Sunday, October 16, 2016

Minutes of Hangout Oct 15, 2016

What are You Reading?


Just got back from European bike tour and found Slovenia to be both beautiful and friendly. One of the gentlemen on the tour was also a writer of spiritual books and she is reading his manuscript. She is also reading books with her mother including Cat Mysteries and H.Y. Hanna that have turned out to be very funny.

H. Y. Hanna Page


Mary just got back from Writer's Digest Conference and has two requests from agents for her recently completed House on Moss Swamp Road!! Congratulations. She is learning to write Loglines, Synopsis and Blurbs with the help of Rayne Hall. She needs this to fulfill the requests of both agents for a Synopsis.

Writing Book Blurbs and Synopses

She also recommends the Nail Your Novel series by Roz Morris.


Currently abandoning the project that kept her stuck for more than a year. Getting ready to do NaNoWriMo and roughing in a plot outline for a challenge put forth by Tor Publishing. Tor wants to see more fantasy based on any mythology or history except Europe. She is going with a Indigenous American setting/pantheon, but it is turning out pretty dark.

She is using a new type of plot development put forth by Stuart Horowitz and highly recommends the Book Architecture series.Well maybe the first two in the series. The last one was a little sketch.

For fun she is reading The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin, who took the Hugo last year with the first book in the series.

She also recommends the webcourses and note sets from Margie Lawson Academy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Minutes from Hangout 8/13/16

What are You Doing Right Now?

Debbie: Got stuck at chapter 12 and taking a break to do something else.

Jennifer: Two chapters away from completing the first draft.

Wendy: Finished her first draft!!!! Yeah Wendy!

Cherrie: Finished her first draft early in the month and is letting is age in a draw this month. She is trying to learn how to write short stories before revising it.

What are You Reading?:



        • Reading multiple Mysteries to her mother.
        • Started Cuckoo Calling (J. K. Rowling under pen name Robert Galbraith)
        • Said Cuckoo was just so-so,


        • We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman--very good with excellent POV and Voice.
        • A novel about a plantation owner who adopts a slave girl. ?? The Kitchen House??
        • Both novels were worth reading according to Mary
        • She is also reading some YA adventure stories.
        • Last month she read Career of Evil by J. K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith which she thought was pretty good.


  • In the Attic by  Gary Rogers?? (Sorry I couldn't find a link to it.)
  • Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell which she thinks is fantastic and everyone should read.


Last Month:

This Month:

  • Continuing with Mary Lynn Mercer's series as well with Story Bones.
  • For fun she is reading The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins--Very well written and a page turner but very dark as well. Violence and sexuality.

Many of us are taking Web Courses as well and here is a listing of some places you can go for

High Quality Webinars:

Coursera--Audit any course for FREE!

The Next Level Novel Workshop by James Scott Bell


Finish review of Grapes of Wrath.
Try to find enough people to analyze Game of Thrones.
Get Zee Nickerson, the developmental coach, to come to the next meeting.
Contact other developmental coaches to come to the meeting.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Story Developer #7: Putting It All Together

Finally, the long awaited Story Developer #7 Part I.  This was much more involved than I thought it would be, and just the first half is over 30 min, so I had to break it in two. I hope to have the second half out in a couple weeks. Enjoy.

Books on Plot Structure:


Books on the Midpoint:

Blogs on Structure:

Other Helpful Graphs:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Minutes from Hangout 6/13/16

What are you reading?

We briefly discussed where we were in all our projects:
  • The group suggested a way to foreshadow the Crisis of Jennifer's story
  • The group helped to define the Midpoint of Jennifer's story
  • Cherrie, who has been stuck at the Midpoint, offers to critique entire novels for help and suggestions on how to integrate her subplots into her main plot better and suggestions on an ending.
Grapes of Wrath:
  • Most of us have fallen behind but Jennifer and Cherrie will likely soldier on to the end.
  • Cherrie still keeping up with the Spreadsheet. The Password is Content Cathedral.
  • Differences in opinion about the character of the protagonist discussed.
  • Consensus is that this classic likely would not have been published today due to the slow start.
  • Some interesting things could be gleaned from the reading, however, like an interesting way to introduce a long passage of setting using conflict to create tension. 
  • And what really is with the turtle in Act 1??
Discussion of various editing techniques:
  • Discussed getting passive voice and passive verbs out of your writing.
  • Cherrie offered to make her Word Search handout available
  • To work with the Word Searches you should use Open Office (Make sure you are on the official Apache site.)
  • Just copy the list of words separated by vertical lines into the search box and hit "find all"
  • Once you have all the words selected, highlight them or change the font color. Now you can work on getting rid of weak verbs, filter words and passive voice.
Suggestions for a more modern book to analyze:
  • Cherrie made a big push for Game of Thrones and will try to set up something to get 15-20 people interested in a dissection of George R. R. Martin's writing style.
  • She has set up a Blog for the purpose:
Did I miss anything? Feel free to edit this post.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Meetup Minutes 4/11/16

For those of you who couldn't come to the Hang Out on 4/11/16, this is what we talked about:

Recommended Reading by those of us at the meeting:

Possible Activities for our Monthly Meeting:

  • Write Ins
  • Dissect a Movie or a Book
  • Invite Speaker
  • Go to an Internet Course as a group

If you have other suggestions please feel free to add them here or suggest them in the comments below.

We decided to dissect The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck using The Story Grid worksheet I'm currently working on. The password for the link to the worksheet is "Content Cathedral". I have some final touches to do to the worksheet and then I'll put up a new link just for our Grapes of Wrath discussions. We decided to read 4 chapters a month and discuss them when we meet monthly. I looked at the book and found out there are 30 chapters. I recommend we read 5 chapters a month and that would have us finish up in 6 months.


Several of you have asked how to critique or what to critique so I am providing my Critique Template in the CC folder.

Word Tracker (In Development)

I also shared the Word Tracker I am currently working on. I have put a link to that as well so you can see it in the CC file. Please don't change it there. You can copy it to your own computer and erase the data if you want to try using it on your own or you can wait until I finish working on it and get a template up that is completely functional.


Anything I missed? Feel free to edit this post or put something in the comments.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Book Review: Story by Robert McKee and Story Grid Shawn Coyne

I know I've been taking forever to get Story Developer #5 out. And I've been sans internet and out of touch in California so you can't even complain about my negligence. In my defense, I haven't been sitting on my hands the whole time. I've been reading and writing and learning. Learning soooo much, in fact, that I felt I had to share some of it with you.

Robert Mckee, Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne have all worked together and have been successful in the editing/writing business for decades. All of them have great resources that refer to each other's work. And each man's work makes the others more clear and understandable.

These works are not for the faint of heart, however. I would recommend reading something by James Scott Bell or Larry Brooks before you delve into the 600 pages of Story by Robert McKee. But once you have the basics down pat, these works ease you into the minute details of writing unforgettable stories.

Story is long, but well laid out and every chapter gave me things to ponder about my own story.

The Story Grid gave me a way to assess my own work and to assess the qualities of master works that I can't get out of my head. Shawn Coyne seems genuinely interested in writers and very approachable with a great website and the best podcast for writers currently playing in my opinion. Because so many writers are financially strapped, he has even made his book free on the internet. (Though I bought my copy because I didn't feel I needed the man's charity.) I was so taken with his analysis, I am putting together a tool to help writers analyse their work and other works. I hope to have that to you next month sometime.

Steven Pressfield runs a blog for writers with great articles. 

Hope you get the time to check out one or all of these resources.

Story Developer #5: Rounding Out your Characters