In This Issue

Freelance Editor and New Work-in-Progress

Quotes of the Month

Featured Resource: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Helpful Links & Resources

Creativity Exercise

Your Questions Answered

Something to Ponder...

July Article Roundup

Why Your Story Must Make Good on Its Threats

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Quotes of the Month

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

—Sylvia Plath

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

—Philip Pullman

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

—Robert Frost


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Helpful Links & Resources

A Few Words on Good Description: The gals at The Bookshelf Muse offer some examples and thoughts on what makes a good description good.

5 Ways Writing Is Gardening—Victoria Mixon discusses some important and revealing comparisons between writing and gardening.

Are Non-Interactive Books Are Going to Be the Black & White Movies of the Future?—Nathan Bransford ponders on the future of the e-book as more than just a book.

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Creativity Exercise

Take a moment to consider: If your character were a bird, a car, a color, etc., what would he be?

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Something to Ponder

Have you ever written an anti-hero?

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July Article Roundup
































































Freelance Editor and New Work-in-Progress

This was the month of the editor. My newly hired editor CathiLyn Dyck of Scienda Editorial sent in her analysis of Dreamlander right on schedule—which was nice, since it put an end to my build-up of sick-to-the-stomach-every-time-I-open-my-inbox anticipation. With much fear and trembling, I clicked the email, and...big whoosh of relief! My first thought: she gave it her stamp of approval! Yay! Second thought: it made her cry—twice. *Evil sadistic laugh.* Third thought: this lady knows what she’s doing. She did an awesome job helping me tighten up the prose, particularly in the always hairy beginning, and I can sincerely say I recommend her services. If you’re in need of a top-notch, extremely reasonably priced freelance editor, Cat’s your go-to gal.

This winter’s bout of rewriting Dreamlander was an especial joy for me, but it was still an intense six months, and my mind was mush by the end of it. I wanted to dive right into edits of The Deepest Breath, but I could tell on that first day I needed a break. I was just mentally stretched too thin at the moment to give the edits everything I had. So I reluctantly decided to take a week off. I’m here to tell you the only thing more difficult than writing is not writing. As a convicted workaholic, I thrive on getting things done. So when I’ve banned myself from doing anything, I go a little stir-crazy, to put it mildly. But after a few days of shopping, movie watching, and just generally trying to convince myself to chill, my brain has (more or less) bounced back.

In addition to the next round of edits on Deepest, I’ve also dived into outlining my new historical fantasy Storming, about a barnstormer who discovers a land above the clouds after a strange woman falls from the sky onto his plane. In many ways, the outline is my favorite part of the writing process, since it combines raw creativity with a complete lack of pressure about getting the prose just right. I’ve moved past my initial concept sketches and what-if questions and have started the character sketches. Using the extensive interview system I’ve developed over the years (which you can find in my book Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success), I’m digging into my main character and having a ball getting to know her. And, yes, I have a female main character for the first time since pre-publication days. It’s gonna be fun!

Happy writing!




Featured Resource: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Writers often look upon outlines with fear and trembling. But when properly understood and correctly wielded, the outline is one of the most powerful weapons in a writer’s arsenal. Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success will:

  • Help you choose the right type of outline for you
  • Guide you in brainstorming plot ideas
  • Aid you in discovering your characters
  • Show you how to structure your scenes
  • Explain how to format your finished outline
  • Instruct you in how to use your outline
  • Reveal the benefits:
    • Ensures cohesion and balance
    • Prevents dead-end ideas
    • Provides foreshadowing
    • Offers assurance and motivation
  • Dispel misconceptions:
    • Requires formal formatting
    • Limits creativity
    • Robs the joy of discovery
    • Takes too much time

Even if you’re certain outlining isn’t for you, the book offers all kinds of important tips on plot, structure, and character. Includes exclusive interviews with Larry Brooks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Lisa Grace, Dan L. Hays, Jody Hedlund, Carolyn Kaufman, Becky Levine, Roz Morris, John Robinson, and Aggie Villanueva, answering important questions:

  • Can you describe your outlining process?
  • What is the greatest benefit of outlining?
  • What is the biggest potential pitfall of outlining?
  • Do you recommend “pantsing” for certain situations and outlining for others?
  • What’s the most important contributing factor to a successful outline?

Click for more information!



Your Questions Answered

Q: Once you finish a first draft, what are the safest ways to let someone review your work? One concern I have is that someone might try to use my work.—Airen S.

A: I would suggest either joining a local writers’ group or joining a writing forum. Get to know people and, if the forum’s guidelines allow, post a few chapters of your book where people can read them and offer opinions. If you find someone who “clicks” with you and your work, ask him if he’d be willing to beta read your novel or exchange critiques. I honestly wouldn’t worry about someone stealing your writing. Unpublished authors aren’t prime targets for plagiarism, and plagiarism is something that occurs very rarely anyway. Technically, your work is copyrighted the moment you put it down on paper, but you can also take the extra step of mailing yourself a copy of your manuscript (to timestamp it with the postal date), should you ever need to prove that you’re the copyright owner.


Contact Me

Have a writing question you’d like answered? I respond to all emails and will publish one question a month in this e-letter.

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Why Your Story Must Make Good on Its Threats

In a sense, a story is a promise. The author is promising the reader certain things are going to happen. Some of these promises are inherent to every story. The promise of conflict, the promise of interesting characters, the promise of a structured story arc, and the promise of resolution are understood between author and reader before anyone even picks up the book. Other promises are going to be more specific to your story and are going to be communicated to your reader via foreshadowing. For example, if you have two characters who are going to fall in love, you will likely telegraph this to your reader early in the book. Readers understand this is what you’re promising them, and they look forward to the promise’s fulfillment.

But some promises are really more like threats. This dark side of foreshadowing must be fulfilled just as faithfully—if often more painfully. For example, you may have foreshadowed that your villain is as nasty as they come. You’ve promised readers he will stop at nothing to get his way. Really, what you’re doing is threatening to turn this character loose to wreak havoc within your otherwise peaceful story world. So far, so good. But if you fail to make good on that threat, sooner or later, readers are going to stop taking this character—and, likely, you as the author—seriously.

Never be afraid to unleash the conflict you’ve threatened. Showing readers you’re not afraid to take your story to the max will only rivet their attention that much more. In Once Upon a Time, when the Evil Queen unexpectedly kills the Huntsman a quarter of the way through the series, the audience is not just shocked out of their complacence, they’re also forced to take this antagonist very seriously. When a character is obviously willing to back up her threats, readers have no choice but to believe the author is every bit as committed to doing the same.

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