to write for two weeks because of bronchitis, I had to speed-write for a week in order to complete my submissions for my two critique groups, both of which met this week. I plan on spending this weekend relaxing, although my wife may have other plans in mind. 

We saw Pacific Rim: Uprising last weekend and were moderately entertained.  My my, how computer graphics have evolved over time. Mass destruction never looked so good.  The story itself was rather contrived and full of plot holes, but I've come to expect that in these kinds of movies.  Just load up on the popcorn and soda and watch the explosions, thank you very much.

Enjoy the writing links! 


Showing vs telling: ‘Show don’t tell’ in narration

How to Publish with Createspace & Ingram Spark at the Same Time

How to avoid spam filters and reach the inbox

Pros And Cons Of Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing

Writing a Synopsis

Mining Our Characters’ Wounds

7 Ways to Master “Show, Don’t Tell” During Exposition

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Insecure Writer And Knowing If You've Got the Skills To Be A Writer

Today is April's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I still wonder if I'm one of those people who'll never be a good/,average/passable writer. no matter how much I work at it. 

I’ve read posts and listened to podcasts that say anyone can be a writer if they work hard enough at it, but I know that’s not the case. We may not wish to discuss it in public, but the truth is some people will never be able to grasp the concept of being a writer—whether it’s an inability to write coherent sentences, or a lack of imagination, or being unable to describe a scene so that someone other than the writer understands what’s going on, or any of the dozens of other skills a writer must have. 

I have a knack for chemistry. I don’t know why; I just do. It makes sense to me. It’s not always easy, but I can solve complicated problems because I don’t have to worry about the basics. I used to think that anyone could pass a chemistry class if they worked hard enough, but after years of teaching I was forced to admit that some people will never get it. They might be smart and/or hard working, but chemistry will never click for them. And that’s okay—assuming they’re satisfied with never being a chemist. 

It’s the same for writers. Even passable writers wield words in a way that are beyond the ken of non-writers. They breathe life onto the page without consciously thinking about it. They may struggle at times, but the basics come so naturally to them they don’t even think about them anymore. Unfortunately, there will always be those aspiring writers who will never "get" these basics, no matter how hard they work. 

I’ve met all sorts of aspiring writers at meetings and conferences. Their skill levels vary widely, but I can see the understanding in their eyes. But I’ve run into a few people I know will never have that understanding. They’re enthusiastic and attend conferences and read books, but after speaking with them for ten minutes, it’s clear they’re never going to get it. I recall helping someone with their synopsis once and when I asked her to explain what her story was about, it was an absolute mess. When I suggested her story needed some kind of conflict she just stared at me like I was an idiot. 

It's a dirty secret, but some people will never be writers. It’s not their fault, and I feel bad for them. My only question is: Am I one of those people? 

Oh, by the way, I'm one of the IWSG co-hosts this month. Don't forget to stop by the other co-hosts too.   Olga Godim Renee Scattergood Tamara Narayani 


Friday, March 30, 2018

Is The Three Act Structure No Longer Useful?

Photo courtesy of VisualHunt

As some of you may know, I’m big into story structure. My ability to take a scene in my head and convert it into words on the page may be lacking, but story structure is a whole 'nother beast. Three-act structure, along with its requisite story beats at well-defined points, just makes sense to me. So much so that I’ve given a few lectures on the topic at local libraries and my SCBWI writing group. I can scarcely watch a movie these days without noticing the first plot point or the midpoint reversal. Heck, I’ve talked about it enough that even my wife and daughter can spot the “All is lost” moment. 

But lately I’ve come across a few writers who suggest that the three-act structure is no longer necessary for a good story. That writers can use whatever structure they want. And that makes me want to go hmmm… 

I first saw this advice a couple of weeks ago in the book Layer Your Novel by C. S. Lakin. I enjoy her books on the craft of writing, and this book does a good job of defining the important story beats and where they should go in the story, but she spent several pages at the beginning of the book telling writers that they don’t have to use the three-act structure if they don’t want to. She even pointed out that one of her books had seven acts. All a writer really needs, she said, is to have the proper story beats in the right places. 

I have to say I found this attitude rather confusing. First of all, there’s nothing about the three-act structure that says you can’t break it down into more than three parts. All you really need is the story setup, the journey, and the final battle. Pretty basic stuff. I haven’t read her seven-part story, but I suspect that it follows the three-act structure more than she would lead us to believe. In fact, if her story follows the story beats that she espouses in Layer Your Novel, then I’m positive it follows three-act structure. Because if you have all the necessary story beats and you put them in the right places, then you basically have the three-act structure whether you call it that or not. 

And then yesterday I watched a video by John Truby, another writer attempting to explain the art of writing. Not only did he knock story structure, but he claimed that following “The Hero’s Journey”—another method of characterizing three-act structure—would lead the writer to disaster. (I think his explanation was that since everyone else was doing using it, new writers would be better off doing something different. Yikes!) What I found most amusing was that the three stories he constantly held up as examples of what writers should aspire to—Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings—all follow the Hero’s Journey to the letter. 

Hey, I’m all for not being a slave to writing rules, but I see no reason for telling newbie writers that the three-act structure is obsolete. All good stories follow it to some extent and writers would be wise to learn what makes a story tick before discarding it.

Have a great Easter weekend and enjoy this week's writing links!


5 Most Common Mistakes with Setting

Understanding Your Ebook Formatting Options

What's So Wrong With Clich├ęs in Our Fiction? This.

The Dangers of Premature Editing: Pruning Our Stories vs. Pillaging Them

Publishing Tips for 2018 and Beyond

Word Choice for Character Strength

7 Frequently Asked Writing Questions