Writing Group Shenanigans

If you are a fellow writer, you have combed through Twitter and other sites searching for quality critique partners. Don’t get me wrong, having family who will read your manuscript is freakin’ fantastic, but writers speak a different language that only other writers understand.

Case and point #1: If I asked my dad how my pacing was, he would say it sucks. He’d think I was asking about my jogging pace, which is atrocious at best.

Case and point #2: If I asked my sister about the MC in my manuscript, she would blink a few times and ask what the f*** I was talking about. Not kidding. That’s a friendly version of her typical sentence structure.

Anyway, you get the point.

A few months ago, I signed up to join a writing group thanks to the wonderful Bianca Marais’s Tweet.

Best. Decision. I. Ever. Made.

Y’all, I found a group of phenomenal ladies.

They catch stuff that leaves me blinking in a stupor at my computer screen. And we all bring something different to the table. I like to think of us as dynamic dynamite. Even if it is kinda cheesy.

Crystal has a smokin’ hot character, Slate, who we all drool over. Not to mention her strong, caring cliff diving protagonist, Luren. Her story has a really cool concept with steamy scenes. Keep cold water nearby. You’ll thank me later.

Defne has a genius character, Roya, who has been stepped on and plotted against from an early age. The political intrigue and tension between characters are killer. In addition, her story has a unique concept that gets my brain cranking.

Then there’s Joy. Joy has impressive descriptions (I’m not jealous, not at all). Her character, Fen, is cool, calm, and just might knock someone off. Assassin much? Yes, please.

On top of their amazing stories and fresh concepts, Defne pops into Slack with memes she created. And I died. On the spot.

For your viewing pleasure:

Defne shared her meme-making secret with us, and y’all, she created a meme monster. Me. I’m the meme monster. I’ve been memeing all day long.

And to add a little more sugar to the topping, Joy throws this at us:

Luren – Joy’s Amazing Drawing

Whaaaaat?! Girl has serious art game. If I could steal that ability from her, I would do it in a hot second. Instead, I resort to buying artwork I can hang on my walls and drool over.

And then…Joy turned into a meme monster and created these:

If you haven’t joined a writing group, I highly recommend checking into it. It can be scary because you’re putting your heart and soul out there for others to critique, but you will become a stronger writer. You will learn from your group members, and you will chase the same dream…together. They will understand you in a way no one else does.

So take the scary leap, find your writing people, and see the magic unfold.


Beat Sheets, Helpful Websites, & Books For Authors

I’m going to make a concerted effort to create posts with helpful information for aspiring authors. Over the years, I have read a ridiculous amount of books on the craft, stalked awesome websites with great info, and I have created documents to help organize my novel.

Helpful Websites

Creative Indie – By Derek Murphy – One-Page Plot Outline

Janice Hardy’s Fiction University – Show Don’t Tell

Query Shark

Query Tracker

Books on Writing Craft & Style

  1. The Lively Art of Writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne (there are three books – one on composition, one on forms, and one on style.) I bought mine at thrift books.
  2. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
  3. Creating Character Ars by K.M. Weiland
  4. Show Don’t Tell by Janice Hardy


Beat Sheet

Novel Outline Template – 3 ACT

For the Novel Outline Template, it is crucial to have the Navigation Pane selected in Word and the bullets on the left side. You can quickly move through different sections in the document by selecting one of the headers listed in the Navigation Pane.

Hopefully, you find this helpful. And if you have any questions, hit me up.

He Said, She Said – Say What?!

I’m currently trekking through outlining my next novel, and if you’re like me, you spend time in-between that studying the written word. I read various types of books – fiction, non-fiction, young adult, middle-grade, romance – I’m not prejudiced. I recently picked up one of my son’s favorite books – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know, I know – I hear ya. How could I have not read the books by J.K. Rowling? It’s blasphemy. Yada, yada. Got it. Anyways, I noticed the dialogue tags and stopped reading for a minute, then began scanning the page.

J. K. Rowling’s dialogue tags are structured with said Harry versus Harry said, so I started wondering which way was the correct way. The answer is neither way is wrong. Janice Hardy wrote one article that made the most sense to me. Here’s a link to it that you can check out for yourself:


After reading the blog article, I sat back in my seat and reevaluated how I use dialogue tags. I’m going to test both dialogue tags as I write to see which one sounds better. Here’s a piece of the article that made sense to me:

‘When in doubt, try both and listen to how each one sounds:

“I should leave you two for the zombies,” Jane said, pointing the Sig Sauer at them.

“I should leave you two for the zombies,” said Jane, pointing the Sig Sauer at them.

To me, “said Jane,” works better here, because the punch is in the gun, not the text, so putting Jane closest to the gun emphasizes that.’

~Written by Janice Hardy~

*Boom* Epiphany of the day. I love to read, and sometimes, during a story, I see things I’ve never paid much attention to before, and I learn something new. You’re never too old to learn.

If you want to read another novel with this kind of dialogue tag, Renegade by Marissa Meyer structures her dialogue tags in the same way. You can also check out a few classics by C.S. Lewis.


Story Engineering

Tomorrow I will have the house to myself. Say what?! No husband to interrupt your random story plotting? No kids pelting the dog’s toy at each other’s head? I know, right? How’d I get so lucky? I feel like there has been some kind of divine intervention. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I love being a mom. But this chick is going to enjoy every minute of peace and quiet while it lasts. 

For part of the morning, while they are baking under the sun, trying to catch fish, I will re-read through part of the book by Larry Brooks called Story Engineering – Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing. I want to spend some time going back over the second core competency – character. There are many books about writing – from dialogue, show don’t tell, character arcs, and the list goes on, and on, and on… I have a small bookcase dedicated to these books. I consider them as my arsenal. I like going back to read some of them, especially the ones that resonated with me personally. This is one of those books. So, if you’re looking for a book to read about crafting your story, I’d definitely recommend this one.

One of my weaknesses is that I focus so much on the storytelling and the world-building that sometimes my character arc isn’t where it needs to be. So that’s usually where I have to go back and add to my story to where others can see the development of the character through his/her actions and thoughts.

I’m not an expert on any of it, but as a fellow dreamer, I am sharing what I found helpful in the hopes it will help someone else. I’m at a point in my life that I can really focus on my writing and creativity. A big part of me wants to put stories on paper that kids can get lost in. As I did when I was that age. Better to try and fail than to never try at all. If you’re a dreamer, a writer, an optimist, then I wish you all of the success in the world.




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